The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 arrives at an odd time, as many individuals are forced to work from home as a result of a global pandemic. Ultrabooks like it used to shine in the commuting scene, but that shine has faded.
Fortunately for the Surface Laptop 4, lockdowns are not permanent. Many will almost certainly embrace a more hybrid work paradigm, dividing their time between home and office. Thus, having something that is both lightweight and portable – as well as powerful and durable – will be critical. And it is at this point that the slim and powerful Surface Laptop 4 truly excels.
This Surface Laptop is slim and portable, yet powerful enough to handle the majority of daily tasks. It’s also a joy to use, thanks to the stunning PixelSense display and one of the most comfortable keyboards we’ve ever used. That is precisely the laptop we envision ourselves bringing to the office once that becomes a possibility once more. Even in the shadow of Microsoft’s impending Surface Laptop Studio, which was unveiled at the company’s September 22 event.
The best aspect is that it is really affordable for what it is. At the entry-level, you’ll pay $999 for the 13-inch Surface Laptop 4, which comes equipped with a Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
- Screen: 13.5in LCD 2256 x 1504 (201 PPI)
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 4680U or Intel Core i5 or i7 (11th generation)
- RAM: 8, 16, or 32GB
- Storage: 256, 512GB or 1TB
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Camera: 720P front-facing, Windows Hello
- Connectivity: wifi 6 (ax), Bluetooth 5, USB-A, USB-C, headphones, Surface Connect
- Dimensions: 308 x 223 x 14.5mm
- Weight: 1,265 or 1,288g
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is available in two sizes: 13-inch and 15-inch, and our test unit is the former. Both are typical clamshell laptops without a convertible hinge, albeit they do include touch capabilities for scrolling with a flick of the finger.
Additionally, you can choose between a sleek aluminum case or plush Alcantara coating, which simulates carpeting your laptop. It’s unusual, yet it looks wonderful and provides a pleasant surface for resting your palms.
My primary criticism of the design is that it appears antiquated in comparison to newer competitors such as the Dell XPS 13. While the majority of laptops have reduced their bezels to allow for more screen space, Microsoft has retained the thick bezel it used in 2019. It seemed fine at the time, but it’s beginning to appear archaic today.
To call this laptop unattractive would be an exaggeration, especially when the lid is closed. The brilliantly colored aluminum lid is stunning, as is the chassis. Although it is not the lightest Ultrabook on the market at 1.3kg, it is still really easy to lift up with one hand, so there is no issue there. You may also choose from four stunning colors: Matte Black, Platinum, Ice Blue, and Sandstone.
The port’s state is satisfactory. There is one USB-C port (which does not support Thunderbolt 4), one USB-A port, a headphone jack, and Microsoft’s own Surface Connect Port. I’m not a fan of the latter, as it simply supports power delivery without further accessories, and cables can be easily yanked out of the laptop despite the magnetic attachment.
Additionally, there is the keyboard. I’ve long been a fan of Microsoft’s keyboards, but I discovered a significant flaw here. When I hammer down on the keys, the Alcantara design appears to flex noticeably. This creates an obnoxious bouncing sensation.
Unfortunately, there is no fingerprint scanner, which is surprising given that the majority of recent laptops, including the Surface Laptop Go, include one. It does, however, offer Windows Hello, which enables you to sign in using facial recognition technology, although I believe fingerprint scanners are more smooth and less prone to failure.
The 13-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 we’re reviewing features a 2256 x 1504 resolution, which is sharper than the more common Full HD display found on most laptops. The 15-inch variant has the same 201 PPI (pixels per inch), so users should experience the same level of sharpness despite the bigger display.
Microsoft chose a 3:2 aspect ratio, which results in a screen that is taller and more square-shaped than prior laptops. This is a growingly popular laptop trend, as it incorporates an additional vertical area for websites and social media platforms.
If you’re looking for a laptop that’s ideal for watching a lot of videos, the Surface Laptop 4 is an excellent choice, especially when compared to the smaller Surface Laptop Go. This is supported by outstanding benchmark results, with the Surface Laptop achieving an amazing 394-nit brightness, which is significantly higher than the industry norm.
Additionally, the 1373:1 contrast is rather good. While there are faster competition laptops available, this is easily high enough to make colors appear vibrant in both images and videos.
The Surface Laptop 4 is not a good choice for producers who want precise color reproduction. It supports 91.3 percent of the sRGB gamut but falls short of Adobe RGB or DCI-P3 coverage of 65 percent. This means you’re better off going elsewhere if you’re working with color-sensitive activities involving stills and videos.
The Surface Laptop 4 is available in both AMD and Intel configurations. Unfortunately, I was unable to test the AMD version, which comprises the entry-level Ryzen 4000 variants.
Our review unit came with an i5 1135G7 chip, while an i7 processor is also available.
By far the most significant update to the Surface Laptop 4 over its predecessor are the new processor options. I did different benchmark tests on the laptop and discovered that the new CPU delivers faster performance than the Surface Laptop 3 and is competitive with the Dell XPS 13.
However, in practice, you’re unlikely to detect a difference between the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Laptop 4. Both computers perform admirably for productivity tasks, with no discernible lag in web browsing or video streaming.
The enhanced Intel Xe graphics will almost certainly make a stronger impression on you, enhancing the laptop’s content creation and gaming capabilities. Expect it to struggle with Cyberpunk 2077, but it should be fine with Fortnite and Apex Legends on low settings.
Additionally, the Surface Laptop 4 boasts respectable SSD performance, with a read speed of 2280 MB/s and a write speed of 1170 MB/s. While those aren’t the fastest scores I’ve seen from an Ultrabook, they should provide quick saving and loading. However, I’m unhappy to learn that the cheapest model only comes with 256GB of storage, which is outrageously small for a laptop costing over $1,000.
While the enhanced processing options are the highlight of the Surface Laptop 4, I believe the improvements to battery efficiency outweigh the performance advantages.
The Surface Laptop 4 lasted 10 hours and 54 minutes after dimming the display to 150 nits and completing the PCMark 10 Office simulation. That’s a good number, but it falls short of the Acer Swift 5 and Lenovo Yoga Slim 7, all of which have a battery life of roughly 15 hours.
Take note that I’ve been using the Intel Core i5 model, as the AMD model may offer more endurance.
The laptop’s battery tank was totally recharged in around 1 hour and 30 minutes, which comes in handy if you’re in a hurry.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 is another high-quality, premium Windows 10 notebook.
It feels awesome, unique, and – most importantly – functions extremely well: quickly, quietly, and without the annoyances associated with Windows competitors’ bloated software trials (save for Office).
It is speedier than the model from last year and offers twice the capacity for the same price. However, it might benefit from more USB-C connections, an SD card reader, and Thunderbolt 4, all of which are standard in competitors at this price point.
I’d still recommend getting a Surface Laptop 4 above a variety of other Windows 10 notebooks, but Apple has set the standard high and everyone else is scrambling to keep up.