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

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Microsoft Surface Laptop: ATTO Disk, Cinebench and Geekbench

We tested the Surface Laptop as it shipped from Microsoft to ensure we get the same out-of-box experience as our readers. Many variables can affect performance, so our comparisons should serve as a reference point. Our benchmarking kicks off with storage, CPU, and GPU tests to get an idea how the Surface Laptop performs in day-to-day tasks for these high-level subsystems.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
Peak Sequential Storage Throughput

The ATTO disk benchmark gives us a quick look at how snappy the Microsoft Surface Laptop should feel for basic, storage-bound tasks such as Windows startup and app loading. Microsoft installs a mainstream Toshiba THNSN0256GTYA SSD with theoretical peak speeds of about 943MB/s and 210MB/s read and write, respectively, in the Surface Laptop’s 128GB and 256GB storage configurations.

It’s an M.2 PCI Express 3.1 SSD with NVMe, but the TLC NAND flash is typically the cheapest memory to manufacture and peak performance isn't a priority with this drive. This is the first sign that you’re giving up performance for the Surface Laptop’s sleek physique. However, some owners report their Surface Laptop with 512GB SSDs come with the speedier Samsung PM971 if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash.

Microsoft Surface Laptop ATTO

ATTO reveals the Toshiba SSD’s unremarkable performance of 675MB/s read and 247MB/s write, which is adequate for a mainstream laptop, but falls far shy of what the PCIe NVMe interface can do. 

Cinebench R15
3D Rendering On The CPU And GPU

Cinebench tests the CPU and GPU independently and provides a glimpse of raw performance. The test is based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D modeling software that’s used in move productions.

cinebench r15 surface laptop

Performance of the Surface laptop is virtually identical and within the margin of error to the Acer Swift 3, which packs the same Core i5-7200U processor in a much cheaper package. However, its competitors packing the quad-core Core i7-8550U offer twice the performance in the same price range.

Geekbench 4
Single and multi-core

Geekbench 4 is a cross-platform benchmark that simulates real world processing workloads in image processing and particle physics scenarios. We tested the Surface Laptop in Geekbench 4’s single and multi-core test workloads.

geekbench 4 surface laptop

While the Surface Laptop’s dual-core Core i5-7200U has a lower max turbo frequency than the quad-core Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8550U, its 700-900 MHz higher base frequency helps it keep up with the dual-core 8th-Generation processors in this light-duty test. But the Surface Laptop simply can’t keep up with its quad-core packing competitors in multi-core workloads, understandably.

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