Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15-inch Core i7 Review: Better with Ice Lake

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The main advantages of our Core i7 SKU versus the Ryzen 5 SKU include Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, faster storage performance, faster CPU performance, integrated AI acceleration, faster gaming performance, and higher performance-per-Watt. Other aspects like the display, WLAN battery life, surface temperature, and fan noise are either the same between them or nearly identical.

While it’s unsurprising that our Core i7 SKU is able to outperform our cheaper Ryzen 5 SKU, it’s the margin that we’re more interested in. Raw CPU performance, for example, isn’t all that much faster meaning you shouldn’t be choosing Intel over AMD based purely on processor horsepower. Gaming performance is also largely inconsistent with some games running better on Intel and others being neck-to-neck. Meanwhile, AI acceleration continues to be a novelty for most office users as of this writing since it has no direct influence on common day-to-day tasks. Intel can really leverage its advantages over AMD in the field of AI, but that won’t mean very much to consumers if applications aren’t optimized to exploit AI acceleration in the first place.

In short, the day-to-day performance differences between the Surface Laptop 3 Core i7 and Ryzen 5 SKUs are smaller than anticipated especially when you consider the price premium that Microsoft is charging for its Intel SKUs. If you’re a power user who wants the best that the Surface Laptop can offer, then the Intel options are a no-brainer. Otherwise, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between an Intel and AMD Surface Laptop 3 if your workload primarily consists of word processing, web browsing, or video streaming.

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