Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled two new Surface Laptops promising performance three times that of a MacBook Air, as well as one model with “AMD’s most powerful mobile processor.” That model represents the first time Microsoft has put an AMD processor in a Surface device.
The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3 looks to be mostly an update to the existing Surface Laptop. The key difference is a long overdue CPU jump from the current 8th gen quad-core Kaby Lake R-based Intel CPU to Intel’s newest 10th-gen 10nm Ice Lake CPU.
Microsoft didn’t detail which10th gen Ice Lake chip it used, but it’s likely the top-end quad-core chip, as the company said it offers a 2x performance over the Surface Laptop 2, which is built on a quad-core 8th gen Kaby Lake R chip from Intel.
Perhaps more importantly for Microsoft, the use of the new 10th-gen Ice Lake CPU delivers a 3x performance boost over Apple’s current MacBook Air, which resorts to a dual-core low power “Y” class processor.
The biggest news though looks to be the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3. Boasting a larger 15-inch screen, the bigger Surface Laptop 15 swaps out Intel silicon for a “special” AMD-built Ryzen chip.
Ryzen: Surface Edition
The Surface Laptop 15 is the eyebrow lifting laptop though. Microsoft called the new “Microsoft Ryzen Surface Edition” chip the result of a close collaboration with AMD. As such, it is “AMD’s most powerful mobile CPU,” Microsoft said, and in fact, the most powerful in its class.
Although Microsoft didn’t detail it during its introduction, more details of the CPU can be found on AMD’s site. The company said it is a Ryzen 7 3780U. The chip is said to be a 15-watt chip with Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics. AMD officials also told PCWorld the chip can boost to 4GHz and is built on Zen+ cores rather than the newer Zen 2 cores in Ryzen 3000 desktop chips.
CPU core count wasn’t realized but it’s likely a quad-core with symmetrical multi-threading for a total of 8-threads.
AMD didn’t say it was a custom part, but the blog post by AMD’s Jack Hyunh, who is a VP in the custom silicon group, means it’s a part specifically created for Microsoft.
Battery life, which has long been a rock in AMD’s mobile laptop’s shoe, is claimed to be about 11.5 hours in the new Surface Laptop 3.
Super fast charging
Microsoft said the new 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 should offer all day battery life. Both laptops still feature Microsoft’s magnetic Surface connector for charging, but the company said it’s now able to charge a drained laptop from 0 to 80 percent in under an hour.
The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3 will start at $999, and the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 will start at $1,199 with pre-orders available now.
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One of founding fathers of hardcore tech reporting, Gordon has been covering PCs and components since 1998.