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Gaming on the Surface Laptop 3

Posted October 21, 2019 | Gaming | Hardware | Laptop 3 | Surface | Windows


This week, Microsoft’s third-generation Laptop will become available and if you are planning to buy the more expensive 15in iteration, you may be wondering how it performs with a bit of casual gaming. And even if you were not curious, I was, so I downloaded a couple of titles and put the new hardware to the test.

For this experiment, I was using the 15in, AMD Ryzen 5 with Vega 9 GPU and 16GB of RAM. But I can tell you, neither the RAM nor the CPU was the bottleneck, it’s the GPU that was holding the scores back in every game that I played.

I know this because, using the Game Bar that is built into Windows 10, you can see your system perf in real-time. While the CPU was usually less than 50%, the GPU was maxed at 90% or above for testing of higher-end settings.

The short version is that it is possible to game on the hardware but not at optimal settings. If you lower the resolution and turn off many of the visual-enhancements, you can get 30-50FPS in games like Fortnite and Apex Legends.

For a raw data point, you can see the Time Spy score. At 916, the Laptop 3 is far from a  gaming machine but it’s worth pointing out that it was not pitched as one either. What you get with the Laptop 3 is a laptop that works as a casual gaming laptop when you are away from your primary device.

Where gaming on the Laptop 3 makes sense is when traveling, taking a controller with you to do a bit of gaming in a hotel room. Considering that I could get the framerates high enough, even with the lower settings, it could scratch the itch of needing to play your favorite FPS or racing game. It’s far from perfect and the GPU isn’t the best but it is viable.

The only ‘gaming’ hardware in the Surface lineup right now is the older Surface Book 2. That device is still on the docket for a refresh which means if you want a true mobile gaming laptop, you may be better off waiting for that hardware to be updated.

Of course, once Microsoft’s xCloud finally makes its way to the PC, this experience will only get better, provided your hotel as a fast enough connection.

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