With so much attention on the Surface 2-in-1s, it can be easy to forget how accomplished Microsoft’s traditional clamshell laptops are. The Surface Laptop line has been extremely well received since launching in 2017, providing a lightweight alternative to the high-end Surface Book.
Microsoft recently announced its fourth iteration, known (perhaps unsurprisingly) as the Surface Laptop 4. It comes sporting a handful of upgrades over 2019’s
Surface Laptop 3, although the core design and build is extremely familiar. Here’s everything you need to know about the new device.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 release date
The release schedule of the previous Surface Laptop generations suggested a new one would arrive before the end of 2020: the original launched in June 2017, the second generation in October 2018 and then the
Surface Laptop 3 in October 2019.
That schedule was upended in 2020, presumably due to the pandemic, meaning we didn’t see a successor in the usual October slot. Microsoft ended up announcing the Surface Laptop 4 on 13 April 2021, continuing its recent theme of event-free launches.
The Surface Laptop 4 starts at the same £999/US$999.99 as its predecessor, although there are some key things to be aware of here.
Firstly, that starting price refers to a 13.5in variant powered by AMD silicon, with Intel-powered devices available from £1,269/US$1,299.99. As you might imagine, the 15in model is more expensive – expect to pay at least £1,299/US$1,299.99, with these more affordable devices again using AMD Ryzen processors. More information can be found below:
It’s worth noting that the AMD Ryzen ‘Surface Edition’ here is based on 2020’s Ryzen 4000 series and not the more recent Zen 3-based
Ryzen 5000 series. That explains why the AMD versions are significantly cheaper than their Intel counterparts, which use the latest
11th-gen Tiger Lake silicon.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 specs and features
The Surface Laptop 4 has very much been build in the mould of its predecessor. It doesn’t come with the new design language long-term fans of the line might have been hoping for, but there are some key upgrades to talk about here.
Among the most notable is a move to 11th-gen Intel chips, with i5 and i7 variants available once again. However, AMD’s influence is more widespread now, with Ryzen ‘Surface Edition’ processor available on both 13.5in and 15in models for the first time. However, these are Ryzen 4000 Series chips and not the most recent
Ryzen 5000 series. As mentioned above, that makes AMD-powered models significantly more affordable than their Intel counterparts. Across both screen sizes, you get a choice of 8/16/32GB RAM and a 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD.
Microsoft claims these internal upgrades will improve performance by up to 70% over the
Surface Laptop 3, but it’s impossible to verify that claim even with some hands-on time. Improved power efficiency will supposedly have a big effect on battery life, too, with 13.5in AMD models capable of up to 19 hours on a single charge. That drops down to 16.5 hours on the most power-hungry 15in Intel model, but it’s a big improvement on paper.
There is some variation when it comes to display resolution. All 13.5in devices come with a 2256×1504 panel, while 15in models bump this up to 2496×1664. Both remain relatively lightweight, at 1.27kg and 1.54kg respectively.
Many of the other key features are identical to its predecessor. You get the same port selection – 1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack and Surface Connect for charging – that means there’s still no Thunderbolt support. It does retain the removable SSD from previous generations, though.
With so much work and education taking place remotely over the last year, Microsoft is advertising the Laptop 4’s video calling features. However, the device’s ‘HD camera’ is still 720p, while ‘Studio Mics’ were already available on the Surface Laptop 3.
However, there is a new Ice Blue colour scheme. It replaces the previous Cobalt Blue variant, and is available alongside existing Sandstone, Platinum and Matte Black options on 13.5 models. However, the 15in device limits you to Platinum and Matte Black, with no option for an Alcantara keyboard.
As the resident expert on Windows, Senior Staff Writer Anyron’s main focus is PCs and laptops. Much of the rest of his time is split between smartphones, tablets and audio, with a particular focus on Android devices.