The newly announced Microsoft Surface Book 3 is reportedly their most powerful laptop ever. So could it be good enough to destroy the competition? Namely, the new Apple Macbook Pro 2020. Photographers and creatives alike love Apple products for editing workflows, but could this be the beginning of the end for Apple's domination of the creative market?
The Surface Book 3 kicks things up a notch in the ultra-portable laptop market, and features a 10th gen quad-core Intel Core processor that can turbo boost up to 3.9GHz, but at first glance it would seem Apple's new 13" Macbook Pro has an advantage as it has the same processor but claims a turbo boost up to 4.1GHz. Round one to Apple then.
However, the Surface Book 3 has something the new Macbook Pro doesn't have - a graphics card. That is, as long as you don't get the base model 13.5" version which runs Intel Iris Plus graphics. The 13.5", and 15" models though both have an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q Design (15" with GTX 1660 Ti), and boast 4GB GDDR5 and 6B GDDR5 graphics memory respectively. Round two to Microsoft.
How do the screens stack up? Well Microsoft has opted for a densely packed 3000 x 2000 resolution in its 13.5" PixelSense Display which gives a 267 PPI pixel density, whereas Apple are using a 2560 x 1600 resolution for its 13.3" Retina Display, which equals roughly 227 PPI. It may seem that the Surface Pro 3 has the upper hand here, and indeed it might, but it's important to remember that the more pixels a screen has, the harder the graphics card has to work to keep things rendered. Microsoft also takes things a step further and offers a 10-point multi-touch touchscreen which may be why they're throwing in a Surface Pen with all pre-orders.
Both machines match up in terms of RAM, giving 16GB, and 32GB 3733MHz memory configurations. Apple is claiming the 32GB option gives up to 50 percent faster performance when editing gigapixel images in Photoshop, but real world benchmark tests are yet to be carried out to confirm this. The Surface Book 3 has up to 15.5 hours of battery life in the 13.5" model, going up to 17.5 hours for the 15" model for "typical device usage" but once Photoshop, and Lightroom are up and running we could see this reduce.
Could you carry this laptop all day while shooting on location? Well, being ultra-portable you'd hope so. The Surface Book 3 weighs in at 1,534 g (3.38 lb) including the keyboard for the base 13.5" model, or 1,642 g (3.62 lb) for the i7 version. However, keep that keyboard at home and you're looking at something incredibly light that you probably won't even notice tucked away in your camera bag. The Surface Book 3 retails for
So with the Surface Book 3 matching or outperforming the Macbook Pro 2020 specs, it looks like Microsoft leads for photographers, and creative professionals wanting a portable, lightweight device that can handle all the multimedia tasks they can throw at it. They also have a 15" version for those that need a little extra space when editing, and viewing shots.
Images used with permission of Microsoft