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The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a massive improvement on the Surface Laptop 3. However, it still doesn’t compare to the best laptop on the market, the M1.

This article was first published at reviewsfire.com.
If you were to look at Microsofts Surface Laptop 4, youd be forgiven for thinking it was the Surface Laptop 3. Microsofts latest home and business laptop looks almost identical to its predecessor. Theres nothing unique here. But thats not necessarily a bad thing. Why change a winning formula? It looks great.
The inside of the Surface Laptop 4 is where the biggest changes lie. The Surface Laptop 4 is faster, has better battery life, and better performance than the Laptop 3.
With that said, a premium laptop will always be compared to the best in the business, and the Surface Laptop 4 still doesnt meet the high-performance benchmarks set by Apples latest M1 MacBooks.
READ MORE:* Microsoft launches the Surface Laptop 4 with Intel and AMD options* Microsoft Surface Laptop Go review* M1 MacBook Air: New chip changes the laptop game bringing power and performance
The Surface Laptop 4 will appeal to those looking for a great-looking laptop running Microsofts OS. But if youre looking for the best laptop on the market, at a similar price, you still cant beat the M1 MacBooks.
Pros

  • Crisp display
  • Great battery
  • Sleek, minimalistic design
  • Better than the Surface Laptop 3

Cons

  • Not as good as M1 MacBooks
  • Performance could be better
  • Soft keyboard
  • Not enough ports

Price & Configurations
As is usually the case with Microsoft laptops, the Surface Laptop 4 comes in various configurations. The base 13.5-inch model comes with a Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. This costs NZD$1749 (USD$999; £999). Similarly, priced to the latest MacBook Air.
The 15-inch model comes with a Ryzen 7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD and costs NZD$2499 (USD$1299; £1299). The 15-inch not only has a larger screen, but it also has a faster processor, meaning its better for resource-heavy tasks when compared to the 13.5-inch model.
Somewhat confusingly, the highest tier Surface Laptop 4s replace their AMD Ryzen processors with Intel hardware. The best Laptop 4 configuration you can get, is a 15-inch model with an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, a 1TB SSD, and 32GB of RAM. This costs NZD$3399 (USD$2399; £2399)
We were given the 15-inch model with a Ryzen 7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD for our review.
As is usually the case with Microsoft laptops, the Surface Laptop 4 comes in various configurations.
Design & Display
Theres nothing unique about the Surface Laptop 4. This isnt to say it looks bad. Its a very nice-looking laptop. There just isnt anything new about its design.
There isnt much difference between the weight of Surface Laptop 3 and the Surface Laptop 4 either. The latter is slightly thinner (1.4cm) and lighter (1.3kg), and thats it.
Its a very sleek laptop. Its minimal design looks great. Other than the ports on the side, there arent holes that can be seen anywhere on the laptop. The speakers are under the keyboard, and it gives it a nice one-piece aesthetic.
While were on the ports, there arent nearly enough of them. The Surface Laptop 4 has one USB-A port, one USB-C port, and a headphone jack. Its just not enough. Also, the USB-C port doesnt support Thunderbolt 4, which is a setback.
The Laptop 4 comes in four colours, Ice Blue, Sandstone, Platinum and Matte Black. Our review model was Matte Black, and it looks brilliant. However, I did find it was prone to smear and fingerprint marks.
If you love the short-travel keys found on previous Surface keyboards, youre going to enjoy typing with the Surface Laptop 4. With that said, I didnt love it. The buttons feel soft to touch. There isnt any pushback when pressing the keys. Its great if youre in a library, and you want to type quietly. However, it often felt like I hadnt pressed a key when typing because theres no physical feedback. It didnt flow well.
The 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 has a 2496 × 1664 resolution display with a 3:2 ratio, and it looks great. While it isnt 4K, it offers a better resolution than most 15-inch laptops on the market. The 3:2 ratio gives it a square shape which is great for reading articles and scrolling because theres more verticality to the display. It works well.
The screen isnt an edge-to-edge display, and the Laptop 4 does have relatively large bezels all around it. For my Matte Black model, this wasnt too much of an issue, as it looks like part of the build. However, it will definitely be more noticeable in any of the other colour configurations. It looks a bit dated.
It also doesnt get very bright, even when plugged in. The slightest bit of sunshine on the screen made it hard to see, and I found I was squinting a lot when using the Surface Laptop 4. It has a maximum brightness of 334 nits which is quite a bit less than the MacBook Pros 429 nits as a comparison.
Performance
Our Surface Laptop 4 review model had a Ryzen 7 3780U processor and 16GB of RAM.
This configuration was able to handle most of what we threw at it. This is a laptop designed to be used as a business laptop. It isnt designed for gaming, and video editing is a bit of a stretch.
It was able to handle numerous Chrome tabs open while listening to Spotify and watching YouTube, without any slowdowns. It works well for this sort of usage. However, dont expect much more than that.
It achieved a GeekBench 5 single-core score of 558 and a multi-core score of 4121. While this is better than the Surface Laptop 3, its still a way off the 13-inch M1 MacBook which had a single-core score of 1750 and a multi-core score of 7691.
Strangely the Surface Laptop 4 was equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, which is part of the 4000 series. This isnt the best of what AMD has to offer. Their flagship 5000 series processors have been available for a while now.
The Ryzen 7 3780U is still a very good processor that utilises eight average cores. However, it doesnt compare to the effectiveness of the M1s four high-performance cores and four lesser cores.
Battery
The battery life on the Surface Laptop 4 is dependent on the configuration you choose. Obviously, the 13.5-inch model will have longer battery life than the 15-inch model.
Its also impacted by what processor you choose. Microsoft claims the 13.5-inch model with the Ryzen 5 will last up to 19 hours, the 15-inch model with the Ryzen 7, 17.5 hours, the 13.5-inch with Intel core processor, 17 hours and the 15-inch model with Intel core processor up to 16.5 hours.
With our Ryzen 7, 15-inch model, we got just under 11 hours worth of battery. This is way off what Microsoft claimed, but its still very good for a 15-inch laptop with this display. Its a massive improvement on the Surface 3s, 7 hours, and will easily last a full-day workload.
The Surface Laptop 4 has maintained its classy and minimalistic look, and clearly, Microsoft has focussed on improving areas where the Surface Laptop 3 struggled.
Verdict
Microsofts Surface Laptop 4, doesnt do too much to rock the laptop market.
The Surface Laptop 4 has maintained its classy and minimalistic look, and clearly, Microsoft has focussed on improving areas where the Surface Laptop 3 struggled. And in this regard, theyve done well.
The Surface Laptop 4 does what its designed to do, and thats fine. Its more powerful than its predecessor, it can handle typical workloads with ease, and it has a great display.
If youre looking for a laptop running Microsofts OS then the Surface Laptop 4 wont let you down. However, its still a long way off the superior M1 MacBooks.
Apple has dominated the laptop market with the release of its M1 MacBooks. For a similar price, you can get a laptop that can do everything the Surface Laptop 4 can do and a lot more. You just need to be comfortable working on a Mac.