Apple is seeking to turn up the heat on its PC rivals with the launch of its M1 processor in its latest Macs, including the 13-inch MacBook Pro. While many Windows 10 laptops, such as the Microsoft Surface Book 3, continue to be powered by Intel Core processors, Apple has brought forward its high-performance M1 chip in a bid to crush the PC competition on speed. But does the new MacBook Pro with M1 really deliver? And what about other key features and specs, such as battery life, display and portability? Notably, Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 does have some unique features to offer that you won’t find on the M1 MacBook Pro, especially when it comes to the display and graphics. For instance, on GPU, the Surface Book 3 can be outfitted with a high-powered discrete graphics card, up to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. The Surface Book 3 with 10th-gen Intel chips is still a performance heavyweight when it comes to CPU performance, too—and can also be configured with a higher amount of RAM than the M1 MacBook Pro. Clearly, the new MacBook Pro with M1 and Surface Book 3 are the professional-tier notebooks from Apple and Microsoft, in contrast to the more consumer-oriented MacBook Air and Surface Laptop 4. But which of the notebooks, the MacBook Pro with M1 or the Surface Book 3, is ideal for you?
In the following slides, the CRN Test Center compares the Apple MacBook Pro (M1) vs Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 on price, key features and specs.
It’s not likely that you’ll be disappointed with the display quality on either the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with M1 or the Surface Book 3. Both notebooks offer terrific LCD displays, with colorful and vibrant screen technology—Apple’s Retina display for the MacBook Pro and Microsoft’s PixelSense technology on the Surface Book 3 display. But the Surface Book 3 stands out in a few ways when it comes to the display. For starters, the Surface Book 3 display is a touch screen, whereas the MacBook Air with M1 (like all other Macs) does not offer a touch option. The Surface Book 3 also comes in two different sizes—a smaller model that has a 13.5-inch display and a larger version with a 15-inch screen. By contrast, while the MacBook Pro is also available in a larger size—at 16 inches—that model does not yet come with the M1 processor. (Rumors suggest that Apple is waiting to update its 16-inch MacBook Pro with the next generation of its M-series processor, possibly called the M1X or M2.)
But the size options and touch screen are not even the most striking differences on display for the M1 MacBook Pro vs the Surface Book 3 comparison. Rather, it’s the fact that Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 offers a unique design that lets you detach the display from the keyboard base. You can then use the display as a standalone tablet, or flip the display around and re-attach it to the base facing the other direction for use in presentation mode or stand mode.
In terms of resolution, the Surface Book 3 offers a bit more in the way of pixels, potentially enabling a crisper image. The 13.5-inch model offers display resolution of 267 pixels per inch (ppi), while the 15-inch Surface Book 3 features resolution of 260 ppi. The M1 MacBook Pro offers screen resolution of 227 ppi.