Surface Book 3 vs Surface Pro 9 5G


I’ve got currently a Surface Book 2 13’', i7 , 16GB. Now I’m looking to upgrade to a new device. Sadly it seems there aren’t many new FANLESS devices from Microsoft at the moment.

So for me it came down to:

  • Surface Book 3 15’’ i7, 32GB Memory

  • Surface Pro 9 5G, SQ3, 16GB Memory

One of the big questions I’ve got is: How much of an upgrade is the SB3 actually? I saw some benchmark that actually showed lower CPU results over the SB2 because the CPU runs hotter and starts to throttle more than the SB2 did in the past.

Also: How does the Surface Book 3 and the Surface Pro 9 5G compare in terms of CPU / GPU performance?

Just to make sure, are you aware of the limitations of using an ARM / WOA device? There are still some compatibility issues, and some applications that require emulation still run quite slow. As for fanless devices, how important is this for you? I’m typing this on a Surface Laptop Studio that I’m quite happy with. It’s got a fan, but I rarely hear it spin up, and it’s very quiet to my ears. It’s heavy though (3.83lbs). By the way, if we didn’t say this already: welcome back to the new and improved TabletPCReview!

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Thank you :slight_smile:

The fanless part is very important to me. And since we use Surface Dockingstations everywhere it has to be a Surface device as well.

I’m very aware of the ARM limitation which is a big factor indeed. Thats one of the big reasons I’m leaning towards a Surface Book 3. However those aren’t available new anymore, so the only option would be a refurbished one directly from Microsoft.

I was honestly always waiting for a Surface Book 4, because I didn’t see the Book 3 as that much of an improvement. I didn’t expect Microsoft to cancel the whole Book line =/

And now I’m a spot where I’m not sure if the SP9 5G or the SB3 would be that much of an improvement to my current SB2. But I do see the SP ARM Variant as the only interesting line going forward and considering that the SP9 5G will be the last ARM Surface to support ARM32 Apps, it would be a great device to go “full in” on ARM.

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Is the Surface Pro 9 5g fanless? I thought all the SP9’s had fans…

Oops, sorry, just checked and it is fanless

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It’s fanless, but it does have vents because MS wants to save money by using the same casing for both versions. It’s the reason the WOA version is no longer super slim.

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What is the use case? I use a Surface Pro 9 5G to run my Digital Consulting Practice, but I live in a very Microsoft and Web Centric World. I don’t need any legacy x86 programs. I will say emulation for x64 Applications has improved with Windows 11, so on the rare occasion that I need to run them, I’m fine.

Honestly the only x64 Application I run on an ongoing basis is ViveTool (CMD line version) to enable Insider features :slight_smile:

Another option between the SB3 would be the Surface Laptop Studio. I replaced my Pro X and Pro 8 with the Pro 9 5G.

I had a 15" Surfacebook 3. Not only is it not fanless, it’s loud when it gets going.

I think that’s the one with the dGPU in the base right? Wasn’t there also a fully fanless model without dGPU?

I think the 15" only comes with a dGPU. But also, there’s a fan in the clipboard because that’s where the processor is. So, there are actually 2 fans. And they both make noise.

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That must be new for the 3 then. The SB2 had a fully fanless i5 model (just looked it up).

Interesting, I only had a 13" SB1, then the 15" SB3. I had no idea any of them were ever fanless. I thought they all had fans in the top part at least.

Actually it doesn’t. It has the border but it’s completely closed as the Surface Pro X was. It is thicker though and weights more. But it does have a bigger battery.

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Well its going to be my main computing device for everything. A little bit of photo editing, programming, sometimes a bit of gaming etc.

I do own a Surface Pro X and I used it the last week as my main device and can say that “most” things do work. However there is still always the risk, with an update or something like that some App won’t work anymore under emulation.

The Surface Laptop Studio isn’t something I’m interested in at all. First and foremost it’s not fanless. If it would be I might consider it, but I do actually detach the tablet part of my SB2 to watch videos.

After a bit more researching I think the Surface Pro 7+ i5 might be also an interesting device. It’s fanless. It’s more powerful or at least as powerful as the SB3 is (without the nvidia gpu).

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According to microsoft all SB3’s are fanless (the tablet part) but yeah there is a fan (very loud one) in the keyboard part for the GPU.

The same goes for the SB2.


I run the latest version of Visual Studio on my Pro 9 5G and I know VS Code has an ARM64 version as well. I don’t do video editing, so I can’t comment on that.

If you want 100% compatibility and don’t need the 5G connection, the i5 Pro 9 is probably a great choice.

I’m kind of shocked to hear the clipboard was fanless, because the fan would come on with very little going on, certainly nothing that would have taxed the GPU.

Also take a look at those business Windows tablets like Dell Latitude or Thinkpad and see if there are any sales. Some of them also have 13" screens. The downside is that without a sale they are very expensive and pen drawing is not as good as Pro 9 I believe. On the plus side you usually get more silent devices, robust build quality, better serviceability and good port selection. If you want to play heavy games there is also that Asus Rog tablet (battery life is not as good though ).

If I had to buy one tablet to use for everything, I would buy the ASUS ROG one with at least the 3050 (If not the 4050). That would allow a bit of gaming and everything else–with a sacrifice of some battery life and thickness. Probably a slightly worse inking implementation as well.

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This is where it breaks down for me:

Weight tablet: 1.18 Kg (2.60 lbs), keyboard: 0.34 Kg (0.75 lbs)

Nearly 3.5# - that’s MBP 14 territory.