Microsoft Surface Laptop review
Microsoft Surface Laptop review

Now that the Surface Laptop 2 is about the way in a few months, let us take a little time to reflect on the successes and shortcomings of the first Surface Laptop. Located in June 2017, the Surface Laptop was Microsoft's first effort at a non-convertible clamshell notebook. It was a means to appeal to the fans of the Surface Pro that desired a larger screen and an added keyboard, without alerting anybody that can not manage the Surface Book 2.

Without the hybrid form factor, it is ready to remain focused on being a laptop above all , ditching all of the frills Microsoft's hardware was famous for since the first Surface Pro. Even better, a recent firmware upgrade has exacerbated the battery live issues of the previous, hammering improved equilibrium instead of the consistent battery lifetime performance we had earlier. It is not too pricey either, however it includes the grab of using a brand new operating system you might be unacquainted with -- specifically Windows 10 S.

That means that directly out of the box, you will simply get access to Windows Store applications, if you don't decide to switch out of S Mode. Fortunately, that is free for everybody to perform, irrespective of whether you are using Windows 10 Pro or Home.

Otherwise, the Surface Laptop was well-received, and it is not tough to see why either. Contrary to the great deal of Windows machines out there, the Surface Laptop is well worth purchasing at the most economical level. Now starting in the exact same price as the Surface Pro, you are going to need to choose whether a bigger screen is well worth sacrificing the flexibility of a 2-in-1 form element.

That, and all else considered, let us take a look at the way in which the Surface Laptop stacks up to its main competitors. Provided the empire Apple has assembled through the years, would the Surface Laptop finally be the one to knock down the MacBook ?

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

Price and availability

A superior device commands a premium price tag, along with the Surface Laptop now starts at $799 (roughly £560, AU$1,000) and includes an Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. But that model is only available from the US because it stands now.

To be able to update to that CPU into an i5, you are going to need to reach a bit deeper into your pocket for $999 (£979, AU$1,499). More specifically, that cost provides you a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U, alongside the identical 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD at the United States, UK and Australia.

The following setup comprises the more powerful Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD for $1,599 (£1,549, AU$2,449). Eventually, they can grab a Microsoft Surface Laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB storage for $2,199 (£2,149, AU$3,299).

Are these updates worth the price climbs? Though the doubling of storage area gives it more flexibility, there are more economical ways of getting more room to store your files including cloud services including Google Drive.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

But, 16GB of RAM is going to be enticing to some people that wish to use the Surface Laptop for running demanding software or multitasking numerous applications simultaneously. Those users will probably wish to update from Windows 10 S -- that merely enables apps to run whenever they've been downloaded in the Windows Store -- to Windows 10 Pro, that will cost an extra $49 (roughly £40, AU$65) after December 31 2017 (before then the update is free).

For many people, but the least expensive Surface Laptop configuration ought to be totally fine -- particularly if you're using Windows Store apps, that are analyzed and tested by Microsoft.

One of the thoughts behind Windows 10 S and its limitation to Windows Store apps is that those apps are somewhat less resource-hungry than conventional Windows applications, so they'll run well on lower-power machines, and ought to empty the battery slower also.

The cost of the Surface Laptop puts it at the exact same bracket as a last year MacBook, in addition to the HP Spectre x360 and Dell XPS 13, while offering marginally better specs and electricity for the base model compared to the MacBook, but significantly less than the HP and Dell machines.

All three of these competitors are worthy adversaries, appearing high up in our list of the finest laptops in the world -- therefore the Surface Laptop certainly has its job cut out for it.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review


Within our hands-on review of the Surface Laptop we proposed that this 13.5-inch system is very possibly the most attractive computing product Microsoft has ever made -- and now that we have spent more time with it, we stand by that statement.

Simply speaking, the Surface Laptop is an incredibly attractive system that shows that Windows laptops may be equally as gorgeously designed as Apple products.

It features a full aluminum lid and body reminiscent of the Surface Book's, which provides it a hardy yet premium sense. While these maintain the Surface Laptop feeling mild (more on that in a little ), they give you assurance that this expensive piece of kit is not going to break or dent readily in the merest of knocks.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

Contrary to the Surface Book, the Surface Laptop does not feature an aluminum keyboard instead Microsoft has opted for plastic keys. Before you start to stress that this could result in the Surface Laptop atmosphere somewhat cheap, in addition, it features Alcantara cloth material, which can be imported from Italy and also laser-cut to match the keyboard and which provides the Surface Laptop a very nice texture, particularly when typing.

The key journey of the Surface Laptop's keyboard feels gratifying, using 1.5mm of traveling providing you a good physical reaction when studying. A trendy design feature places the Surface Laptop's speakers behind the keyboard, employing the openings between the keys as a type of grille.

This means the body is able to remain slim, without the speakers to increase the general dimensions, and this compromise works really nicely, with sound from the Surface Laptop coming through loud and clear -- even we noticed that a little of muffling when studying at the exact same moment. This could possibly be an issue if you love listening to Spotify while functioning, but the added audio jack permits you to hook up the Surface Laptop to a outside speaker.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

Speaking of ports, the Surface Laptop includes a USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort along with Microsoft's proprietary Surface Connect electricity and docking port, as found on other Surface devices.

The newer, quicker USB-C connection is conspicuous by its absence. When we talked to Microsoft about this, they advised us that it plans for connectivity growth to be handled through its Surface Connect port and Surface Dock.

Nevertheless, it is a shame to see there's no USB-C port, as an increasing amount of peripherals are coming out with this connection, and lots of the Surface Laptop's competitions include it.

On the other hand, however, we are also relieved that Microsoft has not followed Apple's USB-C or only approach.

The restricted number of ports mean the Surface Laptop can maintain a slender profile -- actually it measures only 14.48mm thick, which makes it thinner compared to the Dell XPS 13's 15mm, although marginally thicker than the MacBook in 13.1mm and the HP Spectre in 13.7mm.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

Therefore, while it is not the thinnest laptop round the Surface Laptop remains pretty damn slender, and it weighs only 1.25kg, that can be lighter than the Dell's 1.29kg, although again it is more weighty than the MacBook, which tips the scales at 1.08kg.

Nonetheless, it's incredibly mild, and easy to hold in 1 hand. For carrying around, this is one of the very comfy laptops you can purchase.

The thinness of the design does have a drawback, however, since the Surface Laptop is incredibly difficult to repair, and not possible to update. This was discovered from the iFixit website, that took apart a Surface Laptop and found that lots of items are either glued in, or soldered into the motherboard, making removing and replacing components extremely hard. This might not be a concern for a few, but if you harm your Surface Laptop, or anything goes wrong out of guarantee, then it might prove to be rather pricey.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

The screen is a bright and lively 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen display, which can be reinforced using Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to protection against scrapes. The resolution will be 2256 x 1504, which provides it a pixel density of 201 ppi (pixels per inch).

Out fans out there (come on, there should be a few ) will observe the somewhat unusual resolution , which can be due to the Surface Pro's screen using a 3:2 aspect ratio -- many laptop (and track ) aspect ratios are 16:9 (with MacBooks being 16:10).

This means in practice is that the Surface Laptop's screen is taller, which provides you a little more screen room when functioning -- although it does imply that if you are watching widescreen videos you are going to get bigger black bars running across the top and bottom of the screen.

The aspect ratio of the screen has consequences for the magnitude of the Surface Laptop too, together with the device using a wider body thanks to it.

In general, however, the Surface Laptop is a fantastic-looking device that will surely turn heads when you take it out to use it while feeling comfortable to operate and carry around.


As we have said, the Surface Laptop will arrive in several of configurations -- although at the time of writing just the lowest-spec configurations are readily available.

That does not indicate the Surface Laptop is underpowered. In reality, the base model includes some fairly impressive components, such as a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 2.50Ghz.

This is a far more accomplished processor than the sixth-generation Intel Core m5-6Y54 that forces the 2016 version of the MacBook, whereas the base model of 2017's MacBook uses the newer Intel Core m3-7Y32 CPU, which remains a step down in the Surface Laptop's Core i5.

The HP Spectre x360 fares much better at the CPU comparisons, coming with a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U processor (and more RAM in 16GB), for just somewhat more money ($1,049/£1,199/ AU$2, 299$), and it is quite a bit less costly than the i7-toting version of the Surface Laptop.

Though the i5 CPU is a fantastic improvement, the 4GB of RAM at the bottom version of the Surface Laptop feels a bit tight, particularly when its rivals are offering two or even four times as much RAM. While 16GB (and definitely anything over that) of RAM is surplus in a laptop for several day-to-day tasks, it will imply that more intensive programs -- like photo- and - video-editing apps -- might lag, even as you can even see some slowdown if you would like to run a range of programs in the exact same moment. The version we reviewed came with 8GB of RAM, so it is more powerful than the base version of the Surface Laptop.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

The debate for this comparative paucity of RAM is that the Surface Laptop is restricted to running apps from the Windows Store, which can be somewhat less memory-intensive than ordinary Windows programs. Consequently, if you stay with Windows 10 S, then the dearth of RAM should not be too much of a problem -- however if you update to Windows 10 Pro and intention to run more demanding programs, then you will soon get frustrated. As we mentioned previously, the design of the Surface Laptop means components are soldered to the motherboard, which means you won't have the ability to open your device and install extra RAM in case it starts to slow down.

To maintain the components cool while ensuring that the Surface Laptop runs quietly, Microsoft has included a fresh proprietary vapor room cooling system. This operates by altering the physical state of the warmth as it is taken in through the middle of a fan vent in the back of the laptop base and spitting it out of the sides of that same vent.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

Before we start talking about the performance of the Surface Laptop, we have to highlight a problem with our customary testing methodology. Normally we run a selection of standard tests on laptops we examine, which stress-test the devices and provide us scores that assist us compare and contrast to equal products.

These benchmarks, along with our day-to-day testing of the devices, provide us a good idea of just how well the laptops work. The problem here is that a lot of these benchmarking apps, such as GeekBench 4, 3DMark and PC Mark, aren't accessible through the Windows Store, so they can not be run on Windows 10 S.

While we'd have the ability to run these tests on the Surface Laptop by updating it to Windows 10 Pro, the PR staff that delivered us the inspection sample requested us to not do so.

We are not able to provide you immediate comparisons of benchmark results, but we could explain to you how it felt to use -- that in many ways is much more important.

Additionally, it is worth noting that Windows 10 S was designed so that a device feels as smooth and fast to use on its own thousandth day of use according to its first day of use. That is because Windows Store apps are installed at a sandboxed environment, so they can not make modifications to the registry or other important Windows settings, at the way regular Windows applications occasionally do. Additionally, it means they can easily be installed and uninstalled without leaving any traces behind.

While we regrettably can not try out the thousand-day maintain, our time together with the Surface Laptop proved that with the lowest-specification version, Windows 10 S conducted extremely well, together with the numerous apps we used opening and closing smoothly.

There are a range of games to be found on the Windows Store, and we tried out some of these. These are easy, mobile-like games, and so you'd expect they did not trouble the potent Surface Laptop.While Windows 10 S will include a few nice features, the simple fact that it is restricted to running Windows Store apps can annoy some people, since you could realize that a number of the programs you rely on do not have Windows Store versions.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

While Microsoft is dedicated to bringing hot applications to the Windows Store, the process is lengthy, and there's a good possibility that there will be several resources that you wish to run that you can't. In these scenarios, the locked-down character of Windows 10 S will end up annoying -- and you will ask yourself why you spent a grand on a computer that does not allow you to run your favourite programs.

Of course, there is the option to update to Windows 10 Pro, also before the conclusion of the season it is absolutely free to do so. But by updating to Windows 10 Pro you lose out on the performance and safety advantages of Windows 10 S. Microsoft had said the update was a one-time process, but it's thankfully back-tracked and you'll have the ability to revert to Windows 10 S -- although it is going to indicate wiping your device and losing all of your installed programs and files.

If you are concerned about Windows 10 S being overly limited, then Microsoft seeks to facilitate those concerns by adding a free one-time subscription to Office 365 Personal, and it will be a wonderful touch.

But while we enjoyed our time together with the Surface Laptop running Windows 10 S, if we were to continue to use it as our everyday laptop we would not have any option except to update to Windows 10 Pro -- there are simply too many programs we rely on, not web browsers like Chrome (you are stuck using Microsoft Edge onto Windows 10 S).

But, running Windows 10 S to the speedy 256GB SSD was incredibly impressive, using immediate wake from standby, and Windows 10 S loaded within a matter of moments when booting out of its fully-off state. This can be a Windows laptop that you could faithfully open up and start working on right away.

The touchscreen performed brilliantly, and has been quick and receptive to both our prods and expressions, particularly when using a stylus along with the Windows Ink handwriting and annotation feature of Windows 10.

Microsoft Surface Laptop review

The trackpad also felt good, and also the longer vertical dimensions of the human body (because of the 3:2 aspect ratio of the screen) provides you a comfy place to rest your palms as you type on the keyboard.

We had been, at least, able to run our TechTnet battery standard, at which we loop a high profile video before the battery runs out. The Surface Laptop did quite nicely, lasting 8 hours 47 minutes -- which makes it an excellent selection for watching films on extended journeys.

We also used the Surface Laptop for moderately intensive function, such as surfing the web, streaming audio and utilizing the contained Office apps. The Surface Pro made it throughout the entire work day (9am to 5pm) using 20% of its own battery left, and that means that you can safely use it to get work without needing to be worried about charging.

Overall we were quite impressed with the performance of the Surface Laptop, also thanks to Windows 10 S, along with a lack of the crapware (preinstalled software you don't ever wish to use) that normally comes on Windows laptops, the Surface Laptop competes together -- and sometimes outperforms -- laptops with high specifications.

General assessment

Microsoft is becoming a reputation for creating strong, attractive and complete desired superior products to showcase its Windows software, and the Surface Laptop continues in this vein. The slim and light design makes it effortless to carry around, while the careful component factors, and high quality build substances, make it a joy to use.

That is a device that Microsoft's designers and engineers have invested a great deal of time working on, and also for the most part it's paid off handsomely. This is only one of the best-looking Windows devices available on the market today, also, thanks to a nifty specs that electricity the carefully controlled Windows 10 S operating platform, it is one of the smoothest Windows 10 experiences also.

If you use Microsoft's core applications, and may find whatever you need in the Windows Store, then you are going to adore the Surface Laptop.

For people who fear that Windows 10 S is overly restrictive, the capacity to update to Windows 10 Pro is a welcome one, and for a lot of people this will immediately create the device more useful and adaptive.

It is not quite ideal, yet, and there are a couple of design options that prevent it from achieving true greatness. The deficiency of USB-C is disappointing because of such a forward-thinking device, along with the shortage of ports means you might need to resort to some USB adaptor hub to plug into a variety of devices.

You are also paying a price premium with this particular product -- therefore there are more powerful (but less visually appealing) laptops out there for the exact same price -- or even more affordable.

Meanwhile, the glued and soldered makeup of the laptop will dismay tinkerers, as well as people who only want to be secure in the knowledge that when something breaks, their pricey gadgets are readily fixed. As it sounds, you might need to get your Surface Laptop completely replaced when something breaks -- even something that will be a relatively simple and inexpensive fix along with other laptops.

If you have fully bought into Microsoft's ecosystem, and need a thin and light laptop that works brilliantly with the minimum of fuss, then we could heartily recommend the Surface Laptop.

But if you would prefer more control over that which you run on your own system, then there are other options out there that will be much better suited to your requirements.