Microsoft Surface Laptop (13.5″ Touch-Screen, Intel Core i5 & i7, Up to 16GB RAM, Up to 512GB SSD)
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|
You can buy these on Microsoft’s official Store and other places.
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.
Specifications of the Microsoft Surface Laptop
Here are the specs of the Microsoft Surface Laptop with descriptions of its features. For comparison against other laptops, you can use the "Compare Specs" button.
|Laptop Type||Standard non-convertible laptop
This laptop features a clamshell-only design, without ability to convert itself into a tablet.
Ultraportable (small laptop)
The light weight and small dimensions make this ultraportable laptop easy to carry around or travel with.
This is a small display size, typical for ultraportable laptops. There are however laptops with even smaller screens, with diagonals of 12.5" or less.
|Screen Resolution||2256x1504 pixels (very good sharpness)
This screen resolution provides a decent image sharpness and a lot of space on the display for the user interface and programs. It's slightly better than the popular Full HD. However, these resolutions aren't as good as the premium-class 4K Ultra HD and similar.
|Touchscreen||Finger multi-touch input
The screen supports finger touch input, including multi-touch gestures.
Active digitizer pen input
The screen supports active digitizer pen input, besides the common finger multi-touch input. In comparison to simple capacitive pens you can use on any touchscreen, active digitizer pen input provides advanced features like pressure sensitivity. Check with the laptop seller whether the active pen is included in the package.
|Other Display Specs||IPS type
Displays based on IPS technology provide much wider viewing angles than the budget-class TN screens.
|Processor (CPU)||Intel Core i5-7200U 7th Gen (enables smooth everyday computing)
Intel Core i7-7660U 7th Gen (older higher-end home and office CPU)
|Graphics (GPU)||Intel HD 620 integrated graphics of 7th Gen Core i3, i5, i7 (for light gaming)
Intel Iris Plus 640 integrated graphics (for light gaming, but with improved smoothness)
|System Memory (RAM) Size||4GB RAM
4GB is a small RAM size for computing in 2023. For smooth operation of a laptop during everyday tasks, at least 8GB is recommended.
The 8GB RAM size is the standard one in 2023. It provides comfortable multi-tasking for the most home and office users.
16GB and greater RAM sizes are recommended for heavy multitasking, gaming, and specialized programs that require a lot of RAM.
|Data Storage||128GB SSD
128GB is a relatively small storage space. However, it is usable if you don't store a lot of large files like movies and don't install a lot of programs.
256GB is a decent capacity. If you tend to download and store a lot of large files like movies and install many programs, 512GB or more is a better choice.
512GB storage capacity is recommended if you store a lot of large files and install many programs.
|DVD Optical Drive||None|
|Keyboard & Input||Backlit keyboard without dedicated number pad
The keyboard has backlit keys for easier typing in the dark. There's no separate numeric pad you can typically find on the right side of the keyboard on many laptop models.
Touchpad with click buttons built into the surface
The left and right click buttons are built into the surface of the touchpad, as opposed to separate physical buttons.
Active digitizer pen (optional)
|Speakers & Audio||Stereo speakers
As usual, the device features a pair of built-in stereo speakers.
|Camera||Front-facing web camera
Laptops usually feature a frontal webcam located on the display bezel. This laptop is no exception.
HD 720p resolution
This is the most common web camera resolution in laptops. However, it's low in comparison to camera resolutions of modern smartphones, so it can't produce as sharp picture.
The dedicated infra-red face recognition cameras in laptops are used for Windows Hello log-ins, without password typing.
The 802.11AC is the previous-generation wireless networking standard. It's also known as Wi-Fi 5. 802.11AC is succeeded by 802.11AX Wi-Fi 6 with data transfer speed and multi-device connectivity improvements.
|Ethernet Network Port||No
This laptop has no Ethernet LAN port for wired internet and networking connectivity.
|Mobile broadband (4G LTE)||No|
This laptop has a built-in Bluetooth module. It enables you to connect the computer to Bluetooth mice and other Bluetooth peripherals, smartphones, and other Bluetooth-equipped devices.
|USB Ports||1 x USB 3.0
A standard full-size USB port.
|Video Output Ports||1 x mini DisplayPort
DisplayPort is a digital video output port. It is not as widely used as HDMI. The laptop has a compact "mini" version of DisplayPort on its side.
|Media Card Reader||None
The laptop has no SD card slots. For reading from and writing to SD and microSD memory cards, you'll have to use a separately sold memory card reader via a USB cable.
|Other Features||Microsoft (Office) 365 Personal 1-year subscription for free
By purchasing this laptop, you get a free-of-charge 1-year subscription for Microsoft 365 Personal package that also includes MS Office programs.
TPM (Trusted Platform Module, a security feature)
|Battery||"Up to 14.5 hours" of video playback|
A typical laptop warranty.
User Reviews and Q&A on the Microsoft Surface Laptop
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