Should you buy the Surface Laptop 5 13.5 or 15?

Surface Laptop 5 promotional images
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Should you buy the Surface Laptop 5 13.5 or 15?

Best answer: If you're in need of a smaller device or are looking to save some money, go with the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 5. However, you should opt for the 15-inch version instead if you want a larger display.

Surface Laptop 5: Overview and specs

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(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Surface Laptop 5 is the latest device in Microsoft's ultrabook lineup, aimed at folks that need a speedy and efficient machine to use for general productivity work, browsing the web, watching entertainment, and other everyday tasks. Featuring impressive upgrades like Intel Evo-certified 12th Gen Intel Mobile U-series CPUs, the addition of Thunderbolt 4, and a Secured-Core PC certification, the Surface Laptop 5 is considerably more advanced than previous generations of the device.

Notably, the Surface Laptop 5 also comes with certifications for Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos, meaning that you can expect stellar contrast, vibrant colors, and top-notch spatial sound from its displays and speakers. Microsoft says that the camera will be great to use, too, as it will be able to adjust to varying light conditions, different skin tones, and adjustments you make to the position of your head and face.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Laptop 5 13.5Surface Laptop 5 15
OSWindows 11 Home (Consumer)Windows 11 Home (Consumer)
Row 1 - Cell 0 Windows 11 Pro (Commercial)Windows 11 Pro (Commercial)
ProcessorCore i5-1235U (Consumer)Core i7-1255U (Consumer)
Row 3 - Cell 0 Core i5-1245U (Commercial)Core i7-1265U (Commercial)
Row 4 - Cell 0 Core i7-1255U (Consumer)Row 4 - Cell 2
Row 5 - Cell 0 Core i7-1265U (Commercial)Row 5 - Cell 2
Memory8GB, 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR5x8GB, 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR5x
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe GraphicsIntel Iris Xe Graphics
Storage256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
Display13.5-inch 60Hz PixelSense Display, 2256 x 1504 (201 PPI)15-inch 60Hz PixelSense Display, 2496 x 1664 (201 PPI)
Ports1x USB-C with USB 4.0 / TB4, 1x USB-A 3.1, 3.5mm jack, 1x Surface Connect1x USB-C with USB 4.0 / TB4, 1x USB-A 3.1, 3.5mm jack, 1x Surface Connect
AudioDual far-field Studio MicsDual far-field Studio Mics
Row 12 - Cell 0 Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby AtmosOmnisonic Speakers with Dolby Atmos
WirelessWi-Fi 6E: 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1Wi-Fi 6E: 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
Camera720p HD front facing camera720p HD front facing camera
SecurityWindows Hello facial recognitionWindows Hello facial recognition
Row 16 - Cell 0 TPM 2.0TPM 2.0
Row 17 - Cell 0 Secured-Core PC certifiedSecured-Core PC certified
BatteryUp to 18 hoursUp to 17 hours
Dimensions12.1" x 8.8" x 0.57" (308 x 223 x 14.5 mm)13.4" x 9.6" x 0.58" (340 x 244 x 14.7 mm)
Weight2.80 lbs (Alcantara) or 2.86 lbs (Metal)3.44 lbs
ColorPlatinum with Alcantara, Sage, Matte Black, SandstonePlatinum, Matte Black
PriceStarts at $999Starts at $1,299

Like with the Surface Laptop 4, the Surface Laptop 5 is available in 13.5-inch and 15-inch versions. For the most part, the two models are identical, with the main differences between them being their price and the size of their displays. Notably, the 13.5-inch version can be configured with both Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, with the 15-inch variant only featuring Core i7 options.

Both models of the Surface Laptop 5 are available to preorder now, with the device expected to begin shipping on October 25, 2022. The price of the 13.5-inch model starts at $999, while the cost of the larger 15-inch one begins at $1,299.

Why you should buy the Surface Laptop 5 13.5

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The 13.5-inch variant of the Surface Laptop 5 will be ideal for folks that want something as affordable as possible, as it's considerably less expensive than the 15-inch model. While you'll have to settle for Core i5 12th Gen chips instead of Core i7 ones if you want to save the most money, we expect that they'll still offer great performance for general tasks and will be excellent for day-to-day use.

You should also opt for this model if you're looking for something compact. The smaller size of the display and chassis means that the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 5 will be easier to slip into small laptop bags and backpacks. It's also a full half-pound lighter, too, which is a benefit worth considering if you plan on carrying the laptop with you all day.

Microsoft also claims that the 13.5-inch variant will have a slightly better battery life of 18 hours. This is far from being a major step up from the 15-inch version's estimated 17-hour runtime, but if you often spend a lot of time away from the charging cord, every bit of extra juice helps.

Why you should buy the Surface Laptop 5 15

(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you don't mind paying a little extra for it, the 15-inch Surface Laptop 5 will be an excellent choice for people that want a larger display. Many often find larger screens easier to multitask and complete work with, as they give you more real estate to use.  Bigger panels are also typically considered ideal for watching movies and TV or playing games (Xbox Cloud Gaming would pair perfectly with the Surface Laptop 5). If you plan on consuming a lot of entertainment media with your new laptop, going with the 15-inch unit may be the right call.

You may also prefer to use the larger keyboards found on 15-inch devices, especially if you have big hands. If you've struggled to type accurately using smaller keyboards in the past, you'll most likely be better off with the bigger Surface Laptop 5. 

Ultimately, regardless of which Surface Laptop 5 you decide to buy, you'll end up with what is expected to be one of the best Windows laptops of 2022. Between its quality specs and great new features, the Surface Laptop 5 is poised to please.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.