Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet

Last updated date: May 15, 2019

DWYM Score
8.2

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We looked at the top 1 Microsoft Surface Tablets and dug through the reviews from 11 of the most popular review sites including BestReviews, Tech Radar, Digital Trends, Alphr, The Verge, CNET, Trusted Reviews, Laptop Magazine, Tech Spot, Engadget, PC Magazine and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Microsoft Surface Tablet you should buy.

Overall Take

This basic tablet is excellent for use for reading and gaming and runs the full version of Microsoft Office. It looks premium, but it comes with a wallet-friendly price tag compared to newer models. It works with the same pen as the Surface Pro models at a fraction of the cost. The short battery life and small trackpad are drawbacks to consider. In our analysis of 94 expert reviews, the Microsoft Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet placed 4th when we looked at the top 8 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note May 15, 2019:
Checkout The Best Microsoft Surface Tablet for a detailed review of all the top microsoft surface tablets.

Expert Summarized Score
7.9
11 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
7.6
646 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
An inexpensive tablet that can be used as bedside tablet for reading, gaming and other activities.
- BestReviews
Surface 3 is the most portable Surface device yet. It's every bit as premium to touch as the Surface Pro 3 while being both slimmer and lighter. It's also easier to use on your lap due to its weight and slips into a bag for transportation with less fuss than ever before.
- Tech Radar
November 15, 2017 | Full review
Sturdy, inviting design. Light for a 2-in-1 PC. Attractive, high-resolution display
- Digital Trends
A new way to interact with the Surface 3 is with a pen. While this has traditionally been part of Microsoft’s Surface Pro offering, the same pen from the Surface Pro 3 now works with this cheaper model. It’s functionally identical, and it’s really accurate and natural to write notes in OneNote, or just draw something in Fresh Paint.
- The Verge
April 14, 2015 | Full review
The new Surface 3 costs less than the Pro version, but trickles down much of the design and materials of its more expensive sibling. This budget model finally runs the full version of Windows.
- CNET
October 27, 2015 | Full review
The versatility of the design means you can enjoy using the Surface 3 in settings where laptops are awkward, and you can even use the on-screen keyboard effectively with the Surface 3 at its shallowest angle.
- Trusted Reviews
August 31, 2016 | Full review
The Surface 3's 10.8-inch display has the high but uncommon resolution of 1920 x 1280p (200 pixels taller than 1080p) and provided colorful, sharp images in our tests.
- Laptop Magazine
Immensely versatile machine.
- Tech Spot
It's almost as light as an iPad, but it can also run most of the Windows apps you need.
- Engadget
August 2, 2018 | Full review
New Intel Atom x7 processor offers better performance than other Atom-based competitors.
- PC Magazine
April 13, 2015 | Full review
What experts didn't like
Many reports of bugs,glitches and hardware failure. The charger apparently cant charge the tablet while in use.
- BestReviews
While typing is a completely subjective experience, I found it difficult to justify the outlay for what is a sub-par accessory.
- Tech Radar
November 15, 2017 | Full review
Feels heavy when used as a tablet, Disappointing performance. Expensive accessories
- Digital Trends
There are negatives to be found, not least the fact that, despite all the tweaks, Windows 8.1 remains a mediocre tablet OS: the app store is an embarrassment, and the interface can feel awkward on a small, high-DPI screen.
- Alphr
While the trackpad has improved, it’s still far too small. I complain about PC trackpads all the time, and I wish Microsoft and other OEMs would take note that they’re simply not doing a good enough job.
- The Verge
April 14, 2015 | Full review
Trading down to a low-power processor means this isn't a full-time PC. The clever keyboard case is still sold separately, and costs a lot compared to the base hardware.
- CNET
October 27, 2015 | Full review
The touchpad, however, is very small and awkward. It’s hard to be precise on such a small pad, and using gestures to scroll up and down pages is hit and miss – Google Chrome was particularly bad for some reason.
- Trusted Reviews
August 31, 2016 | Full review
The keyboard not included.
- Laptop Magazine
Atom is fast enough, but still not really fast.
- Tech Spot
Keyboard and other accessories cost extra.
- Engadget
August 2, 2018 | Full review
Type Cover and Surface Pen sold separately.
- PC Magazine
April 13, 2015 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

Overall Product Rankings

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 18
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Tablet
Overall Score: 8.3
Expert Reviews: 6
3. Microsoft Surface Pro 5th Gen
Overall Score: 8.3
Expert Reviews: 9
4. Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 11
5. Microsoft Surface Go
Overall Score: 8.1
Expert Reviews: 14
6. Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 10
7. Microsoft Surface RT
Overall Score: 7.5
Expert Reviews: 8
8. Microsoft Surface 2
Overall Score: 7.5
Expert Reviews: 7

An Overview On Microsoft Surface Tablets

It’s been just over six years since Microsoft introduced the original Surface tablet. Flash forward to today, and Microsoft has a full range of Surface PCs that appeal to all kinds of buyers and budgets.

If you’re in the market for a versatile, portable Windows 10 machine, then there’s sure to be a Microsoft Surface device to fit your needs. While there have been plenty of upgrades, the Surface tablets launched in the last few years are each useful and versatile machines in their own right.

If having the latest and greatest model is a high priority for you, then look no further than the Surface Pro 6. It is ultra-light and faster than ever. It features the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processor as well as the full Windows 10 Home experience. It also happens to be the top value pick of the Microsoft Surface collection as well.

Similarly, the Surface Pro 5 is another excellent choice. It not only offers full PC performance in a thin and light design, but also boasts a high-resolution, oversized screen. Plus, it’s compatible with a variety of accessories, including a dock. One surprising downside is the thin, lightweight design makes it prone to bending if you’re not careful while handling or transporting this tablet.

Earlier variations, including the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3, still remain solid machines today.  Both can easily convert into laptops with the proper accessories and can handle a full day’s work. Plus, the Surface 3 has a 10.8-inch display with the uncommon resolution of 1920 x 1280p, which is 200 pixels taller than the standard 1080p.  As a result, on-screen images appear colorful and sharp.

Keep an open mind, and consider laptops in addition to versatile tablets like the Microsoft Surface models. While laptops may be a bit pricier, they offer the convenience of a built-in keyboard for getting work done. In addition to the Microsoft Surface tablets, there are many tablet variations from manufacturers like Google, Apple, Amazon and more that offer unique options worth considering.

DYWM Fun Fact

Microsoft Surface Tablets had a bit of a rocky beginning. When they first debuted in 2012, people loved the hardware design but were baffled by the software. Since then, Microsoft has launched new software to better match the spot-on hardware.

The hybrid-PC style hardware was truly innovative and many other companies have copied its smart design. The built-in kickstand and add-on keyboard, still part of the newest Surface models, are industry standards now.

What started as one tablet has morphed into a full Microsoft Surface family of computers. The range includes tablets, standard laptops and oversized desktops. Quite frankly, the Microsoft Surface options have never been as diverse as they are today.

The Microsoft Surface Tablet Buying Guide

  • Check what comes with each tablet standard carefully before clicking purchase. Not all come with the accessories needed to make the most of the tablet, like the Surface Pen and keyboard cover.
  • Understand what ports and connections are compatible with your Microsoft Surface tablets. Microsoft continues to use USB-A and its magnetic Surface Connect charger. Unlike other manufacturers, it has not transitioned to the USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.
  • There are budget-friendly financing options available directly through Microsoft. If you come in to a physical retail location, you can buy a new Surface on an installment plan, for as little as $25 per month. The payment plan also includes Office 365 for the two-year duration of the installments.
  • The Microsoft Complete extended warranty is a smart add-on to any device. The plan starts at $149 and features additional warranty coverage and accidental damage protection. It includes a total of two accidental damage claims, with a $49 deductible.