Microsoft Springs A Surface Launch: Surface Laptop 4 Announced With Custom Ryzenby Brett Howse on April 13, 2021 9:00 AM EST
Microsoft tends to update their Surface lineup on an irregular schedule, not necessarily following the updated CPUs that are generally announced on a mostly annual cadence. Today Microsoft is announcing an updated Surface Laptop, dubbed the Surface Laptop 4, and brings the hardware up to date, somewhat at least. Also, with the explosion in video conferencing as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, the company is also announcing a slew of accessories to improve the Microsoft Teams experience.
Surface Laptop 4: Intel Tiger Lake and Custom AMD Processors
Microsoft’s update schedule often means their products linger in the market with specifications that are no longer current. Perhaps no product has felt that more than the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, especially the AMD version, which launched in late 2019. Based on AMD’s Picasso platform at the time, the AMD Ryzen Surface Edition processor suffered from poor battery life – an issue which AMD resolved with the launch of their Ryzen 4000 series “Renoir” processors just a few months later.
Today, Microsoft is rectifying this, but not going quite as far as you would expect for a device launching in April 2021. Once again, Microsoft will be launching both Intel and AMD powered versions of the Surface Laptop 4, and again, the AMD models will feature a custom Ryzen processor. However, despite AMD releasing their Ryzen 5000 series “Cezanne” lineup, the Surface Laptop 4 will feature the older Renoir platform. As disappointing as this is, Renoir was a very capable platform, with great performance, and great battery life. Perhaps the Surface Laptop 4 refresh was supposed to come in late 2020, but was delayed by Covid, but regardless, even with the Ryzen 4000 series powering it, the Surface Laptop 4 should be a big improvement over the Surface Laptop 3.
|Microsoft Surface Laptop 4|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1145G7
Intel Core i7-1185G7
AMD Ryzen 5 4680U
AMD Ryzen 7 4980U
|Intel Core i7-1185G7
AMD Ryzen 7 4980U
|Graphics||Intel: Intel Iris Xe Grahics
AMD: AMD Ryzen Microsoft Surface Edition Radeon Graphics
|Display||13.5" 2256x1504 3:2 PixelSense
Touch and Pen support
Individually calibrated panels
|15" 2496x1664 3:2 PixelSense
Touch and Pen support
Individually calibrated panels
|Storage||256 GB, 512 GB PCIe NVMe
|Networking||Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax
Dolby Audio 9
|Battery||Up to 19 hours on AMD Ryzen 5
Up to 17 hours on Intel Core i5
|Up to 17.5 hours on AMD Ryzen 5
Up to 16.5 hours on Intel Core i5
|Right Side||Surface Connect Port|
|Left Side||USB Type-A
|Dimensions||308 x 223 x 14.51 mm (12.1 x 8.8 x 0.57 inches)||339.5 x 244 x 14.69 mm (13.4 x 9.6 x 0.57 inches)|
|Camera||Front: 720p Camera and Windows Hello support
Dual far-field Studio Mics
|Extras||Surface Pen and Dial (sold separately)
|Pricing||Starting at $999 USD||Starting at $1099 USD|
Perhaps disappointingly for AMD fans, customers who opt for the Intel-based Surface Laptop 4 will not have to suffer such indignities. Surface Laptop 4 will ship with the latest Intel Tiger Lake platform, which brings slightly updated CPU cores, and much more powerful Intel Xe graphics, on Intel’s 10 nm process.
Also good news is that Microsoft has drastically expanded the lineup in terms of choice, with both the 13.5-inch, and the 15-inch models both available with AMD or Intel options, whereas the AMD version was only available in the 15-inch for Surface Laptop 3, and the Intel Ice Lake was only available as the “Business” edition. For the Surface Laptop 4, there is plenty of choice.
Additional choices are now available in terms of color too, with Microsoft adding an Ice Blue option to the existing Platinum, Matte Black, and Sandstone options. One of the most unique aspects of the original Surface Laptop was the Alcantara keyboard deck, and Microsoft has kept that as an option for the 13.5-inch model in either Platinum or Ice Blue.
Microsoft is claiming up to 19 hours of battery life on the Surface Laptop 4, in 13.5-inch guise and with the AMD Ryzen processor. This is a significant upgrade over the outgoing model, and comes alongside much better performance. Memory is 8 GB to 32 GB, and storage is 256 GB to 1 TB. Microsoft used to be guilty of offering specifications that were too low for even a base model, but 8 GB / 256 GB is a reasonable low-end configuration.
Microsoft pushed back on USB Type-C, and the company still is pushing back on Thunderbolt, even on the Intel-based devices. Thunderbolt 4 brings a lot of standardization, and would have been nice to see, but sadly, the company refuses to support it. One area where they can be commended though is that they are expanding their removable SSD support to the Surface Laptop 4, allowing easier expandability in the future. The drives are, as far as we can tell, still PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives, even though the Intel Tiger Lake model would support PCIe 4.0 storage. We’ll try to get clarification on if the slot supports it or not though.
The Surface Laptop has always offered great build quality, along with the fantastic PixelSense display in the now ubiquitous Surface 3:2 aspect ratio. While there are no major changes to the chassis, the updated internals, coupled with the light weight and good display, bring the Surface Laptop back into the equation.
The Surface Laptop 4 is available for pre-order, starting at $999 for the 13.5-inch, and $1099 for the 15-inch models.
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Ej24 - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkDdr4 2400 might be slower but it uses far more power than lpddr4x. Lp meaning low power for a reason. Hopefully this is just a weird typo? The 13in all seem to have lpddr4x but 15in gives amd slower power hungry memory? Weird
Brett Howse - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkApparently this was an error on the spec sheet Microsoft sent me. Their website shows LPDDR4x on all models. I've updated the table.
Chaitanya - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - link512GB ssd is quite limiting and would have liked to see 1TB offerings..
jvl - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkThat's just in the table - the screenshots of the SKUs show 1TB options for all =)
Chaitanya - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkaccording to SKU screenshots, Ryzen based ones are restricted to 512GB max which is a shame. at this point I dont want to buy Intel based laptop.
damianrobertjones - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - link...for you.
jvl - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkSame starting price as a MBA, thinner, and it has USB-A. Nice!
jvl - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkPlus (and I feel bad for not adding it on the OP) you can upgrade the freaking SSD! Not paying the robber baron prices of The Fallen Fruit!
cbutters - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkMicrosoft seems intent on pissing off even the mildly informed tech enthusiast. Yes I'm glad we finally have more AMD options, but only using last year's model; (was this a bone thrown to intel to make them seem closer in the inevitable comparisons of this device?) They also basically disable the traces on tiger lake which has built in thunderbolt on the SOC, Why doesn't Microsoft want to cater to us their customers? I guess it is all about cost saving and selling in bulk to universities... I guess thats fine; but could you have a high end model that gives us the latest chips and best connectivity options? Is that too much to ask?
Mikad - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkIf I read the lineup tables correctly, there doesn't seem to be SKU with AMD + 32GB? Only the i7 seems to get 32GB, other are limited to 16GB. Also the 1TB SSD is limited to i7 models.