Microsoft usually refreshes its Surface hardware every October, typically focusing on both the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop. But, we didn’t see the much-anticipated Surface Laptop 4 or Surface Pro 8 last year. Instead, Microsoft released the budget-friendly Surface Laptop Go and the refreshed Surface Pro 7+.
Rumor has it that Microsoft is still planning the Surface Laptop 4 as soon as the end of April. We haven’t heard much officially about the device, but there are plenty of rumors circulating. Here’s everything we currently know about and want from Microsoft’s upcoming flagship Windows 10 laptop.
Price and release date
We originally expected the Surface Laptop 4 in October 2020, but now it is looking as though it could arrive by the end of April 2021 instead. Microsoft has really changed up its typical product launch schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other supply-and-demand issues affecting the PC industry.
According to the German Blog WinFuture, the Surface Laptop 4 might come to Europe on April 27. Knowing that Microsoft products usually launch in Europe after they do here in the U.S., this means we could see the laptop here in the States before that date, but this is just a rumor. In fact, Microsoft even has prepared official product support pages for the Surface Laptop 4, too, confirming that its release could be coming soon.
WinFuture also claims to have obtained European pricing and notes that although it didn’t find all of the base pricing, there is possible pricing on the midrange and top-end models. The Core i5 version of the Surface Laptop 4 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD could start at $999. A similar AMD Ryzen 5 version with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD could start at 1,149 euros, which is $1,365.
This isn’t too surprising, as the current 13-inch model of the Surface Laptop 3 starts at $1,000. The 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 costs $1,200, and the 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 should fall in that same price range.
Aside from the Surface Pro X, Microsoft doesn’t really refresh the design of its mainline Surface products often. That means the Surface Laptop 4 might not look very different from the Surface Laptop 3. Rumor has it that the Surface Laptop 4 is more about an internal specs refresh, rather than a design update.
Fueling that rumor are some leaked photos of the Surface Laptop 4 from a round of certification testing in Korea. It’s looking as though Microsoft might offer the Surface Laptop 4 in a matte-black color as it has in the past. From the photo, we can see that the rumored Surface Laptop 4 (code-named 1950) looks nearly identical to last year’s model. There’s also the possibility of a new “Ice Blue” color Surface Laptop 4, too, according to Windows Central.
Rumor also has it that Microsoft could make the upgradability of the Surface Laptop 4 easier. WinFuture says that there could be a small compartment in the “floor of the devices” (meaning the bottom) where you can gain access to the PCIe-NMVe solid-state drives there. This upgradability was actually already possible by opening the keyboard deck of Surface Laptop 3, but Microsoft now looks to have made it easier.
The Surface Laptop won’t go the way of the Dell XPS 13 or the Razer Book 13. It likely won’t have super-slim bezels, and could still have its chins and signature 3:2 aspect ratio display, just as before.
Intel and AMD processors for both sizes
With the launch of the Surface Laptop 3, Microsoft for the first time went with AMD chips inside one of its products. The 13-inch versions of the Surface Laptop featured Intel processors and 15-inch versions came with custom “Surface Edition” AMD Ryzen processors. We expect a slight change in that this year.
According to both Windows Central and leaked specs obtained by WinFuture, the Surface Laptop 4 will come in two different variants, but you’ll find both Intel and AMD chip options on both models. Both 13-inch and 15-inch versions will come with either Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors or AMD’s Zen-2 based Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 “Surface Edition” chips.
The Surface Laptop 3 used the previous Zen+ Ryzen mobile chips, which proved to be disappointing in overall performance. However, even with AMD’s potential Ryzen 5000 Zen 3-based mobile chips on the horizon, it looks as though Microsoft is going for older AMD chips this time around — either the Ryzen 5 4680U or the Ryzen 7 4980U. Even so, these are still six-core processors, which would be an improvement over the four cores in the AMD Ryzen 7 3780U and the AMD Ryzen 5 3580U in the Surface Laptop 3.
On the Intel side, if this leak holds up to be true, the Intel models of the Surface Laptop 4 could also gain an edge when it comes to light gaming and video editing. That’s thanks to Intel’s new Xe graphics on its 11th-generation CPUs, though WinFuture makes it apparent that Microsoft might opt for Intel’s Iris Plus Graphics 950 instead.
Leaked specs obtained by WinFuture also point to the RAM and storage options maxing out at 32 GB and 1 TB on the Intel models, and 16 GB and 1 TB on the Intel models. As for the display, both 13-inch and 15-inch models are listed in the same resolution as the Surface Laptop 3. This is not too surprising, as we believe that the design of the products will not change.
But these are just rumors. Previous benchmarks spotted by Windows Latest for a product code named “OEMWY” and “OEMGR” showed a listing for two Surface devices. The first has AMD’s new Renoir chips, and the second shows Intel Tiger Lake U. This hints at the possibility that an AMD Surface Laptop 4 with the latest Zen-3 based chips could still be a thing, but it is increasingly becoming doubtful. We’ll have to wait and see.
Alas, we still don’t know much officially about the Surface Laptop 4, but there’s a lot we wish for. We do hope that Microsoft can slim down the bezels on the Surface Laptop and bring it up to speed with the XPS lineup.
It would also be great to see the addition of an external graphics card, so the laptop can pack an extra punch for light gaming. Of course, such things would require a massive design change from Microsoft, so it’s best to not hold our breath for now.
If you’re waiting for Thunderbolt to finally come to the Surface Laptop, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that feature as well. Microsoft has chosen to avoid Thunderbolt on even if its most powerful Surface devices, including the Surface Book 3.