Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 vs Dell XPS 13 (2020)

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Winner
Dell XPS 13 7390 13.3 inch 4K UHD InfinityEdge Touchscreen Laptop (Silver) 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10710U, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Windows 10 Home Advance (XPS7390-7681SLV-PUS)
Best Price
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – 13.5" Touch-Screen – Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - 128GB Solid State Drive (Latest Model) – Platinum with Alcantara
Model
XPS 13
Surface Laptop 3
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent July 2020
Test Result 9.2/10 Very good July 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
Microsoft
RAM
16 GB
8 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-10710U
Intel Core i5
Graphics Card
XPS7390-7681SLV-PUS
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
128GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
2.93 lbs
3.40 lbs
Pros
  • Best Performance for Office & Studies!
  • Beautiful Design & Display
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Performance is very stable and is not limited in battery mode
  • Better price than Dell XPS 13
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • More expensive than Surface Laptop 3
  • No card reader or Thunderbolt 3
Winner
Dell XPS 13 7390 13.3 inch 4K UHD InfinityEdge Touchscreen Laptop (Silver) 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10710U, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Windows 10 Home Advance (XPS7390-7681SLV-PUS)
Model
XPS 13
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent July 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-10710U
Graphics Card
XPS7390-7681SLV-PUS
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
2.93 lbs
Pros
  • Best Performance for Office & Studies!
  • Beautiful Design & Display
  • Comfortable keyboard
Cons
  • More expensive than Surface Laptop 3
Best Price
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – 13.5" Touch-Screen – Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - 128GB Solid State Drive (Latest Model) – Platinum with Alcantara
Model
Surface Laptop 3
Test Result
Test Result 9.2/10 Very good July 2020
Manufacturer
Microsoft
RAM
8 GB
CPU
Intel Core i5
Graphics Card
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Storage Capacity
128GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
3.40 lbs
Pros
  • Performance is very stable and is not limited in battery mode
  • Better price than Dell XPS 13
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • No card reader or Thunderbolt 3

We tested and compared the Dell XPS 13 versus Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Price, Battery life, Portability & more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the Results and below you will find the in-depth reports of the two office Laptops.

Ranking First: Dell XPS 13


Pros

  • Best Performance for Office & Studies!
  • Beautiful Design & Display
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • More expensive than Surface Laptop 3

Dell XPS 13 review

For a little over two months now, we’ve had the new Dell XPS 13 notebook as our 2nd main computer. Therefore, it’s now slowly time for the first text report, in which we will introduce the device with all its advantages and disadvantages.

Especially under the aspect of how suitable this computer is as a working tool for web nomads and long-term travelers.

Since we still have our MacBook Air with us as a second main computer and since I find the comparison between a highly optimized Windows computer and a comparable Apple device interesting, we will always come back to the similarities and differences to the MacBook Air.

So let’s start by working our way from the outside in.

Design

With its 2.71 lbs, the Dell XPS 13 is even a bit lighter than the current version of MacBook Air. Thanks to the so-called Infinity Edge display, it is also narrower and shorter than the MacBook Air with the same display size.

Dell XPS 13 design

Infinity Edge display means that the screen is completely used for the display except for a few millimeters at the edge and there are no black, unused edges. Of course, this saves space and weight, which is definitely a big plus with this computer.

The only disadvantage of this is in relation to the web cam, but we’ll come back to that later. The exact dimensions of the Dell XPS 13 are

The Dell XPS 13 is a rock solid and well manufactured notebook. It is stable, doesn’t wobble or rattle and has no external flaws to complain about. There is already a thick set of plus points for this.

Especially since I have gotten my hands on various Windows laptops over the past few years, none of which could come close to this quality. Nevertheless, there are two small points where we have to deduct something.

The first is the touchpad. This is also cleanly finished and sits firmly in the anchorage without rattling and clattering. However, it makes unnecessarily loud clicking noises when you press it down. This is definitely a bit annoying and could have been completely avoidable, as already mentioned.

It’s similar with the space bar, which also makes a much louder noise than the other keys. However, to be fair, this unnecessary noise was also built into the current version of the MacBook, although it wasn’t heard in older generations.

Why this is done is a mystery to me and as I said before, it’s a small thing. But still one that attracts unpleasant attention.

The Dell XPS 13 has a touchscreen in the 4K version, which means that the screen has to be able to withstand repeated nudges with a finger without moving. And that’s exactly what it does. It even stands so firmly that it only wiggles its fingers slightly when you tap directly on the touchscreen. It shows almost no reaction at all when you swipe it.

Dell XPS 13 variants versions

The second advantage is that the screen doesn’t move out of the once set position by itself, even when vibrating or wobbling. This is particularly important if you want to use the computer while travelling by train, car or bus.

Anyone who often works on the road knows that there is nothing more annoying than having to constantly adjust the screen because it is constantly moving backwards due to the vibrations while driving. You don’t have this problem with the Dell XPS 13. The screen stands like a one and only moves when you deliberately force it to.

Dell has also very nicely solved the combination of an aluminum case and fiberglass in this computer. The XPS13, like Apple’s notebooks, is made of aluminum on the outside and thus offers a significantly higher stability than most other laptops.

Apart from that, it also looks classy, of course. Unlike MacBooks, the XPS13 is made from the inside, so when it’s opened, it’s not made of aluminum but of a very robust fiberglass fabric. Aside from the fact that this also serves its purpose as a design style element and gives the Dell a very individual flair of its own, this has certain advantages over the all-aluminum version.

For one thing, the fiberglass fabric is not as temperature-sensitive as aluminum. That means it doesn’t get quite as cold in cool outside temperatures and not quite as hot in warm temperatures, which is probably more pleasant for the hands.

Dell XPS 13 display

It also feels softer and more comfortable against the skin. But the biggest advantage is that the Dell design has slightly rounded edges, which prevents the laptop from cutting into the lower part of the palm of the hand when writing for a long time, which the hard, sharp edge of the MacBook is quite happy to do.

To sum up, Dell’s design is in some way in line with the trend set by Apple, but it also stands out far enough to stand on its own feet with its product and not make it look like an imitation.

Mac issues have been identified and improved with their own solutions, so Dell has created a look and feel that can easily keep up with Apple’s competition, while leaving most Windows competitors cold.

Ports

A small disadvantage, which the current XPS14 has in comparison to its predecessor, is that unfortunately, normal USB connections and an SD card slot have been omitted. Instead, the device now has 2 Thunderbolt™ 3 ports and a USB-C 3.1 port.

The laptop can be charged via all three ports and it may well be that in the near future, suppliers of external hard drives and other accessories will also switch to USB-C connectors.

Dell XPS 13 ports

Then there will of course be no more disadvantages. Currently, however, these small USB ports mean that most USB accessories can only be used with an adapter. This means that the weight advantage is cancelled out, because everything that you take with you means additional weight.

But not only that. Especially when traveling, you want to avoid having many small parts with you, which you should keep somewhere and not lose. A built-in USB port simply remains in the computer, no matter where you have your head.

An adapter cable of only a few centimetres in size, on the other hand, quickly disappears. Then you have the big problem that you have to find a new one, which can be extremely difficult or even impossible depending on the current position.

In this context I remember, for example, our hike through the Balkans or through Romania and Bulgaria. Finding a shopping centre with an electronics store here was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Dell itself supplies an adapter from normal USB plug to USB-C with the purchase of the XPS13. However, if you want to fully utilize all three USB ports, you have to supply yourself with another adapter plug.

Also the fact that the self-service card slot was replaced by a slot for mini SD cards is a disadvantage in my opinion. Because most cameras still work with normal SD cards today.

So here you are immediately back at the second additional adapter and with that you are now over the weight you would have had if the connectors would have been integrated into the computer right away. An adapter card from SB to Mini-SB, on the other hand, is much lighter and is also easier to store.

Besides the mentioned connections, there is also a socket for headphones or external loudspeakers as well as the well-known Dell battery display consisting of a push button and five LEDs.

In view of the fact that so much has been saved in the area of the ports for weight and size minimization, it would have perhaps been more sensible to leave out this battery display and instead install an SD card slot. This would have had plenty of room in the same place and would have been much more helpful.

Keyboard & Touchpad

As already mentioned at the beginning, the keyboard is also well made and pleasant to use. It’s a keyboard built to write long texts in one piece and we’re very grateful to Dell for that. Especially since many notebooks have been saving a lot of money on the keyboard lately.

Dell XPS 13 keyboard

Apple has even artificially deteriorated its keyboard, which was unsurpassed for many years, so that it is a real shortcoming in the latest versions of the MacBook Air as well as the Mac Book Mini series. As mentioned above, Dell only slogs a bit with the space bar.

For some reason, this is unusual and unnecessarily loud. In return, all other keys cause a normal typing noise and a pleasant typing feel. It’s not a whispering keyboard, but it outperforms most of its competitors.

Another advantage, which we were very happy about, is the illumination of the keys. Especially for travellers this is incredibly practical, because you’ll always find yourself in the situation that you have to or want to work in twilight or even in complete darkness.

In Romania, for example, I spent many nights writing our book and always had to put on a headlamp, which was a bit unpleasant on the one hand and attracted many insects on the other. This would not have happened to me with this device.

Even in complete darkness, working with the DEL XPS13 is possible and that is just great for travellers! A screen illumination of this quality was almost unknown to me from Windows computers.

Many laptops, especially when they try to be as compact as possible, tend to put some nonsense into the layout of their keys. Be it that the backspace key was cut in half to make room for something else or that you have to do without a control or shift key.

Fortunately, there is no such nonsense on the XPS13. The only thing that is a bit annoying are the Page Up and Page Down keys above the Left and Right Arrow keys.

You get used to them over time, but especially when you write quickly and intuitively, they always cause errors, because it’s very easy to move the cursor one page up or down instead of one character left or right.

Here it would have been much more comfortable to simply leave the upper areas of the arrow keys free and put the “page up/down” functions into the arrow keys via the FN key. This would have been just as intuitive after a short period of getting used to it, but would have prevented confusion.

The keyboard is almost as good as that of earlier MacBooks, and significantly better than that of the apple manufacturer’s current competitors.

Dell XPS 13 keyboard

With the exception of the somewhat too loud clicking noise when pressing the button, which is too loud for my taste, the touchpad is excellent for a Windows computer. I would even say that it is by far the best touchpad I have ever had on a Windows computer.

It scrolls well and with a high degree of precision, and most mouse gestures are also helpful and work perfectly. Nevertheless, it still doesn’t come close to an Apple touchpad in terms of accuracy. And here is the big question why this is so.

Because there is actually no reason why a touchpad works 99.999% precisely and error-free with Apple, but only about 96% on a computer like this. Don’t get me wrong! 96% is great and it’s really a top touchpad, but still you’ll always come across little wobbles or slips that are a bit annoying in the long run.

This is simply a pity, as the device is otherwise a real working machine, with which you can also work well and effectively in terms of image editing and film editing.

Mouse gestures

  • On the other hand, the mouse gestures, which can be used intuitively and are also used frequently and gladly, can be noted positively:
  • Swipe over the mousepad with two fingers: scrolling in the opposite direction.
  • Moving two fingers away from or towards each other: Zoom function
  • Wipe left and right with three fingers: Switch between program windows
  • Wipe upwards with three fingers: Display work cronics
  • Wipe down with three fingers: Show desktop.
  • Four-finger wiping left and right: switch between different virtual desktops if set up.

Display

At first nothing can be criticized on the display itself. The depth of field is unsurpassable, the colours are bright, clear and almost radiate towards you.

Working with pictures and films is a real pleasure! I would also like to emphasize the idea of the so-called infinity edge display. Here, every millimeter of the laptop lid is fully utilized. A better screen size ratio is simply impossible.

The fact that it is a glossy display has advantages and disadvantages, though. A clear advantage is of course the brilliance, the beauty of the colours and the clarity of the screen. Why almost all laptop manufacturers today only use high-gloss displays is therefore quite understandable. The disadvantage, however, is that a high-gloss display, as the name suggests, also works extremely well as a mirror.

In other words: as soon as you have a light source behind you that shines on the screen, it reflects the surroundings in just as perfect and brilliant a way as it should actually show what’s happening inside the computer.

This makes it a bit more difficult to work with the laptop when the environment is very bright. It has to be said that even matt displays reflect, even if they don’t, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see more if you work in the sun.

Dell XPS 13 display

Personally, I’ve had no problems using the XPS13 outdoors, even in summer in Italy, where everything is always extremely bright. The only important thing is to find a place in the shade, but you usually want to do that anyway when you’re working on the computer.

The second part that one can critically consider is the 4K resolution. Sure, there is no doubt that it is incredibly brilliant and sharp. Nevertheless, it has to be said that compared to the Full HD resolution, there is very little difference in this screen size.

This alone would not be a problem, but you have to remember that the 4K version has four times as many pixels as the Full HD version. This of course requires much more energy and this in turn has a negative effect on the battery life.

Therefore, the question is whether the slightly better look is really worth the loss of freedom in the form of less time you can work without power. We ourselves have only been able to test the 4K version so far, but we have heard and read from many sides that users who have tried both prefer the Full-HD version.

Another advantage of this is that the Full-HD display is a good deal brighter than the 4K version, which makes working in bright surroundings or outdoors even easier.

Of course, you have to bear in mind that we are talking about a laptop with a 13″ screen diagonal and not a huge flat screen TV that fills half the apartment. On such a device, the difference between Full-HD and 4K is of course unmistakable. But on this scale, the choice for better battery life is probably the wiser one.

Dell XPS 13 closed view

On the other hand, the touch function, which allows you to directly intervene in what’s happening on the screen, can be positively emphasized. You can scroll, zoom, highlight, select things and much more. The only thing I miss a bit is the possibility to scroll in text documents via touchscreen.

If you touch the screen with a finger, you mark the touched lines. But with two fingers nothing happens. A scroll function with two fingers would be practical and helpful here. Just as an idea for future versions.

Sound

Here we come to an extremely regrettable and, I think, extremely unnecessary blunder that Dell has made in the overall design of this computer.

There’s actually so much invested in perfecting the visual experience in the form of a glossy display in a perfectly sized widescreen format, optimum colour representation and the best resolution available at the moment, and then you get two measly 1 watt speakers.

Why? Why does Apple manage to give you a cinema sound that will make any television set green with envy, and at the same price you get a sound experience like a Gameboy?

To make the whole thing a bit clearer: It feels a bit like building a mobile version of a perfect home theater, and then instead of a sound system, you set up an old, scratchy kitchen radio for the sound. If you had invested even a little bit more here, the Dell would have been perfect to end the day after work with a cosy video evening. But this way, one has a visual film pleasure, but no acoustic one at all and that just doesn’t fit together.

Dell XPS 13 display

Sure, the loudspeakers work and they’re also sufficient if you want to make calls via Skype or similar. You can also watch movies or YouTube spots with them, or listen to some music. But it just stays “OK” and will not be an experience. You don’t get volume, and you don’t get a rich, round, voluminous sound that is pleasant for the ears.

This is forgivable when you think about what the SPX13 can do, but as I said, it’s just a pity. Because with a little more quality at this point, the computer would have become a first-class multimedia device. And this is something we have unfortunately missed at this point.

Webcam

Actually, this chapter actually has to be called Web-Cams, as Dell delivers beside the normal Web-Cam also an infrared camera that enables a login via “Windows Hello” by face recognition. Contrary to what one might think, this camera cannot be used as a thermal imaging camera in the dark, as far as I could find out.

But the normal web-cam is so bright that in a completely dark room the screen brightness is still sufficient for a reasonable video chat.

You can’t take artful or high quality pictures with the camera, but that’s not what it’s meant for. And for the essential functions for which a web cam is normally needed, such as video conferencing, it is perfectly sufficient.

A little unfavourable, however, is the positioning of the camera, which is not, as usual, at the top of the screen, but below it. This was probably mainly due to the fact that there was simply no more room at the top because of the Infinity Edge display.

Dell XPS 13 webcam

The unfavorable side effect is that one now films one’s face from the frog’s perspective, which on the other hand allows some deep and unwanted insights into the inside of one’s own nose. Fortunately, Dell compensates for this problem by choosing an extremely large picture detail.

Thus, one can only be seen relatively small in the middle and thus, the nasal passages are also not very large and clearly visible. It is also unfavorable that your own hands are filmed as soon as you put them on the keyboard.

Secret typing, for example to chat with friends during a professional video conference, isn’t possible with the Dell XPS 13. Apparently, Dell is a great advocate of honesty and sincerity in this area. On the other hand, it has to be said that this video perspective also gives you a bit of sublimity and power.

You look a bit like those rappers who get themselves photographed in an armchair for their album covers with a walking stick and a thick fur coat to make you look like a mafioso. Who knows if this doesn’t have an unexpectedly positive effect on otherwise shy people.

Fans noise test

The first positive thing to note is that the fan is usually not active, which means that the computer normally runs completely silent. Not even in warm outside temperatures. We have partly tested it in rooms with more than 35°C. And it still remained quiet.

When the fan starts up, it’s already relatively loud and a bit annoying. Also somewhat disadvantageous for a travel laptop is the ventilation grill on the underside. You have to be very careful not to place it on dirty surfaces when working outside.

There are ventilation slots at the bottom of the case through which dust, dirt and moisture can get into the device.

Dell XPS 13 back view

Working on your lap is also not recommended in temperatures where you sweat. We still have no idea if this is really going to be a problem or if it can become one, but we don’t want to find out for as long as possible.

Battery life & Charging

Compared to the predecessor, the battery has unfortunately been reduced from 60 watt hours to 52 watt hours in order to save some weight and size.

This is a doubtful decision, as even though weight is always extremely important, especially for backpackers and travellers, one does not want to pay a few lbs with a shorter battery life. This is one of the reasons why we already heard a lot of negative things about the battery life before we received the notebook.

Especially in connection with the 4K display, which according to various critics should be a real energy guzzler. And yes, after a good month of testing we can say that there is certainly still some potential for improvement upwards in terms of battery life.

That the 4K display has a negative effect on the battery life seems obvious to me, but since I only have the 4K version available, I couldn’t of course check it in a direct comparison.

What I can say, however, is that I was very positively surprised when I first tested the laptop for battery life in continuous use. Because my personal test result was by far not as negative as I was predicted.

In the test reports, there was usually talk of a maximum runtime of 5 hours, which was reduced to a single one when running complex programs. I cannot confirm both. As I said, the battery life is not top.

I had other devices with which one could work a good ten to twelve hours without a power cord. But the XPS13 brings it up to 8 hours on average when I work with W-LAN, Firefox, Skype in chat mode and Word.

I usually leave the display at full brightness and always have several tabs in several windows open for research (and due to a certain tendency to cause chaos), between which I switch back and forth. So you can’t say that I’m particularly energy-efficient. With reduced screen brightness, closing all unnecessary tabs and windows.

Dell XPS 13 performance benchmarks gaming

When using large, really energy-intensive programs, the available battery time is of course reduced significantly, but that’s quite normal. Depending on what you work with, you’ll still get 3 to 4 hours.

In summary, I’d say: yes, the battery life could be better, but it’s also passable and acceptable with a 4K display.

At this point, a few words about the charger and the power supply. I was really pleased that the XPS13 can be charged via the USB-C ports and that this is possible via all portals, even if there is a preferred port. This eliminates for the first time in the history of laptops the well-known problem that the power plug is always on the wrong side, making the cable either too short or a tripping hazard.

In addition, the USB charging variant allows the computer to be charged without any further problems with solar sails or their temporary storage batteries. This is once again an advantage that compensates a bit for the shorter battery life.

I found the solution that Dell chose for the charger itself somewhat regrettable. It’s an amazingly thick and heavy block, considering the weight of the laptop itself. It also consists of three parts that are somewhat awkwardly connected to each other.

A thick, round power cable with a round plug leads to the socket. This then ends in an adapter box, from which a thin USB cable leads further to the computer.

The connection from the box to the USB cable looks as if it can be disconnected and is only connected with a plug. But this is not the case. Thus, it is only a rather fragile place where the cable can easily bend. The whole thing therefore looks like a predetermined breaking point and will probably lead to problems sooner or later.

Dell XPS 13 side view

This is a pity, because the whole laptop with all the rest of the stuff is built so robust and solid that you don’t have to be afraid of premature and unnecessary damage.

Also, due to the high voltage generated by the adapter, one is again dependent on this one specific charger, although the USB connection gives the impression that one is now free and flexible to charge the notebook with everything that a USB cable can hold. However, if you use an ordinary USB charger, you will only get the message that this is not the original and therefore too weak to charge the XPS13.

There would certainly have been other, more functional solutions. For example, a second USB C plug on the other side of the cable would have already made it possible to use it either as a connection cable for external hard drives or as a connection cable to tablets or smartphones.

On the other hand, the length of the cable has to be positively noted. This is sufficient in order to comfortably get everywhere, even if the power outlet is not right next to the desk.

Performance

After a good month we can say that we are more than satisfied with this equipment. Everything we tested runs smoothly and we also get along well with image editing and film editing. We haven’t tried gaming, as we use the computer purely as a work tool and occasionally as a TV replacement.

Other testers have told us that the XPS13 can also be used for gaming, but that it doesn’t necessarily shine here. And it’s not supposed to. It is a work tool and not a gaming computer and that’s exactly what it specializes in.

Dell XPS 13 perfromance benchmarks

What we also couldn’t personally compare was the difference between the standard version with 8GB RAM. Here some other testers were of the opinion that this version is also sufficient to run most standard applications up to image editing. This is quite possible, but as I said, we cannot definitely confirm this. Our MacBook also has only 8GB RAM and leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to image and film editing.

However, it has to be said that the XPS is much faster in many respects. So, if the extra eight GB RAM is too expensive, you’ll get a powerful computer without it. A calculator with which you can work on a high level and which you will enjoy.

But the 16GB version is definitely more pleasant in the long run. Especially since you have to consider that the programs usually become larger and the memory more intensive and not smaller and more compact.

Verdict

All in all, we got a top device with the Dell XPS 13, which we like to work on. It combines elegance with a solid, robust finish and offers everything you would expect from a good laptop.

Despite the small flaws in beauty, which give you cause to grumble at the highest level, the device gets the final mark of “Very good!” from us.

It is a computer that we can generally recommend with a clear conscience. It is also very suitable for long-term travelers and web nomads, which is why the Dell XPS 13 is ranking first vs Microsoft Surface Laptop 3.

Ranking Second: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review


Pros

  • Performance is very stable and is not limited in battery mode
  • Better price than Dell XPS 13
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • No card reader or Thunderbolt 3

Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop 3 is largely a model update of the notebook series, but the manufacturer has made some interesting changes and introduced a 15-inch model. We tried the 13-incher anyway and found it to be quite good, but not flawless.

Since the beginning of October, Microsoft’s Surface laptop series has consisted of a 13 and a 15 inch model, which are similar in many respects. For example, the ports and the battery are the same size, and there are also all-metal options in addition to models with Alcantara upholstery.

In terms of processors, Microsoft equips the consumer version of the 15 incher with AMD processors, while the 13 incher is equipped with Intel’s latest core chips – this also applies to the enterprise 15 incher.

Design & Ports

In terms of design, apart from the metal surface, they differ little from the previous version, but the design department around Ralf Gröne has nevertheless fulfilled a wish of the customers: The devices can be screwed on, for example, to replace the built-in SSD with a larger one.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 design laptop

To do this, only four Torx Plus screws, which are hidden behind the rubber feet on the underside, have to be removed, as Ifixit explains in the teardown. After unscrewing, the upper side, including the keyboard, can be easily removed and provides a view of the interior.

It should be mentioned that Microsoft actually prohibits the SSD from being replaced arbitrarily, one should have it replaced “by a qualified technician according to the instructions provided by Microsoft”, he emphasizes in the footnotes on the product page. The memory cannot be replaced because it is soldered.

Despite being relatively easy to repair, the Surface Laptop 3 is top-of-the-line and feels like it. Even if you lift it at the corner of the case, nothing flexes. It is also praiseworthy that the display flap can be opened with one hand without having to fix the rest of the unit.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 back view

Unfortunately, this is still not the case with all notebooks. Even if Microsoft certainly doesn’t want to hear it, it seems that they have copied a bit from Apple’s Macbook in terms of design, which is nothing bad. After all, Apple is or was known for building notebooks of excellent quality.

However, Microsoft has gone a bit too far with the number of ports: Because the notebook has only one USB type A (USB 3.2 Gen1) and (for the first time) one USB C port (USB 3.2 Gen2) on the left side of the case.

On the right side of the case there is a surface connector, which supports fast charging, and a 3.5 millimeter audio jack. Microsoft could have delivered a bit more here, especially since not even the Thunderbolt 3 standard is supported by the USB-C port.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 design

Besides various peripherals, smartphones can also be charged or a display can be connected via the USB-C port – depending on the connection, an adapter is required for this, which is not included in the scope of delivery.

You can also charge your notebook via the socket if you don’t have the Surface-Connector at hand. You can even charge the Surface Laptop with a battery pack with enough power.

Display & Keyboard / Touchpad

For the display, Microsoft is again going for a 3:2 format, which is ideal for office applications. The aspect ratio allows you to display two Word documents, Excel files or websites side by side. If video content or games are displayed on the screen in full size, they are usually framed at the top and bottom by a black bar.

The image quality of the 13.5-inch display with its resolution of 2,256 x 1,504 pixels (201 ppi) is excellent. It is beautifully bright and offers good readability even when viewed from a sharp angle.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 keyboard test

However, because it is not anti-reflective, content cannot be seen well in backlight or direct sunlight. The Surface Laptop 3 must share this point of criticism with many other current notebooks, though.

The screen can not only be operated by keyboard, trackpad or mouse, but also by touch input with up to ten fingers or even with the Surface Pen – but the stylus must be purchased separately.

Speaking of input: The built-in keyboard is excellent, the keys have a good pressure point and a rather short key travel. The trackpad is also getting better and better and has almost the dimensions and precision of Apple’s Macbook trackpads. Thanks to these developments, the mouse can be left at home with confidence. For my taste, the trackpad could be even bigger.

Performance

Intel’s tenth Core-i processor generation in different versions is inside the 13-inch surface laptop – a Core-i7 chip was built into our test device, which was supported by eight gigabytes. The built-in SSD is 256 gigabytes, there are also other versions with 128 gigabytes to one terabyte and up to a maximum of 16 gigabytes of RAM.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 performance test benchmarks

The model we have in front of us doesn’t cause any problems with usual productivity tasks like editing mails, web browsing, Word or Excel documents. It is also suitable for working in Lightroom or Photoshop – but we recommend to use 16 Gigabyte RAM for such tasks.

Playing 4K content is also no problem. Playing games with mediocre detail is also possible, but the laptop is not necessarily designed for real gamers. It doesn’t want to be either.

When the laptop gets a bit more busy, it gets noticeably warm on the underside. The fan, which fortunately is barely audible, starts up to cool the laptop. The fan stays off under low load and the notebook works completely silently.

Battery life

In terms of battery life, the laptop rather plays along in the middle class. In “normal” use with 50 to 60 percent display brightness and the usual office apps such as Slack, Chrome, Firefox or Edge, Mail, Word and other productivity apps, the laptop can only last for a working day or around eight hours.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 display

It is not possible to make completely precise specifications about running times, as each person uses the computer differently. After all, if the battery is running low, it can be quickly recharged thanks to quick-charging technology.

In less than an hour, the device is charged from zero to around 80 percent. In order to charge the device quickly, however, the computer must be closed in standby.

Verdict

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 is not perfect – here we should mention the few connections and the mediocre battery life. However, apart from sufficient power reserves for a productivity device, the device has a very good touch display and input devices like trackpad and keyboard. Some other manufacturers unfortunately place less emphasis on these so important components.

As already mentioned, the Surface Laptop is also excellently manufactured and allows the SSD to be replaced, which is rarely the case with most products.

Another plus point is the clean Windows installation: Microsoft does not allow any bloatware or trial versions on its Surface devices. Owners of a notebook from Lenovo, Dell or HP know how annoying this software can be.

All in all the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is ranking behind versus Dell XPS 13, but if you are looking for a good premium notebook in its cheaper price class, you should take a closer look at Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3.

The Surface Laptop 3 with a 13.5 inch display costs $970 in its configuration with Intel’s Core i5 chip, eight gigabyte RAM and 128 gigabyte SSD.


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