Any Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review would have to highlight that this compact laptop is a looker. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it’s one of the best laptops you can buy when it comes to style. Add to that decent hardware and a sharp, bright touchscreen - you’re looking at a very capable piece of kit even If it's not quite as speedy as some others.
Reliability is something that we have come to expect from Microsoft’s devices, whether you’re splashing out on one of their best 2-in-1 laptops like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio or saving a bit of cash by choosing one of the best student laptops like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2. Everything Microsoft has to offer is very well thought out in terms of design, connectivity and functionality.
If you’re looking for a new clamshell laptop then you’ve come to the right place because this Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review describes an impressive, super portable Windows PC with a 13.5-inch display on the inside that will be perfect for day-to-day computing. Read on to find out everything you need to know about it.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: price and what’s new
Available to buy now, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 starts at $899 in the US, £999 in the UK and AU$1,699 in Australia. To see which retailers in your region stock it, take a look at the widgets on this page.
While they look almost identical, there are a few differences between the older Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 and the newer Surface Laptop 5. Aesthetically, there’s a new Sage green option which sets it apart, and in terms of connectivity, the latest device has a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port which you can use for both power and faster data transfer.
Under the hood is where you’ll find the biggest differences because the Surface Laptop 5 has been upgraded to Intel Core 12th Generation processors and so promise more in the way of performance. You’ll also get a touch more in the way of battery life, and there’s a slightly upgraded Bluetooth 5.1 (up from BT 5.0).
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: design and screen
One thing about Microsoft’s Surface Laptops is that they look really neat, the smooth aluminium body is modern and minimalist with sharp corners and straight lines. From the outside, the flat lid is only interrupted by a mirrored Microsoft logo in the middle. I took a look at the new Sage option which is a subtle green colour, but you can also buy it in Platinum, Black and Sandstone. Whichever you choose, it looks good and the keys match the colour as well.
The only disappointment when it comes to the design is the size of the bezels, they’re thicker than you get elsewhere and so take away from the premium look and feel of this laptop.
In terms of portability, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is a good size for taking out and about with you. It measures 308 x 223 x 14.5 mm and weighs 1.3kg so it’s perfectly bag-friendly even if it’s not as portable as some of the very best lightweight laptops.
Around the frame, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is relatively simple - there’s the Surface Connect port, a USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphones jack and a new USB-C port with support for Thunderbolt 4 which can deliver power and will allow for speedy data transfers too. It’s a shame there are no extras like an HDMI or a MicroSD card slot but there are ways around both of those if you have the right kit.
Along the base, the keys are very well spaced out with a large trackpad placed below it. The keyboard is backlit which makes it very easy to use in the evening, and more generally, the typing experience was pretty good. That’s thanks to tactile keys and a decent amount of travel, although admittedly, they weren’t quite as satisfying to type on as lower-profile keys like you get on Apple or Huawei devices. I quickly got used to them though and didn’t come across any problems with mistyping.
Something that helps the aesthetics a lot is the fact that there’s no visible speaker system because it’s hidden beneath the keyboard. That helps make everything look so uncluttered.
One thing you don’t get here is a fingerprint sensor which is a shame, but you will be able to log in using facial recognition through Windows Hello. I found it worked quickly and effectively, so no problems to note there!
The screen itself is a 13.5-inch PixelSense Display with a resolution of 2256 x 1504p and a 3:2 aspect ratio.
Clear, sharp and bright, the screen looks great across all sorts of content. The colours are vibrant and there’s a good level of contrast as well so when you’re watching shows on Netflix you can see even the darker areas of the shot.
The shape of the screen is well suited to productivity tasks like word processing because you can fit a decent amount of the page on, although it’s less good for streaming video because you’ll get black bars across the top and bottom.
What’s more, is that the display actually has touch functionality as well. I found it to be fast and responsive but because the laptop itself isn’t a transformable 2-in-1 PC, I didn’t make that much use of it day-to-day.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: performance and battery
Powered by a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1255U processor and Intel Iris Xe Graphics alongside up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of internal SSD storage, it’s safe to say that the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is built for productivity when it comes to its performance.
During my testing, this laptop was able to cope with just about everything I could throw at it without heating up or breaking too much of a sweat although the one area it struggled with was gaming - this is by no means going to match up to one of the best gaming laptops out there.
When I ran the Geekbench 5 test on it, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 picked up scores of 770 in single-core and 4484 multi-core, while on 3DMark’s TimeSpy test it scored 1340. Those numbers place it below some premium laptops such as the Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021) or the Dell XPS 13 review (9310) but it’s not far off other lightweight devices like the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon.
Built on the Intel Evo platform, you’re not only guaranteed a decent amount of speed but you’re also promised long-lasting battery life, fast charging, the latest Wi-Fi 6E connectivity and biometric login, to name a few of the requirements.
The battery lasted me a good amount of time, I spent a few days working on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 which meant hours at a time bashing on the keyboard and clicking around the web. I didn’t need to plug it in for at least half of the day if not more.
To test it out a bit more quantitatively, I ran a video at full brightness over the space of two hours. In that time, the battery level dropped by 36% which suggests that it would have lasted a total of almost 6 hours which is actually pretty good going up against similarly priced PCs.
Using the charger included in the box, it took about an hour and a half to charge up from flat to full which isn't much time at all. And what's really great is the size of the charger included in the box because it won't take up too much space in your bag.
The brain of the operation is Windows 11 so the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is very well set up for getting work done. You can easily divide the screen up using snap layouts, and you’ll be able to access your Android phone from the desktop as well.
Video calling works well on this laptop too, thanks to the 720p HD front-facing camera. I looked perfectly clear to those on the other end, even if you don’t get the level of detail you would from a separate webcam.
Similarly, the built-in speakers do a good job at delivering audio when it comes to video content, voices come across clearly and very loudly too. But for music, you’ll still be better off using a separate device like one of the best Bluetooth speakers.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: verdict
If you’re searching for a combination of style, a good screen and a reliable system then the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is unlikely to disappoint. The sleek compact aluminium design looks premium and feels sturdy while the hardware inside lends itself well to productivity-based tasks, this is a great choice for busy workdays and evening entertainment, although it isn’t necessarily built for graphics-intensive tasks like videogames.
What’s more is that the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 has decent battery life and a fast charge time, so you’ll be able to pop this in your bag to use out and about without worrying too much about getting caught short.
Some people might be looking for a few more ports around the frame like an SD card slot or an HDMI, but even so, I was pleased to see that they have added in the USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 support because it opens up a whole world of opportunity when it comes to hooking it up external monitors and all of your other devices.
All in all, while it has its flaws, there isn’t that much bad to say about this PC. It’s a great choice if you’re willing to spend the money on it!
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: also consider
If you’ve already bought into any of Apple’s devices, be that one of their phones or tablets, then you’re probably best off buying one of their laptops too. But even if you haven’t previously owned any, when it comes to computing you won’t find anything much better than the Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022). You get a 13.6-inch screen that looks absolutely stunning, that’s paired with mind-blowing speeds, superb battery life and it’s all packed into a slim lightweight body.
For Windows fans, the Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED is the best of the bunch - it’s an absolute beauty thanks to its 4K OLED screen, but you’ll also find it has truly excellent build quality, a very comfortable typing experience and plenty of power under the hood.