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Surface Laptop 4 vs Surface Laptop 3: What’s the difference?

If you’re on the lookout for a new laptop, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop range is a very good shout. But which is the better option in the Surface Laptop 4 vs Surface Laptop 3 faceoff?

The Surface Laptop 4 is undoubtedly the most powerful option considering it’s had a processor upgrade, but with minimal improvements elsewhere it’s debatable whether it’s worth the extra cash.

We’ve pitted the two laptops together in this guide so you know what the main differences are, and so can make a better call when picking between the two. So without further ado, here’s our Surface Laptop 4 vs Surface Laptop 3 comparison. 

Specs

Surface Laptop 4
(13-inch)
Surface Laptop 3
(13-inch)
Surface Laptop 4
(15-inch)
Surface Laptop 3
(15-inch)
Display2256 x 15042256 x 15042496 x 16642496 x 1664
CPUIntel 11th Gen / Ryzen 4000Intel 10th GenIntel 11th Gen / Ryzen 4000Intel 10th Gen / Ryzen 3000
RAMUp to 32GBUp to 16GBUp to 32BUp to 32B
StorageUp to 1TBUp to 512GBUp to 1TBUp to 1TB
Dimensions308 x 223 x 14.5 mm308 x 223 x 14.5 mm340 x 244 x 14.7 mm340 x 244 x 14.7 mm
Weight1.3kg1.3kg1.5kg1.5kg

Price

The Surface Laptop 4 has a starting price of £999 / $999.99, which gets you the entry-level 13-inch model.

While the Surface Laptop 3 initially launched with a similar price, it’s now available on Amazon for as little as £794 / $899 saving you a big chunk of cash. This makes it a far more appealing option if you want to save as much money as possible. 

Design

Microsoft didn’t make any major design changes to the Surface Laptop 4 when upgrading from the Surface Laptop 3, as it decided to keep to the same chassis. 

This arguably makes the Surface Laptop 4 look very outdated, with an ugly chunky bezel surrounding the screen. The likes of the Dell XPS 13 and Razer Book 13 have popularised the trend of having an edge-to-edge screen, affording more space for the display. Microsoft is one of the few companies to resist the urge to adopt this new trend, making its laptops look old hat as a consequence. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

That said, both the 13-inch Surface Laptop 4 and Surface Laptop 3 are still very lightweight devices, hitting the scales at just 1.3kg. They’re also very skinny, measuring in at just 14.5mm. 

The only aspect that the Surface Laptop 4 can hold over its predecessor in terms of the design is the all-new colour option: Ice Blue. It looks fantastic, but still can’t justify the price jump.

Performance

The main benefit for picking the Surface Laptop 4 over the Surface Laptop 3 is that you get boosted speeds courtesy of the more powerful processor. 

The 13-inch Surface Laptop 3 features 10th Gen Intel Core chips, while the 15-inch model is fitted with Surface Edition Ryzen 3000 CPUs. 

The Surface Laptop 4 jumps forward a generation by offering 11th generation Intel Core CPUs, as well as Surface Edition Ryzen 4000 processors. 

I’ve only got comparisons for the i5 Intel processors right now, but it still shows a sizable performance advantage for the Surface Laptop 4, as you can see in the table below. 

Surface Laptop 4Surface Laptop 3
ProcessorIntel Core i5-1135G7Intel Core i5-1035G7
Geekbench 5 single core13071151
Geekbench 5 Multi core48444406
PCMark 1040883919

But how much of a performance advantage are you actually getting with the Surface Laptop 4 in practise? Honestly, the difference isn’t very noticeable. Both laptops are supremely speedy, zipping through day-to-day tasks with no trouble at all. 

The performance jump is more noticeable for gaming, as you get the benefits of the more powerful Intel Xe integrated GPU. You’re still not going to be able to play the likes of Cyberpunk 2077, but the Surface Laptop 4 should see a smoother performance for the likes of Apex Legends and Fortnite. 

Battery

The upgraded processor doesn’t just result in a faster performance – it also gives the battery life a healthy boost. 

We ran the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Laptop 4 through the same PCMark 10 battery test. The former lasted 10 hours before running out of juice, while the Surface Laptop 4 managed to eke out an extra hour with an 11-hour result. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Again, that’s not a major difference, but it does prove that the Surface Laptop 4 is the better choice if you want the best possible performance and battery life. 

Both laptops also saw near-identical results for recharging, taking approximately 90 minutes to refill the tank. 

Verdict

The Surface Laptop 4 is the best laptop out of the duo, with marginally better performance and battery results thanks to the processor upgrade. However, I’m not convinced that those minor improvements justify the current price difference. 

The Surface Laptop 3 can currently be purchased with a major discount, with approximately £200/$200 chopped off the price at select retailers. Unless you want to play casual games on your laptop such as Fortnite, I recommend going with the Surface Laptop 3 since it represents better value with very few drawbacks. Both laptops will also be upgradeable to Windows 11 towards the end of this year too, so you don’t need to worry about future-proofing.

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