Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 is a solid redesign, fixes the flaws of its predecessors

The new Surface Laptop 4 is a solid laptop.
Image: Microsoft

There are plenty of excellent laptop choices out there for those in need of an upgrade. Whether you’re looking for a flexible 2-in-1 that can work with you wherever you go or a powerhouse portable gaming rig, there’s an option for you.

Microsoft’s Surface lineup has been extremely impressive over the past few years and offers a wide range of devices.

The company recently released the updated Surface Laptop 4. Of all the Surface devices that Microsoft offers, the Laptop has arguably been its weakest offering. That narrative is changing with the arrival of the Surface Laptop 4.

Microsoft has addressed many of the flaws of the device’s predecessor, making the latest model a far more attractive option. It is also offering a much better selection of configurations with the Laptop 4. This means that consumers will be able to build the device that fits their needs rather than compromising for one that doesn’t.

Sharp Design

Despite the many shortcomings of Microsoft’s Surface Laptops, the devices have always featured a sleek design. That doesn’t change with the Laptop 4.

It is incredibly thin at just over half an inch. In the area around the touchpad, the laptop barely sits off the table. The difference between the Surface Laptop 4 and other ultra-portable notebooks like the Dell XPS 15 is noticeable. It’s also thinner than the widely popular MacBook Pro.

In fact, the Surface Laptop 4 is the thinnest 15-inch laptop currently on the market.

That isn’t where the elegance of its design stops, though. The device also features an extremely solid build quality. You won’t find yourself dealing with flexing or wobbly hinges like you do with many thin laptops. The Surface Laptop 4 features tremendous balance and sturdy connections that make it a solid device.

Another noteworthy feature of the Surface Laptop 4 is its 3:2 screen. It is one of the few 15-inch laptops on the market with that ratio, which puts increased emphasis on the display. For those that purchase a 15-inch laptop, the screen is obviously an important factor. Having it front and center on the Surface Laptop 4 is a nice touch.

Capable Performance

Aside from a lack of configuration options, previous Surface Laptop models struggled with performance. Although the Laptop 4 isn’t a powerhouse device, it features components that give it new life.

For instance, consumers can now choose AMD Ryzen processors in both the 13.5- and 15-inch models. The larger device can be configured with an eight-core Ryzen 7, giving it plenty of power to handle most tasks.

Unfortunately, the hardware is already outdated since the Surface Laptop 4 features Ryzen 4000 processors. It’s easier than normal to look past this given the global chip shortage. However, for a device that’s being sold as “premium,” it would be nice to see the latest hardware inside.

The thin nature of the Surface Laptop 4 is a big asset for those in search of a sleek device. That being said, it does have a negative impact on the laptop’s overall performance.

Its thin frame limits the amount of airflow that can be pushed through its components, meaning the laptop runs hot at times. It also means that the Surface Laptop 4 can’t run more powerful components since it doesn’t have the cooling capacity to support them.

If you plan on using the device for things like video editing, playing graphics-heavy games, or 3D modeling, you should probably look elsewhere. There are far more powerful laptops out there that are better at handling these tasks.

That being said, the Surface Laptop 4 is a capable device for most people and will have no trouble with everyday tasks and even some light gaming.

Extra Features

As noted, Microsoft has made several adjustments to the Surface Laptop 4 that make it a much better device than those that came before it. For one, the laptop now features a much longer battery life.

Microsoft claims that the 15-inch model can last up to 17 hours on a single charge. While you probably won’t get that sort of longevity in the real world, anything close to it is noteworthy performance in the laptop world.

One of the Surface lineup’s strong suits has always been its keyboards. The Surface Laptop 4 is no exception. Its keys have 1.3mm of travel, which is fairly long for such a thin laptop. This makes it comfortable to type on for hours and makes each press satisfying.

Below the keyboard, the Surface Laptop 4 boasts a glass touchpad. It is extremely responsive and does a great job handling multi-finger gestures. The touchpad also does an excellent job of ignoring your palm while you’re typing to prevent unwanted cursor movements.

Although the Surface Laptop 4 doesn’t feature a fingerprint reader, it does boast Microsoft’s unique IR camera. This allows you to use Windows Hello to log in with your face. Doing so takes a fraction of a second and is much faster than scanning your fingerprint or typing in a password.

Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn’t learned any lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its latest device still features a standard 720p webcam. That’s somewhat disappointing since several manufacturers are moving towards 1080p built-in cameras given the prevalence of video calls today.

The Cost

As noted, Microsoft’s Surface products are billed as premium. This means they also come at a premium price. The 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 with an AMD Ryzen processor starts at $1,299 but can be configured up to $1,499 for more storage.

Meanwhile, the Intel processor model starts at $1,799 and can be configured up to $2,399. That’s a hefty sum for the laptop given its performance. If you’re looking to drop that kind of money, you can probably find something with better specs.

That being said, if you’re looking at the entry-level model, the Surface Laptop 4 isn’t a bad choice. As long as you don’t plan to use it for anything extreme, the laptop will serve you well.


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