The long-running Microsoft vs. Apple showdown has shifted from its software roots to a hardware battlefield where MacBooks knuckles it out against Surface laptops. Apple has gotten the all-time of Microsoft over the past few years, only each new Surface Laptop release gets closer to dethroning the MacBook crown. At least, it felt that style until this year when the Cupertino behemothic launched its own in-house M1 processors that give the latest
blink-and-you-miss-it performance and epic battery life.
Microsoft countered with the
Surface Laptop 4, a pocket-sized upgrade from the Surface Laptop three that brings 11th Gen Intel or AMD 4000 series CPUs to the mix for boosted speeds and prolonged runtimes. The chip upgrade alone fixes most of our issues with the past model and combines with outstanding hardware to give the new MacBook Air a serious run for its money.
For other face-offs, check out our HP Envy x360 vs. Spectre x360, iPad Air (2020) vs. iPad Pro (2021), Acer Nitro five vs. Asus TUF Dash F15 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon vs MacBook Pro.
- All-time educatee laptops for college
- Laptops with the longest battery life
And so so, operating system preferences aside, which of these
best xiii-inch laptops, the Surface Laptop iv or MacBook Pro, should you purchase? We’ll go round-by-round beneath to aid you make up one’s mind.
MacBook Air vs. Surface Laptop iv: Specs compared
|MacBook Air||Microsoft Surface Laptop 4|
|Cost||$999 (starting); $1,649 (as reviewed)||$999 (starting); $i,699 (reviewed at)|
|Display||13.three-inch, 2560 ten 1660-pixel||xiii.5-inch IPS 2256 x 1504 touchscreen|
|CPU||M1||Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU|
|GPU||M1||Intel Iris Xe|
|RAM||8GB, 16GB||8GB, 16GB, 32GB|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Ports||two Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack||USB 3.1 Type-A, USB iii.1 Blazon-C, audio jack, Surface Connect|
|Weight||2.8 pounds||2.viii pounds|
|Size||12 x 8.four x 0.half-dozen inches||12.one x 8.8 x 0.6 inches|
Cost and value
I’m afraid y’all won’t be saving any money past going with either of these laptops. The Surface Laptop 4 starts at a reasonable $999 when configured with an AMD Ryzen 4680U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Only really, you’ll want to spend $i,199 to upgrade to 16GB of RAM.
Available in Platinum, Sandstone, Ice Blue and Matte Black is a config with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for $1,299. For $1,499, y’all can get the same processor, only double the RAM to 16GB. For the nigh power, you tin can become our review unit with a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD costs $1,699.
The MacBook Air costs most as much. For $999, you tin buy the base model with an M1 SoC, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Look at the fine print and you lot’ll detect this version has a seven-core GPU.
For $1,249, you go the 8-core GPU model with an M1 SoC, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Upgrades cost $200 for 16GB of RAM and another $200 for 1TB of storage. Our review unit, with an viii-core M1 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, goes for $one,649.
MacBook Air vs. Surface Laptop four: Design
Sleek and sophisticated but showing their age, the MacBook Air and Surface Laptop 4 are portable and sturdy ultra-thin laptops that could use some updates.
If yous’ve seen a MacBook Air in the past few years, so you know how the newest model looks. Information technology has the same slim wedge-shaped design as earlier, bachelor in traditional Gold, Space Greyness and Argent color options. Information technology remains a remarkably slim and lightweight laptop and the unibody aluminum chassis was built with precision adroitness. The notch on the front edge is a prissy touch and the top-firing speakers are preferred to downwards-firing ones.
However, the MacBook Air could utilise a refreshed pattern with thinner display bezels, and I wouldn’t mind a few more colour options (leaks advise these will go far before long). As information technology stands, the MacBook Air, at 12 x 8.4 x 0.vi inches and 2.viii pounds, is about the same size as the Surface Laptop 4 (12.1 ten eight.8 x 0.6 inches and 2.eight pounds) despite having a smaller screen.
The Surface Laptop 4 is very much in the aforementioned boat. It has a premium design with a uncomplicated, understated chassis made of solid aluminum. What Microsoft does improve than Apple is offering standout colors, similar the Ice Blue stop on our review unit of measurement or the striking Sandstone shade. Some of these come with a soft-touch Alcantara deck, adding some flair to an otherwise straightforward blueprint.
Yes, the Surface Laptop four as well needs thinner bezels, but between its unique colors, Alcantara fabric deck, and the user-friendly IR camera higher up the screen, information technology gets the win over the Air.
Surface Laptop 4
MacBook Air vs. Surface Laptop 4: Ports
It’south never fun picking the best of 2 evils. Sadly, I have no choice with these two.
The MacBook Air relies entirely on Thunderbolt 3
ports, with two on the left side for charging or transferring data. The right edge hosts only a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Conversely, the Surface Laptop 4 doesn’t have whatever Thunderbolt ports. Instead, in that location is a USB three.1 Blazon-C input on the left next to a handy USB
and a headphone jack. On the right side is a magnetic Surface Connect port for docking and charging.
MacBook Air vs. Surface Laptop 4: Display
If yous tin’t go correct with the ports, y’all can’t go incorrect with the
displays. They are both gorgeous, providing a bright and vivid image whether you’re watching movies, editing photos or simply browsing the web.
Before nosotros even talk most the quality of the screens, the Surface Laptop 4 scores a win for having a 13.5-inch 2256 ten 1504-pixel IPS touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Taller, yet narrower than a traditional sixteen:nine panel, the shape of the Surface’s screen is fantabulous for productivity, assuasive y’all to see more vertical content on the folio. The MacBook Air’south 13.three-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina brandish isn’t merely smaller, but information technology sticks with the crumbling 16:9 aspect ratio.
With that out of the fashion, the MacBook Air regains some ground by covering 81% of the DCI-P3color gamut
whereas the Surface Laptop iv reached only 77%. Both fell curt of the 84% category average.
Peaking at 366 nits of
brightness, the MacBook Air narrowly outshone the Surface Laptop iv (349 nits) although, one time over again, both panels barbarous brusque of the 389 nits average.
Interestingly, colors looked more saturated on the Surface Laptop 4 when I viewed these ii screens side-by-side. Merely that’southward because the white residual is warm or neutral whereas the MacBook Air has a well-baked, sheet-of-paper tone.
What gives the Surface Laptop 4 an edge over the MacBook Air is the touch-enabled screen. Apple continues to refuse to add touchscreens to its laptops at the detriment of creatives who like to use a stylus to draw or have notes. The touchscreen on the Surface Laptop 4 is responsive and comes with pen support for greater precision.
Surface Laptop four
MacBook Air vs. Surface Laptop 4: Keyboard and touchpad
For Apple fans, the good news is that the Butterfly keyboard is gone for good, replaced by a traditional Chiclet-style keyboard on the latest MacBook Air model. The bad news is that the Surface Laptop 4 remains more comfortable to type on.
While the MacBook Air’southward keys have a more tactile click, they feel slightly stiffer than those on the Surface. Fundamental travel is about equal — in a higher place average on both for this course — merely the keys on the MacBook Air require more forcefulness to actuate. What makes the Surface Laptop 4’s keys stand up out is their bouncy response, which springs your fingers from one letter to the next.
On the Surface Laptop iv, I typed at 121 words per infinitesimal with an accurateness of 95% on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, outpacing my usual 109-wpm boilerplate without making any boosted errors. Using the MacBook Air, I hit 113 words per minute with a 96% accurateness.
The 4.7 10 three.2-inch touchpad on the MacBook Air is comically large for a laptop this size. It has a smooth glass surface and responds apace to swipes and gestures. I’ll put this down to personal preference simply I’chiliad not a fan of the Force Touch trackpad and its faux presses. The iv.5 ten iii-inch touchpad on the Surface Laptop isn’t as big merely it feels only every bit silky and acts apace to
Windows ten gestures, similar a two-finger swipe to zoom.
Surface Laptop 4
MacBook Air vs. Surface Laptop iv: Functioning
The M1 changes everything. It gives the MacBook Air hope in a face-off it would unremarkably lose with Intel chips, especially the ultra-depression-ability processors Apple opted for in the past.
As it stands, the
is the fastest fleck for ultra-portable laptops on the market. At least, that is the case in almost of our tests. In real-world use, both the Surface Laptop 4 and MacBook Air had more than enough oomph to power 20 Google Chrome tabs, four of which streamed 1080p videos while another played YouTube Music. Those uncomplicated day-to-day tasks volition feel equally quick regardless of which laptop yous choose. Information technology’s the more demanding tasks where the MacBook Air pulls ahead.
With a score of four,829 on the Geekbench 5.iv
benchmark, the Surface Laptop, equipped with an
Intel Cadre i7-1185G7 CPU
and 16GB of
RAM, was walloped (equally about are) by the MacBook Air (seven,575, M1). On a good notation, the Surface did beat the category average (iv,368).
Needing 17 minutes and 1 second to catechumen a 4K video to 1080p resolution using the Handbrake app, the Surface Laptop four once again fell victim to the M1 in the MacBook Air which needed only 9 minutes and 15 seconds.
512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD
in the Surface Laptop 4 is faster than the drives we’ve tested in older Surface products, having duplicated 25GB of multimedia files at a rate of 562.7 megabytes per 2nd. Still, it gets nowhere nigh the MacBook Air (512GB SSD) which hitting a blistering 2,897.viii MBps.
Both laptops rely on
integrated graphics; the M1 fleck and Intel’s
were most even in the Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm benchmark. The MacBook Air ran the game at a polish 37 fps at 1440 x 900-resolution with the graphics set up to Medium whereas the Surface Laptop 4 hitting xxx fps at 1080p
MacBook Air vs. Surface Laptop four: Battery life
You volition hands get a full twenty-four hours of juice out of either of these laptops, but the MacBook Air dominated in our
with a staggering runtime of 14 hours and 41 minutes. Information technology almost out-endured the Surface Laptop iv past four hours despite Microsoft clocking in a respectable x hours and 46 minutes. Both notebooks top the 10:22 average.
Overall winner: MacBook Air
Exclude performance and bombardment life and the Microsoft Surface Laptop iv eeks out a win with a more comfortable keyboard and a few design advantages (IR camera, diverse color options). Distressing Microsoft, nosotros tin can’t leave those two crucial categories out of our scoring. With the M1 chip, the MacBook Air gains huge points in the performance and battery life sections, enough to give information technology a narrow win over the Surface Laptop 4.
|MacBook Air||Microsoft Surface Laptop 4|
|Ports (ten)||half dozen||six|
|Battery Life (20)||nineteen||16|
The Surface is no speed slouch but it can’t keep pace with the M1 processors, and the SSD in the MacBook is night-and-mean solar day faster. Factor in virtually 4 extra hours of battery life and the big margins in those categories overcome any advantages the Surface Laptop four scored with its design and keyboard. That beingness said, if you’re an artist or prefer to take notes past mitt, the Surface Laptop 4 comes with a touchscreen with stylus back up, unlike the MacBook Air.
If you’re 1 of the few Os-agnostic customers on the marketplace for a new premium thirteen-inch laptop, you can’t go incorrect with either of these notebooks. But given its record-setting operation and battery life, the MacBook Air is a better option for most people.