Microsoft Intel Surface Laptop 5

Microsoft’s Intel-Based Surface Laptop 5 Gets Worse Battery Life Than AMD’s Laptop 4

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The big news when Microsoft recently refreshed its Surface Laptop 5 was that the company had ditched the AMD-based option (which we last saw in the Surface Laptop 4), going all-in on Intel’s 12th Gen silicon (save for the Surface Pro 9, which is available in both Intel- and Arm-based models). The shift to Intel only on the Surface Laptop 5 also brings Thunderbolt 4/ USB 4 to the laptop’s sole USB-C port for the first time, which means you can now connect the laptop up to two 4K displays at up to 60 Hz (provided you bring your own dock).

But aside from a new sage (light green) color in the smaller 13.5-inch model, the Surface Laptop 5 is effectively the same laptop on the outside as the Surface Laptop 4. Microsoft says the dimensions, weight and 1.3mm key travel on the keyboard are the same – yes, the keyboard is still excellent. You even still get a 720p webcam which, while not awful for what it is, kind of feels insulting for a laptop that starts at $1,299 here in late 2022. In some ways, much of that is fine because the Surface Laptop 4 was an excellent laptop, and our review unit of the Surface Laptop 5 also looks and feels excellent.

Surface Laptop 5 Specs (as Tested)

Surface Laptop 5 Surface Laptop 4
CPU Intel Core i7-1255U AMD Ryzen 7 4980U (Microsoft Surface Edition)
Graphics Intel Iris Xe AMD Radeon Vega graphics (Integrated)
Memory 16GB LPDDR5x 16GB LPDDR4-4266
Display 15-inch, 2496 x 1664 touchscreen 15-inch, 2496 x 1664 touchscreen
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 201 and Bluetooth 5.2 Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 200 and Bluetooth 5
Ports Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 Type-C, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, Microsoft Surface Connect port USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, Microsoft Surface Connect port
Camera 720p IR 720p IR
Battery 47.4 WHr 47.4 WHr
Power Adapter 65 W 65 W
Operating System Windows 11 Home Windows 10 Home
Dimensions(WxDxH) 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.58 inches / 339.5 x 244 x 14.7 mm 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.58 inches / 339.5 x 244 x 14.7 mm
Weight 3.4 pounds, 1.54 kg 3.4 pounds, 1.54 kg
Price (as configured) $1,799.99 $1,699.99

We haven’t yet had a chance to put our review unit through our usual tests yet, because it arrived less than a day before launch. But our sibling site Tom’s Guide did manage to get most of their usual testing done on its Surface Laptop 5, and one thing stands out: battery life. When we tested the AMD-powered Surface Laptop 4 in the spring of 2021(running a Ryzen 7 4980U CPU), it delivered an excellent 12 hours and 4 minutes of unplugged run time in our battery test, which involves web browsing, video streaming and OpenGL tests with the display set at 150 nits and the laptop connected to Wi-Fi.

The Surface Laptop 5 that Tom’s Guide tested, with an Intel Core i7-1255U (using the same battery test as we use), lasted 9 hours and 50 minutes on the same test. So the last-gen AMD-powered Surface Laptop 4 lasted 2 hours and 14 minutes longer than the Intel-powered Surface Laptop 5. Now, to be fair to Intel (and Microsoft), Tom’s Guide only had time to test their laptop’s battery life once, rather than the three-run average that usually gets reported. We are awaiting more battery tests later this week, and will test our own (with a slightly higher-end Core i7-1265U) to be sure about the new model’s battery life number. But after one round of testing, it seems like Microsoft made a battery life sacrifice with the Surface Laptop 5 when it ditched AMD for new Intel silicon, and the Surface Laptop 4 had a 4000-series AMD laptop, which was dated at the time and now two generations old.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

All that said, we don’t want to discount the performance Intel’s i7-1255U offers in the Surface Laptop 5. Its Cinebench 5.4 scores of 1,674 (single core) and 8,709 (multi-core) are significantly higher than the AMD-powered Surface Laptop 4 (1,173 single, 6748 multi). But in the Handbrake test, which transcodes a 4K test video to 1080p, the older, AMD-powered Surface Pro 4 finished in 8 minutes and 21 seconds. The brand-new Intel-powered Surface Laptop 5 finished the same test with an average time of 8:46 across three runs. That’s not a huge difference, but it’s another test where the new model can’t beat the old one.

Again, we have to spend some more time testing to solidify the battery life number, as well as other benchmarks for the Surface Laptop 5. We’ll be working on a full review this week where we will more thoroughly evaluate the laptop. But as much as we like the shell, keyboard and screen of the Surface Laptop 5, it’s not looking like a stellar update over the Surface Laptop 4. That’s especially true when you consider the newer model sells for $1,799 with the same RAM (16GB) and storage (512GB) as our Surface Laptop 4 did at launch ($1,699). That looks even worse today, when Microsoft itself is selling the same configuration of the Surface Laptop 4 for $1,399 (opens in new tab).

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