Microsoft says its Surface Laptop offers the "perfect balance of portability and performance," and for some people that is certainly true. It only weighs 2.76 pounds, boasts up to 14.5 hours of battery life, and the entry-level model wields an Intel Core i5 processor to throw at tasks. Or at least that used to be the case. Microsoft has gone and added a new entry-level SKU, one that is a full $200 cheaper, but also less powerful.
The entry-level Surface now comes equipped with an Core m processor with integrated Intel HD 615 graphics. That means less computing muscle than what you would get with the Core i5 SKU with Intel HD 620 graphics, though also less of a strain on your wallet—the new SKU costs $799, versus $999 for the least expensive Core i5 SKU.
Memory and storage are the same on the Core m3 model, at 4GB of RAM with a 128GB solid state drive, so you're not giving up anything there. Same goes for the rest of the specifications—like the other Surface Laptops, the Core m3 SKU has a 13.5-inch PixelSense display with a 2256x1504 resolution (201 pixels per inch, 3:2 aspect ratio) and 10-point multi-touch support. It also features a 720p HD webcam supporting Windows Hello, 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 LE wireless connectivity, a USB 3.0 port and Surface Connect port, mini DisplayPort output, a 3.5mm audio jack, and Windows 10 S.
Buyers can also opt for a Surface Pro model with a Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD for $799, though unlike the Surface Laptop, that SKU does not come with a keyboard or stylus. There is some definite value there—a Surface Pen runs $100, and a Surface Pro Signature Type Cover costs $160. Factor those in and suddenly that $799 price tag balloons to over a grand.
That said, these Core m3 models are not for everyone. They are most suitable for people with general purpose computing needs, such as college students and users who mostly want to surf the web and play with Word. To that end, special pricing is available for eligible students, parents, and teachers, bringing the cost of entry down to $719.