Surface Laptop 3 vs Surface Laptop 2: Should you upgrade?

Surface Laptop 3 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Should you upgrade?

Microsoft has announced its new Surface Laptop 3 device, replacing the Surface Laptop 2 as its go-to lifestyle and office laptop. 

With Microsoft claiming the Surface Laptop 3 is two times more powerful than its predecessor, the new portable certainly looks to be the better device. However, the key questions are, will it offer better value and are the new improvements worth splashing the cash on an upgrade? 

We’ve pulled in all the specs and features of both the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Laptop 2 to help make your dilemma easier to solve. Scroll down for an in-depth comparison of the two laptops, or see the bullet points below for a quick summary:

  • Microsoft claims the the Surface Laptop 3 is twice as powerful than the Surface Laptop 2. 
  • The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3 sees integration with Intel’s 10th Generation CPU, while the 15-inch model packs an AMD Ryzen Surface Edition processor with integrated graphics. Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop 2 only has Intel’s 8th Generation Intel Core processor
  • The Surface Laptop 3 sees the introduction of fast charging, which replenishes the battery by 80% within the hour. 
  • The Surface Laptop 2 base price has been reduced to £832, while the cheapest Surface Laptop 3 will cost £999.

Related: Surface Laptop 3

Surface Laptop 3 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Performance

Microsoft claims the Surface Laptop 3 is twice as powerful as the Surface Laptop 2, which is no surprise judging from the spec sheets. The Surface Laptop 2 uses Intel’s 8th Generation mobile processors, which are getting a bit old hat considering Intel’s recently moved onto its 10th Generation of chips.

The top configuration of the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 is rocking a custom-made Surface Edition of the AMD Ryzen 7 3780U processor, which is claimed to be AMD’s most powerful chip for ultra-thin laptops yet. This new CPU boasts an “industry-leading” RX Vega 11 integrated graphics engine, enabling you to play video games without the need of a graphics card.

You also get the option of 10th Generation Intel Core processors with both the 13.5-inch and 15-inch models, which should be substantially more powerful than the 8th Gen chip found in the old Surface Laptop 2. You get integrated graphics here too, so there’s no stopping you playing Fortnite.

Are these performance jumps significant enough to justify an upgrade? That’s difficult to say since we’re yet to test the newly announced Surface Laptop 3 devices, but it will all depend on what you want the laptop for. If you’re just going to be browsing the web, streaming Netflix and filling in spreadsheets, then the Surface Laptop 2 will easily be powerful enough already. But if you’re looking to game or delve into media-editing software, you’ll likely benefit a lot from the new Surface Laptop 3.

Related: Surface Pro 7

Surface Laptop 3 vs MacBook Pro

Surface Laptop 3 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Specs

The processor isn’t the only important spec when it comes to laptops. We also made sure to compare the display quality, RAM and storage options.

The biggest addition to the Surface Laptop 3 is the option of a 15-inch model, which wasn’t available with the Surface Laptop 2. The 15-inch laptop boasts a 2496 x 1664 resolution, which narrowly misses out on Quad HD classification. The 13-inch Surface Laptop 3, meanwhile, retains the same 2256 x 1504 panel as its predecessor, so don’t expect any improvements.

In terms of RAM, the only new addition to the Surface Laptop 3 is the option of a 32GB model – but you’ll have to pay a whopping £2599 for the pleasure.

You don’t get an upgrade on storage though, with both the Surface Laptop 2 and 3 ranges offering 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB options.

Related: Surface Duo

Surface Laptop 3 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Battery life

During the Surface Event, Microsoft claimed the Surface Laptop 3 has a similar all-day battery life to the Surface Laptop 2, so it’s unlikely that you’ll going to see superior stamina by swapping for the latest Microsoft laptop. In fact, judging from the spec sheets, you may actually be seeing a downgrade in battery performance with the new Surface Laptop.

On Microsoft’s site, it claims the Surface Laptop 2 has a 14.5-hour battery life. Head into the Surface Laptop 3 spec sheet though, and you’ll see a slightly worse figure at 11.5 hours. Of course, you can’t completely trust official company battery life figures, as it’s easy for manufacturers to manipulate results by dimming the display or deactivating the keyboard backlight.

One battery-related advantage you do get with the Surface Laptop 3 is fast charging, with Microsoft claiming you’re able to replenish the battery by 80% by just an hour’s worth of charging.

Fast charging is no doubt a great feature, but it’s probably not significant enough alone to persuade you to upgrade from a Surface Laptop 2. It certainly doesn’t make up for the reduced battery life.

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