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Product Listing

Microsoft Surface Laptop: Is this one of the best Windows notebooks?

By Kenny Yeo - 1 May 2018

Final Thoughts & Questions

Which model should I get?

Let's begin by looking at how much each configuration costs:

Microsoft Surface Laptop SKUs
Processor Memory Graphics Storage Price
Intel Core i5-7200U 4GB Intel HD Graphics 620 128GB S$1,488
Intel Core i5-7200U 8GB Intel HD Graphics 620 256GB S$1,788
Intel Core i7-7660U 8GB Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 256GB S$2,288
Intel Core i7-7660U 16GB Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 512GB S$3,188
Intel Core i7-7660U 16GB Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 1TB S$3,888

Questions like these really depend on your personal usage patterns and budget. However, if we had to pick, we would probably pick the model that we tested - the Core i5 one with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. At S$1,788, this particular configuration offers the best value. Sure, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is a little lean, but it’s something that we think most people can get by with.

The next model in line sees the processor bumped up to a Core i7 but memory and storage stay the same. We don’t feel that the Core i7 processor is a necessity at all since the performance increase is not really valuable especially if you are just going to use the notebook for surfing the web, answering emails, and typing documents and preparing spreadsheets.

If you have deeper pockets, definitely go for the Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. The extra memory will give a greater boost in usability especially if you are a power user who runs multiple applications and has lots of browser tabs opened. But bear in mind, however, that this configuration is S$3,188 - nearly 80% more than the earlier configuration we recommended.

 

So is this one of the best Windows notebooks?

Despite its shortcomings, the Surface Laptop is a solid notebook by Microsoft.

There’s a couple of glaring issues with the Surface Laptop. Most readers would probably be concerned that it’s powered by slightly older processors. That’s a valid concern, but as our benchmarks show, there isn’t much performance or efficiency gains to be had from the newer 8th generation processors. So it’s really a matter of your own perception. Understandably, most buyers would want the latest and greatest and that’s fine, but the Surface Laptop’s performance and battery life aren’t really wanting in any aspect.

Another pain point is Windows 10 S. It severely restricts what programs you can run the notebook, which is odd because the Surface Laptop isn’t a low-power or low-performance device. The good news is that upgrading from Windows 10 S to 10 Pro is a cinch and free (for now), but Microsoft has yet to specify just how long this offer will last. After this offer expires, users will need to pay US$49 to upgrade, which isn’t a small sum of money.

And although the Surface Laptop comes in five configurations, the configurations are a little restrictive because if you want 16GB of RAM, you can only get it with a Core i7 processor.  If you want more than 256GB of storage, you will also have to get it with a Core i7 processor.

Having said these, there’s a lot to like about the Surface Laptop. To begin, its design is nice and clean. It’s also a bit thick and heavy, but the upside is that it has a full-size USB port and its battery life is really good. Performance is decent and it’s definitely fast enough for day to day usage scenarios. The keyboard and trackpad are really nice too.

Overall, the gripes aside, the Surface Laptop is an outstanding laptop from Microsoft, especially when you remember that this is the first conventional laptop that the company has ever made. So to answer the question, yes, despite its flaws, this is one of the best Windows notebook available right now.

 

What other notebooks should I consider?

The Surface Pro, also by Microsoft, is a more flexible and pricier alternative to the Surface Laptop.

The HP Spectre is an excellent alternative. It looks super sexy and it is super thin and light too. It’s also equipped with the latest 8th generation Core processor. Its biggest problem, however, is that its battery life is woefully short.

Dell’s new XPS 13 looks like it would be a good alternative too. We haven’t had the chance to test it yet but it sounds like a tantalizing option, at least on paper.

And of course, there’s Microsoft’s own Surface Pro tablet. They have very comparable performance and features, but one’s a traditional notebook while the other is a detachable. If you want to find out more about how these two match up, check out our handy comparison guide here.

8.0
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 7.5
  • Mobility 9
The Good
Stylish looks
Unique Alcantara lining
Decent performance
Excellent battery life
Great keyboard and trackpad
Full-size USB port
The Bad
A little chunky and heavy
No Thunderbolt 3
No full-size SD card reader
7th generation Core processors
Can be pricey
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