The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 2022 is a minor Intel 12th Gen update to the Surface Laptop 4 but brings an all-important Intel EVO design and Thunderbolt 4 port to the device.
And that is not a bad thing. If Apple can repeat the same MacBook formula year after year, why not Microsoft? Apple would argue that its design is the ultimate balance between functionality, features, and price. Ditto for Microsoft, although it could beef up the features to be truly competitive with later EVO laptops.
The only area it does not cover is the x360 hinge design, which you could argue is the innovative Surface Laptop Studio with its Z hinge covers.
We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.
I am not a fan of clamshells – I prefer the flexibility of the x360 hinge (tent) or Hybrid Surface Pro tablet style. But we can’t let that get in the way, as clamshells are the lowest-cost way to deliver a laptop.
At 308 x 223 x 14.7m x 1297g (15” is 340 x 244 x 14.7mm x 1560g), it is small and svelte. BTW, there is no internal difference between the 13.5” and 15” – all the same parts. Well-made with an anodised aluminium chassis and a beautiful 3:2 ratio screen.
It is a 13.5 Sharp LQ135P1JX51, 2256 x 1504, 3:2, 60Hz IPS touch screen. Test results are in (brackets).
Brightness is 400nits (380 on battery and 405 on mains), and Contrast is 1300:1 (1250:1).
It is an 8-bit, 16.7 million colour display. Gamut is 100% sRGB (92% on battery and 98% on mains) with 70% DCI-P3 (69% on battery and 71% on mains). Delta E is 1.6 – <4 is excellent.
It uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) for dimming at 217kHz.
It supports Dolby Vision IQ decoding meaning it can decode Dolby Vision and Atmos metadata and play it to the IPS panels and speaker’s capability. It will play HDR content downscaled to the SDR (standard dynamic range) panel and 2.0 speakers.
The screen folds open to a 137° angle.
The review unit is 13.5”, i7-1255U, 16 GB LPDDR5X and SK Hynix PCIe Gen 3 x4 SSD.
These figures are estimated and depend on the power profile
Even at full load, its noise is <40dB, and the base temperature is a lightly toasty 44°.
You can read about the full suite of tests for i5 and i7.
It is an SK Hynix HFM512GD3GX013N M2.2230, PCIe Gen 3 x4 capable of over 3000MBps sequential read/write.
Crystal Disk Mark is about maximum speed – sequential read/write is 3379/2199MBps
CPDT is about sustained speeds – sequential read/write is 2120/861.75MBps
Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve is video editing software, but it tests the disk for speed and capability.
It uses a Wi-Fi 6 AX Intel AX201 160Mhz chip. In theory, the maximum speed is 24000Mbps full-duplex on a compatible router. On the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E AX 11000 mesh (network review), we got 1201Mbps full-duplex.
BT 5.1 supports multi-point (PC and smartphone) and Windows Fast pair.
Microsoft claims up to 18 hours of typical use. We don’t dispute that, but our tests show lower times.
PC Mark 10 Modern Office Battery Test gives it 9 hours 30 minutes, which is about the maximum for typical office use. It will play a 1080p video loop (50% brightness/sound/aeroplane mode) for just over 12.5 hours.
The Surface Connect charger (Ribbon) outputs 15V/4A/60W and will fill the battery in about 1.5 hours. Oh, and don’t forget the hidden USB-A 3.0 5V/1A/5W port in the charger brick.
The unit is also 60W USB-C PD upstream chargeable via Thunderbolt.
Note: By default, The Surface Laptop is set to charge to 80% – if you travel, you can change this in the Surface App
Expansion can be via a simple USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 Dongle supporting an HDMI 2.0 4K@30/50/60Hz monitor or a Thunderbolt dock.
Thunderbolt cables are marked 3 or 4 and have a maximum length of .5m (passive) or 2m (active). You can read more at our USB and Thunderbolt cables made easy.
Our favourite dock is the Plugable TBT3 Thunderbolt 3/4 docking station range – UDZ or UDC range, with the UDZ having 96W downstream power and dual HDMI or Display Ports (or use one of each).
The stereo up-firing speakers are under the keyboard. The maximum volume is 80dB (good), and the sound stage is about the keyboard’s width.
It decodes Dolby Atmos (DA) metadata to the two speakers. When tested with DA content, there is no increase in the sound stage nor any 3D spatial height. Nor is there a DA App/EQ – just the ability to select DA for speakers in the Speaker properties. Hint: you can download Dolby Access from Windows Store, which provides an EQ. We did not test this as it may contain in-app purchases.
Some reviews rave about the sound, but to our trained ears, it is pretty average.
There is no low-bass (20-50Hz), no mid-bas (50-100Hz), slowly building high-bass (100-200Hz) and still building to 500Hz when it flattens to around 8kHz and then begins a slow decent through low/mid/high treble. This is a Mid: (bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed) – for clear voice.
If you play music, the lack of bass makes low notes muddy, and the lack of treble makes instruments less crisp.
You can read more: How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide.
It is okay for a typist with 1.3mm of travel, 40g actuation and very well-spaced keys. It has three levels of backlight, necessary as the letters can lack a little contrast on some chassis colours.
The oversized 115 x 77mm trackpad is perfect and can move the mouse from the top right to the bottom left in one swipe.
The 720p camera has no privacy shutter. It supports Windows Hello but is long overdue for an update to 1080p.
The Surface Laptop 3 was awarded 0/10 for repairability by iFixit. The Laptop 5 is straightforward to disassemble, and we understand Microsoft also makes parts and service guides available to qualified repairers.
It is a laptop, an expensive one at that. Its USP is the 3:2 screen and a Microsoft reference design. But that design is several years old and needs more than an internal parts makeover. For example, the processor can support 2 x Thunderbolt 4 ports – I would gladly forgo the USB-A. The webcam has cobwebs that need to be blown away by at least a 1080p one, and big screen bezzles are unnecessary with the latest screen technology.
There is much competition in the Intel EVO 13” touchscreen space. While it directly competes with the Microsoft Surface Pro 9, ASUS, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, LG and more have Intel 12th generation Core i5 and i7 with 13” touchscreens.
To put this into perspective, it is a premium product. It has that unique 3:2 aspect 10-point touch screen and an excellent keyboard for office use, and it is not a gamer’s device.
You will enjoy using it.
Features: 85 – one Thunderbolt port is less than desirable, so you will need a dock. Otherwise, it has everything you need.
Value: 80 – Microsoft gear is expensive, and there are plenty of lower-cost Intel EVO laptops that compete directly with it.
Performance: 85 – its on par with an i5 or i7 EVO
Ease of Use: 90 – its Windows
Design: 80 – The new colours breathe life into an old design, but its well-overdue for a redesign
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