Microsoft Surface Laptop Review: Plush, Premium Design In A Competitive Category

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Review: Introduction

When Microsoft released the original Surface Pro five years ago, the mobile market was completely different – Windows tablets were an afterthought and weren’t the svelte and snappy performers you can buy today. The first-generation Surface Pro wasn’t perfect, but it was a huge step in the right direction for Windows 2-in-1’s and tablets. Today’s mobile computing device landscape is completely different versus five years ago and one could argue it was significantly re-shaped by the success of the Surface Pro.

Each notebook manufacturer has its own interpretation of mobile nirvana. Whether it’s the HP Envy, Dell XPS, Lenovo Yoga or ASUS Zenbook, there are plenty of excellent ultra-portable notebooks you can buy today. But that didn’t deter Microsoft from entering the fray, when it added a traditional-style Surface Laptop to its product line-up last May. The Surface Laptop takes some of the Surface family’s unique features, such as the 13.5-inch Pixel Sense 3:2 aspect ratio display, Surface Pen support, and fabric keyboard, and packs it into a sexy 2.76 lb. package.

But is it enough to sway buyers away from our Editor’s Choice recipients – the Dell XPS 13 or Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga? Join us as we dive into the Microsoft Surface Laptop to find out if its enough to unseat some of the long-time incumbents in the category.

Microsoft Surface Front Quarter Open

Microsoft Surface Laptop 
Specifications & Features
Processor Options 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7200U Dual Core (3MB Cache, 2.5GHz to 3.1GHz)
Display
13.5-inch PixelSense (2256x1504) 
10 point multi-touch
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Surface Pen enabled
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Memory
8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz
Storage
256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive
Audio Omnisonic speakers, Dolby Audio Premium
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet via Surface Dock (optional accessory)
Wireless Connectivity
Marvell AVASTAR 802.11ac, Bluetooth Version 4.0 LE
Interface (Left)
1x USB 3.0 Type-A, mini-DisplayPort, 3.5mm Headset/Microphone Combo 
Interface (Right)
1x Surface Connect (for optional dock, charger)
Interface (Back) N/A
Webcam
Windows Hello face sign-in camera
720p HD camera
Operating System
Windows 10 S
Battery 45.2Whr
Dimensions 0.57 (H) x 12.13 (W) x 8.79 (D) inches
Weight
2.76 pounds
Manufacturer Warranty
1-year limited hardware warranty
Pricing $1,088.01 (As Configured) - Starting @ $799

Microsoft technically prices the Surface Laptop starting at $999, which gets you a dual-core Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage in its platinum color option, street prices often trickle downward, however (you can find the machine on Amazon for $799 at the moment). Opting for the 8GB RAM and 256GB storage option opens the color palette to burgundy, cobalt blue, and graphite gold options. This maxed out Core i5 configuration rings in at $1299 and is the model we’re looking at today.

The Intel Core i5-7200U has 3MB of cache, Intel HD 620 graphics, a base clock of 2.5 GHz and max turbo frequency of 3.1 GHz. Stepping up to the Intel Core i7-7660U bumps the price $300, but that extra money increases the cache to 4MB and boosts the max turbo frequency to 4 GHz. Its not just a turbo frequency bump with the Core i7-7660U option, though – the CPU upgrade swaps the Intel HD 620 graphics for the Iris Plus Graphics 640, which doubles the amount execution units and adds 64MB of eDRAM cache, too.

Microsoft Surface Rear Quarter

Choosing the Core i7 processor option also increases RAM and storage options to 16GB and 1TB, respectively. The maxed-out Microsoft Surface Laptop rings in at $2,699, which may be a tough sell when you consider other machines like Dell's XPS 13 with a quad-core Intel Core i7-8550U and a similar memory and storage config that drop in for hundreds less. However, performance is only one aspect of the notebook experience and Microsoft touts the Surface Laptop’s innovative style, luxurious materials and workmanship to lure in buyers. Let’s take a closer look at the design…

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