Surface Book 3 as a desktop replacement

13

So I recently bought a Surface Book 3 to use mainly as a desktop replacement connected to an external monitor at my home office. Since I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon I was wondering how to keep the device healthy throughout the period.

  1. Is it safe to keep the device closed during office tasks like email, Word and web browsing? I know that Surface Books have a vent above the keyboard for the GPU, but since during office work the Nvidia GPU is inactive, it should be fine? Right?:)
  2. There is an option in the UEFI to limit the battery charge to 50%, but it works only for the tablet part. The base still charges to 100% every time. Are there any good practices I should follow? Discharge the battery (use it for some time) every week, month? I’ve seen horror stories of swollen batteries on Reddit and would like to avoid it if possible.

Any help is much appreciated.

Comments (13)

13 responses to “Surface Book 3 as a desktop replacement”

  1. robincapper

    I only have a SB2 but think would be fine operating 'closed'. The infamous 'hinge gap' is a win here. If anywhere nearby I suspect the fan noise will be sufficient to alert you if it's getting hot. They add a very realistic additional wind rush sound effect when running Flight Sim 2020 on mine :)


    Powershell gives access to a very comprehensive history if you want to keep an eye on it

    powercfg /batteryreport


    This is my SB2, was new in 03-2018


    DESIGN CAPACITY 23,200 mWh

    FULL CHARGE CAPACITY 20,760 mWh

    CYCLE COUNT 304


    DESIGN CAPACITY 62,200 mWh

    FULL CHARGE CAPACITY 54,920 mWh

    CYCLE COUNT 347


    I just use it, but have heard keeping batteries between 20-80% is better than full cycle charge/discharge

  2. anoldamigauser

    The battery is probably the biggest issue. This article on Windows Central is a pretty good rundown.

    • msedkowski

      In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

      Thanks, a good read :)

      It's a shame that it's not possible to limit the charge to 50% both on the tablet and base.

      That would solve the issue to some degree.

      • anoldamigauser

        In reply to msedkowski:

        Technically, I suppose you could detach the screen and put it in a stand, since all the guts are in that , and use a docking station with a keyboard, or a Bluetooth keyboard. That would save the wear and tear on the battery in the base, though you lose a good keyboard, and the GPU if you have one.

  3. ulrichr

    I worked like this for several years with a Surface Book 2. While its certainly OK to run it with the laptop closed, I actually preferred to leave it open with the screen on. I'd start Outlook and put that on the Surface screen, and then do my actual work on the big monitor. If you set up the Display Options for the correct screen placements, it makes the mouse movement fluid.


    As far as battery health, I would undock on the evenings and browse content, play games etc with it unplugged (on the couch), which ended up cycling the battery. And don't leave it charging overnight, because that stresses the battery the most.

    • txag

      In reply to ulrichr:

      I’ve got a 2014 MacBook Air that is on charge all night most nights. Still working well. Aren’t modern chargers smart about that kind of thing? Or am I just lucky?

  4. jimchamplin

    If a battery is going to be an issue... Why are you using a portable as a desktop? To me it seems counterintuitive. If you need minimal desk space, there are many small-footprint PCs. From the Intel NUC, to the Mac mini, to multiple Ryzen-powered nano-ITX systems. If you care about power-to-size ratio, all of these machines will do better. All of them have lower thermal constraints, no worry about batteries, and overall will give you better long-term performance than a convertible in docked-mode.


    I'm not insulting the Surface Book, it's a fantastic machine for portable computing, but remember that even a basic Skull Canyon NUC will offer better thermals. Even space-constrained compact desktop systems will have less thermal issues than high-performance portables.


    From your situation it seems like you need a good quality desktop system. Build up a Skull Canyon NUC, or grab a Mac mini and then buy a used Thinkpad for portable work. I think you'll get something better for both use cases.

    • msedkowski

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      That's what I was doing for the last couple of years - I had a Intel Skull Canyon NUC and a ASUS laptop. The desktop died recently (it was out of warranty) and the laptop started to show its age a bit. I figured that's a good opportunity to consolidate and get one device. I use the Surface Book at my office one day a week on battery and rest of the week working from home mostly plugged in to power and monitor. So it's a desktop replacement with some portability. Plus I always wanted a Surface Book :)

  5. jwpear

    SB2 owner here. I think you'd be okay as long as you are cycling the battery at least every couple of days rather than allowing it to stay fully charged all the time. Mine has held up well doing this. My workflow is working at my desk during the day with it docked. Undock and use it for casual use/reading in the recliner in the evening. Unless it is absolutely discharged, I leave it off the charger until morning.


    One suggestion, if you don't need the base and you're not interested in actively using the tablet screen, why not just disconnect the base from the tablet. You can charge the base where you need it to preserve the battery and then disconnect it. Just dock the tablet.

  6. a_seeker

    Original Surface Book owner here. Surface Book used primarily as desktop replacement with the Microsoft dock. After 3 years of use the battery under the keyboard bulged so bad the bottom cover came loose. Replaced it with a Thinkpad. Probably would not buy another Surface Book.