Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 Review: Verdict
The Surface Laptop 4 improves on the Surface Laptop 3 in many ways, offering Windows fans a bloatware-free ultraportable with premium components packed inside a beautiful, lightweight chassis.
While Id have liked to see Microsoft attempt some more significant changes to the Surface Laptop formula, the excellent speakers, improved battery life, and under-the-hood upgrades make the Surface Laptop 4 one of the best Windows laptops you can buy and a serious contender for a spot among the best laptops on the market.
We already have a laundry list of changes wed like to see in a sequel , but the Surface Laptop 4s tall screen, comfortable keyboard and svelte, sturdy design make it a great choice for anyone looking to get work done around the house or out at the coffee shop.
Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. He currently serves as a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.
Best Performance: Surface Book 3
If you’re looking for something with a bit of power under the hood, your best Surface offering in this area is the Surface Book 3. This is Microsoft’s laptop for professionals and power users who frequent professional-grade software like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, AutoCAD, or crunching raw data.
The Surface Book 3 is a laptop that can also turn into a tablet at the press of a button, featuring Intel 10th-generation processors, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and pen support for drawing and note-taking. In the keyboard base, you can find 2x USB-A ports, one USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader. The keyboard base is also available with dedicated NVIDIA graphics in either GTX 1650, 1660, or Quadro 3000 card options.
Like the Surface Laptop 3, the Surface Book 3 is available in either 13.5-inch or 15-inch variants, with the NVIDIA 1660 and Quadro options being exclusive to the 15-inch models. Dedicated graphics is what propels the Surface Book 3 into performance territory for us, and makes it the most powerful Surface on the market today.
How Does The Surface Laptop 4 Rate For Performance
Our test laptop, courtesy of Microsoft, had 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for storage. The 2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 4980U CPU has eight cores and is a second-generation chip produced exclusively for Microsoft.
This “Surface edition” chip is very fast, producing performance scores among the highest we’ve seen in our benchmarking software.
The special AMD ‘Surface edition’ chip is very fast
The main CPU is supported by AMD Radeon graphics. And despite the processing power, it’s cool and quiet. In our performance testing, we didn’t notice any excessive heat from the base, nor any intrusive noise even under full processing loads, though it’s always advisable to keep any laptop on a hard, flat surface for intensive work.
The design is the same as previous versions of the Surface Laptop, though this model is the bigger version with a dark finish. The build quality is high, with the robust aluminium body exhibiting no creaking sounds when being carried or opened. The lid is strong, and it has hinges that allow it to be opened with one hand without lifting the base off the table.
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Mediocre Screen Manages Not To Ruin The Experience
While the overall design of the Surface Laptop Go is excellent, some aspects arent quite as good. The display, for instance, is a misstep on Microsofts part, albeit not enough to ruin the whole experience.
The best way to describe the Surface Laptop Gos display is mediocre. Colours looked fine, but the resolution is incredibly disappointing. I had hoped that at this price point Microsoft would include at the very least a Full HD+ display. Unfortunately, Microsoft opted for a sub-par 1536 x 1024 pixel screen instead.
While it looks okay when youre using the Laptop Go on your lap or on a desk, moving the screen slightly closer than a normal viewing distance quickly reveals the pixels.
Another oddity with the display is that Microsoft opted to round the corners on it. The company seems to be following the recent trend with smartphones that has seen the wide adoption of rounded corners. Unfortunately, the rounded corners look out of place with Windows 10, which itself is almost entirely made up of squares, rectangles and other elements with 90-degree corners.
I have no issue with the rounded corners themselves other than that the low-res display makes them look jagged instead of smooth. They just look out of place on Windows. Part of the reason rounded corners work on smartphones is that both iOS and Android feature user interface elements with rounded corners, which ties together the software and hardware. Thats not the case here.
Reasons To Buy Microsoft’s Surface Laptop
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop
Im still working my way through my full Surface Laptop review, but heres a teaser: its good.
So good, in fact, Im reasonably certain that Microsoft shouldve started its foray into hardware here, rather than arriving at the Laptop after the more usual Pro and Book.
In any case, there are a few good reasons to make the Surface Laptop your next computing purchase – and few solid reasons not to. Here are my top 5.
Dont forget to check out my buying guides for buying and Samsungs Galaxy S8 over the iPhone 7.
Its a fine lookin piece of kit
Theres an often employed concept in sports called ‘marginal gains’. In essence, athletes – and their coaches – seek to improve their performance by making small, fractional, percentage gains in training in the hope that they cumulatively add up to a dramatic performance improvement.
Thats very much how I see Microsofts attitude towards hardware design. Demos and briefings are now dominated by the Microsoft representative drawing my attention towards concealed hinges, speaker position adjustments, rounded off edges, balance and fan positioning.
Individually, this type of tinkering probably isnt worthy of note. Combined, they produce a laptop thats perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing Ive ever reviewed. For its first go at a non 2-in-1 computer, Microsoft is knocking on Apples door.
Quick off the blocks
Speakers and keyboard
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Same Stunning Design Now In Beautiful Blue
The Surface Laptop 4 doesnt look very different from the Surface Laptop 3 and thats not a bad thing at all. Microsofts flagship notebook is wonderfully sleek and minimalist, with edges that measure roughly half an inch thick and a lightweight 2.8-pound body that we found easy to carry from room to room.
We tested the 13.5-inch model in the gorgeous new Ice Blue color, which combines with the notebooks soft fabric Alacantara covering to deliver one of the best-looking and best-feeling laptops weve ever gotten our hands on. There are a number of other color and material options including a Platinum model in Alcantara and Matte Black and Sandstone variations in metal, but we highly recommend going for an Alcantara model. Its just that much of a joy to use.
Speaking of which, the Surface Laptop 4 is a delight to type on. The keys are bouncy, snappy and a generous 1.3 millimeters deep, providing a satisfying level of feedback and keeping our hands comfortable throughout multiple days of hammering away at emails and documents. The Laptop 4s keyboard feels even better than the excellent Magic Keyboard on my MacBook Pro, thanks to longer travel and a soft fabric interior that covers the entire area around the keyboard and doubles as a great wrist rest. Were going to have a hard time going back to all-metal laptops.
Surface Laptop Studio: Specs
|i5: 3.83 pounds i7: 4.0 pounds|
The top-tier configuration for Surface Laptop Studio includes a Core i7, 32GB of RAM, 2TB of storage, and an RTX 3050 Ti GPU costing around $3,100. The same version with an RTX A2000 GPU is $3,800.
The models used for this review feature the Core i7, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage, with one using the A2000 and the other 3050 Ti. The cost is around $2,699 for the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti model, while the one with the RTX A2000 is $3,399.
Business editions also ship with Windows 11 Pro or Windows 10 Pro , while the consumer variants use Windows 11 Home.
Pricing also does not include the new haptics-enabled Surface Slim Pen 2, which is an optional $130 purchase.
There’s nothing like it
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What Connections Does It Have
Ports are limited to USB-A and USB-C, plus a headphone port on the left.
The Surface Laptop 4 has the same limitations for external connections as the previous model, with one USB-C port and one USB-A port, both on the same side, along with a headphone jack. The generation of the ports is not specified, but the USB-C port isn’t a Thunderbolt port. The USB-C port can be used with an external display, mouse, storage, and other USB devices if you plug in an external hub.
The Surface Laptop 4 comes with a charger that has Microsoft’s own magnetic connector, which plugs in on the right side. There’s also the latest wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. There’s no microSD card or full-sized HDMI port, so you’ll need to connect a dock if you need those or other ports. Microsoft’s own Surface Dock 2 uses the special Surface Connector on the right-hand side.
The large keyboard, touchpad and palm rest area are a joy to use.
The keyboard is very good, and backlit. You get crisp keys that are soft and quiet, with very good travel and response. If you’ve been on a smaller laptop, it feels more luxurious to type on this 15-inch model because the larger body means you get a larger space to rest your palms during breaks.
The palm rest is covered in Microsoft’s favourite dress material, Alcantara, in a choice of several colours to match the body. The keyboard handily includes buttons for power and volume control. We found the large touchpad smooth to use and accurate.
Microsoft Surface Go 2
The smallest and most affordable Surface is back in a big way. Its rocking a larger screen and updated internals for an even better experience in the same portable package. Microsofts Surface Go 2 is the most direct successor of the original Surface family. The Surface Go 2 weighs just 1.2 pounds without the optional Type Cover keyboards, with a 10.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 touchscreen display.
Like all other Surface tablets, the Surface Go 2 comes with its own built-in kickstand for watching videos hands-free or working when you attach the Type Cover. It also comes with a Surface Connector for charging, a USB-C port for data transfer, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. Inside you will find an Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y, and a battery that should last for up to 10 hours.
The Surface Go comes pre-installed with Windows 10 in S Mode. That means you can only use the tablet in the operating systems touchscreen mode and only use apps from the Windows Store. Youre also limited to Microsofts Edge browser.
You can switch to a full Windows 10 OS at no cost from within the Surface Go 2, which would add additional access to the desktop and traditional Windows apps. Once the switch is made, you cannot go back to S Mode unless you factory reset the tablet.
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The Best Laptops In 2021
The best laptops are the ones that help you stay on top of all your different projects and gadgets. Once you’ve equipped yourself with the right one, you’ve acquired the speed to power you through all of your assignments, and the battery life to make it through a day of work without worrying about the nearest power outlet.
Finding the best laptop for you can be tricky, because you’ve never had more choices. There are top rated laptops for basic web surfing, mainstream machines with premium components and attractive designs, and beastly gaming laptops that will let you play the hottest PC games the way they were meant to be played.
- These are the best Windows laptops on the market
- The best laptops under $500 can help you stay productive on a budget
Surface Laptop Go Is Almost Perfect
I really want to love the Surface Laptop Go. Its so close to being perfect for me. Its lightweight and extremely portable. It has some of the best keyboards and trackpads Ive used on a Windows laptop. It looks way more premium than it is. I can even forgive the sub-par display, but for the price, the corners Microsoft cut just arent acceptable.
Acer has an Aspire 5 laptop available at Best Buy Canada with the same or better specs as the top Laptop Go configuration. The biggest difference? Price. The top-level Laptop Go clocks in at $1,299.99 in Canada for an i5, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The Aspire 5 cost about $800, making it slightly more than the base-level $759.99 Laptop Go with the same i5, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage.
As much as I love the Laptop Go, I cant justify the cost and honestly, you shouldnt pay as much as Microsoft is asking for a laptop like this. The $759 base model should be the price for the mid-tier $959 model and it should have at the very least a FHD+ display. If youre looking at the Laptop Go and considering the $1,229 model, just do yourself a favour and get the base level Surface Laptop 3 for $1,349 the faster processor and better screen are well worth the extra $120.
At the time of writing, a sale on the Microsoft Store also made the Surface Pro 7 with a faster i5, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage about $30 cheaper than the top-level Laptop Go configuration.
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Microsoft Surface Book 3
The Microsoft Surface Book blew people away when the company revealed the first version. It was a full notebook, but you could detach the large screen from its keyboard and use it as a massive tablet. The Surface Book 3 is the latest version of this high-end laptop that was launched in May 2020. You can get one with a 13.5-inch 3,000 x 2,000 resolution display, or one with a larger 15-inch 3,240 x 2,160 display. Both come with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB SDD options for storage, and the battery life should last up to 15.5 hours on the 13.5-inch option or 17.5 hours on the 15-inch model.
If you choose the 13.5-inch version of the Surface Book 3, you can get it with either 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of RAM and either a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chip. You also get the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU if you pick the i7 model. The i5 version of the notebook weighs 3.38 pounds, while the i7 model weighs 3.62 pounds.
The 15-inch version comes with 16GB or 32GB of RAM, the 10th Gen Core i7 chip, and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU. It weighs 4.20 pounds. Both the 13.5-inch and the 15-inch versions come with two USB ports, a USB-C port, two Surface Connect power ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full SD card slot. You also get an 8MP rear camera, an 8MP front-facing camera, dual microphones, and front-facing stereo speakers.
Reasons To Buy The Surface Laptop 3 Reasons To Skip
By17 June 2017
If you’re shopping for a powerful Ultrabook that looks great and performs even better, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop should be near the top of your list. Starting at $999, this lightweight notebook has plenty of great features, from its attractive fabric palmrest to its bright display.
Here are seven reasons to buy the Surface Laptop, and three reasons not to.
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Surface Go : Best For Basic Tasks
The Surface Go 3 is by far the smallest and most affordable Surface device in the lineup. Part tablet and part laptop, it has a starting price of $399.99. For that price, you get a tablet with a built-in kickstand and internal components that are just good enough. The Go 3 is ideal for someone who needs a basic computer for simple tasks like online shopping, checking your email or watching your favorite YouTube creators.
We wont recommend getting the base model Go 3, though, simply because performance will be something it struggles with, especially if youre multitasking or doing the occasional minor photo edit. For $630, you can get a Surface Go 3 with more than enough to power through Excel spreadsheets while triaging your email inbox and dealing with Slack messages from co-workers. Its powered by an Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state drive storage.
The Go 3 offers portability, thanks to its compact size that is ideal for someone working from home or a student. A 10.5-inch display and an overall weight of just 1.2 pounds for the tablet portion make it easy to move around the house with, or pick up and take to class.
With optional keyboard and pen support, you can convert the Go 3 from a svelte-looking tablet to a miniature laptop with some serious netbook vibes. The Go Type Cover keyboard will set you back around $100, but you can find them on sale for around $70 if you look hard enough.