Microsoft's Surface Laptop 3: What business pros need to know

Microsoft introduced a new laptop that includes expandable storage and a larger trackpad to appeal to enterprise customers.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

For the first time, Microsoft's flagship laptop got it right. The Surface Laptop 3, announced at a Microsoft event in New York on Wednesday, is a competitor to Apple's MacBook Pro lineup, offers field-serviceable expandable storage through a removable top panel, which also allows for the keyboard to be replaced in the event of keyboard failure or broken keys, a problem that has plagued users of MacBook systems.

Microsoft's lineage as a software company makes its foray into making PCs a peculiar one, with previous models relying on uncomfortable gimmicks—the Alcantara fabric finish of the first two generations of the Surface Laptop make the system unique, though the oil-wicking properties of fabric make demonstration models in big-box stores look rather distressed.

SEE: Mobile device security: Tips for IT pros (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Compared to the Surface Laptop 2, the trackpad is now 20% larger, with the keyboard including 1.3mm of travel and 19mm pitch between keys, with individual keys including a subtle dish. 

For the first time, the Surface Laptop 3 is available in 13.5" and 15" variants, and has finally adopted USB-C, relegating mini-DisplayPort to the history books. The Surface Laptop 3 ships 10th generation quad-core Intel CPUs, avoiding Microsoft's tendency to ship previous-generation parts, as has been seen with the Surface Studio. While the 13.5" is purely Intel territory, the 15" Surface Laptop 3 is available with customized Surface Edition variants of AMD's Ryzen CPU. 

The 13.5" version starts at $999, with the 15" starting at $1,199, according to Microsoft. Both sizes will begin shipping on October 22.

Official pricing of Surface Laptop 3 is detailed in the table below, though note that not all configurations are available in all colors.

SizeCPURAMSSDPrice

13.5"

Intel Core i5

8 GB

128 GB

$999

13.5"

Intel Core i5

8 GB

256 GB

$1,299

13.5"

Intel Core i7

16 GB

256 GB

$1,599

13.5"

Intel Core i7

16 GB

512 GB

$1,999

13.5"

Intel Core i7

16 GB

1 TB

$2,399

15"

AMD Ryzen A9

8 GB

128 GB

$1,199

15"

AMD Ryzen A9

8 GB

256 GB

$1,499

15"

AMD Ryzen A9

16 GB

256 GB

$1,699

15"

AMD Ryzen A11

16 GB

512 GB

$2,099

15"

AMD Ryzen A11

32 GB

1 TB

$2,799

For more, check out "Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Book 2 devices are throttle locking to 400 MHz" at TechRepublic and "Microsoft's new Surfaces: Specs, pricing, more details for Pro 7, Laptop 3 and Arm devices" at ZDNet.

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