The next element of Microsoft’s Surface line is here, and the anticipated Surface 3 throws up a couple of (nice) surprises. Starting at $499, the Surface 3 will complement the Surface Pro 3 by offering a 10.8-inch device in a 1920x1280 resolution. That sounds a little odd being a bit more than full-HD, but offers a 3:2 resolution like the larger Surface Pro 3. Under the hood is Intel’s new Atom x7 which we discussed briefly during the Atom re-naming launch earlier this year, which means a 14nm class device featuring Airmont cores and the direct upgrade from Silvermont and Bay Trail. The release states that this is the high end model, which would suggest a quad-core Atom design running above 2 GHz. Microsoft/Intel are not directly calling this Cherry Trail, and our discussions with Intel seem to avoid the Cherry Trail nomenclature, but the SoC will be partnered with 64GB or 128GB of storage, plus a 4G ‘LTE Ready’ version will be coming later.

The Surface 3 is being billed by Microsoft as the thinnest and lightest Surface device, and will run the full Windows 8.1 inside which can be upgraded to Windows 10 later this year for free. The price will include a 1-year subscription to Office 365, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage. On the device will be a full-size USB 3.0 port, a mini-DisplayPort and a microSD card reader to supplement storage. Charging comes via a bundled fast-charging micro-USB, although it can also be charged with a standard smartphone micro-USB as well. Battery life is listed as 10 hours for video playback, with the screen being described as having ‘incredibly accurate colors’ – here’s hoping for a calibrated display out of the box. Front and rear cameras (3.5MP / 8MP) are designed to both capture 1080p, with an auto-focus feature on the rear camera.

The device on its own will be 8.7mm thin, weighing in at 622 grams (1.37 pounds), and seems to not feature the kickstand that Anand liked in his Surface Pro 3 review. Instead we get a standard 3-position stand. Accessories start with the standard Type Cover but also include a Docking Station with more USB ports as well as ‘The Surface Pen’. The new digital pen will be available in red, blue, black and silver with 256 levels of pressure sensitivity - we presume this is an N-Trig design although we’re waiting for official confirmation.

The Surface 3 and accessories are now available for pre-order in the US, shipping on May 5th. Resellers and partners should have availability on May 7th, although from 1st April users should be able to head into a Microsoft Store in Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States for some hands on time before full launch.

We’ve already put in our request for a review unit.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Surface 3
Size 10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34-inch
267 x 187 x 8.7-mm
Weight 1.37 lbs - 622 g
Display 10.8-inch ClearType Full HD Plus
1920x1280 resolution, 3:2 ratio
10-point multi-touch
Surface Pen Support
Battery Life Up to 10 hours (video playback)
Storage/DRAM 64GB / 2GB 128GB / 4GB
CPU Atom x7-Z8700
Quad Core 14nm
1.6 GHz Base Frequency
2.4 GHz Burst Frequency
WiFi 802.11ac + BT 4.0
LTE Models at a later date
Ports USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort, microSD,
Micro USB charging, 3.5mm Headset Jack
Software Windows 8.1
Office 365 Personal with 1TB OneDrive (1-year)
Front Camera 3.5 MP
Rear Camera 8.0 MP with Autofocus
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Warranty 1-year limited
Price $499  $599

Edit: This news post originally stated that the kickstand was the same as the Surface Pro 3. This error has been adjusted due to new information.

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • eanazag - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    It is on the Microsoft Store already for pre-order. It does not yet list the price for the LTE model. Most questions can be answered there.

    It looks pretty decent. My biggest concern is graphics performance of the Atom processor. There hasn't been a good graphics Atom yet.
  • zeo - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    The graphics have been improved, Bay Trail used a Gen 7 (Ivy Bridge) GPU scaled to just 4 EU's... While Cherry Trail uses a Gen 8 (Broadwell) GPU with 8/12/16 EU's and should provide around up to 50% better graphical performance than Bay Trail...

    Won't completely close the performance gap they have with other high end mobile GPU's but it should be much better than what they could offer before...
  • Daishi83 - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    The slides I am finding say 2x gpu performance based on GFXBench 2.7. Which based on what I am seeing puts it in the low end of HD4000 territory.
  • zeo - Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - link

    The slides mention both 50% and 2x, depending on which test is being referred to, 3D Mark is the 50%... Anyway, since it's based on Broadwell's Gen 8 GPU, it has a list of improvements that includes increased size of various GPU caches, better Hi-Z and tessellation performance, and increased Pixel clock fill rate. The GPU natively supports 2x MultiSample Anti-Aliasing in hardware... more advance Quick Sync, etc.

    Generally, you'd see a 5-15% graphical improvement in performance for equivalent Haswell vs Broadwell parts that only give a 20% increase in EU's, but Cherry Trail really scaled up the GPU compared to Bay Trail and doubled to quadrupled the EU count...

    So, there may not be much CPU performance improvement over Bay Trail but the GPU is definitely a improvement... and yes, it puts it in the HD4000 territory, as that also had 16 EU's... but keep in mind Cherry Trail is still a mobile SoC and uses a lot less power that a Core chip... Making the improvement pretty surprising even with the same number of EU's...
  • ddriver - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    Doesn't look too shabby, an affordable x86 tablet with 4 gigs of ram and a stylus - that's gonna hit a pretty much vacant spot.
  • CaedenV - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    no kidding! When I was going back to school I essentially wanted a T100 with 4GB of RAM on board, but could not find anything in the category except for a horrible detachable HP that literally had purple polkadots on it... horrible. Thankfully found a great referb deal on a high-end laptop that more than fit the bill, but something like this new Surface would have been more ideal.
  • RBFL - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    I've just bought a Thinkpad 10, which pretty much matches this - 4/128GD,64bit OS, Stylus, 1900 by 1200. Lenovo had a good sale around about President's day so it was ~$550 with the keyboard dock.

    I think the more rigid keyboard makes it more of a secondary laptop but these look pretty nice too.
  • Daishi83 - Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - link

    Honestly, at this price point, once you include the only theoretically optional keyboard and stylus, I feel like the T300 Chi is probably a better option.

    Sure the screen ratio is just wrong, its stylus is an additional $40 and a bit of an unknown quantity and the reported battery life is concerning, though this has all been with the WQHD display not the entry level FHD one and if the new XPS 13 that could make a significant difference.

    For me though these issues are clearly outweighed by more ram, more, faster storage, more powerful CPU and GPU and above everything else a traditional clamshell form factor that you know you are going to be able to use on your lap.

    At $680 or $740 I am struggling to see why I would choose the Surface.
  • chizow - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    Finally! A lot of people were asking for Surface features and build quality with a lower priced Atom variant for the sub-$500 market and it looks like we got it.

    Will need to see if it is plagued by the same issues I had with the Asus T100 (never sure if this was platform/RAM or eMMC sluggishness).

    Questions I have:
    1) 64-bit OS? Bay Trails were mostly limited to 32-bit. This doesn't look to be Win8.1 Pro either.
    2) Pen included?
    3) Same battery life?

    Overall I think the price needs to come down $100 on both or include the type pad as I think it gets too close to the i3 SP3 with a LOT of trade-offs. As a pure tablet it looks to be priced around the same as iPad Air 2, but the A2 can be had for less than MSRP now that it has been on the market for awhile.

    Will definitely check these out at BB or MS store when they hit.
  • Drumsticks - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    I suspect it's a 64-bit OS, but obviously I have no way of knowing. The pen is not included, but it is supported. It's an extra $50.

    Battery life would presumably be a small step up, from the SP3, but maybe equal with the SP4.

    While I do think the price could drop $50, this is still a nice, well priced tablet, even with the accessories taken into account. With a type cover, pen and the 128GB model, I think you come out roughly $150 cheaper than the i3 with a type cover. Not quite as cheap as it should be, but keep in mind it has double the storage, so it's not too bad overall.

    If the SP3 made Microsoft a profit, I think the S3 is going to turn the line into a real success. I suspect the sweet spot is going to be in the 4GB 128GB model!

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now