Last April, Microsoft introduced the Surface Laptop 4 , a laptop that represents an important step forward compared to the previous generation in terms of performance and autonomy , but that maintains a continuity approach as far as design is concerned. Although it may seem the opposite, the latter has nothing wrong at heart, since it means that we find a classic, elegant and timeless design, and with a quality of premium construction , thanks to its aluminum alloy.
The truth is that I really wanted to try the Surface Laptop 4, but in the end, due to a host of circumstances, it was impossible. However, did not want to close 2021 without meeting that goal , and I wanted to take advantage of the Christmas sales campaign that Microsoft has opened to share with you a complete analysis where I will tell you, at detail, my experience of use and all the keys that we can highlight of this new Microsoft laptop.
I hope this analysis helps you to be clear about those values that make the Surface Laptop 4 one of the best laptops of its class, and also one of the best gifts for this Christmas since, as I have anticipated in the previous paragraph, is available with a succulent discount in its version with AMD Ryzen 5 4680U, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD. Its normal price is 1,129 euros, but we can get it for only 999 euros. However, keep in mind that this offer is temporary, and that it will only be active until January 6, 2022.
Before starting, I want to thank Microsoft Spain for lending us a Surface Laptop 4 unit, and for allowing us to work with complete freedom. Without further ado, we dive right into our analysis. Make yourself comfortable, there are many things to read.
Surface Laptop 4: First impressions
Right out of the box, the first thing that stands out about it is its lightness and robustness . The sensations that it transmits to the touch are very good, and it makes it clear from the first moment that we are dealing with a laptop that, as we anticipated, has a premium construction. The aluminum alloy that Microsoft has used in the Surface Laptop 4 is undoubtedly a success, since it is responsible for those good impressions that we have since we started using it.
The Surface Laptop 4 has, in the 15-inch version that we have used, measurements of 339.5 mm × 244 mm × 14.7 mm and a weight of 1.54 kilograms . These values put it, directly, in the category of ultraportable , but what does this mean for me as a user? Well, it is very simple, it means that this equipment is very light and thin, and that we can take it with us with total comfort.
Mobility represents a very important value , both for students and for freelancers and independent professionals. I do not speak for no reason, I remember perfectly that, a few years ago, I did not take my laptop to university because it was a horror to have to carry that three kilogram hulk. When I started practicing as a lawyer, I also didn’t like taking my laptop to my office because, in the end, the user experience it offered was not good at all, neither for mobility nor for performance.
In that sense, the Surface Laptop 4 is a world apart . We can carry it in one hand with total comfort, without experiencing any type of fatigue in the short or medium term, we will enjoy high performance, outstanding autonomy and, thanks to its classic, minimalist and elegant design, it will look good in any workspace . Of course, it will not leave anyone indifferent, although on the subject of autonomy, and performance, we will delve further later.
In terms of design, mobility and build quality, the Surface Laptop 4 borders on perfection, and this makes it, from the outset, an option to take into account, but what about its technical characteristics? The entire Surface Laptop 4 range uses advanced components that guarantee a high level of performance , but betting on the balance value . Those of you who read me daily already know that this is a key factor in any good laptop worth its salt, after all it is useless to have a very high performance if you are going to have to charge the equipment for three hours of use.
The Surface Laptop 4 that we have received uses a powerful configuration, but balanced so that autonomy, noise and mobility scratch at a great level. Thanks to this balance, the Surface Laptop 4 is emerging as a team capable of shining in any situation, offering a silent operation and autonomy that will allow us to complete, in excess, a full day of work (or study).
One of the main pillars that has made this good balance possible can be found in the Ryzen 7 4980U APU , the heart of the Surface Laptop 4 that I have been lucky enough to test. This chip falls into the category of ultra low consumption, which means that it requires little power to operate and that it generates less heat, two positive notes, as this allows to increase the autonomy, reduce the size of the cooling solution and lighten the weight. and limit noise from it.
However, although we are dealing with a low-power APU, it is a powerful solution, as it has a 8-core, 16-thread CPU based on the Zen 2 architecture . It has a high IPC and can reach 4.4 GHz depending on the active threads, which means that it can offer high performance both in single and multi-threaded, and that it is capable of optimally moving both applications that depend more on the IPC and the frequency of work (such as games, for example) as others that scale better in many threads (professional applications).
The Ryzen 7 4980U integrates a Radeon RX Vega 8 GPU that adds 512 shaders running at 1,750 MHz (dynamic frequency). It is a very advanced solution, since it is compatible with DirectX 12 at its 12_1 level, it is manufactured in 7 nm and it is capable of moving many current games. It also represents an important value for those who work with professional applications that scale, in performance, with the GPU.
We have 16 GB of RAM, so multitasking will not be a problem, and we will be able to carry out editing, design and creation without this component being a bottleneck. The storage is not out of place either, since the Surface Laptop 4 that we have received has a powerful 512 GB SSD , a figure that far exceeds the value of 256 GB that we can consider as the minimum recommended for ultraportables.
The screen is, as we anticipated, 15 inches in size, uses a PixelSense panel with a resolution of 2,496 × 1,664 pixels , and uses the 3: 2 aspect ratio. This format is ideal for work, and can help us to significantly improve our productivity when performing various tasks. The screen is also tactile, which means that we can interact directly with it, and it is also compatible with the Surface Pen.
The screen edges are not notable for their thinness, and in the upper frame we see a camera with HD resolution that will allow us to use Windows Hello facial recognition as a biometric authentication system. If we look at the sides of the keyboard area, we find a USB Type-A connector, a USB Type-C connector, a Surface connector and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. In terms of wireless connectivity, it has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The keyboard layout is good. Each key is generously sized, and is perfectly separated from the previous one. This represents another important value, as it helps to make the user experience more comfortable, even after long writing sessions. In the central part, just below the keyboard, we find a large touch pad.
Surface Laptop 4: User experience
The quality of the screen, and the comfort of the keyboard, are the first “actors” to shine with their own light when we started using the Surface Laptop 4. The PixelSense panel offers superb clarity, it has excellent color reproduction, perfect 178 degree viewing angles and, thanks to its 3: 2 aspect ratio, it offers enormous vertical space. This greatly facilitates any work that we have to do, and makes a great difference compared to other models that use other formats.
The fact that this screen is touch, and compatible with the Surface Pen, is also a very important value, especially for cartoonists, artists and content creators , since it allows us to work directly on the screen and unleash our most creative side. As we anticipated in our first contact, the color reproduction offered by the Surface Laptop 4 is fantastic (it reproduces almost 110% of the sRGB color space) and this is noticeable in everything that passes through the screen, with vibrant colors and perfectly defined.
The response of the touch panel was perfect in my tests, and the level of brightness that we can achieve with the Surface Laptop 4 is more than enough to work with total comfort in any situation, even in those in which the ambient lighting is very high. The latter is a detail to take into account, especially when we have to work in spaces that have very marked lighting.
Performance is one of the most important factors when choosing a laptop, and in this sense the Surface Laptop 4 has exceeded my expectations. Microsoft has assembled a Ryzen 7 4980U APU, a chip that, as we anticipated, is manufactured in 7nm process and features an 8-core, 16-thread CPU based on Zen 2. In Cinebench R23, said CPU is capable of achieving a a score of 1,183 in single-thread , which means that it is one of the most powerful processors in its category, and in multi-thread it reaches 7,340 points , figures that until recently would have been unthinkable in a low-power processor. I remind you that you can enlarge all the images by clicking on them.
These data confirm what we had anticipated, that the Ryzen 7 4980U APU that mounts the Surface Laptop 4 can cope with anything, but what about the GPU? The Radeon RX Vega 8 that it mounts achieves a score of 1,151 in 3DMark Time Spy Graphics , a figure that places it at a very good level for an integrated GPU, and that places it very close to graphics solutions dedicated like the NVIDIA MX350. This means that we can use it to play games, as we had anticipated, and to work with graphic applications.
Talking about performance on paper is very good, and as we can see in the attached image the SSD that mounts the Surface Laptop 4 strikes a good level, but how does all this affect my user experience? It is a question I always ask myself when I have to test a laptop, and in this case, it has left me very positive impressions.
Windows 11 flies on the hardware that mounts the Surface Laptop 4, the shutdown and startup times are minimal, the execution times of many applications, and the opening of numerous files (Word documents , photographs, etc.) are practically instantaneous. The fluidity it offers is total, and this translates into an outstanding user experience and high productivity.
The accesses with the front camera, through Windows Hello, are very fast , and the image quality offered by said camera is at a good level, always bearing in mind that it is a HD model. The sound does not detract at all, thanks to the compatibility with Dolby Atmos Surround , and the microphones with studio quality that mounts the Surface Laptop 4 make a clear difference both in calls and in video calls.
Now it’s time to talk about the keyboard. What is it like to write daily with the Surface Laptop 4? Well, very comfortable . The truth is that at first it was quite an experience, not only because of the touch of the keys, but also because they have a very soft touch and a short travel (1.3 mm). All of this contributes to making the typing experience very comfortable, and reduces fatigue. On the other hand, the good size of the keys, and the distance between them, reduces the errors in the keystrokes.
The Surface Laptop 4 is a laptop that, as we have seen, has everything necessary to optimally cover the needs of any independent professional who wants to unify work and leisure in a single device, but we still have other issues important to touch, such as autonomy. In a controlled test environment, with the brightness set to 150 nits and a moderate workload, I have recorded a maximum runtime of almost 12 hours per battery charge , a very good value indicating that With the Surface Laptop 4, we can complete a working day without having to look for a plug.
Regarding noise, the cooling system that Microsoft has integrated into the Surface Laptop 4 is very quiet. This is another detail that is more important than we could give it a priori. Think, for example, how annoying it would be to take your laptop to work and have it sound like an airplane when you ask for a bit of performance. The face of your colleagues, or of your clients, would end up being a poem. Well, with the Surface Laptop 4 you won’t have that problem, since is very quiet , even when we ask for power.
The Surface Laptop 4 unit that I received is updated to said Windows 11 , so I have used that operating system in my tests. Microsoft takes maximum care of the support and firmware of its Surface line, and this means that we will enjoy full compatibility, and new updates that will introduce performance and security improvements. This is another factor to take into account when choosing a Surface device, and that is they tend to age like good wine.
Endnotes: An ultraportable that has it all
The Surface Laptop 4 is an ultraportable that falls in love with its design and its build quality, but which in the end proves that the most important thing is inside. Microsoft has fully succeeded with the configuration of the model that we have had the opportunity to test, and thanks to this it has shaped a balanced team that can offer high performance without sacrificing autonomy. and outstanding mobility.
Interactions with the Surface Laptop 4 are natural, comfortable and intuitive . Windows 11 is completely fluid, and we’ve got plenty of power to do just about anything. This, together with its touch screen, the comfort offered by its keyboard and the security functions it integrates (facial recognition and TPM 2.0 chip) make it a flexible and very versatile device.
Thus, for example, a teacher who has to correct work and to teach remotely will have on the Surface Laptop 4 everything he needs , thanks to its high performance and the quality of its screen and its combination of HD camera and studio-quality microphones. For his part, a lawyer who needs to spend many hours writing long texts, and consulting jurisprudence, will also enjoy a unique experience with the Surface Laptop 4, thanks to its fluidity, its screen in 3: 2 format and at the comfort of your keyboard.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the most creative professionals. Those who need to transfer their ideas directly onto the screen will be able to do so without any problem with the Surface Laptop 4, thanks to its touch panel and its support for the Surface Pen . And those who want to edit video or photography will also have it very easy, thanks to the high performance of the Surface Laptop 4, the high resolution of its screen and its excellent color reproduction.
As I have already said, autonomy is not far behind, and puts the icing on a “cake” that, of course, is destined to become one of the best gifts of these very important dates . With the Surface Laptop 4 we will have in our hands a a powerful, light and safe work tool, but also sustainable , since Microsoft takes maximum care of both the manufacturing process of its Surface series and that of distribution and commercialization, all with the aim of reducing its environmental impact.
Surface Laptop 4 is an ultraportable that makes you fall in love with its design and build quality, but that in the end proves that the most important thing is inside. Microsoft has fully succeeded with the configuration of the model that we have had the opportunity to test, and thanks to this it has shaped a balanced team that can offer high performance without sacrificing, therefore, outstanding autonomy and mobility.
Design and build quality 9.5