Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (13.5-inch) Review: Bloatware-free and future-proof for everyday work

The new Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 comes in two display sizes of 13.5 inches and 15 inches to suit your needs. The 13.5-inch is available in platinum Alcantara leather finish as well as the metallic matte black.

On the other hand, the 15-inch version comes only in metallic finishes of platinum and matte black. For this review, we tested the matte black 13.5-inch version.

PRICE: From $1,499, available in Microsoft Store, Lazada and Shopee
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-1135G7
GRAPHIC: Intel Xe Graphics
DISPLAY: 13.5-inch PixelSense, (2,256 x 1,504 pixels)
RAM: Up to 32GB
STORAGE: Up to 1TB solid-state drive
WEIGHT: 1.29kg

Regardless of the variants, the Surface Laptop 4 has not changed much from its predecessor. It still features the same clean and minimalistic design.

It is as sleek and stealthy as it gets. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

And I like all-black stealthy looks inside out. Apart from the subtle reflective Microsoft logo on the top lid and the keycap legends, this laptop is thoroughly black including the trackpad. It looks really sleek, in my opinion.

This matte black version reminds me of Apple’s 2006 all-black MacBook, but much thinner and lighter of course. It weighs a mere 1.29kg and measures only 14.5mm thick. Yet, the build feels strong and sturdy.

Even the Microsoft logo is really subtle. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Lift up the lid, the 13.5-inch touchscreen display welcomes you. But its bezels are rather thick compared to some of its competitors.

You will notice the large trackpad below the keyboard. Considering the amount of space still available on both sides the trackpad, I wish Microsoft makes the touchpad even bigger.

I think there is space for the trackpad to “expand”. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

+ Thin and sleek
+ Sturdy build
+ Good everyday performance
+ Nice keyboard and trackpad
+ No bloatware

– Lack of ports
– No Thunderbolt support
– Thick bezels
– Dim display

That said, the trackpad works smoothly and you can easily drag your items across the display. Not to mention, the keyboard is great to type on with nice tactile feedback.

On the downside, the laptop does not come with a lot of ports and Thunderbolt is not supported. You can only find one USB-C port, one USB 3.0 port and a 3.5mm audio jack on its left side. The right side only houses the Surface connector for charging.

This laptop has limited ports with only a USB-C, USB-A and 3.5mm audio jack on the left side. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

In addition, the display looks a tad dim. You will struggle to make out the display if you are doing some hurried changes to your presentation slides while walking out of the MRT station into the hot sun.

But on the bright side, I like that the Surface Laptop 4 does not come with any bloatware such as third-party antivirus app and etc. Something you find common in many laptop makers.

Plus, being a Surface product, it is also eligible for free upgrade to Windows 11 launching later this year or early next year. Thus, it is also future-proof.

The review unit comes with the 11th-generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor. But you can also choose an Intel i7-1185G7 processor or an AMD Ryzen 5 4680U processor.

In truth, this laptop is not going to win any speed competition. In the PCMark 10 benchmark test, the Surface Laptop 4 scored 4,540. That’s only better than 41 per cent of all results submitted and below the average score of 4,611 for office laptops.

But in terms of everyday work usage, the Surface Laptop 4 is more than capable of helping you to finish your tasks on time. I opened 12 tabs in Chrome browser and experienced no slow-downs in speed.

However, if you are looking to play games, you might want to get a proper gaming laptop. The graphics-intensive game Cyberpunk 2077 could start but always quit to desktop when a save game is loaded.

While the Surface Laptop 4 can be used as your productivity laptop, you can only play games like Football Manager 2020 on it. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

But when I play the less graphics-intensive games like Football Manager 2020, it can manage a pretty good 60 frames per second.

In terms of battery performance, the Surface Laptop 4 can be considered to be in the mid-range mark.

In our usual video-loop battery test whereby we loop a video with the display on full brightness, this laptop lasted 7 hours 7 minutes.

For comparison, the more-affordable Huawei MateBook 14 lasted 7 hours 15 minutes in the same battery test while the Aftershock Lunar 15 Max still holds the battery test record with its 11 hours 22 minutes’ timing.

If you are looking for a bloatware-free, future-proof and lightweight compact laptop for your everyday work, Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a good choice.

DESIGN: 9/10

Trevor Tan

Started out with dreams to become a street photographer, Trevor Tan somehow became a tech journalist with over 16 years of consumer tech experience. Maybe he plays too much video games and buys too many new gadgets.
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