Microsoft Surface 3 Still Good?

Microsoft released their 3rd revision of the Surface tablet over 2 years ago, now that the device has matured, is it still a good buy in 2017?

With the arrival of Windows 8 way back in 2013, Microsoft needed a device that could bring all the “brilliant” features of windows 8 into one package, a device that did what the mac could not. That is where the original Microsoft Surface RT came into the game.

However, there was one HUGE drawback, the Surface RT was running the Windows RT operating system which was based on the ARM architecture instead of the normal x86 architecture that ALL major windows operating systems ran on (only exception being windows mobile). This means that you CANNOT run any standard applications like Firefox, Chrome, Adobe, Steam, and any other desktop software you can think of. Instead, Windows RT was limited to Windows Store apps only, and at the time, the Windows Store was just released, so it was a desolate wasteland with barely any apps.

Not learning from their mistakes, Microsoft launched their next generation of the Surface with the same ARM architecture, the Surface 2 . Instead of ditching the RT operating system altogether, Microsoft desperately wanted to make RT work in the market place and continued trying to make it work. The Surface 2 came with a more powerful ARM CPU vs. the Surface RT and also came with a slightly improved operating system, Windows 8.1 RT. But these were just minor adjustments to the UI. The Surface 2 was still HEAVILY handicapped by the lack of apps in the windows store, and lack for x86 apps.

Then the Surface 3 came out in 2015, for the first time ever, it comes with a x86 OS and a fully enabled Windows operating system (Windows 10). After years of trying to make RT work, Microsoft finally ditched it and stuck to x86 with their new windows 10 operating system.

Aesthetics & Functionality:
The surface 3 is still one of the most beautiful 2 in 1 devices on the market. While simplistic, it feels like quality with the white/silvery brushed aluminum covering the back of the tablet.

The keyboard stand features a number of tilt features, so if your typing on a table or on your lap, the screen can always be facing the right direction.

The optional keyboard comes in a variety of flavors, white, black, red, blue etc. You can also get either chicklet keys or touch keys for whatever typing style you prefer.

Connectivity is quite low, only a single USB 3.0 port and one displayport. The only other USB on the tablet is for charging purposes only, so you will need a usb hub if you plan on connecting more than just a mouse to your Surface. In 2017 this will be an even bigger hindrance to Surface owners as everything is now moving to thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C.

The Intel Atom x7-Z8700 CPU is no Core i3 or Core i5, but it gets the job done. As long as you don’t have a million tabs open, web browsing, video playback, word processing should all be very smooth.

However, the real killer for the cheapest surface 3 variant is the 2GB of RAM and the measly 64GB of storage. 2GB of RAM is barely enough for day to day applications and only 37GB of that 64GB is usable. In 2017, this is a tough sell, as more and more applications are getting more power hungry by the year. If you want to use this tablet beyond just video playback and web browsing, I recommend you buy the 128GB variant with 4GB of VRAM.

The good news is that the 1080P screen the Surface 3 is rocking is still quite good. 1080P is still more than enough for a 10 inch form factor, and the colors out of the box should be fine for minor photo editing as  the 1080P IPS screen is able to achieve 90% of the Adobe RGB color gamut.

Surface 3 sales for both new and refurbished have gone down quite significantly since launch, you can now get a bottom of the line Surface 3 for just $300. However it is very difficult to get the 128GB variant below $400. The 128GB variants usually hover around the $450 price point.

Keyboards for the Surface 3 still insanely expensive, they are $90 on Amazon currently. Still a good chunk cheaper than the original $120, but still expensive.

Also, the Surface 3 comes with Windows 8.1 NOT Windows 10. With the 1 year free upgrade from windows 8.1 to 10 over, I’m not sure if you can still get windows 10 for free on the Surface.

Overall, the Surface 3 is still ok in 2017 for daily usage. However the base model’s 2GB of RAM and 64GB’s of storage are simply a no go if you do more than browse the web, and the 128GB model is around $449 brand new, so it’s hard to make this a recommendation with better 2 in 1s for the same price. Also, remember, the keyboard that goes with the Surface 3 costs an ADDITIONAL $100. The only way the Surface 3 has a true bargain is with refurbished variants being sold at under $330 for all models.

So there you have it. The Surface 3 in a nutshell. It’s good for regular tasks, but the high price of the 128GB variant makes it tough to recommend without going refurbished.

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CPU: Intel Atom x7-Z8700 1.6GHz (Bursts up to 2.4GHz)


Storage: 64GB or 128GB SSD

Connectivity: 1x USB 3.0, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x Micro SD Card Reader, 1x USB 2.0 Power

Weight: 1.37 LBS

OS: Windows 8.1

Alternative 2-in-1s:


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By | 2018-04-12T19:06:27+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Overviews|0 Comments

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