MacBook Pro 2020 vs. Surface Laptop 3

Buying a premium laptop in today is more difficult than ever due to the number of options available in the market. However, when talking about thin and light high-performance laptops, two that immediately stand out are Apple's MacBook Pro and Microsoft's Surface Laptop.

Both of them use the operating system developed by their manufacturers and are generally considered as excellent pieces of hardware. Following is a detailed comparison between the MacBook Pro 2020 against the Surface Laptop 3. Let's see which one comes out on top.

Talking Points

When two pieces of technology are compared with one another, there are a few aspects to consider. Laptops can be vastly different from each other and a particular device need not be better than the other in all categories. What is essential is that the one you purchase excels in the department that matters to you the most. This comparison here will help you decide which option is right for you.


As previously mentioned, both the MacBook Pro and Surface are great laptops when it comes to performance. In this category, we will be discussing which of them outperforms the other. We will be comparing the processor as well as the graphical capabilities of both of these machines. This will help establish a clear representation of how they perform under different workloads.

Operating System

Both the MacBook and Surface run on an entirely different operating system. We will be comparing all the pros and cons that Windows and macOS have over each other. Both are capable systems that will provide an excellent user experience. However, there are subtle differences that some users like, and some don't. You'll need to understand which category you fit in.

Build Quality

A thin and light laptop demands a build quality because that's why people buy the laptop in the first place. When paying such a high price, it's necessary not to sacrifice on the materials used.

Battery Life

Laptops are meant to portable devices. There is no point if they can't last a long time away from a wall outlet. Students and office workers especially require decent battery life so they don't have to carry a charger every time.


Whenever buying any sort of device, you need to have sufficient space to store all your programs. It's necessary to understand how much disk place you'll require and make your decision accordingly.


This category will talk about all the small things that add up to make the user experience much better, such as the keyboard. Most of these things are so little that they can't have their own category; however, they are still essential, and all buyers should be aware of them.


Price is, of course, a critical matter to consider whenever you buy anything. A comparison of both the price will involve discussing how great the features and performance is relative to the money paid. We will also be making a final verdict of which of these gives the best features for the money.

Which Intel Is Better?

Comparing the performance of the MacBook Pro 2020 and Surface Laptop 3 is complicated - there are many variants of both type of laptop, with different processors. The 13 inch MacBook Pro has an 8th gen i5 CPU while the 16 inch has a 9th gen CPU, and can be upgraded to a 10th gen i7 or i9. The Surface Laptop 3, on the other hand, has either AMD Ryzen or Intel core processors.

We recommend sticking with Intel as they will give better performance. Luckily, all Surface processors are 10th gen, and they start with an i5 for the base variant and go up to an i7. It doesn't push their computer to the absolute limits. It only does general tasks like web browsing or even some light gaming. You shouldn't really be worried about the processor capabilities. Instead, focus on other features that you care about. [THIS PARA DOESN"T MAKE SENSE TO ME]

When it comes to power users, the story is different. There isn't a major difference between the two devices when it comes to the CPU. However, the 10th gen processors provide almost double the performance of the 8th gen when it comes to graphical capabilities. If you're the type of user who requires performance in tasks such as 3D rendering or even gaming, and are going for the base variants of the laptops, then we recommend getting the Surface. Otherwise, you'll be fine with the MacBook as well.

On the other hand, if you're going for the higher end models and want the better performance, then go with the MacBook Pro due to the better processor as well as superior Radeon Graphics.

Windows vs. macOS

Apple makes dedicated software for all its devices, including the iPhones, Apple Watches, and Mac.

Which is right for you boils down to personal preferences. You should look at the features provided by each of these platforms and determine what is right for you. Windows users argue that since it has 80% of the market share, it's better. While that's undoubtedly true, it's because there is much more hardware for the platform. That doesn't mean that Windows doesn't have some inherent advantages. For example, it provides more freedom to developers and has a higher number of devices on its platform. This means there are more hardware and software utilities for the users. A plethora of devices such as HoloLens, VR headsets, etc. are supported.

On the software side, there is certainly more available applications for Windows, but that doesn't mean that Macs are lacking. The macOS has great apps like Garage band and Final Cut, which are exclusive to the operating system. Windows does have greater user freedom-we are given permissions for multiple things like installing emulators, changing the entire UI, etc. However, for the average user, this only complicates the experience. Hence, macOS feels much simpler to use. It is also a safer platform generally.

Build Quality

The MacBook Pro and Surface Laptop 3 both feature the typical Aluminum clamshell design that we've all come to expect.

The Surface is thinner and lighter than the MacBook Pro in general, but both of these devices are portable. The only one that is not super portable is the 16 inch MacBook. Due to the superior components, it had to be built in a much larger footprint and as a result, it is noticeably thicker than the others. It's still portable but doesn't really fit the description of "thin and light."

All-Day Battery

As previously mentioned, battery life is a major determining factor when it comes to portable laptops. Luckily, all the laptops offer fantastic all-day battery. You can generally expect your computer to last 9 to 11 hours on a single charge. Everyone's experience might be slightly different depending on their model as well as usage.

The best out of the bunch is the MacBook Pro 16 inch, which due to its larger size, has a greater battery and can easily last a full day even with heavy usage. The exact opposite is true for the 15 inch Surface. It has the same battery size compared to its smaller counterpart. Still, the greater screen size means that there will be higher energy consumption. This doesn't mean that it will die out mid-day after a full charge, but you'll have to be much more mindful of your usage as compared to the others where you can be more carefree.

The Era of SSDs

Previous generation laptops used hard drives instead of SSDs, since they were cheaper, but were also slower. Luckily, component prices have lowered since then, and both the MacBook and Surface feature SSDs. With the MacBook, you get 265 GB base storage which is upgradable to either 4TB or 8TB, depending on which size you get. For the Surface, the base variant has 128GB upgradeable to 1TB. If you’re having trouble with which storage option to go for, it will help if you go through this guide here.

While the Surface has lower total storage, most users won't require more than 1TB. Not only that, but the Surface is also cheaper, so you get more disk space for your price. For those needing higher storage, you can manually get the Surface upgraded using a third part external SSD. Fortunately, external storage drives also exist for those who will be requiring more storage in the long run. As for RAM, the Surface starts out with 8GB upgradable to 32GB. The MacBook has 16GB upgradable to 32GB. 8GB should be enough for most users, but those wanting to future proof their laptops can also opt for 16GB. Only extreme users should go for 32GB as there are few scenarios where you'll require so much.


There are multiple other criteria where these two devices can be compared. The first one is the keyboard and Trackpad. Apple has switched from their awful butterfly switches to the much better scissor switches, in the form of their Magic Keyboard. It gives much more of a mechanical feel than the Surface Laptop, so you can opt for that if you prefer.

Both of them have excellent trackpads. The Surface uses Windows precision drivers and theirs are some of the best on a Windows laptop. Apple, on the other hand, uses its own magnetic version, which provides much more advanced tracking. It can be said that the MacBook's is slightly better.

Both also have a decent port selection. With the Mac, you get 2 or 3 USB-C ports, which are Thunderbolt 3 compatible, as well as a headphone jack. The Surface provides only a headphone jack and 1 USB-C port, which isn't Thunderbolt 3. However, you get a USB-A port and a Surface connect. You can use either the connector USB C port to charge your device.

Those looking for a good screen will be satisfied with either one of these displays. Both of them are sharp with vibrant colors. The Surface has a slightly taller screen, while the MacBook has a wider one. One advantage of going with Apple is that they offer brighter and less reflective displays. As a result, outdoor visibility is better.

The Surface gives you a more silent experience because of its quieter fans. Moreover, their laptop gets less hot under intensive situations. This doesn't mean that the MacBook gets uncomfortably warm, but there is a notable difference between the two.

The last difference we will discuss in the unlocking system. It comes down to your choice if you prefer Microsoft face unlock or Apple's Touch ID. Both are reliable and function well. With the face unlock, you get more bezels, but also a better front-facing camera.

Better Value

The Surface Laptop 3 starts at $799 and you can spec it up to $2,500 for the highest configuration. The MacBook Pro 2020 can be bought for $1,300 to $6,500, depending on which model you get.

In between these price ranges, there are multiple options for everyone. The specification customization is extensive to please a wider audience. You get better value for your dollar going with Microsoft. Apple is known for its high prices. This doesn't necessarily mean that you get lousy value with their products. The higher-end models provide terrific value for money, especially considering how the MacBook can come equipped with an Intel core i9.

Which One Should You Get?

Most people reading our article should have made their decision on which laptop to purchase by now. For those who haven't, don’t worry. Both these devices are amazing and neither of them is inherently better than the other. Here are a few final points to help you decide.

Do you want the best of the best, with money being no object?
If yes, we recommend buying the MacBook Pro 16 inch, which has a much more capable processor and graphics.

Do you want the best performance, but have a restricted budget?
The value provided by the cheaper 13 inch Surface cannot be ignored, compared to what Apple offers. They not only provide better 10th gen CPUs, but at a lower price.

Do you just want an excellent laptop for regular daily usage?
We recommend going for a lower budget option from either of these companies. You won't really get much extra usage compared to what the more expensive models offer and the money you save can be used on other things like accessories.

Muaz Ashrafi

Hi! I am Muaz, a Mass Communication major. I like to think I am a free urban spirit. I write blogs with a focus on tech and gadgets. When I'm not writing, you can find me with my headphones on, relaxing to some good house EDM music. I'm also a hobbyist photographer, you can find me on Instagram @mzwithacamera.


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