Microsoft has scheduled a long-overdue refresh of the Surface Book and Surface Go line-up for this spring, according to a report, which also claims the Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2 won’t deviate much from their current designs.
According to Petri, the Surface Book 3’s focus, however, will migrate from “creators” to those who are working with artificial intelligence.
Instead of offering Nvidia GeForce RTX designs with ray tracing, the 2-in-1’s internals will include Nvida Quadro cards, based on the Nvidia GTX 16xx series GPUs rather than the more advanced, and future-proofed, RTX GPUs. The Surface Book 3, then, will apparently embrace its roots as a mobile workstation.
Petri does suggest that that the Surface Book 3 will be redesigned to accommodate the larger power draw from the Quadro GPU. Recall that the Surface Book 2 already had power problems, so a redesign in this regard would be expected anyway. The Surface Book 2 shipped in both a 13.5-inch and a 15-inch version, though there’s no clarification from Petri whether this would continue.
The Surface Go 2, meanwhile, may use a Pentium Gold CPU and possibly an option for something a bit more powerful. That still apparently excludes a Qualcomm chip. It does leave open the possibility for a 10th-gen Pentium “Comet Lake” chip, though, including the 5205U and 6405U, which would still represent a substantial upgrade over the chip found in the original Surface Go.
Petri suggests that the launch event will be held in the spring, not in the fall, and in New York City.
A recent report by AdDuplex is one of the only indicators to date of how many Surfaces Microsoft sells in each category. According to that report, the Surface Go has been one of the bestsellers in the Surface lineup, while the Surface Book and Surface Book 2 have not.
Some of that can be explained away by pricing, as the Surface Go’s US$399 price tag is certainly far more accessible than the Surface Book 2's, whose prices quickly climbed above US$2000.
What we would hope for
If these reports come true, here’s what we would hope to see from both devices:
As far as the Surface Book 3 is concerned, accommodating power and heat would be first priority. We’d like to know what Microsoft’s doing about the Surface Dock, too, which struggled to keep up with the Surface Book 2’s power demands.
The Surface Book 2’s keyboard was among the best I’ve ever used, but Microsoft trimmed the key travel a bit in the recent Surface Laptop 3, and it’s noticeable. We hope that doesn't happen with the Surface Book 2.
It’s also worth noting that there have been a number of issues with the Surface Book 2 hardware: “hot boxing” (where the laptop doesn't go to sleep when you close it), the random disappearance of the discrete GPU from Windows' Device Manager, and so on. Still, the Surface Book 2 remains one of our favourite Surfaces to use, with a powerful combination of power and ergonomics.
The basic premise of the Surface Go is solid: a computing device that's light, mobile, and fits nicely into the cramped quarters of planes and trains. That’s unlikely to change. The device’s chief challenge is its Type Cover, which felt a bit cramped to use under my fingers (though this is obviously a very subjective aspect). That’s unlikely to change, too.
All in all, new Surface hardware is always intriguing.