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Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 vs Surface Laptop 4: What’s the difference?

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 recently hit stores, becoming the latest option in the company’s clamshell laptop range. 

But how does the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 compare to its predecessor, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4? We’ve reviewed both models, so we’re in a perfect place to answer that question. 

We’ve explained the main differences between the laptops below. So if you’re not sure whether you should purchase the Surface Laptop 5 or Surface Laptop 4, keep reading.

Release date and pricing

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 launched in October 2022, while the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 hit stores in April 2021. Both laptops are available with 13.5-inch and 15-inch screen sizes. You can check out the current pricing below:

Surface Laptop 4

  • 13.5-inch: From £989
  • 15-inch: From £1099

Surface Laptop 5

  • 13.5-inch: From £999
  • 15-inch: £1299

As you can see above, there’s only £10 separating the Surface Laptop 5 and Surface Laptop 4 when it comes to the 13.5-inch model. But there’s a whopping £200 difference if you fancy the larger 15-inch laptop instead. 

Despite the big price gulf, you get the same 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for the base model, although the Surface Laptop 4 is powered by a Ryzen 7 processor rather than an i7 Intel Core chip.

Both laptops will also become more expensive if you upgrade storage and RAM, as well as choosing a fancier colour option than Platinum. 

Design

Microsoft hasn’t altered the design of its Surface Laptop for the fifth entry. If you check the dimensions of the laptops, they’re exactly the same. The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop is 14.5mm thick, while the 15-inch version is 14.7mm. 

The newer Surface Laptop 5 is marginally heavier than its predecessor, but only by about 10 to 20 grams. The increased weight is likely to do with the more powerful processors, but we didn’t really notice much of a difference when holding the laptops in each hand. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Unfortunately, both laptops feature a thick black bezel around the screen. This makes the laptop look seriously outdated compared to the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13. But there’s no need to factor this into your decision when choosing between the Surface Laptop 4 and 5. 

The colour options are the only aesthetic differences between the two laptops. Both the Surface Laptop 4 and 5 are available in Black, Platinum and Sandstone. The former laptop can also be kitted out in Ice Blue, while the Surface Laptop 5 has a Sage option instead. But opt for the 15-inch Surface, and you’ll be limited to just Black and Platinum. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There’s only one more design difference between the two laptops, but you wouldn’t be able to spot it with the naked eye. Both have ports for Surface Connect, headphone jack, USB-A and USB-C. However, the USB-C on the Surface Laptop 5 has added Thunderbolt 4 support. That means its USB-C port is faster when it comes to data transfers, and also more versatile when it comes to power delivery and connections to external monitors. 

Microsoft is using the exact same screens for the Surface Laptop 4 and 5. The 13.5-inch touchscreen has a 2256 x 1504 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio, while the 15-inch version has a 2496 x 1664. There’s unfortunately no option for an OLED panel here.

Performance 

The processor is the biggest differentiator between the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 and 5. The former uses Intel Core 11th Gen Intel Core chips or an AMD Ryzen 4000 alternative. 

The Surface Laptop 5 is restricted to just Intel Core, but from the newer 12th Generation instead which ensures a speedier performance. 

Our benchmark tests show the Surface Laptop 5 to be a more powerful option, although we did admittedly use an Intel Core i7 model when comparing it to an Intel Core i5 Surface Laptop 4. That’s not really a fair test, but we can only use the review models that Microsoft sent us. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
CPUIntel Core i7-1255UIntel Core i5-1135G7
Geekbench 5 single/multi1206 / 66491307 / 4844
PCMark 1041074088

We still expect the Surface Laptop 5 to be the more powerful laptop overall, since it’s powered by the more recent generation of Intel Core chips. That said, our real-world testing showed that there isn’t a significantly notable difference between the speed of the two laptops when performing day-to-day tasks such as web browsing, reading emails and more. 

We certainly wouldn’t recommend upgrading from the Surface Laptop 4 to the Surface Laptop 5 if processing performance is your main concern. And when deciding between the two, we’d only recommend going for the Surface Laptop 5 if the price points are similar. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The specs options are identical across the two laptops. For the SSD, you have options for 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. And for RAM, you can choose either 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB. 

In terms of battery life, the Surface Laptop 5 recorded a result of 12 hours and 43 minutes when simulating basic productivity workloads. In comparison, the Surface Laptop 4 lasted for 10 hours and 54 minutes, despite being powered by a weaker CPU. 

Verdict

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 only has minor upgrades compared to its predecessor. It’s packing more advanced CPU options thanks to the jump to the 12th Generation of Intel Core, although the real-time performance difference is negligible. That said, our tests show battery life is slightly better with the Surface Laptop 5.

Thunderbolt 4 is a good addition, allowing for more connectivity options as well as speedier data transfer. And that new Sage green colour option looks great, although it is unfortunate that Ice Blue is no longer an option. 

With no changes to the design or screen, there are not enough improvements here to justify an upgrade from the Surface Laptop 4 to the Surface Laptop 5. But if you’re upgrading from an older laptop, then we recommend opting for the Surface Laptop 5 if there isn’t a major difference in price. But a Surface Laptop 4 with a discounted price will most probably represent superior value. 

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