Surface Laptop 5 (13-inch) review: A beautiful design that’s almost done

Surface Laptop 5 (13-inch) review: A beautiful design that’s almost done

Surface Laptop 5 (13-inch) review: A beautiful design that’s almost done

The old saying goes that if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Now while this is often wise advice, there is clearly a limit to how long you can keep something — especially a gadget — before it starts to lag. and with the Surface Laptop 5Microsoft seems to be starting to test it this far because while the notebook is sleeker and sleeker than ever, even with the inclusion of a new CPU, it’s easy to see where its old chassis could use some updates or quality of life improvements. So while I’d never complain about getting a performance boost, it still looks like Microsoft can do a better job.

Design, keyboard and ports

I wouldn’t spend much time talking about the exterior of the Surface Laptop 5 because it’s the same chassis Microsoft has been using for the past three or four generations. Both 13- and 15-inch models feature an aluminum chassis with two tall 3:2 displays for improved productivity. Our 13.5-inch review unit weighs 2.86 pounds and is only 0.57 inches thick. The whole package is very elegant and in some ways I can see why Microsoft didn’t want to mess with the design – it really is a thing of beauty. It’s just as thin and simple as the MacBook, but different enough that the two shouldn’t be confused. However, I think Microsoft is more than able to modify the existing architecture to accommodate the new components without compromising its good looks.

Surface Laptop 5 (13-inch) review: A beautiful design that’s almost done


  • Faster CPU than 12th generation Intel
  • elegant design
  • Screen 3: 2 bright
  • Now supports Thunderbolt 4


  • 720p webcam
  • There are no AMD configurations
  • Somewhat chunky edges
  • One more port can be used

New for this year is the wise green color choice as we got it Surface Laptop Go 2. But Microsoft didn’t stop there because the company also made custom wallpapers for Windows 11 that match the system’s exterior paint job. I know this is a very slight change in the grand scheme of things, but the extra part of color coordination is kind of nice.

Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop 5’s keyboard and touchpad don’t leave much to complain about. The Keycaps are well spaced while they run nicely, although after some hands-on time with the 15-inch version, I noticed that the larger model had a slightly deeper key travel. And while the 4.5 x 3-inch touchpad isn’t quite as big as what you’d find on a similarly sized MacBook, there’s still plenty of room for a mouse.

The Surface Laptop 5's green color changes a lot depending on the lighting conditions, although you still get the same aluminum chassis as before.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Another big change to the Surface Laptop 5 is the new USB 4.0 / Thunderbolt 4 port, which offers more bandwidth for transferring data or sending video to external monitors. Unfortunately, on both the 13.5 and 15-inch models, there are only two USB connectors: the aforementioned Thunderbolt 4 port and a regular USB 3.1 Type-A slot. Thankfully, Microsoft hasn’t removed support for wired audio, so you can still get a 3.5mm headphone jack in addition to the company’s magnetic Surface Connect port for charging and connectivity.

Although the Surface Laptop 5's keyboard isn't quite as large as what you get in a MacBook, there's still plenty of room for a mouse and the keyboard feels great.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

But if you let me stand a little, I kind of wish Microsoft would ditch the Surface Connect port entirely. because of The latest regulations of the European UnionWe’re on the cusp of making all phones support USB-C for charging and data, and no matter what special connectors Apple and Microsoft use on their MacBooks and Surfaces, laptops aren’t far behind. Not only will it take up space from the Surface Connect port for another USB-C socket—which is smaller and more versatile—I find that its weak magnets and awkward shape make it more difficult to use than USB-C.

Display and webcam

Like its chassis, the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 5 features the 2,256 x 1,504-pixel PixelSense touchscreen that Microsoft used on the previous model and that’s just fine. It has a good brightness of less than 400 nits on my light meter along with rich and saturated colors. The new modification for 2022 is Dolby Vision IQ support, which automatically adjusts things like color and contrast profiles based on surrounding conditions. It’s a nice touch, but given that pretty much every phone made in the past few years has similar display technology, Microsoft isn’t. [exactly] Open new horizons here.

With a resolution of 720p, the Surface Laptop 5's webcam is just plain mediocre.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

However, while the image quality is solid, the Surface Laptop 5’s screen is starting to show its age a bit. The edges are a few millimeters thicker than what we got on the Surface Laptop Studio last year, which makes things look a bit chunky. You also don’t get HDR support or high refresh rates.

But the thing that lags a lot is the 720p webcam, which is usable at best. You don’t get support for any of the Microsoft Windows Studio effects like you do in Surface Pro 9 5G And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 1080p webcams should be the norm in premium laptops. Thankfully, Microsoft has kept the built-in infrared cameras for Windows Hello facial recognition, which still work great.


As with previous Surfaces, Microsoft still uses the Surface Connect's magnetic port for charging and docking.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Inside, Intel’s 12th-generation processors offer a huge jump in performance. The downside is that unlike the previous generation, there aren’t any AMD-based configurations, which is kind of a bummer. However, with scores about 20 percent higher in PCMark 10 compared to Surface Laptop 4It’s hard to be so upset.

Just don’t get your hopes up about playing any hardcore games, as both models are limited to Iris XE integrated graphics. in Overwatch 2, I had to lower the settings to medium in order to get a fairly stable 60fps, although you can get a little more performance if you want to lower the game resolution or turn on downsampling. But no matter what you do, this thing doesn’t really mean playing AAA titles.

Battery life and ports

Port selection is somewhat limited on the Surface Laptop 5, although the new support for Thunderbolt 4 is a very easy upgrade.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

As for battery life, at 12 hours and 39 minutes, the Surface Laptop 5 is respectable albeit not with great results. In comparison, last year’s 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 fared better with a 15:25 mark, as did other ultra-fast laptops this year including Lenovo Yoga 9i 14:22 and M2 MacBook Air It’s 17:05.

As an old Surface user, I appreciate that Microsoft has kept an additional 5W charging port built into the included power adapter, which is really great for powering small peripherals like a mouse or wireless headphones. And I should mention that if for some reason you lose or forget your charging brick at home, you can still charge your Surface Laptop 5 via USB-C.

is contained

while the Surface Laptop 5 It didn’t get a huge amount of updates, it still has a really neat design and the addition of the new 12th Gen Intel chipset and Thunderbolt 4 port provide a huge boost in speed and ease of use. Sure, it might not have the sharpest webcam or a plethora of ports, but if all you need is a fast, streamlined port of call for general productivity, the Surface Laptop 5 packs all the essentials into a very stylish package.

As fun nods toward the enhanced color coordination, the Surface Laptop 5 comes pre-installed with a Windows 11-compatible wallpaper.

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

However, it’s fairly common knowledge that Microsoft only sent the 13.5-inch model out for review, since there are more changes I’d like to see in the 15-inch version. I know my dream of having an Xbox gaming laptop is never going to happen, but I think there is a lot of potential to turn the larger Surface Laptop 5 into a really great versatile device by adding support for discrete graphics and a few other ports.

But the hard part comes when trying to choose between a Surface Laptop 5 13-inch and something like the XPS 13. For itself Pricing starts at $1000The Dell laptop comes with a similar CPU and a larger 512GB SSD instead of just a 256GB drive, but without the touchscreen (although you can upgrade to one if you want). This means you have to choose between getting a slightly better value on the XPS 13, or opting for a longer 3:2 touchscreen with the Surface Laptop 5.

However, if all you want is a super stylish mobile device with a great screen for productivity, Microsoft’s latest shell has a lot to like. Hopefully next year we’ll get a full update instead of just a minor spec bump.

All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independently of the parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publication.

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