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Jeff Dunn – Apr 13, 2021 1:00 pm UTC
After recent leaks suggested an imminent arrival, Microsoft has officially launched the latest entry in its line of Surface PCs: the Surface Laptop 4.
The new laptop starts at $999 and will be available to purchase in the US, Canada, and Japan as of today, with shipping beginning on April 15. Microsoft says more markets will follow in the “coming weeks.” In the US, those who buy the Surface Laptop 4 through Microsoft or Best Buy before April 15 will get a pair of Surface Earbuds headphones bundled in at no extra cost.
There are still two models, one with a 13.5-inch touch display and one with a 15-inch touch display. Both have a pixel density of 201 pixels per inch and a taller-than-usual 3:2 aspect ratio that’s well suited for reading webpages and documents. The weight (about 2.8 lbs for the 13.5-inch model, about 3.4 lbs for the 15-inch model) and dimensions (12.1×8.8×0.57 inches for the 13.5-inch model, 13.4×9.6×0.58 inches for the 15-inch model) are unchanged.
Each SKU is made from aluminum, save for a version of the 13.5-inch model that coats the keyboard deck in Alcantara fabric. There are a variety of color options available, including a new “Ice Blue” finish. The device still has a glass trackpad and a backlit keyboard with 1.3 mm of key travel, which should remain comfortable.
In terms of connectivity, the Surface Laptop 4 doesn’t change Microsoft’s long-held aversion to Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports, so there’s still no option for connecting an external GPU. Instead, the selection is similar to that of the Surface Laptop 3: one USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, a USB-A port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect port.
Similarly, the front-facing webcam remains limited to a 720p resolution. There’s still no fingerprint reader, but the front-facing camera still supports Windows Hello sign-ins through facial recognition. Dual far-field microphones remain built-in, and there’s technically support for Dolby Atmos audio now, though we wouldn’t expect especially powerful surround sound from most laptop speakers. Both the 13.5- and 15-inch models support Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
With the Surface Laptop 4, Microsoft is offering AMD and Intel chips in both 13.5- and 15-inch models. The new catch is that the AMD-based models have Microsoft Surface Edition variants of last-gen Ryzen 4000 APUs based on the Zen 2 architecture, not the latest and greatest Ryzen 5000 series mobile processors.
Specifically, Microsoft says the 13.5-inch model uses a 6-core Ryzen 5 4680U with Radeon RX Graphics, while the 15-inch model uses an 8-core Ryzen 7 4980U with Radeon Graphics. The company will also sell a 13.5-inch model equipped with the latter APU, but only in commercial channels. Microsoft did not specify exactly how it has updated the chips but said its tweaks primarily focus on optimizing battery life for this form factor.
In general, Microsoft claims the chip upgrades will result in “up to 70 percent faster” performance than that of the Surface Laptop 3, with particularly improved multitasking capabilities. That will likely vary by model, though; we’ll have to put the device through its paces and compare it to competing devices before declaring how much that’s worth.
Here’s a breakdown of the available SKUs and their respective price points:
Aside from the Surface Laptop 4, Microsoft is also rolling out a handful of new productivity-focused accessories, including a variant of its noise-canceling Surface Headphones 2 optimized for Microsoft Teams; wireless and USB chat headsets; a small USB-C speaker aimed at conference calls; and a 1080p webcam. The headphones will be available to business and education channels today, while the other accessories will begin shipping in June.
Listing image by Microsoft
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