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More problems yet again: Surface Laptop 3 suffers from backlight bleeding, pulse-width modulation, and DPC latency issues

Surface Laptop 3 suffers from backlight bleeding, pulse-width modulation, and DPC latency issues
Surface Laptop 3 suffers from backlight bleeding, pulse-width modulation, and DPC latency issues
Microsoft's latest Surface Laptop only started shipping last week and we're already seeing some issues with our review unit. If you're sensitive to onscreen flickering or are planning to use the Microsoft notebook for audio streaming or editing, then you may want to skip this model.

Historically, Microsoft Surface devices have had their fair share of major problems ranging from battery recalls, performance throttling, charging issues, and even disappearing GPUs. Pressure is on the new Surface Laptop 3 to hit it out of the park from day one without any of the aforementioned problems.

We're currently knee-deep in testing the 15.6-inch Ryzen 5 Surface Laptop 3 and we've already found a few notable issues. Firstly, our unit suffers from a moderate amount of backlight bleeding along the edges and corners as shown by our image below. A small level of bleeding is expected from most IPS laptops, but to see it here on a flagship device is disappointing as it's severe enough to be noticeable during video playback with black borders.

Secondly, the system suffers from DPC latency issues when the wireless is enabled. Disabling the wireless appears to address this, but users shouldn't have to disable a staple connectivity feature just to optimize Windows DPC.

Lastly, the display will flicker at a frequency of 21370 MHz when set to a brightness level of 51 percent or dimmer. PWM is relatively common on laptops as a form of brightness control, but the LED flickering is known to cause eyestrain on a small subset of users.

Fortunately, all these issues we've discovered thus far are relatively minor compared to the major ones on previous Surface models. More serious abnormalities usually take months before they emerge. Until then, stay tuned for our full review on the Ryzen 5 Surface Laptop 3 15 in the coming week.

Buy Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 on Amazon

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Maximum brightness with image set to black. Note the heavy bleeding along the corners and bottom edge
Maximum brightness with image set to black. Note the heavy bleeding along the corners and bottom edge
LatencyMon with WLAN enabled
LatencyMon with WLAN enabled
LatencyMon with WLAN disabled
LatencyMon with WLAN disabled
Pulse-width modulation detected
Pulse-width modulation detected
 
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 10 > More problems yet again: Surface Laptop 3 suffers from backlight bleeding, pulse-width modulation, and DPC latency issues
Allen Ngo, 2019-10-23 (Update: 2019-10-24)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.