Hands-on review of the Surface Laptop 7: More than meets the eye

Hands-on review of the Surface Laptop 7: More than meets the eye

Microsoft is making a big deal out of this upgrade with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7, which starts at $999 and ships with a Qualcomm CPU.

This is because the Surface Laptop 7—or Surface Laptop 7th Generation, as Microsoft refers to it—has an internal Snapdragon X Plus or Snapdragon X Elite chip. These new Qualcomm chips meet the requirements to be the first of Microsoft’s new Copilot+ PCs, Windows 11 computers with NPUs that can enable advanced AI features in Windows. These processors are equipped with Neural Processing Units (NPUs).

This is the most interesting Surface Pro in a long time because of those two innovations, which may provide noticeable performance gains over previous iterations like the Surface Pro 9 without raising the price.

In addition, the Surface Pro 11 will be the first Surface Pro Copilot+ PC, meaning that starting in 2024, it will enable every sophisticated Copilot+ feature that Microsoft packs into Windows 11. The NPU included in the Snapdragon X Plus or Snapdragon X Elite CPUs, which power the Surface Pro 11, helps allow these functions.

These new chips are expected to provide long-lasting performance and support for AI on-device, and we can not wait to test them out in a comprehensive review. I have had a chance to use the Microsoft Surface Pro 11, and while we have not had time to do so yet, I can tell you that it looks the best Microsoft has ever made.

SPECIFICATION

Surface Laptop 7 (13-inch)Surface Laptop 7 (15-inch)
Starting Price$999$1,299
CPUSnapdragon X Plus or EliteSnapdragon X Elite
RAM16GB, 32GB, 64GB16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Display13.8 inch (2304 x 1536) 120Hz touchscreen15 inch LCD (2496 x 1664) 120Hz touchscreen
GraphicsQualcomm AdrenoQualcomm Adreno
Ports2x USB-C/USB 4, 1x USB-A, 1x headphone jack2x USB-C/USB 4, 1x USB-A, 1x headphone jack
WirelessWi-Fi 7Wi-Fi 7
Size11.85 x 8.67 x 0.69 inches12.96 x 9.41 x 0.72 inches
Weight2.96 pounds3.67 pounds

PRICE & RELEASE DATE

Microsoft’s website is currently accepting preorders for the Surface Laptop 7, with prices starting at $999 for the 13-inch variant and $1,299 for the 15-inch model.

The entry-level $999 model, officially known as the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7th Generation, has a 13.8-inch (2304 x 1536) 120Hz touchscreen, a Snapdragon X Plus processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. To get an X Plus Elite chip or more RAM and storage, you can spend more.

For a higher starting price of $1,299, you can purchase a 15-inch model with a larger screen, a more powerful Snapdragon X Elite CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Upgrading the RAM and storage will cost you extra money; you can get up to 64MB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage.

All of the models are scheduled to hit shop shelves on June 18 and come in Platinum and Black, with a few versions also available in Sapphire and Dune (gold).

DESIGN

Disappointingly, the new Surface Laptop 7 bears a striking resemblance to its predecessors. This still looks and feels like a Surface laptop, even though the bezels appear somewhat narrower than on previous models and there have been some slight weight and size adjustments.

Please understand that this is a highly functioning laptop that is still as comfortable to type on as the Surface Laptop 5 that I previously evaluated. The Surface Laptop 7 actually shares almost all of its appearance and feel with the previous generations, including the large 3:2 aspect ratio screen and aluminum shell that resembles a MacBook.

And from my experience, the excellent features of the Surface Laptop design remain applicable here. The touchscreen has a decent aspect ratio and feels responsive, making it easy to work with documents and large blocks of text. The keyboard is comfortable and gratifying to type on.

Although the haptic touchpad on this Surface Laptop model is new, it does not feel any more accurate or pleasurable to use than the trackpads on previous generations in my hands-on testing.

Alcantara fabric lining appears to be one important element that is absent. The keyboard deck of some Surface Laptop models from previous iterations had soft fabric rather than cold, metal, but the Surface Laptop 7 does not appear to have that small touch of luxury.

DISPLAY

The Surface Laptop 7 from Microsoft comes with the same two-screen options as previous generations.

The larger variant includes a 15-inch (2496 x 1664 pixels) PIxelSense touchscreen, while the entry-level model has a 13.8-inch (2304 x 1536 pixels) 120Hz touchscreen. Both versions are touted as having a peak brightness of 600 nits and supporting HDR, yet in our testing, the previous models tend to peak at 400 nits.

When I looked at the Surface Laptop 7 in person, I had no problem seeing details on the screen, but I also did not notice any particularly striking colors or images. Although the screen is completely functional, I found myself wishing I was gazing at Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 11’s OLED display throughout my hands-on experience.

PERFORMANCE

Yes, the much-anticipated Wi-Fi 7 upgrade for your Surface Laptop is finally here, but let us face it: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Plus and Elite chips steal the show here, and the company promises great things about how quick and durable they will make your Surface Laptop 7.

I am afraid I can not vouch for how well these new laptops live up to the hype because we have not had a chance to test one in our performance testing lab yet. However, demos running on Surface Laptop 7 devices during my hands-on time showed 15-inch machines with Snapdragon X Elite CPUs surpassing the 15-inch MacBook Air M3 in video editing tasks, indicating that Qualcomm and Microsoft are hoping this laptop will compete with the best.

In addition, I discovered that the Surface Laptop 7, which has a new Snapdragon X Elite CPU, seems fast enough for daily use during my hands-on experience. To find out how these laptops stack up against the competition, we will have to test them in our lab.

CONCLUSION

Microsoft is hoping that Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X CPUs can boost the Surface Laptop series.

Although the business will not be redesigning its workhorse laptop this year, I would love to see them take on a more daring project. The Surface Laptop is, after all, designed to be a straightforward, all-purpose portable computer for programmers, writers, and anyone else who wants to get things done. Even while upgrading to Wi-Fi 7 makes these laptops more future-proof, the big screen and comfortable keyboard have always supported that aim. Now, the addition of Snapdragon chips inside could supercharge these laptops’ potential.

What is next for the Surface Laptop is a question that keeps coming to mind while we wait for a review unit and an opportunity to utilize one in the real world. Is there enough differentiation in the line to make it stand out in a congested market where the best Windows laptops dominate?

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