Microsoft has been setting the bar for PCs and unique form factors for many years with its Surface hardware. That makes the Surface Laptop's existence stranger. Regardless, the company has created a luxurious PC Ultrabook that directly targets Apple's MacBook.
Is there really a need for a MacBook killer? Microsoft thinks so, but it may be bringing too little, too late. Its PC partners also seem to be taking on Apple just fine. I spent the last two weeks with the Surface Laptop, and while I'm a big fan, it may be a tough sell.
About this Surface Laptop review
Microsoft supplied a loaner Surface Laptop for review purposes. The unit tested features a Core i5-7200U processor, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It costs $1,299. Starting price of the Surface Laptop is $999 for the Core i5 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Surface Laptop maxes out at a Core i7-7660U with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for $2,199.
See at Microsoft (opens in new tab)
Microsoft Surface Laptop technical specifications
Microsoft offers a few variants of the Surface Laptop, but only two processor types, seventh generation dual-core Intel Core i5 and i7 chips, along with Intel HD 620 and Intel Iris Plus 640 for graphics.
|Display||13.5-inch Pixel Sense display|
10 point multi-touch
|Display resolution||2256 x 1504 (201ppi)|
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
|Software||Windows 10 S (Upgradable to Pro)|
|Processor||Seventh-gen Intel Core i5-7200U or i7-76660U|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD)|
|Memory||4GB, 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 RAM|
|Graphics||i5: Intel HD graphics 620|
i7: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
Windows Hello facial authentication
|Speakers||Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio Premium|
|Ports||One full-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, headset jack, and Surface Connect|
|Sensors||Ambient light sensor|
|Keyboard||Full-sized, backlit, soft-touch|
|Security||TPM chip for enterprise security|
|Battery life||14.5 hours of use|
|Pen||Surface Pen (not included)|
|Dimensions||12.13 inches (308.02 mm) x 8.78 inches (223.2mm) x 0.57 inches (14.47 mm)|
Internal storage via SSD and RAM varies from 128GB and 4GB up to 512GB and 16GB, respectively.
Surface Laptop design
Following in the tradition of other Surface devices, the Surface Laptop is the cream of the crop when it comes to aesthetics and quality.
The Laptop's chassis is unibody aluminum that is smooth and creak-free with no screws or visible seams. Everything from the grating on the rear vent to the edge of the back of the display is symmetrical and impeccable-looking. The aluminum is excellent for preventing smudges as well. I never once felt I had to wipe down the Surface Laptop nor were there visible fingerprints on the chassis from normal handling. This fingerprint experience carries over the touch screen as well.
Our review unit was burgundy, but there are three other colors including platinum, cobalt blue, and champagne. Unfortunately, the latter two colors are only offered in the Core i5 models, and platinum is only available for Core i7 variants.
The burgundy and cobalt blue are muted and non-flamboyant (Microsoft describes the colors as "timeless.") Burgundy shimmers a bit depending on the light – sometimes it looks darker, other times brighter.
Rubber feet keep some distance between the bottom metal chassis and any flat surface. The Microsoft logo along with some minor device information is on the underside and is almost invisible. There are no Intel stickers or anything else marring the Surface Laptop.
Opening the lid is effortless and can be done one-handed – a trademark of quality laptop engineering. Microsoft did not even add a notch to open the display, which is unusual but not problematic because there is enough ridge in the front to grab and open it from any position.
The inside keyboard deck and display area are almost boring ... but in a good way. There is nothing that immediately draws your eye away from the screen – no chrome, vents, grills, speakers or LEDs – just the keyboard and screen. It's a pure Windows experience.
Alcantara luxury (and concerns)
That keyboard deck features Alcantara – a synthetic fabric that is supposed to be on the same level as leather or suede but not as damaging to the environment. It's made from polyester and polyurethane. The fabric is warm and inviting versus the common cold metal found in premium laptops. The color scheme matches the exterior with bits of darker color to add some style.
Alcantara has some detractors, and some say the fabric can stain over the years. Microsoft has used it before with its Signature Type Cover for Surface Pro and Surface Ergonomic Keyboard, and most reviews on Amazon (opens in new tab) are positive, with few complaints about the fabric.
The blend with the Surface Laptop is supposed to be slightly different, with an extra layer of a specialized polyurethane coating. There is a very distinct and almost pungent smell with the Surface Laptop. While this scent is like any "new computer" smell, it has lingered more than the usual 24 hours. I own and use the Signature Type Cover and Surface Ergonomic Keyboard and have never noticed this odor, so clearly, something is different.
Microsoft says that like any luxury item occasional user care needs to be taken with the Alcantara, which includes giving it a light wipe down with microfiber, water, and some soap.
In my two weeks with the Surface Laptop, I didn't notice any wear, tear, or staining with the Alcantara fabric. The only downside is the smell, which is more apparent than I would prefer.
For now, only time will tell how well Alcantara holds up over the life of the Surface Laptop.
Surface Laptop display
The Surface Laptop features a 2256 x 1504 (201ppi) PixelSense multi-touch display. That is a lower resolution than the 12.5-inch Surface Pro at 2736 x 1824 (267 ppi) and the 13.5-inch Surface Book 3200 x 1800 (267 ppi), but it would be difficult to eyeball any differences.
Because the Surface Laptop is not a tablet or a 2-in-1 PC, Microsoft made the display bezels quite thin and smaller than on Surface Pro or Surface Book.
The Laptop's screen is bright and auto-adjusts based on ambient lighting. That adjustment feature works well. Brightness could be higher, but for most usage scenarios it should be OK.
Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protects the display from scratches, and each screen is calibrated for 100 percent sRGB. In my color calibration test, I saw 99 percent sRGB and 80 percent AdobeRGB.
The glass is edge-to-edge and unlike any other laptop because there is no ridge – it's perfectly flat. The "oleophobic" screen protection is excellent with no noticeable smudges even after touch or pen use.
Microsoft claims the Laptop's screen has "the thinnest and lowest parallax LCD touch module on any laptop." That's good because making a display touch and pen-enabled often results in thicker and heavier displays that can add "visual distance" between the glass and LCD.
Regarding quality, blacks are not quite as deep as on an AMOLED or IGZO display. Instead, there is a slight shift to dark gray due to the backlight standard with IPS LCD.
Microsoft appears to have gotten the light-bleed issue in some of its other PCs under control, too, and we didn't see any backlight hotspots. While the display is glossy, the effect is somewhat muted and does not cause eye strain.
Overall, the Surface Laptop screen is a marked improvement in the Surface lineup. It is easily one of the best displays on a 13-inch form factor, even if it is not the highest-resolution.
Surface Pen is better than anticipated
Surface Laptop does not come with a Surface Pen, and it's not considered an inking device. Nonetheless, the touch display supports the feature. While it does not have advanced features such as the tilt support found in the new Surface Pro, it does quite well.
The Surface Laptop's display does not articulate fully backward, nor can it lay flat. That makes using a digital pen a bit awkward, often requiring you to hold the screen with the other hand for support. However, for signing documents, making a quick on-screen note, or drawing on a screen capture, it's not bad and better than I expected.
Inking on Surface Laptop is a "nice to have" feature. You probably won't use it a lot, but that moment you need to sign a PDF document or sketch a diagram, you'll be glad it's there.
Excellent typing experience on a smooth keyboard
Microsoft basically took Surface Pro 4's keyboard and dropped it into the Surface Laptop. There are some changes, however, including deeper key travel at 1.5mm versus the 1.3mm found in the Surface Pro.
The keys themselves are plastic and smooth just like Surface Pro. The material is a bit surprising because the Surface Book uses metal (magnesium) keys. The keys feel a little cheaper and lighter than anticipated. That's not bad, just different. My guess is Microsoft wanted the keys to match the warm feel of the Alcantara, and metal keys would have added weight and a cool-to-the-touch experience that did not match.
There is a three-stage backlight with a keyboard shortcut for easy access. Lighting comes on automatically and works great.
In another welcome change, Microsoft finally added dedicated function keys (F1 and F2) for display brightness controls. Previously, people with Surface devices had to use a cumbersome hidden key combo for those commands.
To the left of the Delete key is the power button – another change from previous Surfaces. The button works well and is instant. A light touch results in the display lighting up immediately. There are also dedicated media playback keys (play and pause), print screen, home, end, and page up and down.
The overall typing experience is excellent.
Precision trackpad lives up to its name
The Surface Laptop comes with a large 105 mm x 70 mm Precision trackpad with a glass layer.
The trackpad on the Surface Laptop is almost perfect. Clicking is satisfactory with an audible click, although you can tap for a quieter experience. The glass layer is smooth, though a bit tackier at times than I'm used to. I had no issues with unregistered entries, and the cursor accuracy was high.
Input and output (or lack thereof)
There are a few controversial areas of the Surface Laptop, and port selection is one of them.
A single USB Type-A 3.0 port is found on the left-hand side. Next to it is a mini DisplayPort and 3.5mm headphone jack.
That's it. The lack of a forward-looking USB Type-C in place of a mini DisplayPort is disappointing.
Nonetheless, it is not a deal breaker, at least not for me. I have a few laptops with USB Type-C, and the ports are used exclusively for charging. While external GPU (eGPU) support would be nice, Thunderbolt 3 is still a bit messy with some burdensome requirements, so I get why Microsoft is forgoing the standard. And later this year, Microsoft plans to release an adapter that fits into the Surface Connect port. It will reconfigure that power and data port into USB Type-C for those who want it.
Conceptually, I think people accepted a single USB port on Surface Pro because it was a tablet. I'm not sure that leniency will carry over to Surface Laptop.
The absent SD card reader is also a letdown, but Microsoft evidently prioritized battery over external media support.
Surface Laptop speakers gratify
When looking at the Surface Laptop, you quickly notice what is not there, and that includes visible speakers. The Surface Pro and Surface Book put the speakers in the display facing outward, but Laptop is too thin for that.
Instead, Microsoft is doing something new – and risky. The Surface Laptop's speakers are below the keyboard deck, hidden from sight. Using special "Omnisonic" speakers that are tuned to work well with the Alcantara fabric and space between the keys, Microsoft may have outdone itself.
Compared to the new Surface Pro and Surface Book, the Surface Laptop sounds better. The reason is acoustics. With the speakers in the lower deck, there is more area for the sound to resonate. You can feel the sound when turned up, much like how a quality stereo speaker has a timbre.
Audio from Surface Laptop is loud, clear, and distinctly rich. There is Dolby Audio Premium support, too, along with some smart enhancements like loudness, room tuning, and bass boost to help customize the audio.
Wicked fast Windows Hello and a 720p camera
All modern Surface devices leverage Microsoft's Windows Hello feature via face recognition. The function is accomplished via a combination of infrared (IR) light and a lens, along with the front-facing camera.
Microsoft tuned Windows Hello on the Surface Laptop for speed, and it is impressive. As you begin to open the lid at a 10-degree angle the display and camera are enabled. As you continue to open the lid the camera actively searches for the user, and due to the improved optics, by the time you fully open the display the Surface Laptop has already recognized you.
The result is a very fast Windows Hello unlock process.
Speaking of that front camera, it is only 720p, a downgrade from the new Surface Pro's 1080p one. That tradeoff is likely due to how thin the bezels are on Laptop compared to Pro, not to mention the thickness. While images are a noticeably lower resolution, they are brilliant and look good. In fact, they're still better than most laptops I have tried.
Due to the Surface Laptop not being a tablet, there is no rear camera.
Surface Laptop performance leaves something to be desired
Microsoft ships two versions of the Surface Laptop: one with a Core i5-7200U and the other with a Core i7-7660U. Both are dual-core and have the latest seventh-generation processors from Intel. Our review unit is the Core i5 model, which is likely to be the most popular.
In synthetic benchmarks, the Surface Laptop with Core i5 does quite well. Geekbench 4.0 focuses mostly on a CPU-intensive task and it compares favorably to speedier Core i7 devices:
Geekbench 4.0 benchmarks (higher is better)
|Device||CPU||Single core||Multi core|
|HP EliteBook x360 G2||i7-7600U||4,496||8,435|
|Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext||i7-7500U||4,316||8,320|
|Lenovo X1 Carbon||i5-7300U||4,139||8,311|
|Dell XPS 13 (9360)||i7-6560U||4,120||7,829|
|HP Spectre 13||i7-7500U||4,100||7,469|
|Surface Book 965M||i7-6600U||3,977||7,486|
While the i5-7200U handles Windows 10 just fine, it is a very middle of the road processor that peaks at 3.10GHz and has a base clock of 2.7GHz (Microsoft used the configurable thermal design power or cTDP to boost the base from 2.50GHz to 2.70GHz).
PCMark (Home Conventional 3.0)
|Surface Laptop Core i5||2,494||Better than 40 percent of all results|
|Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext||2,998||Better than 57 percent of all results|
|Lenovo X1 Carbon Core i5||2,965||Better than 57 percent of all results|
|HP EliteBook x360 G2||2,916||Better than 52 percent of all results|
|Dell Latitude 7280||2,829||Better than 52 percent of all results|
|HP Spectre x360 15||2,472||Better than 41 percent of all results|
The PCMark score for the Laptop matches that of the 4K HP Spectre x360 15, despite the latter having a Core i7 CPU. PCMark Home Conventional looks at the system under load, and things like display resolution come into play, so laptops with higher resolution screens like Surface Laptop and the HP Spectre x360 get dinged because they push the graphics component much harder.
Geekbench 4.0 OpenCL (higher is better)
|HP Spectre x360 15||28,868|
|Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext||23,207|
|HP EliteBook x360 G2||21,512|
|Lenovo X1 Carbon||20,932|
|Dell XPS 13 (9360)||19,410|
|Surface Book HD520||18,197|
|Dell Latitude 7280||17,827|
The Surface Laptop does not have a discrete GPU, but it uses the Intel HD 620 to offload graphics from the CPU. With a core clock of 1GHz, the HD 620 edges out the Intel HD520 found in Surface Book, but it is not considered a powerhouse.
Where things get disappointing is with the 256GB of SSD storage for read and write speeds. Microsoft made a big deal about integrating a PCIe NVMe SSD directly into the PCB board, whereas many other laptops use an add-in module. The result is a more power-efficient drive that takes up significantly less space leaving more room for the battery.
Unfortunately, for the Core i5 edition, the SSD is made by Toshiba (THNSN0256GTYA) and its peak read and write speeds are just 900 MB/s and 200 MB/s – and that is theoretically under ideal conditions. Here are the synthetic benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark.
CrystalDiskMark (higher is better)
|Surface Laptop||423 MB/s||237 MB/s|
|Lenovo X1 Carbon||1,518 MB/s||1,188 MB/s|
|Samsung Notebook 9 Ext||1,365 MB/s||1,213 MB/s|
|HP EliteBook x360 G2||1,129 MB/s||916 MB/s|
|Dell XPS 13 (9360)||1,287 MB/s||794 MB/s|
|HP Spectre x360 15||1,128 MB/s||862 MB/s|
|Surface Book||1,018 MB/s||967 MB/s|
|Dell Latitude 7280||428 MB/s||412 MB/s|
I've seen some Core i7 editions of the Surface Laptop use a Samsung KUS040202M for the 512GB configuration. That drive can push 1,200 MB/s for read and 960 MB/s for writes, which are very respectable speeds, suggesting that the high-end Surface Laptop will perform significantly faster all around – especially with Intel Iris Plus 640 Graphics – compared to the Core i5 Surface Laptop. The 128GB edition of the Core i5 Surface Laptop may also perform even worse than the 256GB for storage access rates.
Bottom line: The more money you pay, the more power you get.
To put this in perspective, using the Core i5 Surface Laptop feels just fine. Whether it is booting the OS, running Windows Store apps, or even some light gaming, you would never suspect that the SSD was by any means slow. However, for large file transfers (1GB or more), the slower SSD speeds are slower than similarly configured laptops in this category.
All-day battery life
The battery life is exceptional with the Surface Laptop. Microsoft touts 14.5 hours using a closed-loop video playback with no connectivity – standard practice in all battery estimates.
Real-world usee falls more in line with a solid nine hours, but you can push it to ten if you are not doing intensive work, or by keeping the display dimmer. In my experience with the Surface Laptop, I never had to take the AC wall charger with me for the day, which is great.
Standby time is also outstanding. Closing the lid means the Laptop is not consuming battery life despite being on standby for rapid resumes. After a few hours, the laptop sleeps and behaves like any Windows machine, but returning a week later will result in nearly the same battery life as when you left it.
Whisper fans and a cool experience
The Core i5 processor stays very cool, never exceeding 102 degrees F (39 degrees C) under intensive graphics processing for 20 minutes.
The fan is whisper quiet and rarely turns on especially under regular usage. You would almost suspect the device was fanless, until you start playing games or do a large OS update or install.
Due to the design, the air intake grill is shared with the exhaust vent in the back of the device. That means your legs never block or interfere with air flow. It also gives the appearance that the device has no fan due to the grill being hidden behind the display hinge when opened.
The Surface Laptop never gets beyond warm and is exceptionally quiet.
Windows 10 S: Another conundrum
Windows 10 S is a variant of the Windows 10 Pro OS that comes with the Surface Laptop. It is Windows 10 Pro with the one exception that it can only install apps from the Windows Store versus .exe apps downloaded off the internet. At any time a user can do a one-time "unlock" to Windows 10 S to Pro through the Store for free through 2017. (It'll cost $49 after that if Microsoft does not extend the offer).
The whole process took less than three minutes, including the Laptop rebooting to adjust OS configurations. It was fast and easy and did not alter any customizations or files on my Laptop.
However, once you upgrade to Pro you cannot downgrade to S. Instead, you need to use a Surface Recovery image file from Microsoft (free). A user will not be charged for another Pro upgrade because the license is linked to the Laptop and Store.
Regarding performance and battery life between Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Pro, technically there is no difference. Putting two machines side by side – one with S and one with Pro – and running the same Windows Store apps and web use will result in the same performance and battery life. There is nothing "extra" about Pro, and Windows 10 S is not "lite" Windows.
If, however, you begin to install non-Windows Store apps on Windows 10 Pro, you may not see the same performance and battery life – especially after months or years. That's the difference. Windows 10 S is an ideal form of the Windows experience and keeping that configuration means the Surface Laptop will behave the same on day one as day one thousand.
Conclusion: Surface Laptop is beautiful and delightful — but not unique
I've thought hard about the Surface Laptop and who should buy it. Three distinct buyers come to mind, and I'll address each in turn for a review recommendation:
- Surface fans looking for validation to buy.
- "Regular" people who want 13-inch laptops.
- MacOS users looking to switch to Windows.
The first group is made up of people who saw Surface Laptop and just wanted it. They think it's stunning, they are committed to the Surface brand, are comfortable with the price – and missing ports – and want to know is there anything severely wrong with it before they commit.
Those people should grab their credit cards and get one. I thoroughly enjoy using the Surface Laptop. It is delightful to use and carry around. I had zero issue or complaints, and this is easily my favorite Surface so far from Microsoft.
For the second group, regular shoppers who simply want a good 13-inch Ultrabook, you should probably skip the Surface Laptop. There is nothing fundamentally flawed with the device, but companies like HP (Spectre x360), Dell (XPS 13) and even Huawei (MateBook X) all make exceptional laptops that are thin, luxurious, more powerful, offer additional ports, and are significantly cheaper. It seems ludicrous to suggest the Surface Laptop is a better value or purchase than those – it simply is not.
The third group is MacBook and MacBook Pro users. For years, the PC crowd has been dogged by comparisons to Apple's premium laptop line. Microsoft finally went and made just as an audacious and deluxe laptop as Apple. Perfectly engineered? Done. Lacking in features? Check. Overpriced? Very likely. Still amazing to use and something you want? Yup.
The Surface Laptop is Microsoft's MacBook. People buy $10,000 watches that can only tell time, while my $150 Fitbit gives me my heart rate and acts as a pedometer. But there is a reason why people buy $10,000 watches: quality.
The Surface Laptop is a status device for Windows users. Microsoft might as well make a gold edition, with real gold, just to sell it to Kanye West. It's about prestige.
I suspect, however, like the MacBook brand, the Microsoft Surface Laptop will attract a certain "tech glitterati" to the Windows 10 world, an elite group of digital fashionistas who will sing the gospel of Redmond's vision of Fluent Design. Ironically, the people who want this device the most are the tech media that cover Microsoft and who will review it – not your average consumer. Microsoft wants to see its brand at press events, and mindshare matters.
Finally, the conceptual problem is that the Surface Laptop has no "killer feature." That's a change from prior Surface devices that created a new category, or solved a unique problem. Surface Laptop idoesn't change the game. It's just a really, really nice Windows laptop. And that's perfectly fine.
Since this review went live I have also tested, reviewed, and compared the more expensive Core i7 model with 8GB of RAM to the Core i5 version. You can find more details in "Surface Laptop Core i5 vs. Core i7: Comparing performance, battery life and more". We also have a few more deeper-dives about the Surface Laptop that were not addressed here, including:
- How to reinstall Windows 10 S on your Surface Laptop
- 5 lesser-known things Windows 10 S on the Surface Laptop cannot do
- Windows 10 S and the Surface Laptop can enroll in the Window Insider Program
- Is the Surface Laptop's faster 512GB SSD worth the extra cost?
- Surface Pro vs. Surface Laptop — Which is better (and why)?
- Surface Laptop Core i5 vs. Core i7: Comparing performance, battery life and more
See Surface Laptop at Microsoft (opens in new tab)
- Outstanding build quality and design.
- Balanced for performance and all-day battery.
- Very good display and typing experience.
- Quiet and cool.
- Pure Windows 10.
- Microsoft prestige device.
- Very expensive.
- Limited I/O port selection.
- SSD is slower than expected.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.
I read the review, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how you come to the conclusion that it's the greatest Surface product. Maybe the battery life which really makes it an effective tool on the go. Good review though, and I liked the buyer breakdown at the end.
It really depends on your priorities. If you don't put tablet/pen first, like I do, you'll adore it. Display quality, battery, sound, are all the best of the Surface line. But...as Yoda said..."there is another" ;)
Hmm, I actually use the tablet mode very rarely, generally just in the car as a passenger or when playing the odd game here or there. But I couldn't live without the convenience now, but hey, that's just me. That being said my biggest issue with my Pro 3 is that for my needs I was forced to buy the dock as the USB port on the device isn't powerful enough for things like dvd drives or other high output peripherals. So I think I would be wary to go another "tablet" device, probably look into a 2 in 1 instead.
Minor point - the Surface Book is 3000x2000 screen resolution - you have 3200x1800.
For me the Surface Book is still the best product. In my country, the Surface Laptop with i7 / 8GB of RAM / 256GB of SSD is 50$ more expensive than the Surface Book (without performance base) with i7 / 16GB of RAM / 256GB of SSD. Paying more to have less, it is the mantra from another tech company.
Try getting past the slow SSD on the i5 version. it really bothers and annoys me
I really want this to be my go-to college student laptop recommendation, but the pricepoint and the recent uptake in people asking me for laptops that can handle some gaming is keeping me at bay for the moment. The Surface hardware quality alone is worth something, but there is a good selection of laptops from HP and Dell out there as well.
I'm just happy this article is about WINDOWS, not GAMING. Also, the Surface laptop bears more than a passing resemblance to the X1 Carbon form factor. Wedge shaped body thinning to the trackpad side, minimalist styling. The X1 Carbon is still king of this "look". Not even the Specter can hold a candle to it, reviews aside. ThinkPad all the way!
Nice review. I am looking to buy the 1599 i7 model but have 3 concerns 1) Is it confirmed that it will have the faster Samsung SSD? Even the faster one is no where close to the SSD on the MBP Pro 13 inch, is that right? 2) How would you compare it with mbp pro 13 inch non touch? 3) Did you find 8 GB RAM enough for multitasking? Thanks
It would be interesting to see if the quality of the SSD depends on the model you get, and Intel Core i7 devices running much faster SSD read/write speeds. I may be wrong but I thought that the base model would perform as fast on SSD speeds than the most expensive model and the difference is just the storage space.
thanks daniel. for my needs and priorities, this laptop definitely suits me the best out of all the surface products.
I love the red one
How much time do you spend on reviews? You must be really patient :)
Did you end up using it as Windows 10 s? If you somehow bought this product, did you envision yourselves using it in windows 10s? I feel that Windows 10s is enough for me.
Good review. Nice pen... This is the new Surface pen which you use to write on the Laptop. When do you release a review auf the new Surface Pen. Will you test it with a Sufrace Book / Performance Base and Pro 3 and 4 too? Want to know if there is a letency improvement for the older Pro and Book. I know that the 21ms only available with the new sensor in the Surface Pro. Tilt funktionalty will come later for...
Thanks Dan. You have just reaffirmed my decision to get the Surface Book with Performance base. The nirvana for me is to have one device that does everything well and the laptop and new surface pro don't. I was heading towards having a device for every occasion i.e. new Surface Pro for work, Razer HD for gaming and Surface laptop for home. The pen, trackpad, screen and touch pad of the Surface Book are the best I have ever experienced and the fact that I can game on it albeit at 30 FPS just rounds it off nicely.
So ,after of years trying to "replace your mac laptop" they come to realize that instead of magnezium you use aluminium and no transformers laptop like surface book. They will remove that alcantara in few years..since macs always did this right from the start. So making a premium pice of hardware does not come cheap ah? I thought macs are overpriced..compare to plastic wobble other brand because when you try to copy, you realise that price is coming up up. This is for students, that from what i heard, they like to game from time to time, but in today standards when eGPU is moving forward hard, without usb-c/tb3?? You still need to learn Microsoft from Apple, things like no fabric, and usb-c/tb3
How many people game on a Mac?
They're still the better gaming machines thanks to faster integrated graphics.
"Integrated graphics" and "gaming" in the same sentence...
So? Integrated graphics are perfectly capable of fine gaming experiences. Obviously, you'll have to adjust your standards.
There is one GLARING difference between this and a crappy macbook however...that is WINDOWS 10. MacOS is a jumbled crappy os. I tried on two occasions to like it, I really did. wasted too much money on macbooks/imacs and sold them at a big loss. At least I know that windows 10 is an awesome operating system.
I'd say a similar thing, except for me it's the other way around. Anyway, I'm glad we're only stating OUR OPINIONS here.
Yes, for sure...but only one opinion is right....Cough - mine - cough.
No light bleed? i bet you said that same with the first review for the surface pro or book. You cannot NOT have light bleed with any non oled panel
In the sense of bad, glaring hot spots, not a general edge bleed. Many Surfaces have corners or arears noticeably brighter than others. That's not the case here.
If only it had a better trackpad and USB-C... It also looks like Microsoft went cheap on the SSD, despite the overall selling price. Pass.
Yup. Have you used it? Like every other non-MacBook trackpad, the Surface Laptop's click feels inconsistent across its surface, and makes noises, even with gentle taps as if it's bottoming out or is loose. No thanks. That's what happens when you use bargain bin trackpads from Synaptics who doesn't know how to make a good trackpad. They put out garbage and all the PC manufacturers flock to them.
You're using a rather large brush there, BS.
At least we can right-click properly. Trying to use a Macbook trackpad in Windows is horrendous. I also appreciate the better haptic feedback of a real click on the surface trackpad. You can prefer the Macbook one, but it's all opinion, not facts.
Right-click behavior is exactly the same as any laptop... Either use the bottom-right corner (or the bottom-left) or a multi-finger gesture (completely customizable, all within Windows). Click feel aside, tracking, tapping and overall accuracy are all better on a MacBook's trackpad, even in Windows.
"but it may be bringing too little, too late." Too late for what? To sell laptops? Didn't realize there is an expiration date as to when people will purchase laptops. Comments like this in reviews are perplexing!
In 2018 Nostradamus predicted a Worldwide EMP strike that solely destroys laptops. It's terrible.
Too late because HP, Dell, Huawei, even Lenovo are all making arguably better laptops at a lower cost. Had this device came out 2 years ago, when it was really needed, different story.
But I don't think the purpose of the Surface Laptop is to really be the best ever Laptop as much as it is to put Windows 10S on a premium device. I don't think any other vendor would have done it. They would just put 10S on low end devices.
what exact story would be different? I mean you never saw a win7/8 ultrabook? MS isn't trying to win sales awards with these. They have a showcase laptop for Windows 10S with free PRO upgrade best of both worlds. Reasons to stop by the MS stores and good hype. I'd like to put Win10S on my Surface 3 actually just to kill background processes alone. I use it for Remote Desktop if i need win32 anyways with it.
Reviewers judging SSD quality by sequential speed only are doing a great disservice to the community - by shifting public focus to a largely irrelevant stat. In probably 98% of the tasks relevant to the users of light and portable machines like this, you'd care about access times (affects snappiness) and power consumption (affects system battery life). OTOH, seq. reads and writes do not correlate to user experience in any way, except for a small fraction of special users. It's like gigahertz wars of the early 2000s - more is better, everybody knows that.
Agreed. Microsoft didn't market this computer to power users who will edit, constantly move files around, etc. It's meant for recreational users, students, and entertainment. For them, the SSD will make no difference. This is why I find benchmarks sometimes counterproductive, even though they can be fun to look at.
Would you then say the SSD is very slow for work and productivity?
What kind of work and productivity do you do? Microsoft Office applications? Online research? For those, you shouldn't notice any difference. If you're moving big video files or photos around constantly. If you're rendering videos (then it's mostly processor anyway), other big file work, then you will notice a difference.
Agreed. More useful would be the IOPS rate or random 4k read / write rate as that is more like normal usage. Provided it can write faster than your download speed or transfer from a USB stick / external hard disk then most people will be happy most of the time. Interesting that they are using two different SSDs, probably in order to get enough supply so you might get either kind in any spec device. They don't give a spec for the SSD itself so you can't say it isn't as good as specified!
Still relevant to point out for comparison. There are costs and quality associated with different SSD brands and performance.
Yeap! Professional anecdote (simplified): my bosses opted to buy all SSD SAN shelf from EMC recently. The idea was to help provide better performance for our application (we do SaaS). Well, I told them the application we write is ******. Nothing can scale ******. What happens? We install the new shelf. We migrate databases (via AG movement) and guess what? Application is still ****** (from a SQL code perspective). SSD and raw transfer rates aren't too useful when the workload isn't as equally optimized. File transfers? Unless you're transferring data from primary site to an HA/DR site and need to ensure recovery time/ objectives, its silly to focus on that metric alone when so many things in between affect transfer rates. Even then, this is a review for a laptop not a server!
"Microsoft has been setting the bar for PCs and unique form factors for many years with its Surface hardware"Nope.
Hard to say best like that when all Microsoft Surface devices have a different use case. Dan just really likes laptops so he says Surface Laptop is the best, The Surface Pro is the best imo and the Surface Book is the best in my brother's eyes.
I agree with you, which is why I'll be dropping $2200 on the new Surface Pro on Thursday and not on the Laptop.
The Surface Laptop was produced for a different reason than other Surface products. Not to show the OEMs something they didn't know as with the Pro and the Book and the Studio, but to show off Windows 10 S and to satisfy the Surface fans who had been asking for a traditional laptop. I suspect Microsoft will be signing up third party sellers for this device like they do with the Pro to sell to education and other niche markets. Yeah, the MSRP is high for you and me, but it won't be for bulk buyers.
This laptop is so cool! Visually stunning device.
I get why they reduced the display resolution. More pixels discharge more battery to light all those pixels up. Maybe one of the reasons for increase in battery percentage compared to previous gens.
But what I'm disappointed is with slower SSDs. Simply disgusting for a device with this steep price tag. Totally unacceptable.
As for ports, I get now why Microsoft didn't go with type C. Until it becomes a norm and a standard as a charging connector, display interface, eGPU, Thunderbolt 3, data transfers and connected devices... USB type A seems like a better option. What I don't agree with though is the lack of SD card slot and HDMI. Bummer for camera and media enthusiasts out there. Since from what I know,most TVs use HDMI interface and mini display port to HDMI adapter is not even available in my part of the world.
Having read MJF's review, Microsoft still needs to perfect the lappability formula. Slippery base, wobbly and heavy screen are still a legit concerns for the anxious among us who would also like to use their laptops on less than ideal conditions for longer durations.
Next up is the software department in Windows 10 S. I think Microsoft has finally given RT a worthy successor. It goes without saying that it's what should have been from the start but better late than never. Having better performance, battery life and especially security over the length of device's lifetime is all very attractive to me. The fact that store apps run in a container and doesn't mess up the registry is a huge bonus. Also, project centennial as a starter does exactly that to otherwise largely untouched traditionally win32 programs. We know that full office suite as a centennial convert is coming to store. Some programs have already made the jump. Others most used ones like Adobe's suites, professional softwares, productivity suites need to make the jump and soon. Since the benefits of such system far outweigh the hassle it takes to make that jump. Oh, and such a version of windows gives users a proper lesson in giving sincere try to Edge so hurray for that.
As for apps deficits, web apps on Microsoft Edge run just fine. Maybe as good as native experience. Plus more convenience for developers to update them through a server side update without having to take compatibility and optimizations in the process. Progressive web apps can possibly be the saviour of Microsoft's app gap problem.
Ultimately, I hope, Microsoft's newly born cool factor can get them their lost ground back in computing space particularly in browser and app ecosystem.
Fingers crossed for what's to come next. In cShell, successor to Surface Book and possibly a Surface Phone. Exciting times ahead.
Great review, except for the slow SSD speeds I think this is a good laptop. Hopefully the SSD speed is caused by a driver issue that can be fixed and not because of low quality hardware controllers as this is a laptop that competes with Ultrabooks from HP, Dell and Apple.
Don't make your hopes high! No driver issue...The 256 GB SSD sequential write speed is pathetic!... I would not buy it for slow performance and the fact that the SSD is not upgradable!
Interesting to read about battery life. The advertised 14 hours is, of course, with a looped video and not real life performance. If the computer gives 7+ hours in real life, I'd probably be reasonably (but not totally) happy. The most interesting part to me, is the "instant on" feature -- and how that works. Do the alternatives have the same "instant on" feature? And the same solid stand by mode without battery discharging when in sleep mode?
No USB C = Epic Fail
One question: how much a performance boost is the i7 + iris graphics vs. i5, to be used for browsing (youtube), some adobe premier video editing, and playing strategy games like Civ.
Trying to decide between i5 and i7.
Keyboard quality for Surface Laptop... How does it compare to the
* Surface Pro 4 Signature Edition Type Cover?
* Surface Pro Signature Type Cover? The first of the above Type Covers (Pro 4) comes in a single color (? grey?), while the second (for Surface Pro) comes in several colors and is slightly cheaper. Do they have the same key travel and touch pad, or is the new one improved?
"Microsoft might as well make a gold edition, with *real gold,* just to sell it to Kanye West." 😂
Beautiful, potent but should have more attention, because there is a risk on the screen In the middle of the presenter's forehead. But, too bad in Brazil it's going to cost you too much
I have an XPS13 and woudl prefer a surface laptop for one big reason. It is the same thing I like about the macbooks (despite not liking apple much) the ASPECT RATIO. 16:9 is jut not ideal for what we mostly do on computers. email, browsing, chatting, even photos generally benefit from 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio. Also for a given diagnal screen size you will get more screen real-estate with a more square screen.
I realize SSD performance isn't everything for everyday tasks, but versus the competition the SL is rather underwhelming. I hope the Surface Pro i5 isn't similarly spec'd because a faster SSD is one of the reasons I ordered it to replace my SP3 i5. If the tests show similar performance to the SL, I'll be returning it and looking for an SP4 instead. Sigh...
Don't settle for anything less than 525 MB/s sequential write speed...Surface laptop has PCIe NVMe based SSD with Average sequential write speed of 200 MB/s!!!
I mean why going through the new tech PCIe based SSD and have this slow and cheap SSD under the hood?!!....
Heck, MS would save more money by going with the 4-year old SATA3 technology with write speed of 525-550 MB/s!
Since USB-C is only used for charging, who really cares that the Surface Laptop doesn't have it?
... because that's a false statement? USB 3.1/C has more bandwidth, a greater ability to send power to peripherals, and is a better overall connector than USB 3.0/A. Plus since this uses the latest Kaby Lake processors, it could have easily included Thunderbolt 3 support for even more bandwidth for things like an external GPU.
I read this and not tell about contestant winner.
The Surface Book has a screen resolution of 3000x2000, not 3200x1800 as mentioned in the article. :)
The Core i7 models w 16GB RAM and 512GB storage are available in the various colors launching next month only available in Microsoft Stores. I've already ordered mine. You have to walk into a physical Microsoft store, though.
Does the Surface Laptop come with the wallpapers seen in promo shots ? (see: https://www.microsoft.com/fr-fr/surface) Anyone could make them available ? They look far better than current "Windows 10" wallpaper to me.
A very honest review. Thanks. Quick question, based on specs alone, which would you pick between the surface laptop and pro (both i5) for academic/journalist/student use?
I feel the Core i5 is just fine for most people. It never felt slow.
So the i7 version of this won't ship in the UK until after my wife's birthday. So now I am back looking at surface books for her. I am a bit worried though that they will refresh the surface book soon as its still got older cpus. is there any indication of a surface book update soon?
To the right of the Delete key is the power button
As far as I can see, it is to the left of the Delete key but no big problem
Does anyone know if the 256GB SSD on the i7 Version is the same as the i5 version? Looks like the i5 one is really slow.
With the same capacity it would most likely be the same SSD...
Why do you list sequential disk speeds (which are largely useless practically), instead of random (4k) read and write speeds, which is the one that actually effects most performance? Those last two numbers 20, and 42 are the important ones. People geek out over sequential, like some kind of hard drive drag race, but in real life, that only matters for things like raw video and file copies where both drives have the same capability.
Microsoft is trying real hard to push me away from their products. Why would anyone get this for $999 with 4gb of RAM and 128gb storage space with no SD card reader and thunderbolt. They'll take two steps forward and one step backwards for every product. Windows mobile is pretty much dead to me too. I was expecting a budget friendly newer version of the surface 3 to compliment windows 10S.
This thing is far from being the best choice. It has slow CPU. Core i7 is just a name. It is dual core 2.5-3.1GHz. My five years old Asus laptop has quad core 2.0-2.9GHz. It has display with nonstandard aspect ratio and resolution. Also it is too small. 15” 16:9 is a standard. It has keyboard from weird material and without numeric keyboard. It is impossible to upgrade or replace broken part.
I've been curious about the Alcantara keyboard of the Surface Laptop... today, I saw one in a store and caressed the keyboard.... and am *extremely* disappointed: The keyboard looked like and felt like grey, spotted linoleum, and the feeling was very similar to the old plasticky SP4 Type Cover! Am I missing something?
- is the Alcantara optional??
- could it be a demo model?
The commercial version of the laptop comes with a faster processor (Core I5-7300) as well as a faster drive (Samsung KUS030202M) which have good read/write speeds (1400 Mb/s for read and 800 Mb/s for writes). I believe the price is $100 more for the commercial version versus consumer version.... it only comes in one color, Surface Silver.
Just bought an i5 Surface Laptop. Beautiful. Best laptop I've ever owned. I have a separate gaming laptop obviously, but for my work purposes this is a thing of beauty. Bought one for my daughter too.
Who the heck in the industry decides such design feats like the smallest freaking Up/Down arrow-keys. It's a trend and I am disappointed by it. Why does the Right-Shift have to get so much real estate but those arrow-keys nope. I am pretty sure some product designer could carve a more advantageous place for those keys and by reducing the size of other less used. I've found my filter for when shopping around for a new laptop but they may be none left sadly.
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