Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 – a revolution without the ‘r’

January 15, 2023
2 mins read


Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 REVIEW

What has Microsoft done to improve a laptop that got PAT PILCHER’s highest possible rating? Read on to find out!


Microsoft’s new addition comes in the form of the Surface Laptop 5, which marries Intel’s Evo spec up to a slim and sleek design that’s squarely aimed at those for whom mobility and battery life are a priority.

From a design perspective, the Surface Laptop 5 has more than a passing resemblance to last year’s look. Given that I scored the Surface Laptop a 10 out of 10 and loved its simple yet elegant design, Microsoft’s decision not to fix what wasn’t broken makes sense. Given its super svelte form factor and all-alloy chassis, the Surface Laptop 5 probably doesn’t need to be any lighter than its previous sibling. All told, its design works well. Where many ultra-book makers slavishly ape Apple’s MacBook Air, Microsoft sticks to its own understated design language, hitting the mark with an original look. Colour-wise, the 13-inch model can be had in sandstone, sage, platinum or black.


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Like the Surface Laptop 4, the Laptop 5 adds to its solid build quality with a comfortable keyboard and responsive touchpad. It departs from last year’s model because it packs Intel’s EVO spec (read about that here), which strikes a solid balance between performance and battery life. As you’d expect from the likes of Microsoft, its display is super crisp and bright, and unlike its Mac counterpart, it’s touch-enabled. Like all of Microsoft’s other Surface devices, the display has a 3:2 aspect ratio (which makes it perfect for working with documents) and sports a 2,496 by 1,664 resolution.

With video calls now replacing travel (don’t get me and my Air Points started), I was hoping for a bump in the quality of its integrated webcam. Sadly, Microsoft has stuck with the same 720p webcam from last year’s model. While it delivers good video, 1080p cameras are now the norm at this price point.

On the connectivity front, the Laptop 5 offers a USB-C (Thunderbolt enabled) and a USB-A port. There’s no SD card slot. At this price point, I’d expect a few more USB ports. That said, you get a headphone jack and support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, Windows Hello lets you sign in using your mug, and enterprise users get TPM 2.0.

The addition of 12 Gen Intel “Alder Lake” silicon is the headline upgrade over the Surface Laptop 4, offering a performance bump speed for most tasks. Microsoft provides the Laptop 5 as either Intel Core i5 or Core i7. That said, the CPUs are Intel’s U-series chips, which are designed for ultraportable battery efficiency hardware. In practice, this translates into a reasonable amount of power but with a performance ceiling. The review unit came with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. It’s a decent combination, but the not-so-good news is that it’ll set you back $1849, which is pricey given the amount of storage on offer.

Graphics are powered by Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics, so there’s no dedicated GPU. For gaming, this spec works fine with games sporting modest graphics requirements, but more demanding titles will struggle.

Doing a run-down test using a looped video and screen set to 60% brightness, I was impressed to note that the Laptop 5’s battery came in at just under 15 hours. For working off the grid or for long-haul travel, the Laptop 5 has the goods.

Like the Surface Laptop 4, the Surface Laptop 5 is exceptionally well-built and extremely portable. Add a great-looking screen and a battery that’ll last an entire day, and you have a solid notebook for road warriors and travellers. It isn’t aimed at budget buyers and commands a price premium.

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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