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Microsoft Surface Book 3 (13.5-inch) vs Macbook Pro (13-inch): Specs, price comparison

By Nadeem Sarwar May 6, 2020, 10:55 am

Microsoft has just launched its latest premium 2-in-1 convertible laptop, the Surface Book 3, packing in a lot of hardware upgrades but retaining the same design. Sounds like a familiar premise? Well, this is what Apple also did with its latest 13-inch MacBook Pro that went official a few days ago. With a starting price of $1,599, Surface Book 3 goes directly against the MacBook Pro (13-inch) refresh that starts at $1,299. Already wondering about the Surface Book 3 vs MacBook Pro duel?

Well, both the devices flaunt a premium build are packed with the latest Intel silicon. But there are a few key differences that will be decisive for potential buyers before they splurge on the latest computing devices from Apple and Microsoft. So, let’s start with our Microsoft Surface Book 3 (13.5-inch) vs Macbook Pro (13-inch) comparison:


Design and build

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh sports a design that was introduced a while ago. Although the design is old, it is every bit as premium in an understated way and the aluminum chassis ensures that you’re not missing out on durability either. At 1.4kg, it is not too heavy either. Another major upgrade is the new Magic keyboard, which offers more key travel and finally provides a respite from the issue-leaden butterfly switch keyboard on its predecessor.

Versatility is the key here!

Coming to Surface Book 3, it is a whole different form factor. You can use it as a laptop, flip it all the way to 360-degrees or detach the two halves and use it as a tablet in any orientation that suits you. This is one area that will play a key role while choosing between Surface Book 3 and the 13-inch Macbook Pro. And in case you are worried about build quality, Microsoft has used Magnesium to craft the Surface Book 3, which not only feels premium, but also helps keep the weight in check.

Surface Book 3 (13.5-inch)Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch)
Display13.5-inch PixelSense Display13.3-inch Retina Display
3000×2000 (267 PPI)2560×1600 (227 PPI)
ProcessorQuad-core 10th gen Intel Core i5-1035G7
Quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
Quad‑core 8th Gen Intel Core i5
Quad‑core 8th Gen Intel Core i7
Quad‑core 10th Gen Intel Core i5
Quad‑core 10th Gen Intel Core i7
Storage256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
RAM8GB / 16GB / 32GB8GB / 16GB (upgradable up to 32GB)
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-QIntel Iris Plus Graphics
BatteryUp to 17.5 hoursUp to 10 hours wireless web
Dimensions 31.2 x 23.2 x 1.5-2.3 mm1.56 x 30.41 x 21.24 cm
Weight1.53kg1.4 kg
Ports 2 x USB-A (v3.1 Gen 2) ports
1 x USB-C (v3.1 Gen 2) USB PD 3.0
2 x Surface Connect ports
3.5mm headphone jack
Full-size SDXC card reader
4x Thunderbolt 3 (USB‑C) ports
3.5mm headphone jack
ColorsPlatinumSilver, Space Grey
Price$1,599, $1,999, $2,499, $2,699$1,299, $1,499, $1,799, $1,999
(This table is best viewed in landscape mode on mobile devices)

But at the end of the day, you have to choose whether you want more versatility with your computing machine, or if a conventional laptop is all you want. However, do keep in mind that you won’t have to compromise on aesthetics or build quality with either device.


MacBook Pro

There are more than a few differences between the Apple offering and MacBook Pro when it comes to the display attributes. Surface Book 3 packs a more pixel-dense 13.5-inch PixelSense display that has a resolution of 3000×2000 and a pixel density of 267PPI. It offers a slightly unconventional 3:2 aspect ratio, which many people actually prefer because it fits more vertical content on the screen and is better suited for split-screen multitasking. More importantly, it supports 10 point multi-touch input and also works with a stylus.

How important is touch input to you?

On the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you’ll find a slightly smaller 13.3-inch True Tone Retina display with a resolution of 2560×1600 and 227PPI pixel density. It offers 500 nits of peak brightness but doesn’t offer touch input support.

Surface Book 3 vs MacBook Pro: Performance

Surface Book 3’s 13.5-inch variant will let users choose between the quad-core 10th gen Intel Core i5-1035G7 and the Core i7-1065G7. This can be paired with up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of non-upgradable PCIe SSD. On the other hand, the 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh starts with the 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, while the slightly higher-end variant packs the quad-core Core i7 processor.

You’ll have to pay higher for the 10th gen Intel processor that is available in both Core i5 and Core i7 flavors. There are two RAM options viz. 8GB and 16GB, which can be upgraded to 16GB and 32GB respectively. The base model has 256GB SSD, but you can go up to 1TB with the top-end variant and further expand it up to 4TB.

Another major parameter that you’ll have to factor in will be the OS. If you are reluctant to switch from macOS to Windows, then the MacBook Pro refresh (both 13-inch and 16-inch) is the device you should be looking at and nothing else. But if the versatility offered by the Surface Book 3 is what you desire and you have no reservations against Windows 10, then Microsoft’s latest hardware will serve you well.

Surface Book 3 leads with more NVIDIA GPU firepower!

Graphics prowess is one area where the MacBook Pro lags behind, as it comes with the Intel Iris Plus Graphics. As for the Surface Book 3, it lets you choose between the Intel Iris Plus or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Max-Q) with 4GB GDDR5 graphics memory. So yeah, you can play most of the Xbox game catalog at a respectable frame rate and graphics settings.


Now, this is something that will make or break the experience for people who connect a lot of devices and peripherals with their laptop. Surface Book has two USB-A (v3.1 Gen 2) ports, one USB-C (v3.1 Gen 2) port with USB Power Delivery 3.0 standard, 2 Surface Connect ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-sized SDXC card reader.

Thunderbolt on MacBook Pro vs variety on Surface Book 3

Aside from a 3.5mm headphone jack, the 13-inch MacBook Pro only offers two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. If you pay a little extra, you can get four USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the higher-end model. Disappointingly, the Surface Book 3 lacks a Thunderbolt port but tries to make up for it with a richer selection of ports.

Surface Book 3 vs MacBook Pro: Price

Talking about the pricing, Microsoft Surface Book 3 starts at $1,599 for the base variant with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and Intel’s Iris Plus graphics. For the higher-end variant with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, you’ll have to pay $1,999 or more.

Apple’s MacBook Pro refresh starts much lower at $1,299, but the base model gives you an older 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor. You’ll have to pay more to get the 10th Gen Intel processor variant, which means you pay in the same price bracket as the Surface Book 3’s base configuration.


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