How Microsoft is testing the Surface Book 3 to avoid past thermal issues

Sweating the details

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is sweating the details with the Surface Book 3, especially when it comes to thermal issues that users experienced with the Surface Book 2 and the original Surface Book. As the company prepares to launch the Surface Book 3 on May 21, it's specifically testing the new model for “hot bag” and other heat problems.

Heat issues have affected Microsoft’s Surface devices going back to the Surface Pro 3, but both the original Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4 were plagued by an inability to enter a low-power sleep state. That kept both devices in an an active power state, which consumes lots of power and generates quite a bit of heat as a result. That had two negative effects: greatly diminished battery life, and a surprisingly hot Surface when pulled out of an enclosed, insulated backpack. The issue was significant enough that Surface chief Panos Panay himself announced new firmware that solved the Surface Book power issue several months after its launch.

The Surface Book 2 had its own, separate power problem, where it consumed too much power for the charger to keep up. But in my personal experience, the Surface Book 2 also suffered from the hot-bag problem, which was echoed by other users both on Microsoft’s site and on Reddit. The temperature would climb to levels that were honestly alarming. The Surface Book 2 devices would sometimes refuse to resume operation because the operating temperature exceeded its own thermal limits. 

Microsoft acknowledges that the hot-bag scenario is one “which can destroy your device,” in the words of one Surface executive PCWorld spoke to. Executives responsible for the Microsoft Surface tell PCWorld that part of the Surface Book 3 test suite involves literally putting the Surface Book 3 test units in backpacks and testing for heat buildup. Microsoft also embedded a number of thermal sensors in the Surface Book 3 device itself to prevent this from happening.

While a hot-bag scenario could still occur with the Surface Book 3, the fact that Microsoft is specifically looking out for this issue is good news. Personally, from our own experience with the Surface Book 3 so far, we can report that its cooling is on a par with the Surface Laptop 3’s: excellent, with minimal fan noise or thermal issues. We’ll have a full review soon.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Surface Book

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?