Almost a year and a half since launching the Surface Laptop 3, Microsoft is finally ready with a follow-up. The Surface Laptop 4 continues the line's tradition of being, well, kind of basic. It's just a normal laptop with a touchscreen — there's none of the Surface lineup's defining convertible features. And unfortunately, there aren't any major design differences this year either.
Both the 13.5- and 15-inch models look exactly the same as the last generation. But hey, at least you've got new 11th-gen Intel chips to look forward to, as well as the introduction of AMD Ryzen processors on the 13.5-inch line. For some reason, though, Microsoft stuck with AMD's older Zen 2 chips, rather than the beefier Zen 3 models.
For the Intel-equipped Surface Laptop 4 models, you can expect a 70 percent performance bump, plus up to 19 hours of battery life. In some instances, you may even see speeds that are twice as fast as the Laptop 3, a testament to how far Intel has come with its latest mobile processors. Beyond those upgrades, though, everything else is the same: a 201-ppi PixelSense touchscreen display, a 720p Windows Hello webcam, and USB-C and USB Type-A ports. There's still no Thunderbolt connectivity, something that would allow it to connect to fast external hard drives and external GPUs. (I'd wager it would be too complicated to include now that both Laptop models are offered with AMD chips, which don't natively support Thunderbolt.)
None of this is too surprising. Since the original Surface Laptop, Microsoft has focused on delivering a simple notebook that would appease most consumers. Last year's Surface Laptop Go was an intriguing experiment with delivering a smaller and cheaper alternative, but beyond that Microsoft hasn't taken many risks with this line. It's the sort of no-fuss notebook I can recommend to anyone, but that also makes it a boring choice for people interested in cutting-edge hardware. Compared to the latest Dell XPS 13 and most other ultraportables, the Surface Laptop 4 just seems dull.
The Surface Laptop 4 will ship in the US, Canada and Japan on April 15th, starting at $999. That'll get you a 13.5-inch model with a Ryzen 5 CPU with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. At the hig end, you can snag Core i7 models with 32GB of RAM and a terabyte of storage for $2,299 (13.5-inch) or $2,399 (15-inch). As a bonus, Microsoft is bundling the Surface Earbuds with the notebook if you buy it from the company's site or BestBuy.com before April 15th.