Surface Book 3: Everything we know about Microsoft’s next powerful 2-in-1

All the news, rumors and wishes for Microsoft's Surface Book 3

microsoft surface book 2 15 inch review 314
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Microsoft’s Surface Book line saw immense improvements with the Book 2 model, but some flaws remained. Now it’s time to start thinking about the Surface Book 3, and what Microsoft has planned. It hasn’t been officially announced, but that hasn’t stopped us from reading between the lines of patents and rumors.

Here’s everything we know, and everything we hope Microsoft announces with the Surface Book 3.

Price and release date

microsoft surface book 2 15 inch review 316
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

We expect Microsoft to leave the pricing of the Surface Book line largely the same. Right now, the 13.5-inch Book 2 model starts at around $1,200 and the 15-inch model at around $2,500, scaling up to higher prices based on your spec choices. This is already a fairly high baseline, and one Microsoft probably doesn’t want to change if possible. In fact, there are signs that Microsoft wants to make pricing more flexible if possible: The company recently offered new options to buy a 15-inch model without discrete Nvidia graphics, at only $2,000, an acknowledgment that there’s demand for the larger screen at a lower price.

As for a release date, we haven’t heard much of anything to get a good idea. However, the Surface Book 2 came out in late 2017, so it’s not exactly early to expect a Book 3 announcement. Microsoft usually holds a Surface-specific event in the fall, meaning the soonest we could get a Surface Book 3 would be around October.

Thunderbolt 3

microsoft surface book 2 hands on 7

The Book 2 has a USB-C 3.1 port, which was nice, but it wasn’t enough. Upgrading to a Thunderbolt 3 port would allow for much faster data speeds, and more compatibility with a variety of accessories, especially monitors and external graphics cards. It’s something that’s been missing from the Surface lineup for years now that nearly all of its competitors include. The Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2, for example, both didn’t even include a USB-C port, despite being released in 2018.

However, Microsoft may have an even better reason to upgrade to Thunderbolt 3: Microsoft continues to encourage interest in the upcoming HoloLens 2 and is working hard to be AR/VR friendly. One of the best ways to do that would be to make its next big laptop model compatible with AR and VR headsets, including the HoloLens, an extremely likely move based on Microsoft’s current interest. However, that requires plenty of power, a strong GPU (more on this later), and a connection as powerful as Thunderbolt 3.

More powerful graphics

microsoft surface book 2 hands on 8

Upgrading to a more powerful Nvidia GPU makes a whole lot of sense for Microsoft’s adjacent goals. The Surface Book 2 included several nods to Xbox players, including easy wireless controller support and an increased focus on Play Anywhere titles. But to really make the Surface Book 3 a gaming device, an upgrade to faster Nvidia graphics would be the ideal change. If Microsoft really does want people to play AR/VR content from the Surface Book, then upgrading the GPU is necessary to support the headsets people will be using.

The issue here is that moving to a full Nvidia GPU is one of the things that’s likely to increase the already-steep price of the Surface Book line, something that Microsoft may be loath to do. The other issue is the thermals. Microsoft would have to take a serious step forward in cooling if it hopes to make the Surface Book 3 a serious option for creative professionals.

More storage and RAM, Ice Lake processors

microsoft surface book 2 hands on 4

The Surface Book 2 offered up to 1TB of SSD storage and up to 16GB of RAM. This is fine! In fact, it’s great for most tasks that you’d want to use the laptop for, from work to play. However, this is one area Microsoft may want to push for the Book 3. RAM could especially use a higher-tier option if Microsoft wants to advertise it as a VR-ready device. While 1TB of data is all people are likely to need, we are seeing some professional laptops — such as some of HP’s Spectre models—go beyond this to offer even more storage. Microsoft may be interested in imitating this move.

Intel’s Ice Lake processors are arriving 2019, and they’re specifically made with tomorrow’s 2-in-1 computers in mind. If Microsoft is planning on a 2020 release for the Surface Book 3, it makes a whole lot of sense to adopt Intel’s Ice Lake chips to increase processor power for the high-end Surface Book specs.

If the Book 3 is going to be released before this is an option, then Microsoft will likely use the older Whiskey Lake processors, which isn’t as exciting, although they are perfectly fine CPUs for the job. Microsoft has often chosen the safer route with its processor updates, so we’d be surprised to see the company be one of the first to implement these 10nm processors.

An improved Surface Pen

microsoft patents surface pen oled touch bar pro

The Surface Pen makes an excellent companion to the Surface Book series if you plan on drawing or doodling — and this is another device that Microsoft is working to improve.

Patent reports show a couple of different enhancements that Microsoft could make. One of them would actually let the touchscreen sense where the Pen was about to touch and enhance sensitivity to that area. Other, older patents indicate that Microsoft has even worked on an OLED touchbar on the Pen to quickly shift settings and control apps that you are interacting with.

Movies & TV

Black Mirror’s David Ajala joins cast of Star Trek: Discovery for season 3

British actor David Ajala, known for his roles in Jupiter Ascending and Fast & Furious 6 will be joining the cast of Star Trek Discovery for season 3. And there's more information about what the season will contain, fresh from SDCC.
Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Mobile

Renders suggest the Huawei Mate 30 Pro may have a special cinematic camera lens

The Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro may join the Mate X folding phone as the company's star products for late 2019. This is what we know about the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro so far.
Computing

Will the Surface Pro 7 ditch Intel chips for Qualcomm’s 5G support?

Microsoft might announce a new Surface Pro 7 towards the end of this year and according to new rumors, it might do with a new chip under the hood. Not an Intel chip though, but one from AMD, or even Qualcomm.
Computing

PDF to JPG conversion is as quick as a few clicks with these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Computing

Gmail's unsend email feature is one of its best. Here's how to use it

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.
Computing

Listen up Apple: Here’s how to fix the Touch Bar once and for all

If you’re wondering what the point of the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar is, you’re not alone. We know it’s got potential, but it’s never managed to hit the heights of what it promised. Here’s what Apple must do to change it for the…
Computing

How to change your Gmail password whenever you want in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.
Computing

Lost without Print Screen? Here's how to take a screenshot on your Mac

Whether you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts or applications such as Grab and Preview, this guide will teach you how to take a screenshot on a Mac. Once you know how, you'll be able to capture images within seconds.
Computing

Converting files from MKV to MP4 is quick and easy. Just follow these steps

MKV files have their place, but if you would rather convert your videos from MKV to MP4, there are two methods we consider the best and most efficient for getting it done. In this guide, we'll walk you through them step by step.
Computing

Google Chrome 76 will stop websites from seeing users in Incognito Mode

Google Chrome 76 will implement a fix that will stop websites from detecting visitors who are in Incognito Mode. Google acknowledged that the change will complicate matters for publishers who have metered paywalls on their news websites.
Gaming

Be forewarned, these free MMORPGs will slay your spare time

Have ample time on your hands and an unquenchable thirst to beat, battle, and blast your way through worlds of fantasy and sci-fi splendor? Check out our picks for the best free MMORPGs.
Computing

Here's how to download a YouTube video to watch offline later

Learning how to download YouTube videos is easier than you might think. There are tools you can use both online and offline. This step-by-step guide will instruct you on how to use them.
Computing

Need to rip audio from a video? Here's how to download music from YouTube

Ripping audio from YouTube has never been easier, but with so many tools on offer, which is the best? Our guide will teach you how to download music from YouTube with two different tools. Just proceed with caution.