Surface Laptop 5 hands-on: A minimal update

Surface Laptop 5 hands-on: A minimal update
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Today, Microsoft announced the refreshed Surface Laptop 5, which will be available in 13.5- and 15-inch models as before. The new laptops will also feature a 3:2 touchscreen with a very familiar brushed aluminum design. In fact, almost everything about the Surface Laptop 5 is the same as before, except for the addition of new 12th-gen Intel CPUs and a Thunderbolt 4 port. Considering the advances its competitors have made, I have to wonder if Microsoft even tried.

Now don’t get me wrong, improved performance is nice. And I suspect the Surface Laptop 5 will be a solid system. But this is mostly because Surface Laptop 4 it was pretty good too. Thanks to Dolby Vision IQ support, you now get a high-resolution PixelSense touchscreen with some built-in automatic color adjustment. There’s also a new sage green color option that looks beautiful, but we’ve seen this shade pop up before. Surface Laptop Go 2.

That’s it in terms of new features or features. And it’s really frustrating because there’s apparently a lot of low-hanging fruit that Microsoft can handle that will make its mainstream laptop lineup a much better competitor for systems like the XPS 15 or an equivalent ThinkPad.

Gallery: Surface Laptop 5 hands-on photo | 7 Photos

For starters, while you get an IR camera for Windows Hello, the main webcam is still 720p, which isn’t really viable on a premium 2022 laptop. You also get only two USB ports in total: the aforementioned Thunderbolt 4 jack and the vanilla USB 3.1 (not even 3.2) Type-A socket. Look, that’s fine for a budget system, but there really should be better connectivity, especially on the 15-inch model. How about an SD card reader? Thankfully, at least Microsoft is keeping the 5-watt USB-A charging port on the Surface Laptop’s power brick, which can come in handy when you need to charge your phone in a pinch.

On top of that, unlike the Surface Laptop 4, this year’s model is only available in Intel-based configurations. There is no AMD version, which is a bit of a shame. While I wouldn’t mind getting only integrated graphics in the 13.5-inch version, I’d really like Microsoft to create at least one variant of the 15-inch with a discrete GPU. It doesn’t even have to be something super meaty like the RTX 3080. A 3060 or even a 3050 Ti would be fine. I really don’t think I’m asking for too much. After all, Microsoft included an optional 3050 Ti GPU, a slightly smaller but thicker system, in last year’s Surface Laptop Studio. Honestly, one of the most interesting things about the Surface Laptop 5 is Microsoft’s Windows 11 wallpapers, which are new for 2022 and are designed to match the system’s exterior color.

But more importantly, after seeing Dell add a new member to the group XPS 13 family And with all the changes Apple has made to the MacBook Air and Pro series, it’s a bit disappointing to see Microsoft just go through the motions. And all this comes from the company that basically invented the modern detachable 2-in-1, so I know Microsoft can do better.

Follow along with our other news Microsoft’s 2022 Surface event.

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