The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (15-Inch) Review: AMD Ryzen Surface Editionby Brett Howse on October 21, 2019 9:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Surface Laptop
- Surface Laptop 3
GPU Performance: Vega 9
By offering a Vega-based GPU in its laptop products, AMD has raised the bar in terms of what kind of graphics performance should be expected in a thin and light design. Microsoft collaborated with AMD to create a unique variant of their normal Ryzen as well, offering one CU more in both the Ryzen 5, moving it to 9 Vega CUs, and the Ryzen 7, moving it to 11 Vega CUs.
As to how much extra performance that will bring, that is an open question; the absolute maximum is about 10%, but in reality, with the constraints of TDP and CPU speeds, it's likely not a huge jump over the normal Ryzen APUs found in other manufacturers devices. In reality, this is more about putting a stamp on the partnership that AMD has with Microsoft now, than a truly special processor in terms of graphics performance.
That’s not a big stretch either, since AMD already works with the Xbox team on their custom processors, and Microsoft’s Surface team has leveraged that relationship to not only give AMD a design win in an important product, but also providing the Surface team with a unique product that their competition won’t be able to utilize. Microsoft being Microsoft though still has a wide range of PC partners, and assured us that any Windows tweaks they have done to leverage this processor will be a benefit to any other laptops running Ryzen.
To see how the Ryzen 5 3580U handles GPU tasks, it was run through our Ultrabook set of gaming tests, along with a couple of additions as well to get a better feel for the GPU prowess. Gaming on a 3:2 aspect ratio device can be a bit of a challenge though, since not all games support the non-standard resolution, but if necessary you can manually set the device resolution to 1920x1080 to get around this. It doesn’t support 1366x768 though, but 1280x720 is available.
3DMark offers a wide assortment of DirectX tests, from the gaming focused Fire Strike down to the mobile focused Ice Storm Unlimited. For the Surface Laptop 3, the Picasso platform from AMD offers a solid return on investment, often outperforming the Ryzen 7 2700U despite having a slightly weaker GPU. The extra CPU performance help to eliminate some of the bottlenecks that the original Raven Ridge APU was suffering from.
Fire Strike is the test which mostly favors GPU performance, since it’s the most complex scene, and the Ryzen Surface Edition squeaks past the Core i7-8650U plus NVIDIA MX 150 combination in the Huawei MateBook X Pro. That gap remains or grows in both Sky Diver and Cloud Gate, but the mobile focused Ice Storm Unlimited results shows how much quicker the Intel processor is in that highly CPU bound test.
AMD’s work on low-level APIs paid dividends for them in DX12, which is the API used in the latest GFXBench tests. Here the Ryzen Surface Edition pulls a noticeable lead over the previous generation APU, and unsurprisingly a wide lead over the integrated graphics on the 8th generation Intel parts.
Valve’s Dota 2 can be run on a wide-range of devices, including those with integrated graphics. It’s also very much a CPU bound game so it can really highlight CPU performance on an integrated APU with a shared TDP. In our first real-world gaming test, the Surface Laptop 3 is held back by the CPU.
The original Tomb Raider is quite old now, but makes for a good test for a new laptop with integrated graphics. The Ryzen 5 3580U manages to outperform the Rynen 7 2700U here despite the smaller Vega GPU on the Ryzen 5, but can’t quite match the Intel plus NVIDIA combo on the MateBook X Pro.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The second installment in the new Tomb Raider series does leverage DX12, but even on our value settings is only barely playable on these devices.
You don’t need a lot of framerate to play Civ VI, since it’s turn based and not reliant on lightning quick reflexes, but this game struggled with the 3:2 aspect ratio on the display and wouldn’t run at less than 1920x1080, meaning it was still unplayable on the Surface Laptop 3.
The addition of an extra Vega core in the semi-custom Ryzen APU does help in some scenarios, but is still somewhat held back by the Zen CPU cores in real-world games. That being said, it still offers a big performance gain over any of the older integrated Intel GPUs. As expected, the semi-custom nature of this APU is more about highlighting the partnership than any truly revolutionary new product.
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Marlin1975 - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkFor being the base AMD Ryzen model CPU/GPU it performs much better than I though it would. Hopefully you can get a Ryzen 7 version to test soon as well.
Rickyxds - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkThe AnandTech is protecting Intel and UHD performance, Why they don't show UHD 630 performance in Rise of the Tomb Raider?
they don't show but I will tell you! in the same configuration the UHD 630 offer only 20 fps.
You can search on web the uhd 630 performance on Rise of the Tomb Raider, internet can show!
cyrusfox - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkUHD 630 is the old Intel GPU(Gen 9.5) found on coffee lake. The new surface has ice lake chips has Gen 11 GPU, Iris plus with 64 EU. Supposedly twice as fast as the prior generation.
I am sure we will see cross comparison reviews, especially when someone gets Enterprise 15"(Intel version) to compare straight to consumer 15"(AMD).
justin.anthony.hall - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkmine is delivered tomorrow, i7 version. I'll let y'all know.
mooninite - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkEarly tests of Ice Lake Iris show it is more of the same old junk from Intel. Nothing special. Vega still wins.
0ldman79 - Sunday, December 15, 2019 - linkIt's just like their previous IGP.
Intel brags about "up to 64 EU IGP" then 99% of their SKU have 24 EU or less. One model has 64 EU and that's only their high end i7 K model. Who the hell is going to buy a $600+ CPU and run the IGP? Even if it is Intel's best IGP it's still below a 750 Ti.
Ryan Smith - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link"Why they don't show UHD 630 performance in Rise of the Tomb Raider?"
As you've correctly noted, the short answer is that it's very slow. Too slow to even justify the time benchmarking, unless you like framerates in the teens.
Ultimately the Ryzen APUs are fast enough that we treat them like low-end dGPUs, and that includes running AAA gaming benchmarks on them. The Gen 9.x GT2 GPUs, on the other hand, are decidedly a tier lower for intensive gaming workloads.
Teckk - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkGood win for AMD not battery life is a bit underwhelming. With the new 1W display for new laptops (based on IceLake?), this needs some serious improvement. AMD needs Ryzen mobile on 7nm soon.
A decent laptop but, 128 GB as baseline, really? Good to see they're not offering 4 GB RAM at least. Add another USB port and this is a good enough machine for light home usage.
eastcoast_pete - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkThanks for the review! Unfortunately, it confirmed several of my fears - the AMD version of the new Surface is definitely usable, but behind even the previous (Intel) generation of this premium laptop line. The Wifi choices made by MS are indeed questionable at best, while the low battery life points to the basic problem of using a chip not designed for mobile use in an ultraportable. Really wish AMD would roll out a true Zen2+ or better mobile APU with better power management. For now, it continues to play second fiddle to Chipzilla's offerings.
GreenReaper - Monday, October 21, 2019 - linkMicrosoft is likely to be one of their first customers for this, too... in their consoles. Realistically we'll only start seeing new PCs with equivalent APUs around that time - most likely with 802.11ax Wi-Fi as well in the case of the inevitable Surface Laptop 4.