Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 vs. Surface Laptop 4

Microsoft just announced big refreshes to its Surface lineup, with the Surface Laptop 5 benefiting from better performance with the late-2022 update. This year, the Surface Laptop will be available in new colors and will get new silicon under the hood, which should deliver better performance, longer battery life, and all the expectations that come with Intel’s more recent Evo branding.

If you’re on a market for a Microsoft-branded laptop, should you pick the new Surface Laptop 5 over the Surface Laptop 4, which will likely be available at a discount now that the new model has been announced? And if you’re a Surface Laptop 4 owner, should you make the jump to the next iteration this year?

Tech specifications

Why you can trust Windows Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Size comparison of Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Surface Laptop 5 is an iterative update compared to the prior generation, and most of the changes won’t be on the surface. 

Like the Surface Laptop 4, the new fifth generation series will be available in two screen sizes, so you can choose between a more compact 13.5-inch model for travel or a larger 15-inch variant if you need the screen real estate to multitask. And unlike most laptops on the market today, Microsoft is again sticking to the same 3:2 screen aspect ratio – instead of the usual 16:9 or 16:10 displays – making the Surface Laptop 5 more suited for productivity. The screen ratio means that videos will continue to be letterboxed with black bars at the top and bottom of the display for consuming movies. 

The biggest change this year will be under the hood, where you’ll get a new U-series 12th Gen Intel processor, an upgrade from the 11th Gen silicon on the prior generation model. With the launch of 12th Gen mobile, Intel promised a multi-threaded performance bump of 30% compared to the prior 11th Gen CPU. Unfortunately, as Intel doesn’t have 13th Gen mobile processors available yet, the Surface Laptop 5 won’t launch with Intel’s newest CPU.

Another big change for the series is that Microsoft appears to be streamlining its configurations. At least at launch, Intel will be the sole CPU provider for the Surface Laptop 5, which means that unlike the fourth generation models, we won’t see any AMD Ryzen configurations. All builds of the Surface Laptop 5, across the 13.5- and 15-inch display sizes, are built on Intel’s Evo platform, which promises sustained performance, long battery life, and a thin-and-light form factor for mobile use.

The 13.5-inch models come with either an Intel Core i5-1235U or Core i7-1255U processor, while the larger 15-inch model come with Intel’s 12th Gen Core i7-1255U. Commercial configurations of the Surface Laptop 5 13.5-inch ship with Intel’s Core i5-1245U or Core i7-1265U mobile processor, while the larger Surface Laptop 5 15-inch commercial variant utilize Intel’s Core i7-1265U silicon. And like Intel configurations from the prior generation, the Surface Laptop 5 will rely solely on integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics – no discrete configuration will be available. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 versus Surface Laptop 4 Consumer Comparison
Header Cell - Column 0 Microsoft Surface Laptop 5Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
OSWindows 11 HomeWindows 10 Home with free upgrade to Windows 11
ProcessorIntel 12th Gen Core i5, Core i7Intel 11th Gen Core i5, Core i7
Row 2 - Cell 0 Row 2 - Cell 1 AMD Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7
RAM8GB, 16GB, 32GB LPDDR5x8GB, 16GB, 32GB LPDDR4x
GraphicsIntegrated Intel Iris XeIntegrated Intel Iris Xe
Storage (removable SSD)256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD
Display13.5-inch: 2256 x 1504 PixelSense Display, 3:2 Aspect Ratio, Surface Pen enabled, DolbyVision IQ13.5-inch: 2256 x 1504 PixelSense Display, 3:2 Aspect Ratio, Surface Pen enabled
Row 7 - Cell 0 15-inch: 2496 x 1664 PixelSense Display, 3:2 Aspect Ratio, Surface Pen enabled, DolbyVision IQ15-inch: 2496 x 1664 PixelSense Display, 3:2 Aspect Ratio, Surface Pen enabled
Pen supportYes, optional Surface PenYes, optional Surface Pen
PortsThunderbolt 4 over USB-C, USB A 3.2, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface ConnectUSB-C, USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect
AudioDolby Atmos with dual far-field studio microphonesDolby Atmos
WirelessW-Fi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0
Camera720p HD webcam with Windows Hello720p HD webcam with Windows Hello
SecurityWindows Hello Face AuthenticationWindows Hello Face Authentication
Dimensions13.5-inch: 12.1 inch (308 mm) X 8.8 inch (223 mm) X .57 inch (14.5 mm)13.5-inch: 12.1 inch (308 mm) X 8.8 inch (223 mm) X .57 inch (14.5 mm)
Row 15 - Cell 0 15-inch: 13.4 inch (340 mm) X 9.6 inch (244 mm) X .58 inch (14.7 mm)15-inch: 13.4 inch (340 mm) X 9.6 inch (244 mm) X .58 inch (14.7 mm)
Weight13.5-inch: Fabric 2.80 lbs (1,272 g) or Metal 2.86 lbs (1,297 g)13.5-inch: Fabric 2.79 lbs (1,265 g) or Metal 2.84 lbs (1,288 g)
Row 17 - Cell 0 15-inch: 3.44 lbs (1,560 g)15-inch: 3.40 lbs (1,542 g)
Color13.5-inch: Platinum with Alcantara, Safe, Matte Black, Sandstone13.5-inch: Platinum with Alcantara, Ice Blue with Alcantara, Matte Black with metal, Sandstone with metal
Row 19 - Cell 0 15-inch: Platinum with metal, Matte Black with metal15-inch: Platinum with metal, Matte Black with metal
Battery life13.5-inch: Up to 18 hours13.5-inch: Up to 19 hours with AMD, up to 17 hours with Intel
Row 21 - Cell 0 15-inch: Up to 17 hours15-inch: Up to 17.5 hours with AMD, up to 16.5 hours with Intel

Another big difference between the consumer and commercial variants of the Surface Laptop 5 is that the former utilizes firmware-based TPM 2.0 for security, while the latter has a TPM 2.0 chip for enterprise-grade security. Both consumer and commercial models ship with Windows 11 out of the box. The consumer version comes with Windows 11 Home pre-installed, while commercial users can choose between Windows 10 Pro or Windows 11 Pro. 

Depending on the configuration and build you choose, you’ll find either 8GB, 16GB, ore 32GB of RAM. The biggest difference between the Surface Laptop 4 and the Surface Laptop 5 is that the former utilizes LPDDR4x memory, while the latter relies on faster LPDDR5x

Microsoft continues to offer removable solid-state drive options, ranging from 256GB to 1TB across its Surface Laptop 5 models. 

And with the processor bump, the Surface Laptop 5 also benefits from faster Bluetooth 5.1 – compared to Bluetooth 5.0 on the earlier model. The Surface Laptop 5 also maintains the Laptop 4’s support for Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax support, which means that Wi-Fi 6E isn’t yet supported on Microsoft’s laptop line. And like last year’s model, the Surface Laptop 5 doesn’t come with built-in mobile broadband support – if you need 3G, 4G LTE, or 5G connectivity, you’ll need to tether to a mobile phone, like Microsoft’s Surface Duo. 

The webcam, unfortunately, maintains its 720p HD resolution this year. We would have loved to see Microsoft equip the Surface Laptop 5 with an FHD 1080p sensor, but that sadly did not happen. Windows Hello face recognition is still on board for passwordless log ins.

Design

Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021

(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

The laptops maintain the same design and dimension as its predecessor, with the smaller 13.5-inch model sticking to the same 13.5 x 12.1 x 0.57-inch footprint and the larger 15-inch model maintaining its 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.58-inch silhouette. 

On the surface, the biggest changes this year will be the addition of new colors. While the 15-inch model will continue to be available in more muted, professional colors – you can choose from the same Platinum or Matte Black hues with metal palm rests – the 13.5-inch model comes with a new Sage color option, replacing the prior generation’s Ice Blue hue.

The smaller Surface Laptop 5 is available in either Platinum with an Alcantara-coated palm rest, Sage, Matte Black, or Sandstone. The latter three color choices come with a metal palm rest, and the choice between metal or Alcantara palm rest is largely subjective. Alcantara is warmer to touch and feels more luxurious and inviting, but can wear out over time. The metal palm rest is similar to most modern laptops, including the aluminum-clad MacBook Pro, and is colder to touch but may be more durable over time

Port selections are still the same this year. You’ll get the same single USB-C port, a USB-A 3.1 port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and the Surface Connect port. The USB-C port on the Surface Laptop 5 also supports Thunderbolt 4 this year. 

Display

Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021

(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

The continuity in design means that the screen size and resolution hasn’t changed. That said, content consumption should be better on both the 13.5- and 15-inch models this year, as the Surface Laptop 5 comes with Dolby Vision IQ support on the PixelSense Display. 

Dolby’s DolbyVision IQ technology originally debuted on televisions to bring more vibrancy to images on the screen. It builds on the HDR format, and the new IQ tech help optimize the content shown on your screen based on the ambient brightness of the room. Without DolbyVision IQ, for example, HDR content on the screen can sometimes become washed out if the room’s brightness is high. The new technology will optimize the picture and content based on the lighting condition around you, so you’ll always see the details inside HDR content. 

Surface Laptop 5 promotional images

(Image credit: Microsoft)

For productivity-focused users, the inclusion of DolbyVision IQ technology on the Surface Laptop 5’s PixelSense Display won’t make a big difference, but if you’re a consummate consumer of videos, this can help illuminate hidden details in dark shadows of a movie scene regardless of the brightness of the room you’re in. Given the promises of DolbyVision IQ, it’s just too bad that Microsoft didn’t include discrete graphics options on the larger Surface Laptop 5 for some light gaming. 

The 13.5-inch model maintains its 2256 x 1504-pixel display, giving it a resolution of 201 PPI, while the larger 15-inch model ships with a 2496 x 1664-pixel screen and the same 201 PPI resolution. 

Performance and price

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 colors

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Intel’s stated 30% performance improvement in multi-threaded tasks for the 12th Gen processor is pretty impressive, and if you’re coming from an older laptop, the Surface Laptop 5 will definitely deliver on your need for speed. With the new processor, Microsoft promises battery life up to 18 hours on the smaller version of the laptop and up to 17 hours on the larger variant.

The battery improvements here appear modest – Microsoft claimed up to 17 hours on the Surface Laptop 4 13.5-inch and up to 16.5 hours on the 15-inch model last year. The AMD Ryzen configuration of the Surface Laptop 4 – sorry, Ryzen fans, there’s no AMD silicon for the Surface Laptop 5 this year – have even better battery life, with a stated claim of 19 hours and 17.5 hours for the 13.5-inch and 15-inch variants, respectively. 

Pricing for the Surface Laptop 5 starts at $999 for the 13.5-inch model and $1,299 for the larger 15-inch model. At the base price, you’re getting a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage for the Surface Laptop 5 13.5-inch and a Core i7 with the same memory and storage for the Surface Laptop 5 15-inch. 

Surface Laptop 5 promotional images

(Image credit: Microsoft)

For comparison, Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 currently starts at $799 for an AMD Risen 5 4680U configuration after discount, and an Intel Core i5 model with 8GB of memory and a 512GB SSD is available for $999. The 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 starts at $999 for an AMD build. 

The Surface Laptop 5 13.5-inch tops out at $1,699 for a build with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of storage. A 1TB configuration of the smaller model is only available for commercial customers, and this model tops out with a Core i7 and 32GB of RAM for $2,399. The 15-inch model tops out at $2,399 for a Core i7, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage.

Depending on the configuration you select, not all of the color options will be available to you. For example, the base Surface Laptop 5 13.5-inch model is only available in Platinum, while all other configurations are available in Platinum, Black, Sage, and Sandstone. For the larger Surface Laptop 5 15-inch models, the base configuration is available solely in Platinum, while the high-end consumer configuration is available only in Black. The intermediate builds will be available in both Platinum and Black. 

All of the Surface Laptop models will be available starting October 25.