Microsoft Surface Laptop 5: Two-minute review
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is an average laptop… possibly as mid-range as it gets. While it’s technically functional and not awful, there’s very little going for this machine, especially at this price point. The market is simply too competitive for a mediocre option like this to be worth buying.
At first glance, the price isn’t too steep, with the cheapest configuration being $999 / £999 / AU$1,699. But that’s for an Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, which is pretty bad. For that amount, you could get the far superior MacBook Air M1 (2020) instead, or even the recent macbook air m2🇧🇷 If you want something decent – like an i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD – be prepared to spend around $1,700 / £1,700 / AU$2,700, which is fair for Ultrabook prices. At least it’s readily available in the US, UK and Australia.
While it’s refreshing to see the various colors available for the laptop, they all end up looking dull and washed out, with the exception of the gorgeous Sandstone. The design itself is also quite dated.
Then there are the performance issues. As it turns out, there are a lot of background processes going on while the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is running. Not only does this slow you down, whether you’re browsing the internet or working on a spreadsheet, it also has the added effect of crashing random programs if they take a certain amount of memory to run. We actually experienced this during one of the benchmarks we tried to run, the PC Mark 10.
Battery life is also not the claimed 18 hours during the October Surface event. In fact, the final scores show a battery life of half that, with productivity work draining the laptop after around 10 hours, while movie streaming offers just seven and a half hours. It loads quickly, but the Surface Connect port seriously needs to be ditched to make room for Thunderbolt 4.
On the plus side though, the keyboard and trackpad are very pleasant to use and the touchscreen is responsive and responsive too. We also welcome newly added features, as well as a real revamp of accessibility options, which are now easy to enable in all your apps.
It’s a shame that so much care has been taken to make these accessibility and productivity features work, because they work—and well. But when you put them on a laptop with so many issues, it’s hard to appreciate them.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5: Price and Availability
- How much does it cost? 13.5-inch from $999 / £999 / AU$1,699, 15-inch from $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$2,149
- When do you leave? is out now
- Where can you get it? In the US, UK and Australia
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 Key Specs
Here they are Microsoft Surface 5 laptop configuration sent to for review:
cpu: Intel Core i7-1255U
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
HIT: 16 GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense display, 2256 x 1504
Store: 512GB LPDDR5x
optical drive: None
doors: 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 Thunderbolt 4 port, 1 3.5 mm combo audio jack, 1 Surface Connect port
connectivity: Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Size: 8.8 x 12.1 x 0.57 inches (W x D x H)
While the starting price for a 13.5-inch version of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is $999 / £999 / AU$1,699, the configuration got is priced at $1,699 / £1,699 / AU$2,699. And honestly, it’s hard to justify that price when you consider how basic the laptop’s specs are.
Availability is excellent, however, with the laptop available not only in the US, but also in the UK and Australia – and in just about every configuration you could hope for.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5: Design
- Thin and light form factor
- outdated look
- Incorrect port selection
The Surface Laptop 5 is a very thin and light laptop weighing just 2.8 pounds. for the 13.5-inch model. And for those who stay in that size, there are four colors to choose from: Sandstone, Platinum (which features an Alcantara fabric), Matte Black and a new Sage color, which is the one we received. Sage’s version isn’t bad per se, but it’s a little disappointing due to its silent nature.
Port selection remains rather poor, with one USB Type-C, one USB Type-A, one audio jack and one Surface Connect port that should have gone by the wayside a long time ago. At least Microsoft kept the Type-A option, but the number of ports should be higher considering how much it costs.
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The bezels on the screen are a little thick, which is why it’s baffling that the webcam is still 720p. Said camera sometimes has surprisingly clear image quality due to the auto-correction features that fix any white balance issues, but in anything other than good lighting, the image looks a bit pixelated.
While the laptop and keyboard work as they should, there’s an oddly artificial feel to them; they’re reminiscent of older MacBook models from the mid-2000s. Also, the laptop’s form factor itself is outdated, which lends itself to a boring, drab look. Thankfully, the touchscreen itself is great, hitting just the right mix of sensitivity and responsiveness, although the panel itself looks rather dim as it’s not OLED.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5: Performance
- Sound quality is top notch
- Great new features that utilize the touchscreen
- Terrible performance all around
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5’s performance is a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s deal with the good first – namely the expanded accessibility options and productivity features.
The first is the Focus function, which blocks notifications for a certain amount of time so you can focus on your productivity. Another addition is Snap, which lets you divide your screen into multiple areas and then place windows in those sections for easier multitasking.
File explorer is another quality of life changer where you can open multiple computer file folder tabs in the same window. The Start menu itself is also home to some quality-of-life changes, including the ability to organize apps into folders, as well as scroll through recommended apps.
You can also enable a number of accessibility options in Windows 11. This has the benefit of working automatically in over 20,000 apps, saving you having to make changes to individual programs.
The sound quality is excellent too – in fact, this is one of the best non-gaming laptops we’ve heard of. The music is clear enough that you can hear all the instruments and voices on a single track, yet loud enough to blast the music from the rooftops. It’s everything you could want from a laptop sound system.
Finally, in terms of positives, the touchscreen is impressively responsive, especially when using a stylus. Too bad the stylus is not included right away, but it is an add-on.
see how the Microsoft Surface 5 laptop run on our benchmark test suite:
3DMark: Night Attack: 16,871; Fire Strike: 4763; Weather Spy: 1793
Cinebench R23 Multicore: 8499 points
GeekBench 5: 1674 (single core); 8709 (multi-core)
Battery life (web browsing): 9 hours and 50 minutes
Battery life ( film test): 7 hours and 38 minutes
Civilization VI (1080p, Ultra): 42 fps; (1080p, Low): 55 fps
However, both the bad and the ugly rear their ugly heads when you dig deeper into the Surface Laptop 5’s performance. While the benchmark test puts it right at the market average, using the laptop is a bit of an issue.
In the first screenshot below, you can see how many processes are running in the background, which is a whopping 43. This is after we’ve installed all of the current Windows 11 updates, as well as the benchmark programs.
Here is the second screenshot which shows how many programs are running in the background which is an unbelievable 57. And that was right after we completely wiped the PC, without any updates or program installations.
As you can imagine, all of this happening in the background has a profound effect on how the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 runs. We couldn’t run the PC Mark 10 at all, for example. No matter how many times we uninstalled, reinstalled and reset the laptop, it instantly crashed the moment we tried to do anything. And at one point, it even crashed Geekbench.
Keep in mind that this is a Core i7 laptop with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. And it’s disconcerting, because Google Chrome and other browsers ran without crashing, even displaying tabs full of YouTube videos. However, we did notice some slowdown when performing more demanding productivity tasks.
For the price, these performance issues are absolutely unacceptable.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5: Battery Life
- Battery life isn’t bad, but it’s not great.
- Loads decently fast
Microsoft claims “up to 18 hours” of battery life for the Surface Laptop 5, but in our tests we didn’t get any of that. When browsing the web, the laptop lasted nearly 10 hours, while our movie test yielded a battery life of seven hours and 38 minutes. At least it loads decently fast.
Still, the Surface Laptop 5 should last you a full day’s work, unless you plan on streaming a movie during your lunch break. This is an acceptable result, albeit a bit disappointing, considering there’s no power-draining OLED or HDR display.
Should you buy a Microsoft Surface Laptop 5?
Don’t buy if…
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 Bulletin
|Value||It simply isn’t worth the asking price, considering all of its flaws.||2/5|
|Project||An outdated design and faded colors, but the keyboard, touchpad, and touchscreen are solid.||3/5|
|acting||While it adds a host of new features and accessibility options, major performance issues hold it back.||3/5|
|battery life||Battery life that will get you through a full workday and charges quickly.||3.5/5|
|Total||Line 4 – Cell 1||3/5|
- First review in November 2022
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