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Microsoft’s update schedule often means their products linger in the market with specifications that are no longer current.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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damianrobertjones - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkYou are correct. Only the intel has 1Tb and 32Gb ram.
Silver5urfer - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkUse and throw garbage.
No user customization allowed, even bootloader is hard to bypass I only see very old Surface HW capable of running Linux. After certain usage period, battery will die and you cannot even replace it, glued down hw, will break a lot of stuff if try to open. Custom BS processor and on top of Windows10 as a service with perpetual alpha updates to ruin and computer.
Best way to spend the hard earned cash on such a product, Bonus pack - dumb UI to make oneself think even dumber.
damianrobertjones - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkThen don't buy it. Also don't buy any apple product, or most mobile phones. those days are pretty much gone.
Silver5urfer - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkOfc I don't even need them because I have better computers. I'm merely expressing my disgust against these useless products with all shine outside but having absolute junk inside them.
Computers are not consumables they should be robust machines not some fancy social media garbage, which is what Smartphones are mostly used for. Remember the word Computer, that is pretty much going dodo now.
Oh yeah, you can buy 100 of them, and support these business practices for what it's worth.
Diogene7 - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkEven tough I like the harware design and improved battery life, I am a bit disappointed by the limitations of the technical specifications and the lack of disruptive innovations on new Microsoft Surface Laptop 4.
It is only an incremental improvement that is also missing out on some great features like Thunderbolt 4, PCIe4 SSD,...
I wish Microsoft has two category of Surface laptop (Surface laptop / Surface Laptop Pro) and that they would use the Pro category to iteratively introduce disruptive improvements like :
1. Bootable Persistent Memory (Pmem) on the memory bus to significantly lower latency
2. 3K 14-inches LTPO OLED display with 1Hz to 120Hz always-on functionalities (or near 4K 16/10 format)
3. Both 3D 1080p/60fps webcam compatible with Windows Hello and Biometric fingerprint reader in power button
4. Fanless design for fully quiet PC
5. 5G SIM / e-SIM
6. Much, much better battery life of at least 30hours...
7. Smaller 30W power adapter (ideally the size of 5W Apple iPhone power adapter)
8. Slimmer and lighter design (less than 1kg)
That is just a few ideas... As some important engineering work would be needed (especially Persistent Memory), it would better fit a more expensive line-up first like Surface Laptop Pro...
LarsBars - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkGuessing that the "DDR4-2400" spec is a copy/paste holdover from the Surface Laptop 3 chart. The Microsoft website seems to indicate LPDDR4X all around for Surface Laptop 4.
Brett Howse - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkThe copy/paste error was on the Microsoft spec sheet they sent us, but you are correct - the website shows LPDDR4x across the board so I've updated the table.
GoldenBullet - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkWhats the difference between 4980U and a 4800U? The Article's title says custom ryzen but then doesn't say what is special about it. Like that's a big missing detail from this Article.
nandnandnand - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkNone of the Articles have that information. 3780U had one extra graphics CU compared to the 3700U, same clocks. This time, I expect same number of CUs, +100 MHz CPU clock. Microsoft's "custom" AMD and Qualcomm chips have been a big waste of time so far.
s.yu - Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - linkNot just outdated, but overpriced.
Not just overpriced, but outdated.