Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review

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Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop 4 is more evolution than revolution, packing stepped forward components into the same slender, lightweight chassis the Surface Laptop product line is known for. Microsoft hasn’t attempted to sell it as anything else, instead promising that this latest Surface Laptop lasts longer and packs more power under the hood than its predecessors. 

After spending many hours with this laptop, it’s clear those guarantees are true, even though our take a look at effects depart quite a few room to quibble with Microsoft’s advertising and marketing. But it’s been just about two years for the reason that 2019 launch of the Surface Laptop 3, and in that point competing producers like Dell and Apple have driven the limits of how slender, stunning and strong an ultraportable will also be. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (13.5-inch, Intel): Specs

CPU: 11th-Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 (Core i5 also available)
RAM: 16GB (8GB, 32GB also to be had)
Display: 13.5-inch touch-screen, 2256 x 1504 (201 PPI)
Storage: 512GB SSD (256GB, 1TB also available)
Ports: 1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, Surface Connect port, headphone jack
Battery life: 10:46 (examined, internet browsing) | Up to 17 hours (Microsoft's declare)
Wireless: Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5.0
Dimensions: 12.1 x 8.Eight x 0.57 inches
Weight: 2.Seventy nine kilos
Price: $1,699 as configured, $999 (13.5-inch) | $1,299 (15-inch) beginning

So whilst the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is for sure the most productive Surface Laptop but, the question of whether or not it’s the best laptop for you is a little trickier to reply to. Read on for our full Surface Laptop 4 review, which must (optimistically) permit you to clear up that question. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Price and liberate date

Available as of April fifteenth in the USA and April twenty seventh in the United Kingdom, a new Surface Laptop 4 ordered from Microsoft will cost you a minimum of $999 for the 13.5-inch style and $1,299 for the 15-inch. Those entry-level fashions ship with AMD Ryzen 5/7 4000-series chips, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. 

If you wish to have extra power you can configure the Surface Laptop 4 with beefier innards, probably paying up to $2,299 and $2,399 (respectively) for the 2 fashions when you package them out with the top-tier components. Unlike its predecessors, both sizes of the Surface Laptop 4 will also be configured together with your number of an Intel Eleventh Gen Core i5/i7 CPU or an AMD Ryzen 5/7 4000-series processor, regardless that the 15-inch style is proscribed to the higher-end Core i7/Ryzen 7 chips.

Our 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 4 review unit arrived decked in Microsoft’s new (to the Surface Laptop) Ice Blue color scheme with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, a configuration which retails for $1,699.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Design

The newest Surface Laptop hews with regards to the minimalist design of its predecessors, which is both welcome and a bit underwhelming; I might have appreciated to see Microsoft attempt a more radical exchange with the Surface Laptop’s design, but for now you’ll have to look inside to see what’s new.

That mentioned, I’ve all the time cherished the slick, clean strains of the Surface gadgets, and the brand new Surface Laptop 4 provides extra of the similar. In phrases of dimensions its just like the Surface Laptop 3, weighing in at 2.8 pounds and measuring simply 12.1 x 8.Eight x 0.6 inches. That makes the Surface Laptop 4 no longer relatively as small because the M1 MacBook Air (12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches, 2.Eight kilos) or the Dell XPS 13 (11.7 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches, 2.Nine pounds), but it surely’s lots slender sufficient to slide into a backpack or briefcase and promptly overlook about.

It’s just a little more difficult to overlook concerning the thick bezels surrounding the Surface Laptop 4’s 3:2 display. They simply aren’t very horny, and after I wasn’t focusing in on specific duties I caught myself staring on the black bars across the display, wishing they were smaller so I could have a little bit more screen area to play with.

The Dell XPS 13’s incredibly narrow bezels make it simple to look how a lot of a distinction this kind of engineering paintings makes, and it will be nice to peer Microsoft do the similar for its flagship laptop. That said, it's nice how strong the display screen feels below your palms, and I felt 0 qualms about briskly tapping and swiping my approach through Windows with out being concerned I’d unintentionally knock the display screen back. 

This is the primary time Microsoft has offered a Surface Laptop within the Ice Blue colour scheme in the past seen on Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, and in person it’s a very nice, understated coloration of light steel blue. It’s so subtle that I might had been hard-pressed to let you know it was once blue unless we set it down alongside a number of other grey and silver laptops, at which level the Surface Laptop 4 obviously stands proud from the crowd. I also admire the relative subtlety of the reflective Microsoft brand at the lid; it’s crowd pleasing however less garish than numerous the manufacturer trademarks emblazoned on recent laptops.

The Alcantara lining the keyboard of the Ice Blue and Platinum 13.5-inch fashions is a pleasant contact that makes resting your wrists on the deck of the laptop feel slightly more relaxed. It’s a small distinction, but one who I noticed each and every time I switched back to typing on an all-metal laptop. The really feel of fabric beneath my wrists used to be simply nicer, although the thought of seeking to get a stain out of it heightened my already important concern of consuming or consuming while operating.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Ports

The port variety on Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 is pretty simple, for higher and for worse. The  right facet sports activities a Surface Connector for charging functions, whilst on the left you’ll find a USB-A port, a USB-C port, and a headphone jack. 

It’s nice to peer a vintage USB-A on a modern gadget like this, and combining it with a USB-C provides this laptop a nice bit of suppleness in relation to exterior devices. But this USB-C port doesn’t support Thunderbolt 4, which is a bummer for any person investing in heavy-duty external equipment like GPUs or high-capacity drives. And while a part of me likes a slender, easy chassis with out a lot of funky holes in it, I additionally in point of fact find it irresistible when a laptop manufacturer works a bit of SD card reader or a stylus cubby into the perimeters in their instrument. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Display

The 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504-pixel screen of the Surface Laptop 4 has its charms, especially for those who’re doing a lot of studying, modifying, or the rest that advantages from having the extra vertical area afforded by way of its 3:2 display ratio. 

But after I switched out of productiveness mode and began streaming some TV and films at the laptop, I used to be a bit dissatisfied via how dull and washed-out some scenes appeared. Sometimes brilliant colours were vibrant enough to pop off the screen, as was the case with the intense orange explosions of Bad Boys 2 or Stormfront’s sensible crimson lightning discharges in The Boys. But in dark scenes or settings with lots of muted blues and vegetables the colors appeared to fade and blend into every other, making it tricky to pick element. 

I also spotted my reflection much more regularly than I’m used to when operating on a laptop, even with the display’s brightness cranked the entire method up. In the absence of demanding testing knowledge I’m leery of telling you that the Surface Laptop 4’s display is indubitably more reflective than most, but it surely sure turns out that means. This didn’t purpose any issues for me (rather than stoking that unique type of self-loathing invoked by means of catching sight of yourself staring slack-jawed at a display) but it surely’s worth noting if you happen to plan to ceaselessly use the device below vivid lighting fixtures or direct daylight.

Under checking out with our colorimeter the Surface Laptop 4’s display produced 108.3% of the sRGB spectrum, which is a bit of better than the 104.5% its 15-inch predecessor produced in the same check. That's right in step with the inexpensive Thinkpad 14s Yoga (at 108%) and higher than festival just like the Dell XPS 13 (97.9%), though it nonetheless can’t fit the displays at the M1 MacBook Air (114.3%) and MacBook Pro (110.6%).

The display gets reasonably vibrant, hitting an average of 348.6 nits of brightness when tested with our gentle gun. That’s respectable, forward of the Lenovo Thinkpad 14s Yoga (313 nits) however just a little at the back of each the Intel and AMD variants of the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 (which accomplished 366 and 380 nits, respectively), and method in the back of the Dell XPS 13 (469 nits).

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Keyboard and touchpad

Typing at the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 feels more at ease than most laptops I’ve labored on, thank you largely to the nicely-sized keys and the Alcantara subject matter across the keyboard. The keys really feel pleasant to type on, with 1.3mm of travel and a nice click on to them which helped me keep away from bottoming out while typing quickly. 

The 4.5 x 3-inch glass touchpad underneath the keys may be slightly nice to use, feeling very easily as regards to the keyboard whilst nonetheless affording my big dumb sausage arms quite a few room to transport. Both it and the laptop’s touchscreen felt very responsive to the touch, and I had no bother the usage of gesture commands on either surface.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Audio

The large talking level around the Surface Laptop 4’s audio system is the addition of Dolby Atmos era, which Microsoft claims helps the laptop ship richer, more spatially accurate sound by pumping it out from underneath the keyboard and bouncing it off the display. 

I’m no audiophile, but even I can inform you that the speakers on the Surface Laptop 4 make tune and flicks sound really nice. Bass-heavy tracks like Massive Attack’s “Angel” still have a kick to them, and whilst looking at the trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong I stuck myself glancing down to verify the laptop wasn’t in truth vibrating in time with the bass drops.

But the Surface Laptop 4’s audio system actually shine with extra well-balanced tracks, and when I threw on Muddy Waters’ “Folk Singer” I was thrilled by way of how clearly the vocals rang out around the room without losing any in their heat. When I walked down the corridor or into an adjoining room I could nonetheless hear Waters’ stunning voice completely, and if I didn’t already know I’d never have guessed the song was being piped out of any person’s laptop.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Performance

Unless your process involves taking part in Cyberpunk 2077 with the settings cranked up, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 can deal with pretty much anything you’d throw at it for the duration of a mean workday. Our review unit’s 16GB of RAM and 11th Gen Intel i7 CPU gave it sufficient pep to handily tackle as many fundamental tasks as I may just subject it to, together with 20+ tabs spread across 4 Chrome windows arrayed in this sort of method that I may watch two 4K YouTube videos, a Twitch movement, and regulate my Spotify playlist while writing this review. 

The Surface Laptop 4 we reviewed submit a good ranking of 4,829 in our Geekbench Five performance test, which is good however no longer nice when stacked up against similarly-priced competition just like the Dell XPS 13 (which earned 5,254 in the same take a look at) and even cheaper Windows notebooks like Lenovo’s convertible ThinkBook 14s Yoga (4,885).

Our review unit’s 512GB SSD performed well sufficient once we tasked it with duplicating 25GB of multimedia files, moving them at a tight clip of 562.73 MBps. That’s quicker than the 508.Nine MBps that the 15-inch Intel-powered Surface Laptop 3 delivered in our checking out final year, however still slower than contemporary competitors just like the Dell XPS 13 (806 MBps) or the Thinkbook 14s Yoga (886.35 MBps). 

If you’re taking a look to perform a little video enhancing, the Surface Laptop 4 is as much as the task (particularly when kitted out with 16GB of RAM) but a ways from the fastest laptop at the block. In our Handbrake video editing take a look at our review unit took about 17 minutes to convert a 4K video to 1080p, which is quicker than the 17 mins 18 seconds it took the 15-inch Intel-equipped Surface Laptop 3 to do the same check closing 12 months. It’s additionally a bit of better than the Dell XPS 13 (which took about 18 minutes), regardless that in fact it falls far wanting the sub-10-minute marks delivered through Apple’s M1-equipped MacBook Air (which took 9 mins and 15 seconds) and MacBook Pro (7 minutes Forty four seconds) models.

As a long way as games go, our testing suggests you must calibrate your expectations to the extent of a pleasing paintings laptop: you will have to be able to play many games at acceptable body rates, particularly in the event that they’re older or much less graphically challenging, however don’t expect to experience working any sport with minimum required specs that come with a discrete GPU. 

In our performance exams our Surface Laptop 4 review unit delivered a median of 30.46 frames in line with 2d enjoying Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm at 1080p, even though that dropped down to a 27.Nine fps reasonable when we boosted the resolution as much as the native 1504p. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Webcam

There’s now not much to say about the 720p webcam constructed into the top of the Surface Laptop 4’s display, save that I want it was once somewhat extra thrilling. A bump up to 1080p would were a welcome change (especially amidst our present pandemic-provoked preponderance of Zoom meetings) that truly helped set this newest Surface Laptop except for its predecessors, all of that have sported 720p webcams above the display.

That mentioned, the Surface Laptop 4’s webcam is completely ok for all your video chatting needs, and the picture high quality is respectable if you happen to’re having a look to take some laptop selfies. 

As far as the much-touted Windows Hello biometric authentication goes, logging in by means of your face seems speedier than ever. I had some trouble getting the digicam array to acknowledge me while atmosphere the laptop up for facial popularity (most likely it’s my fault for leaving my glasses on) but when I were given it squared away, the Windows Hello login proved so rapid that if I used to be allowed to blink all over the method, I’d have missed it.    

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Battery existence

Battery existence is without doubt one of the large selling points for this newest Surface Laptop, and with excellent reason why; its predecessors have inspired us with their sublime designs and lovely screens, but they’ve often fallen wanting the contest in relation to how lengthy they ultimate on a unmarried price.

This time round Microsoft claims the AMD-equipped 13.5 Surface Laptop 4 can last as long as 19 hours on a price, while the Intel variant we reviewed is marketed as lasting up to 17 hours.

Dear reader, we would have liked to imagine. The Surface Laptop 4 is a beautiful system, and it actually does closing reasonably a while on a single rate; I used to be in a position to unplug and get thru a 9-hour workday of intermittent writing and modifying while paying attention to tune, gazing movies, and never as soon as being concerned that the battery would give out on me. 

But as excellent as it is, the Surface Laptop 4’s battery life doesn’t rather live as much as the hype. In our lab assessments -- which might be based on energetic, steady web browsing -- the Intel-based 13.5-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 lasted rather less than Eleven hours (10:46:23, to be specific). 

That’s a pleasant improvement over the 9 hours 32 mins the Intel-based Surface Laptop 3 lasted in our tests, however it still falls in need of the competition. The latest Dell XPS 13 was once able to last more (11:07) in our assessments than the Surface Laptop 4 with a equivalent hardware configuration, for instance, and naturally in case you’re keen to stroll on the macOS facet the MacBook Air M1 delivered an unbeatable 14 hours and Forty one mins in our battery exams. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Heat

In the course of this review our Surface Laptop 4 review unit rarely were given noticeably warm, no matter how many tabs I had open or what number of videos I attempted to move. The most effective time it got scorching enough to motive discomfort was once after I tried to play graphically demanding games like IO Interactive’s Hitman 2; on medium to low settings the 2018 sport pushed the laptop hard, and as it stuttered between 15 to 40 frames consistent with second the lovers kicked in and I felt the bottom of the laptop get noticeably heat in my lap.

In our heat exams (which involve streaming 15 minutes of HD video) our heat gun found the underside hit a median temperature of ninety degrees, topping out at 92.Five close to the middle (more or less immediately down from the place the F5 key sits). The deck of the laptop proved much cooler, measuring just eighty degrees on the touchpad.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Verdict

The Surface Laptop 4 improves at the Surface Laptop Three in some ways, providing Windows enthusiasts a bloatware-free ultraportable with premium parts packed within a stupendous, light-weight chassis. 

While I’d have favored to see Microsoft try some more vital adjustments to the Surface Laptop components, the very good audio system, progressed battery life, and under-the-hood upgrades make the Surface Laptop 4 probably the most best Windows laptops you can purchase — and a serious contender for a spot among the best laptops on the market. 

We already have a laundry checklist of changes we’d like to see in a sequel (thinner bezels, a greater webcam, Thunderbolt 4 toughen and more ports generally), but the Surface Laptop 4’s tall display screen, relaxed keyboard and svelte, strong design make it an ideal choice for anyone looking to get paintings achieved round the home or out on the espresso store.

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