Microsoft Surface Laptop vs. Apple MacBook (2017): Tech spec smackdown

At first glance the Surface Laptop (opens in new tab) is more like the MacBook Air than Apple's 12-inch MacBook. But because the latter seems to be a forgotten product at this piont, we're comparing the Surface Laptop to the 12-inch MacBook.

The target market audience may be a little different, because Microsoft is going after the students directly. However, Apple laptops have long been a favorite of those with student loans. So the comparison seems fair.

Let's take a quick look at these two laptops side by side.

Updated June 7 2017: We modified this story to reflect the refreshed hardware in the Apple MacBook following WWDC 2017.

Surface Laptop and Apple MacBook technical specifications


12 Inch Macbook Backs (Image credit: Windows Central)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategorySurface LaptopApple MacBook
Display13.5-inch Pixel Sense display
10 point multi-touch
12-inch Retina Display
Display resolution2256 x 1504, at 201ppi
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
2304x1440, at 226 ppi
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
SoftwareWindows 10 SmacOS Sierra
Processor7th Gen Intel Core i5 or i77th Gen Intel Core m3, i5 (Y series) or i7 (Y series)
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD)256GB, 512GB PCIe SSD
Memory4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM8GB or 16GB RAM
Graphicsi5: Intel HD graphics 620; i7: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640Intel HD graphics 615
PortsOne full-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Headset jack, Surface ConnectOne USB-C 3.1
Battery14.5 hours of use12 hours of use
PenSurface PenNo
Weight2.76 lbs2.03 lbs
Dimensions12.13 inches x 8.78 inches x 0.57 inches11.04 inches x 7.74 inches x 0.52 inches
PriceFrom $999From $1,299

We've not spent enough time with the Surface Laptop to get any real feel for it, but looking at it just on paper next to the 12-inch MacBook makes several things clear.

The 'Apple tax' is very real with the MacBook next to the Surface Laptop.

Any concerns about the price of the Surface Laptop can be quickly washed away by looking at pricing for Apple's laptops. The entry-level MacBook is more expensive, and that's with an Intel Core m3 processor. However you look at it, the Kaby Lake Core i5 in the Surface is just better.

All around, in fact, Surface Laptop is better equipped. The base model loses out in storage and RAM, but at every other step on the ladder it's more powerful than the MacBook. The bump in the MacBook specs as of WWDC 2017 closes the gap, but we're still looking at Y series chips, better known as the new versions of Core m.

Surface Laptop

The Windows 10 S version of the OS could be limiting for some, not like macOS, but it's also easily upgraded to Windows 10 Pro, which levels the playing field.

For a notebook that's not a lot larger or heavier, the Surface Laptop promises better battery life, as well as a performance edge over the MacBook.

Ultimately, if you want a Mac you'll get a Mac. But Microsoft came out swinging with its first traditional laptop.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at

  • The Processor alone makes it clearly superior, add the graphics and battery life on top of that and it becomes hilarious to even put the two next to each other
  • nope, it does not because its a stupid comparison. You can not compare an Andriod phone with an iPhone because the OS is different. The same goes for laptops
  • Since when? Android and iOS devices are always compared to each other. That said Microsoft with the surface line have been killing apple for years now hardware wise and this is no different.
  • Don't worry about him. Pappale is a troll who comes to this site to diss everything Microsoft does. He should stay at iMore or Android Central.
  • I've seen him post AT LEAST two reasonable comments! Out of.. dunno, couple of hundred I've read?
  • Even a broken watch tells the time correctly twice a day.
  • Software wise too.
    Mac finally got its resize-window-from-any-corner in 2012 and it is still keyboard-user-unfriendly, no menu key either.
  • You can easily compare the hardware because it's similar.  Performance on the other hand is where it's harder to compare due to different OS unless there's a particular software that's available for both MacOS and Windows 10.
  • Even there, Windows has an edge in virtually every aspect. Its lighter on resources, more open and compatible with third party softwares. 10 S is restrictive to windows store, which is definitely not even comaprable with apple, but at just $50 more you upgrade to full windows 10, and that makes it the other way round.
  • Dog, the Surface Laptop is clearly better. Come on brotha!
  • You can install Windows on MacBooks and Hackintosh on many laptops
  • Your butthurt is showing
  • Okkk...Soo.... News Flash...Window 10is still bettter....
  • Windows 10, 10S, 10 Pro are all touch enabled.  OSX?  No.
  • What? Then where's the competition if they can't be compared? Sorry but your statement doesn't make sense.
  • Yes... might be stupid compare this Surface laptop with macbook because it makes apple products even more ridiculous.
  • Pappale has to be a paid shill, no one could be that bitter and twisted for free.
  • You sound just like every snowflake who can't accept the election results. The Surface is just better. It is completely comparable. Only those in denial would say such a thing, after they lost, and lost big. Mac sucks! Face it. They always have and always will. They are much, much, MUCH more limited, by being held in a CRapple prison of itunes. While with the Surface, you can use millions of apps from millions of places, and you aren't stuck with one source choice. The surface wins all around, except for one specific feature, the type C USB 3.1. Why M$ decided not to put a USB 3.1 port on this is beyond me. A stupid move on M$'s part if you ask me. Other than that, the Surface is clearly superior in every way. 
  • This snowflake would like to say that get enough of us snowflakes together we can freeze your Trumps ass...and if we melt we'll lovingly flow your asses along with us as a river into the world oceans, climate change be damned. Glad you feel the Surface is superior.
  • Here's a downvote for bringing politics into a OS War.
  • iOS is different indeed, a very locked down system. I cannot even gamepad control my UI / launcher.
    2017 this year, still no common-sharing-api.
  • Yeah but then there's that embarrassing and stupid 4GB RAM on the entry level unit, which for a system costing $999 is utterly preposterous.
  • Tell me again how much ram the $999 MacBook has.
  • That's a dumb statement. The MacBook doesn't have a $999 option. Oh wait.... Nevermind. In all seriousness, I would have liked to see the base model have 8gb but I guess they wanted to offer a sub 1k price point.
  • Bullshit. The price difference between 4 and 8GB RAM is insufficient to drive the price over $999. TONS of less expensive laptops start at 8GB
  • Are you saying 4gb of memory is less than $1. If the base price is $999 with 4gb than adding 4gb would certainly add enough to take it over with 1k. Maybe they should have cut something else to keep price the same and add 4 more gb of mem. You also need to think about processors, how many laptops under 1k come with a quad core.
  • Are you sure it's a quad core and not the low powered variant?
  • You're an idiot.
  • No, you are the one looking like an idiot here. You have no idea what you are talking about. 
  • I know exactly what I'm talking about. I've been a systems engineer for close to 20 years, and I'm always on top of the latest hardware trends. Surface laptop missed the boat on two key areas: 1. 4GB RAM, which is preposterous on a $1,000 pc, and no usb-c, despite the hardware having plenty of room to support it. It loses the key advantage of the surface line to date, namely tablet capability, and it's is priced like it still includes it. It's a ridiculous product that highlights why Microsoft is dead in phones and why they botched the Xbox one launch, too: They're tone deaf to the market at least 50% of the time.
  • You MUST be a fool. For calling someone an idiot here.
  • This is just simply not true. It depends on the memory being used. With good memory modules the price difference between 4 and 8 GB can be large. And with great memory, it's huge!
  • Sorry, but that's horse ****. The memory found in any laptop today is inexpensive even at retail, much less at oem bulk pricing. An increase to 8GB would cost them at MOST $10, and these devices have much, MUCH larger profit margins than that.
  • Completely irrelevant . There are scores of laptops at $999 or less, most why 8GB or more RAM.
  • Yes there are. And not only are you free to buy them, Microsoft would love it if you did. This is an article comparing the Surface to the MacBook the price difference is completely relevant.
  • And WHOOSH, the point went straight between that empty chasm between your ears
  • What point? He's right you can just chose one of the cheaper laptops from other brands if you like. With all the alternatives it is stupid to blame Microsoft. They are not trying to compete with their partners. If you buy the Surface it's a win, if you buy a HP, Dell, Asus, Acer etc. it's a win. Microsoft just want people to stay on Windows.
  • And another snowflake misses the point.
  • And WHOOSH you make another idiotic attempt at a point that isn't there. Nobody agree's with you, bc your not actually making a point. You're just typing things to type things. You haven't made one single relevant point.
  • Actually I've made several. Meanwhile, you can't even employ proper grammar.
  • Sure, but most of them would come with lesser processor and display.
    Come back when you found a laptop with the same exact spec as the low-end surface laptop with 8GB of RAM with the same price or less.
  • Here's one with BETTER specs than the low end Surface laptop for $200 cheaper. Game, set, match.
  • People who buy Apple don't use rationale to pick a product. Its very simple for them, there are no alternatives outside Apple. That's also the reason why Apple can get away with these ridiculous high prices for their products. And that's why its completely irrelevant what the competition has to offer. Only in a school situation that might be different if the school forces all students to use a certain type of hw and sw, eg windows 10s vs apple OS. Most people who use Apple products almost treat it like a religion and will only switch to a windows pc if Apple screws up big for ten years in a row.
  • That laptop has an older generation i5 in it. Inferior screen. Weighs more. It's thicker. The Surface is superior in *every* way but RAM.
  • The cpu is one generation older, on a tick cycle. Performance diff is maybe 5%. Both screens are fine. Bigger ssd is another advantage which you chose to ignore.
  •  You need to look closer at the laptop you referenced. It has an inferior cpu, gpu, display (1920x1080), and only 7 hours of battery life. Yeah, it's less expensive, but it doesn't match the Surface Laptop in specs, other than more RAM.
  • And if you knew the first thing about hardware, you'd understand that these differences are about 5% to the overall performance of the machine, and on any RAM hungry app, that's instantly mitigated by the larger quantity of RAM.
  • That's absolutely false. An SSD vs HDD on a machine that compiles lots of code? That hardware makes a world of difference over RAM. I notice you ignored that its extremely unlikely that your linked model uses PCIe SSD vs SATA SSD. So its behind on interface technology which will severely limit its speeds. Yeah, if you need RAM, buy one with more RAM. But to belittle the technological achievements and value of all the other things you're choosing to ignore simply because you want more RAM is ridiculous. A machine's price alone can't be dictated by the amount of RAM. That's a stupid and absurd arbirtary rule. You're picking *one* spec over so many others. We don't even know the kind of RAM in each machine. The Surface Laptop *will* perform better for a majority of applications that people use. If you happen to need something else, that's *fine*. But its by far and away not a given that people need more than 4GB or should expect it in over $1k machine. The SP4 entry model has 4GB of ram and with keyboard, was over $1000 at its release.
  • Then buy the Asus you imbecile! We DON'T care. Microsoft DON'T care. It is a WIN-WIN for Microsoft. They aren't trying to compete with their own partners. The Surface is not for you. You don't have to make 20 posts to make that clean. Move on! This device is targeting the Mac audience, who obviously don't care about costs as much as you do. You are barking in the wrong article.
  • It seems you're a kid. To call someone an imbecile on a public forum.
  • The only point you're making is how ignorant you are. Your "better-spec'd" pc has an older processor and a 1080p display, is half a pound heavier, no inking and a slower ssd. More memory != better specs. You would think a "20-year system engineer" would realize that.
  • More memory is a key performance metric on numerous kinds of pc functions, actually. And that older generation processor is only about 5% off the current generation, because guess what: Processors, contrary to popular myth, don't double in performance every generation. As for the SSD, you actually don't know it's slower because we don't have performance metrics on the surface laptop yet. That's pure assumption on your part. 1080p display it's lower resolution, that's true, but it's still just fine in a 13" laptop. And on a device that doesn't fold or detach into a tablet configuration, inking is irrelevant, as you'll never be able to use its potential anyway thanks to the locked, nearly upright, screen angle and the keyboard in the way.
  • Yes.  I bought a 15.6" touch, i7-7500, 8 gb RAM, 256 SSD from HP for about $750 in Nov '16.  But my laptop is an inferior design to the Surface book.  I do prefer the 3:2 aspect ratio.  Too many websites and pages in Quickbooks are cut short on the 16:9 format of my laptop.  But I do need a number pad on the right of the keyboard to allow me to do number netry quickly.  Thus the 16:9 screen format.
  • Then you made a wise decision for yourself.
  • Love this comment!!!!!
  • So what! Hell, don't buy it than. Buy the higher end models. It's all about choices.
  • Oh I wouldn't buy or recommend a surface laptop to anyone. Pro 4 or surface book, yes, but the laptop is a step backwards.
  • Well it's for people who don't need a convertible or tablet and don't use a pen much.
  • Then it should be cheaper, since it offers less flexibility.
  • IF they had a Surface laptop with a full key board including the number pad, I would buy it.  My SP4 has 78 keys.  My HP envy has 100.  The 22 extra keys really helps in accounting.
  • It's far from a step backwards brotha. Please!
  • No, it's a step backwards, pure and simple.
  • jasongw You really are an idiot. Nothing you have said or shown makes a relevant point. Just liberal blah, blah, blah. Look up the word "fact". And try to start finding them. 
  • SteVae, why do you keep mentioning politics? While I agree with your perspective on the machines, I have to say the shots of politics you're putting into them makes you look like an idiot.
  • Go **** yourself, trump troll. May he grab your daughter by the *****.
  • No, the real idiot is the Trump ball gargling troll, aka, you. You don't even understand what the hell the word liberal actually refers to.
  • I guess I'll just call on Admin to ban you and your friend SteVae
  • Are you a stupid fool?
    Why do you keep exchanging insults here on this forum?
  • You surely forgot the price and specs of the entry level of the MacBook Air before the Surface Pro started to make a splash? Check it out.
  • There is nothing preposterous about it. It's called choice! I understand that you "i"idiots don't understand what choice is, since CRapple has never given you any. But for the intelligent community, those smart enough to avoid CRapple products, we have this thing called choice, which allows us to pick and choose what best fits our needs. Considering that everybody's needs are different, choice is ALWAYS an excellent thing to have. 
  • You keep bringing up Apple, which is IRRELEVANT
  • In general maybe. In the comments section of an article comparing Surface Laptop to Macbook... pretty relevant.
  • Are you insane?
  • Don't forget the price.
  • Its just an extra option for non artists. Yes you can get those entry level specs for less but you don't get that premium design. Its just another option for non artist people. Say students or writers or something like that.
  • Surface laptop has facial authentication.
  • Really have to see how well that battery estimate is. I never even got close to the 9 hours of battery life they estimated with the Pro 3 (more like 6-7 hours, that was web browsing with Edge/Metro IE with ad-block and heavy Skype IM). That extra 3/4 lb can make a difference for some as well. But, you forget, ALCANTARA ;)
  • Sites that have a very obvious anti-Microsoft bias have actually given Microsoft good ratings for their battery life, saying that they get more (by hours) battery life than Microsoft advertises while their tests gets less than what Apple claims. They are doing tests that are different than what you probably use it for, but Microsoft usually understates while Apple overstates.
  • On my Pro 3, I frequently got between 9 and 12 hours of battery life. On Windows 8x, of course. Once 10 came around, battery life went in the toilet.
  • I couldn't type on the 12" MacBook. There's just not enough key travel for my taste.
  • Agree
  • Can't believe that damn Macbook is even more overpriced and with worse specs then the Surface Laptop, and that one was already pushing it.
  • You can't believe it? It's an Apple product. They have been selling a mid-range phone for 1000€ FOR YEARS. This shouldn't surprise you lol
  • The iPhone is anything but mid tier, you just have to look at benchmarks to see that the Apple processor's run rings around anything else, it's the advantage of pairing a processor with a device.
  • No Iphone's are exactly midtier. They have been using outdated tech in them for more than a decade. And synthetic benchmarks are manipulable. CRapple's been caught doing that several times as well. I use to be an iphone user, I hate to admit, but since switching, I have run circle's around my friends phones with my androids ever since. "i"crap is always running out of battery, and so limited in what you can do, or share. It's crap tech. 
  • Apple's processors are excellent, actually. Their os's suck ass, but that's another issue.
  • First valid poi t you've made +1
  • SteVae, please stop using the term Crapple. Its the equivalent of anti-MS folks using M$ and makes you look childish.
  • He uses both. He is a top tier troll
  • Hey kid.
    Be professional.
    'Apple' not 'CRapple'
    'iOS' not 'iCrap'
  • It's not like the HP Windows Phone was anything cheap on release; and it did not even work properly, unlike the iPhone.
  • Talk to HP about pricing odd their phones.
  • wait, can we just bring up unrelated complaints now?
  • I switched to iPhone 7+ and it was awful. Fast, yes, with gorgeous hardware, but ios is an antiquated joke.
  • Damn true but what we can learn about it is that the key is the app debuging and optimization.
  • 2007 just called and Microsoft wants their icon back Jk, I only said it for the lawlz
  • Still the best one they ever had; you can't beat the nice nature theme effects throughout, with that new generic 'modern' looking one :P  
  • No way, the modern stuff is clean and sleek. WAY better than the old flag.
  • Even so, it's barely more expensive than the SL when specs are identical (RAM and storage)
  • The Surface laptop is more somewhere between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro.
    The Surface Laptop is clearly better than the MacBook.
  • Looking at these specs how do you figure?
  • The MacBook has a CoreM CPU and a ****** keyboard. The Surface laptop has a superior CPU like the MacBook Pro and a normal keyboard. It's only missing the GPU from the MacBook Pro. But intel iris is pretty powerful too.
  • I agree with you...... it is more like, the base model compares to the Air/MacBook... and the top 2 models compare to the MacBook Pro. They do share Iris GPU and powerful configurations... however the Pros have better connectivity even if its riddled with dongles.   Either way I absolutely prefer my Surface Book... it truly is the Ultimate device for me.
  • Surface Book it's really the only laptop worth considering. Pro 4 is a great 2-in-1, but laptop just misses the boat on too many things
  • With the comparison used in the article, the Mac has Core M processors and has a smaller screen, yet is more expensive. A 13" MacBook Pro starts with a Core I-5, has a similar size display, but has 8 gigs of ram. But costs $1500. At first, I thought the Surface Laptop was a bit overpriced. But compared to any Mac, it look like one heck of deal.
  • Well at least they have a complete OS out of the box !
  • So that's what you guys are going to focus on huh?  Not that it has a better processor.  Not that it has better battery life. (on paper)  Not that it has a 10 point touch screen.  Not that it's priced cheaper.
  • But the processor is useless for Windows Store programs so it's a moot point.
  • Is not useless. Developers can port about any app to the store. Did you see the games available in the store?
  • Fine, add $50 (even though the upgrade is currently free) and its still a better deal. It's not like you're installing a brand new OS or anything. It's unlocking a feature. This is a full OS, with a feature turned off. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand OSes.
  • Good point but windows 10 is already complete, lets see what apple could do if their overpriced iphone drops. They will be losing 75% of their business.
  • Nope. 66%.
  • Lol... How did you arrive at that figure?
  • With the target market being College Students, we would have to find out what the College Discount will be for the Surface Laptop (if any.) Apple gives HUGE discounts on MacBooks to college students via their College Book Store and has big discount programs for software too.
    Will MS do the same? and if so, how much?
    Will the Student version of Office be offered via the Windows Store? If so, how much and when?
    Until we can compare those prices, we don't know how much of a price/performance advantage MS will have, if any.
  • I think it's about 10% in the UK, and back when I was a student it was the same with Apple here
  • 10% discount for students on MS products.
  • not all products though. So it depends on if the Surface Laptop is included or not. Moreover, MS Office through the Windows Store vs Microsoft Store may not be able to carry the same discount. So its a real concern at least.
  • Apple gives 10% to students, as does Microsoft.
  • "more like the MacBook Air than Apple's 12-inch MacBook. But because the latter seems to be a forgotten product at this piont, we're comparing the Surface Laptop to the 12-inch MacBook." Isn't that the wrong way? Typo is not mine!! :)
  • MAC supports 5k windows cant.
  • WTF are you talking about. This 8K monitor is hooked up to a Windows PC. Duh.
  • 4GB RAM.....not doing much multitasking with that. Not with a modern OS.
  • That's dependent on what you use it for.  If you're into VM's and such, than no 4GB is not enough.  But for someone like me who mainly surfs the web, office, and some specialized x86 software, it is plenty.
  • AGAIN, cudder, CHOICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why can't you people understand that choice is a great thing????? Everybody is different.
  • Choice is a great thing. Making dumb design choices is not.
  • I have the entry Surface Pro 4. It easily handles multitasking with 4GB of RAM. VMs... eh, not so much however. Especially Windows 10 Mobile Emulator. It can't run that without registry hacks. But yeah, I run Visual Studio 2015 Community on there with other applications at the same time. Windows 10 is just that good.
  • In this comparison I'd have to side with the Surface Laptop but the MacBook Air would still beat both. I'd go for the extra ports and in particular the SD card slot over the better display and save a bit of money in the process.
  • The display on the Air is atrocious and the processor is what? Three generations old mow?
  • The Macbook Air was discontinued and the last model they released fairs even less favorably to the Surface Laptop than the MacBook does...
  • Well MacBook has no touch ;) and
    Ms these last years is like: "touchscreens for everyone!!!".
  • For the first time, a Windows laptop is looking better than a MacBook!
  • I don't think it's the first time...  There have been good alternatives for a while now.
  • First time?????????? Please go back to your mushrooms and crank...
  • I think the Surface Laptop looks really nice, but the screen not folding back is a negative for pen use (Obviously they aren't expecting people to ink much on it, there's the Pro for that). If we are talking cosmetically only I have to say the HP Spectre 13 Laptop is still nicer looking - That machine is just a stunning piece of tech. I don't think they ever did a refresh with 7th Gen i7 unfortunately. If you mainly want something nice looking and want to spend less and get something almost as fast it's still a good choice if you can get by with 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD
  • That's the great thing about Windows, if a person feels, like you do, that another OEM made a better looking product they can by that product instead and still get all the greatness of Windows 10 ☺.
  • A good OEM product priced at a significantly lower price.  The OEM machine will be heavier.  Shorter battery life.  But still a better value.
  • Game over for apple anyways...No touchscreen,  ****** OS,  lackluster specs.  but it's pretty...thats all macbook buyers care about anyways.   I have a mid range dell that mops the floor with the macbook.   
  • You forgot the hipster thing, makes them look cool...
  • yes....skinny jeans, silky scarf and stocking cap...add mac  and you have instant hipster.  Oh and starbucks
  • Now put away the apple envy and compare it to other Windows laptops for a better analysis of its value.
  • So compare it to other ultrabooks and you'll see that it's priced competitively.  Dell XPS 13, HP Elitebook, Lenovo thinkpad X1.
  • Dell XPS 13 same config w/8gb ram $999.
  • Or you can get a Dell Inspiron with 8 GB RAM, Kaby i5, 256 GB SSD, and it's $700 (on-sale from $800). You can also get a Lenovo Yoga with the same i5/8/256 setup, a 15.6-inch screen, plus a dedicated Nvidia GPU and hybrid design, and it'll only be $725 (on-sale from $850). Or you can grab an ASUS laptop with a 14" screen (though at a low resolution and without touch), i5, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB SSD, plus a fingerprint scanner, and it'll only be $750. I can keep going with the $800 Dell and Lenovo stuff that adds a few things like a fingerprint scanner on their end as well, but the point is that I can go to Best Buy, save a couple hundred bucks or more, and get better hardware from OEMs I trust more.
  • However, the engineering of the Surface Laptop is superior than the OEMs.  Better thermal control.  Didn't I hear that the SSD is actually integrated onto the mortherboard?  But do you want to spend $500 bucks more for a Surface over a Dell?
  • What do you base any of those claims onn though? Surfaces have had pretty serious flaws with things like power management early on in their lives, for example. I've got nothing to say that I think MS builds better devices than Lenovo, Dell, ASUS, or HP. They all put out high-end devices, and the specs usually kick the pants off the $1,000 Surface Laptop model. You talk of the great engineering of Microsoft, but remember that they needed TWO revisions on their "perfect" Xbox One controller, and they didn't update that $150 Elite Controller that turned out to have some notable design flaws. This is also the company that had the RRoD fiasco, the creaky chassis of the 950 family, and I'm sure I'm forgetting things. As for thermals, again, based on what? Did you see any thermal testing? Have other OEMs had issues with long-term damage from poor thermal management? Didn't a line of Surfaces have fan issues that would kick on loudly pretty commonly as well (I think they were too sensitive to temp changes, not overheating)? You're makign these claims with nothing to back them up. Oh, and an integrated SSD? That's a BIG negative. That means non-replaceable, meaning if your drive dies, your laptop's dead. If you overrun the storage, you're out of luck. A non-integrated SSD could be more easily replaced in the event of a failure, or a cavalier tinkerer could open the thing and upgrade the drive size, if desired. That's like arguing for soldering on the RAM, which is awful. I was at MicroCenter a couple weeks back, and some Mac fan was there to buy RAM to upgrade his Macbook. Employee dashed his dreams once he told him it was non-upgradeable. That's a BAD thing, not something to argue for. I don't want to spend $100 more for something than is necessary, let alone the $300-ish gap between the Dell and Microsoft options. Microsoft has been a mess on the hardware side lately and done a lot of general things that have bothered me. They are no longer a "premium" or "preferred" brand for me. They are now in a lump with the other brands I'll consider. They haven't fallen onto the list of ones I won't touch (HP, Lenovo, Apple, Google, Samsung), but they haven't done anything that impressed me since the Surface Book, maybe even all the way back to HoloLens.
  • As I remember all laptops had problems with power management and battery life. There was a problem with the new Intel CPUs. The SSD is integrated for a reason explained below by Panos. Never done before on other laptops, and why this laptop has better battery and performance than competition. People just see specs and say: "Only 128GB that is expensive". They have no idea that MS actually push technology, just like with the upcoming Xbox. And it cost.  
  • You know, that cideo actually had an interesting point, and it's not anything you said. I still find the board integration to be trash. It's anti-consumer, just like soldering RAM. What was a meaningful statement is that they're using a PCIe drive, not SATA, and those are more expensive, faster SSD solutions. That matters. The power consumption statement likely offers VERY little gains, maybe a matter of a couple minutes in a battery test. Maybe. The chosen bus matters for performance, but the placement likely doesn't do a whole lot for performance either. End of the day, it's a little better than I first understood, but it's still not a $1,000 laptop to me. As for Xbox, I'm not giving them credit until it's released and I see the results. I'm still leery on the specs of it, given it's a $200 GPU and the same garbage cores in the CPU, just overclocked. They're going to have to do some widespread convincing that the software magic and custom design are going to pull off what they claim, because it's not a setup to write home about yet. That means I want to see that third-party stuff pulls off great visuals at high resolutions and framerates, and that MS didn't build this thing by just gutting all of its dev teams, leaving us with very little to play on the exclusive side.
  • I am pretty sure the engineers at MS didn't spent time integrating things if end result only was a couple of minutes. More likely pushed efficency 5-10% which is somewhere between ½ - 1½ hour. As for the Xbox yes we will have to see the end result, but I don't see why they would lie about the 6TF performance. It is also way more than just an overclock of old tech. You don't get a 4x performance from just an overclock. DigitalFoundry did a good job explaining all the work that was put into all this. They promised us 6TF, nothing more nothing less. I don't care what processor they use, whatever it's a Ryzen or an old Amiga 500 Motorola 68000 CPU they push to reach the promised performance. Time will tell. They don't get credit for much of their really amazing work though.   
  • show me the inspiron in the surface laptop form factor & weight and *then* i'll consider your argument that it's overpriced. But specs aren't the only thing you buy. Its the package. Weight, form factor, etc. all matter to people.
  • no Envy here,  I own two.  My son uses one and the other is a dust collector.  As I said,  my mid range 5000 series dell is a better computer than a macbook.   
  • I imagine you won't be getting those battery life figures on Windows 10 Pro
  • That's a good question. Hope Some reviewers will do a head to head comparison.
  • Agreed. Should be a wash.
  • Unless there is a reason to use iOS, the mac is just too ancient without touchscreen or inking. Touch bar is silly. The rest of the stuff, build quality and design, the SL matches up or is even better. And yes, there are far more choices in the PC world, some cheaper or better specs. That's the beauty of PCs. At least now, there are PCs that match or beat the premium design of macs, and not just Surface, but Hp, dell, Samsung etc have began to make more premium laptops. In the old days, the best was a ThinkPad.
  • macOS*
  • You should remove the Surface Pen from the comparison since it does not include one.
  • And since the form factor will make it not very suitable for using the pen anyway.
  • Maybe not very suitable, but the option is there if you need it.
  • That would require unbiased reporting.
  • what is unbiased about including something that is true? The most I'd say is that they should have said "Pen compatibility" *or* included a footnote saying Pen not included. Either way, the pen compatibility is a differentiator. I've used a pen on the SP4 while setup in the laptop form factor. So people might care.
  • but it is compatible with one. i've used a pen on the surface while in 'laptop' mode, so its not unheard of. there is no pen that is compatible with the macbook at all. so. its still a differentiator and should be noted.
  • This should have been put against the Macbook Air, if anything. Same class of display size, carries an i5 itself, and starts at the same $1,000. It's back on Boardwell still, but for the same $1,000 you DO still get double the RAM and storage. I'd take those over the Kaby jump myself. Then again, I'd rather just get something from a different Windows OEM and get the better RAM and storage of the Macbook and the better CPU/iGPU of the Surface Laptop, while spending less than either costs. They're both terrible values, even when put against the same class of hardware.
  •   Actually, the $999 Mac Air starts with 128gig of SSD, just like the Surface Laptop at $999, but does have 8 gigs of ram.  However, I think the trade-off is in the display.  The Surface Laptop has a 13.5 inch, 2256x1504, 10 finger multi-touch display.  The Mac Book Air has a 13.3 inch, 1440 x 900 display (sub-1080p display).  
  • Might have misread it, my mistake. Regardles, I would take 8 GB of RAM over a touch display. However, regardless of THAT, I'd take going with another PC OEM, where I save money on these options, get the OS I want (Windows) and get the greater RAM allotment, storage space, and keep things like the touch display, while having some options that are hybrids or have fingerprint scanners. I made a mistake, but not one that changes the reality that the Surface Laptop is overpriced hardware on a crippled OS at a price that doesn't justify either compromise, let alone both. No reason for this to be missing 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD.
  • It's not necessarily overpriced. They just spent money on things that you personally don't care about. I, too, would allocate funds differently and get a different machine as well. However, to simply ignore the value of something simply because it doesn't appeal to you is somewhat odd.
  • I realized this from reading another article. Apple focused on mobile and basically stopped caring about computers. It's the opposite that MS did.
  • I would rather use a Commodore 64 or a Atari or a 8088 IBM compatable running DOS then use a MacBook. ..
  • Yeah! If I was forced to buy or use MacBook, I would walk downstairs and pull out my Vic-20 :)
  • I had the Vic-20 for about a week but took it back and got the Ti-994A instead. Ahh, those were the days.
  • Instead you should have bought the 32KB Expansion RAM Pack, would have made Moonlander have much less hick-ups....  ;)
  • Change the configuration to match RAM and SSD and the prices are the same. That still gives the Surface laptop the edge due to updated CPU/Graphics and touch display. If you factor in the 10% student discount, the Surface Laptop is much less than the MacBook.
  • Apple offers student discounts too. 
  • My siblings have pre-ordered 2 surface laptops for school lucky them.
  • Overall I really like it, but the pen makes no sense with the form factor. Yes, laptop and touch work great together, but the precision of the pen has never felt right on this form factor.
  • It's a pity they didn't employ a hinge that would've enabled the Surface Laptop to fold back onto itself and turn into a tablet, similar to the Lenovo Yoga line. That would've been more in tune with what the Surface line is about. After having owned 2-in-1 devices for the past four years, I just can't go back to a normal laptop.
  • Interesting comparison. Surprised by the weight difference and the SL being slightly thicker. I guess that's where the trade offs come in i.e. having a touch screen and more battery life.
  • And a more powerful CPU which needs extra space ventilation.
  • The weight difference is going to mostly be about the different sizes, 12" Vs 13.5".
  • This comparison is hilarious. Surface Laptop isn't better than MacBook 12". MacBook 12" isn't better than Surface Laptop too. These is two different product, two different category, and two diffferent philosophy. Macbook is more than a half pound lighter (a lot!), thinner and it is COMPLETELY SILENT, because it have a fanless processor.  Surface Laptop should be compared more to 13 inch MBP without touch bar, if we talk about specs. MB 12 philosophy - extremely light computer with decent batery time and amazing Retina display. SL philosophy - all in one computer (touchscreen, more ports, great ESTIMATED battery life, but in thicker, heavier, louder (but still thin and light vs other competitors) package. 
  • Gee, totally​ agree. It would better be a comparison between Surface Laptop and HP Spectre X360. That makes sense!
  • Well, what about the people that are debating between getting Surface Laptop or 12-inch MacBook?n that case the comparison is important to those people. But the readers of this site can never be happy. Can they?
  • Wtf is with those prices. I remember when i bought my first laptop mid+ category for 500€, now you see every shiit starting from 999$.
  • I mean, no body like to spend that amount of money, I will give you that. But prices are higher than they were because the technology is just so much better.
  • Apple looks outdated in all the meaning. They are not the cool no more. They just have loyal fans.
  • Just wait until Apple takes out the headphone jack.
  • the apple fans will come up with some insane reason that its good.
  • I'm a fan of the Surface Pro and the Book --- as to this comparison, as soon as you DO upgrade your Surface to the same amount of storage and RAM - the price is paritied.  The 'm' series processors allow for a fanless design, they're a 4.5watt part (compared with the i5's 15 watts) and while not a 'touch' display, Apple's display is much sharper and it's OS, macOS, matured with both stock and third party apps to provide for excellent scaling and usage of the display. So far a major issue with Win10 - while better with stock apps the devs aren't moving real quick on resolution independence for W10. Color management system wide in the OS provides a better, more accurate display and 'promises are promises' - MS promising double digit hours of operation is no different than the marketing BS I was given both with SP2 and SP4 as well as my Surface Book i use both OS's but I don't get these comparisons with the 12", two pound MacBook! Why not just compare with the MacBook Pros using the same processors? And when comparing remember storage and memory are extremely important elements of s build. Not everyone is rendering 4, 5, amd 8K footage or working with a hundred layers of a 50mpxl medium format raw file, or dealing with building a casino usin CAD! The MacBook certainly won't meet those requirements but neither will the Surface! When it comes to tasks most folks still do on a computer - email, surfing, file management, media consumption or photo/video organization and 'minor edits'... with software like PS Elements, GarageBand, iMovie, Windows Media Creation tools or third party shareware. Most don't subscribe, like we do, to the full Master Auite from Adobe.  You won't be gaming on the Surface. It has no forward thinking ports; Thunderbolt, USB C, and the ports it does have will soon be outdated during a time we keep our gear longer than ever.  I agree, there's an Apple Tax. Buy as a user of both for nearly four decades --- Apple IIe in '84 - 286 in 1990, I can honestly say that the Surface line has given me many more headaches than the MacBook Pro and MacBook I've owned during the same time period. I don't blame it all on the hardware but the OS, like Apple, is made by the hardware OEM and IMHO should be MUCH better optimized than past iterations. Hopefully this one shows less than earlier versions but don't fall for silly battery life promises and 'lower pricing '. The support post purchase with Apple is significantly better than dealing with MS - and resale ...a consideration down the road isn't a fair comparison. I recently sold my 2012 15" first generation retina MacBook Pro, and I sold it for nearly 60% it's original price - a nice boost for the new purchase.  I'm unable to even donate five or six year old Windows gear ;) i don't mean to troll, I use em both along with a coup,e VMs, Linux and the two primary mobile OSs, Android and iOS. Simply put, MS should get back in the mobile arena of for nothing morethan the vertical and horizontal integration and aggregation Apple's had such success with between iOS and macOS and tvOS and watchOS. It's an impressive and wildly efficient way to manage my business, my life and my family's life.  Not to mention the lack of 'tech support' as Dad I'm needing to do theses days with everyone else using the Apple ecosystem  im an avid fan of Windows as well, don't get me wrong - Xbox is a great product as are the Surface products (I'm in love with the Studio but as the author discusses how underpowered a computer that is made and admittedly, by its OEM, not a powerful machine in the MacBook, and its expense (although double the SSD and RAM) --- he/she is, I'm sure aware of how A) expensive and B) underpowered the beautiful Surface Studio is.  And lastky, rightfully, the author points out Apple is do for a refresh, as the comparisons made in the review are comparing a 14 month old laptop to one that's on pre-order and just announced, soon to be released that would have been a much better comparison with the low end MacBook Pro from last fall --- at least you're less than a year old in your comparisons! J
  • Agreed on the comparison choice. Clearly the closest competitor to the Surface Laptop isn't the MacBook using a 4.5 W Core M chip, it's the one using the same 15 W Core i5 and i7 as the Surface Laptop. It's disingenuous for Windows Central to compare a thin & light laptop against an ultra-portable.
  • A lot of what akjd has said here is truth. I won't turn my back on Windows, of course, but Apple does have it's strong points. 
  • Menu (context) key (count as hardware right?) is one of the reason I'll never go for a Mac. Alone with other shortcut keys, Windows is much keyboard-user-friendly than Mac.
  • I've had a Surface Book with Performance Base, a very expensive MS product. I'm a former MS employee, and very technical, but I've had nothing but trouble with this laptop, from it not going to Sleep when told to (a known issue that MS has not addressed in 2 years), to the "Sleep of Death" issue, to bluetooth issues when connected to the Surface Hub, Surface Keyboard, and Surface Arc Mouse, that I'm having with two hubs, 2 keyboards and 2 mice (one at the office, and one at work), where I have to remove each device every time I start the day, and sometimes mid-day, restart, then readd each, sometimes having to restart more than once. As much as I love the Surface hardware, MS, unlike Apple, seems to not have benefited much from having their own hardware running their own software. I'm seriously considering switching to a Mac because of this at this point despite their insane prices, lack of Touch screen support, etc. Very disappointing experiences. If it's just me, I'd love to hear from others that say they're not having the Sleep issues, or Sleep of Death issues.... Maybe my unit is defective, and I can still get it replaced if so through my warranty. MS has not been able to resolve these issues, but my warranty is through Best Buy/Geek Squad.
  • It's totally fascinating to me that Microsoft produced products are the ones that seem to be the buggy-est. You would think that controlling the whole widget would make for the best experience.
  • I have a Surface Book, Surface Pro 3, and 4. While I had the sleep issue on the first frimware of the Surface Book. That issue has long passed. I think you also may have an issue with your BT card. I would definitly get the unit replaced. As an ACMT as well I can ensure you this has happened an uncountable amount of times with Macbooks as well. It's simply impossible to not have lemons when mass producing.  I think your biggest issue may be that you bought the machine from BB and went with the Geek Squad warranty. I have had nothing but issues with Geek Squad refurbs in the past and refuse to ever use their warranties again. That being said a warranty I due trust and have good success using is the Microsoft Complete Warranty for Surface much like Apple Care but it also covers accidental damage. I returned my initial Surface Book two separate time until I didn't have backlight bleeding on the LCD. They sent me a new Surface Book each time.     
  • Compare the hardware all you want. It's obvious that the Surface has better specs. I have a new Alienware laptop that's uber fast and ridiculously powerful. Yet it has more downtime due to blue screens and setup malfunctions, bad updates, driver issues, etc. than does my MacBook Pro. I bought the Alienware after being away from Windows (and gaming) for 20 years. I'm currently selling my Alienware at a drastically reduced price and never going back to a Windows machine ... like ... ever. I'm not even going to buy an XBox. I'll stick with the PlayStation line. I despise Apple's pricing and warranty-breaking do-it-yourself upgrade policy, but the OS works and I never have downtime or troubles of any kind. Macs are truly plug-and-play too. Everything works right out of the box. And I can even run Windows on a Mac should I ever choose to torture myself again. 
  • You and I both. That's the point I've reached. Before I had my Surface Book, I had a Dell XPS 13 and a Dell XPS 15 - both constantly gave me all sorts of issues. I've wasted so many hours troubleshooting basic things that should just work. I'm done with that.
  • Hey WHO LET YOU ON THIS SITE?!?!?!?! JK :D
  • Microsoft has to stop gimping the storage drives (SSDs) they put into their products. In 2017 that is inexcusable. They should be throwing any SSDs with a minimum of specs equal to Samsung's 950 EVO. Its like they get caught up on microengineering and just grab any random SSD they have laying around on the shelf. 
  • Doesn't the surface laptop have a touchscreen? And the Mac? No? Well I know the Mac doesn't, Apple doesn't believe in them or some crap. And people complain about MS and USB stuff
  • I'd get the Surface. Just cause...
  • Folks there is too much Steve Jobs of ideas left dominating  Apple, They should have made a full Mac OS tablet years ago with a bulitin kick counter the Surface Pro line of PC tablets  Their hatred to put a touch screen on their Macbooks and Imac all in one computers is crazy folks just crazy. Now true Artist look to Microsoft's Surface "Studio" as the go to device to do their worl on. Apple is missing the Future and has reboot. Their strenth is in 2 devices that are starting to loose some popularity the iphone and the Ipad. they have jump ship of some of Steve Jobs ideas He did not like touch screens on Apple Imacs or Macbooks.Today Artists prefer to tweek their art on a touch screen. YOO Apple add touch screen support to the Mac OS. get with the program please
  • Well this escalated quickly...
  • "We've not spent enough time with the Surface Laptop to get any real feel for it, but looking at it just on paper next to the 12-inch MacBook makes several things clear." You right, surface laptop is for giveaway and don't make it dirty right?
  • That is MacBook pros lowest variant, its really powerful with GPU. Dear Microsoft please release the surface book 2(the real beast)
  • Why compare when you know the Surface Laptop is the winner?