Surface Laptop

At first glance the Surface Laptop 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


Category Surface Laptop Apple MacBook
Display 13.5-inch Pixel Sense display
10 point multi-touch
12-inch Retina Display
Display resolution 2256 x 1504, at 201ppi
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
2304x1440, at 226 ppi
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
Software Windows 10 S macOS Sierra
Processor 7th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 7th Gen Intel Core m3, i5 (Y series) or i7 (Y series)
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD) 256GB, 512GB PCIe SSD
Memory 4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM 8GB or 16GB RAM
Graphics i5: Intel HD graphics 620; i7: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 Intel HD graphics 615
Ports One full-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Headset jack, Surface Connect One USB-C 3.1
Battery 14.5 hours of use 12 hours of use
Pen Surface Pen No
Weight 2.76 lbs 2.03 lbs
Dimensions 12.13 inches x 8.78 inches x 0.57 inches 11.04 inches x 7.74 inches x 0.52 inches
Price From $999 From $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.

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