Microsoft’s Surface 4 laptops are finally here, and compared to its Surface 3 options, the company has expanded the number of available options — yes, that includes AMD-based models, as previous rumours suggested. The AMD models start at $1,599 while the Intel models start at $1,999.
The Surface 4 will come in several configurations with a 13.5-inch or a 15-inch PixelSense display at a 3:2 aspect ratio. Depending on the screen size, and whether the laptop is consumer-focused or commercial-focused, more or less Intel and AMD processor options will be available.
For the consumer Surface 4 with the smaller display, Core i5-1135G7, Core i7-1185G7, or Ryzen 5 4680U configurations are available. For the larger display, it’s just the Core i7-1185G7 and Ryzen 7 4980U. The 11th-gen Intel processors come with Iris Xe graphics, of course, and the AMD chips with Radeon graphics, all integrated.
Each model is priced according to how much memory and storage is available. Here’s what configurations are on sale for consumers:
- Ryzen 5 4680U: 8GB DRAM, 256GB SSD for $1,599
- Ryzen 5 4680U: 16GB DRAM, 256GB SSD for $1,899
- Core i5-1135G7: 8GB DRAM, 512 SSD for $1,999
- Core i5-1135G7: 16GB DRAM, 512 SSD for $2,299
- Core i7-1185G7: 16GB DRAM, 512 SSD for $2,749
- Core i7-1185G7: 32GB DRAM, 1TB SSD for $3,849
- Ryzen 7 4980U: 8GB DRAM, 256 SSD for $2,199
- Ryzen 7 4980U: 8GB DRAM, 512 SSD for $2,499
- Ryzen 7 4980U: 16GB DRAM, 512 SSD for $2,699
- Core i7-1185G7: 16GB DRAM, 512 SSD for $2,849
The 13.5-inch Intel models also come in more colours (pictured below) as opposed to just grey for the AMD ones. The 15-inch models come in black and grey with either processor.
The Intel models have 32GB and 1TB storage options, while the AMD ones unfortunately do not, and the 15-inch AMD versions run at a lower RAM frequency than the Intel ones (2400MHz compared to 3733MHz), but the SSD is totally removable. If you get a 256GB or 512GB option and feel like upgrading down the road, you can do that.
This could put some of the Surface AMD SKUs at a performance disadvantage compared to the Intel models, unfortunately, and likely accounts for the price difference between the two versions.
In our previous testing, Intel’s Tiger Lake processors with Iris Xe graphics out-performed the Ryzen 7 4800U in several tasks, which has 8 cores/16 threads compared to the Core i7-1185G7’s 4 cores/8 threads. The 11th-gen Intel core excelled at single-core performance-based tasks, obviously, where the AMD chip was better at multi-core performance.
The Surface 4 laptops with AMD chips will either be 6-core or 8-core, but it’s not clear if either Ryzen 5 or 7 model made specifically for the Surface 4 will have the same number of threads as cores. AMD does have some Ryzen 4000-series mobile processors with equal number of cores to threads, and if that’s the case with the Surface 4, it’s possible the multi-core performance of those AMD chips will be closer to Intel’s 11th-gen. But if getting the most inexpensive Surface 4 is at the top of your list, then that probably won’t matter.
The Surface 4’s weight and dimensions are basically unchanged from the previous version, too. The thickness is still 0.57-0.58 inches, depending on the screen size, and the new Surface weighs between 2.79 and 1 kg. The same ports are all there as well: one USB-C, one USB-A, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port.
The most important factor, regardless of how the Surface 4 is configured, is the battery life. Microsoft claims up to 19 hours with the 13.5-inch, Ryzen 5 model, and up to 17 hours with the Intel version. That amount of time shrinks by about 30-60 minutes with the 15-inch version. It might seem like 19 hours is an outstanding feat, but we’ve clocked the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 at 17.5 hours in the past, so it’s totally possible.
If Microsoft can live up to its battery claims this time around, it will be a major improvement over the Surface 3, which clocked in at 7.75 hours in our testing. Stay tuned for our full review for all the details.