The Microsoft Surface Laptop will be one of the most popular or maybe even the most popular Windows 10-based laptop of 2017. Backed by computer & software giant Microsoft, the Surface Laptop offers premium specs in an attractive thin-and-light package. The most notable features of this 2.8-pound 0.6″ thin notebook include a 13.5-inch high-resolution touchscreen display, the 7th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 16GB of system memory, up to 512GB of SSD storage space, a long battery life, fabric finish on the keyboard deck, and multiple chassis color choices.
As the most prominent part, the 13.5″ screen delivers an above-average pixel count of 2256-by-1504 (201 PPI). This means a sharper picture than on the more common Full HD 1920×1080-pixel screens. The display of the Surface Laptop also stands out with its aspect ratio of 3:2, as opposed to usual 16:9. The 3:2 ratio is better optimized for viewing and editing documents, while the 16:9 panels are better suited for movie watching. Furthermore, the screen provides active digitizer pen input support besides usual finger input. You can use Microsoft’s Surface Pen on it. The Pen is sold separately. Rounding off the great screen specs, it’s worth noting that it is covered with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Please keep in mind that the Surface Laptop isn’t a 2-in-1 PC, meaning you can’t band the screen back for a tablet-like use.
Underneath the screen lays Microsoft’s exclusive Signature Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard deck. The same fabric coating is used in car interiors. It stands out in the sea of plastic and aluminum covered notebook keyboard decks. The finish resists spills and stains, according to Microsoft. The keyboard is backlit.
The available color choices for the keyboard deck and color-matching aluminum display lid are Cobalt Blue, Platinum, Graphite Gold, and Burgundy. Some configurations are available in Platinum color only.
Under the hood, the Surface Laptop packs a serious punch for the daily home and office use. There are two processor choices, both from the latest 7th Gen Intel Core family. The mid-range Intel Core i5-7200U and higher-end Intel Core i7-7660U. They both have dual CPU cores. The i7-7660U has higher clock speeds and the Intel Iris Plus 640 graphics as the most important advantages over the i5-7200U with the usual Intel HD 620. These will suffice for all the usual PC tasks. The performance of these Core i5 and i7 chips can be handy for some more hardware-taxing tasks, such as media creation. For these duties the quad-core Intel Core chips are ideal, but these require more robust cooling systems and thus bulkier casings. Available system memory sizes are 4, 8 and 16 Gigabytes. Internal SSD storage currently comes in 128-, 256-, and 512-Gigabyte capacities. A 1-Terabyte option is expected to be available, too.
The basic Surface Laptop configuration includes the i5-7200U CPU, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD. It costs $999. It’s comes only in Platinum color. The second available i5-based configuration is better equipped and provides 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and all four color choices. It’s $1,299. The Intel Core i7 & Intel Iris Plus-powered configurations are also in Platinum color only. The $1,599 i7 model has 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, while the top-tier 2,199-dollar model includes 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Here’s a breakdown of all Surface Laptop SKUs currently selling in the US:
|Surface Laptop SKU||CPU / Graphics||RAM||SSD||Color||Price|
|D9P-00001||i5-7200U / HD 620||4GB||128GB||Platinum||$999|
|DAG-00001||i5-7200U / HD 620||8GB||256GB||Platinum||$1,299|
|DAG-00003||i5-7200U / HD 620||8GB||256GB||Graphite Gold||$1,299|
|DAG-00005||i5-7200U / HD 620||8GB||256GB||Burgundy||$1,299|
|DAG-00007||i5-7200U / HD 620||8GB||256GB||Cobalt Blue||$1,299|
|DAJ-00001||i7-7660U / Iris Plus 640||8GB||256GB||Platinum||$1,599|
|DAL-00001||i7-7660U / Iris Plus 640||16GB||512GB||Platinum||$2,199|
Speakers of the Surface Laptop are located beneath the keyboard keys. Audio is backed by Dolby Audio Premium technology. The web camera supports up to 720p video resolution and enables face recognition for easier system log-ins via Windows Hello technology.
For a Windows-based machine, the Surface Laptop has a quite limited connectivity feature set. It has only one USB port, a Mini DisplayPort, a combo mic/headphones port, Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect jack for charging and docking, 802.11AC Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. An SD memory card reader is missing on this notebook.
According to Microsoft, the laptop can provide “up to 14.5 hours” of video playback on a single battery charge. Judging from online reviews, in regular home and office use with reduced screen brightness, the battery life is around 8 – 9 hours.
On the software side, it’s worth noting that the Microsoft Surface Laptop comes pre-loaded with a new Windows OS version called Windows S. Windows S provides better system security and manageability by limiting program installations. You can only install apps which are available via Windows Store. If you want to overcome that limitation, you can upgrade Windows S to full-blown Windows 10 Professional free of charge (through December 2017). Also, the Surface Laptop package includes 1 year of Microsoft Office 365 Personal suite subscription.