Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review: Portability in a sleek package

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 ticks all the boxes for a nice laptop: It’s smart looking, it’s lightweight and it’s nicely spec’ed (available in both Intel and AMD CPU configurations and 13.5 and 15-inch variants). 

The review model I was provided was powered by a custom “Microsoft Surface edition” eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 [running at 2Ghz], 16Gb of DDR 4 memory, 512Gb SSD storage, and a 15-inch screen (2496 x 1664 with a 3:2 aspect ratio) and after using it for a bit, I reckon it’s perfect for creative types and productivity.  

So that’s what I used it for, mainly: I wrote this review on it, I tweaked Word documents on it, I browsed websites on it, and I could see it as the ideal replacement for a tired work laptop that needs replacing with something that looks classy and performs better than your current one.

The moment I took the Surface Laptop 4 out of its box I could see this was a premium product, with a smart black metal chassis punctuated by a silver Windows logo smack bang in the middle of the lid. It’ll set you back $NZ1749 for the13.5-inch model and $NZ2499 for the 15-inch model, that I reviewed.

The Surface Laptop 4 just looks classy, and tipping the scales at 1.3kg, it won’t add much weight to your backpack or satchel if you e-scoot or cycle to the office or university or wherever. You can hoist it with one hand without breaking a sweat.

It’s incredibly thin, too: amazingly thin, actually, with great build quality. It felt rigid and sturdy with no creaks or flexing. 

That thinness does come with a downside, though, depending on your view of how much connectivity a laptop should have. The Surface Laptop 4 doesn’t have a lot of ports, with the left-hand side housing USB Type A and USB Type C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack while the right hand side has the proprietary charge portt – and that’s it. If you want ports to connect more things, you’ll need to get a dongle or something but for most people it should do the job.

It has a 10-point multi touch PixelSense screen that looks sharp, displaying text and documents clearly and crisply, although with a 3:2 aspect ratio, the bezels were a little thick for my liking .  

Talking of text and documents that brings me to the keyboard which is extremely comfortable to type on. As someone who’s been able to touch type for almost 30 years, I found the keyboard on the Surface Laptop 4 just a dream to use, with nice travel from the keys. It really does make for a pleasant typing experience.  

The nice sized touch pad is super sensitive, too, which means it’ll pick up the most minute of digit movements as you slide your fingers across its surface.   

Microsoft claims the Surface Laptop 4 has a battery life of up to 17.5 hours and while it has great battery life, I suggest it was more like 12 to 13 hours of standard use, which is still fantastic and means you won’t need to live near a power point when you’re working on that important document.

Performance-wise, I’ve never used a laptop with a Ryzen CPU but the Surface Laptop 4 seemed zippy enough, handling everything I threw at it: Word processoring, video streaming, web browsering and the like, and while it’s not a gaming machine, it did manage to run easy games like the excellent-but-old BladeRunner (off GOG.com). Have no illusions, though, this isn’t a gaming laptop so don’t load up Cyberpunk 2077 or Call of Duty and expect it to run like a PC with a discrete graphics card because it won’t. This isn’t a gaming machine.

In an attempt to make myself feel like a real tech reviewer, I benchmarked the Laptop 4 with Cinebench and Geekbench 5, returning scores of 4862, and 533 (single core) and 4138 (multi-core) respectively but if I’m being honest, I really don’t know what those numbers mean.  

After using the Surface Laptop 4 for a few weeks, I’m sold on its credentials as a solid, productivity device that would be just the ticket for the home office (or office, office) or a creative type who wants something light and portable to finish writing their first novella on.  

Many thanks to Acumen Republic PR in New Zealand for providing the review unit.