The new Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 showcases why Microsoft remains an excellent software developer but still struggles to create its own hardware. This is an update to the decent predecessor, the Surface Laptop 4, but with a boost from new chips, colours and builds. The question is, is it enough?
The quick answer is, yes, but just about. The spec and build of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5, which makes use of 12th generation Intel i5 and i7 processors for extra speed but from a design viewpoint, this feels like a dated laptop.
You will need to spend to get the best performance, ensuring that 'yes' answer has the caveat that you will need to go beyond the entry level model, ensuring Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 isn't the best value despite being a solid laptop. If you need to gauge the competition, read our guide to the best laptops for graphic design and the best MacBook you can buy.
For this review I spent a couple of weeks with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 and tested it running basic office apps, intensive digital art software, including Rebelle 6, as well as general web browsing and game streaming via Xbox Game Pass for PC. You can find out more by visiting our how we test laptops, PCs and workstations page.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: price and specs
Overall Microsoft's new laptop looks to be reasonably priced and features a good balance of features. The Intels 12th gen processors offer solid power and speed, but the basic build will need to be developed and cost more if you want to get serious and use this laptop for more than everyday tasks. It means while the initial pricing below looks good, you'll need to factor in a little more money to really get a laptop that's worthwhile.
Processor 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U / i7-1255U
Display size 13.5 inch / 15 inch
Display 2256 x 1504 (201 PPI) / 2496 x 1664 (201 PPI) resolution, 3:2 aspect ratio, 10-point multi-touch
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Connections USB-C, USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect port
Network WiFi 6, Bluetooth
OS Windows 11
Battery 17 / 18 hours
Weight 13.5 inch model: 1,297 g; 15 inch model 1,560 g
Dimensions 13.5 inch model: 308 x 223 x 14.5 mm; 15 inch model: 340 x 244 x 14.7 mm
Camera 720p HD front, Windows Hello Face Authentication
Speakers Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Atmos 4
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 starts at $899 / £999 for the 13.5in version with an Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, but naturally prices begin to increase once you go up to Intel i7 build – $1,699 £1,699 – or larger the 15-inch model that begins at $1,199 / £1,299 for an Intel i7 version with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. The 15 inch model tops out at $2,099 / £2,399 for an Intel i7 powered black metal finished laptop with 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD.
Considering the price, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is in the same category has an Apple MacBook Pro (2021). Or you could drop down to an Apple MacBook Air (2022) or take a look at our guide to the best HP laptops for an alternative, well-specced Windows 11 laptop.
On the, ahem, surface, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is a little overpriced for the spec, and there are some good alternatives on the market. But below I take a deeper look at the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 and reveal why this laptop impresses, if money isn't an issue.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: design
The biggest issue, or the biggest plus, for the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is it's largely the same design as previous models. It does still look and feel solid and premium; the slick aluminium chassis gives off a high-end look, the keyboard is a nice size and its matt rubber keys feel great to tap at (it's about the size of a MacBook Pro), and the trackpad is responsive, if smaller than you may expect from a laptop pitched for work.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 features the same slanted wedge design as older models, ensuring it doesn't close flat like a MacBook Pro but rather tapers to a point, which feels great in the hand. However, the screen features wider bezels than I would expect, even compared to older 2021 Apple's laptops, and that smaller trackpad is a little frustrating.
This new model comes in a variety of swish colours such as Sage, Black and Sandstone – a kind of rose gold. These colours compliment the original Platinum (read silver) nicely.
This new Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 can feel a little dated given it's pretty much the same design as the Surface Laptop 4 and earlier models (it's not really changed in five years) but those new colours are nice, particularly Sage, and using an established design guarantees Microsoft's suite of accessories all work with the Surface Laptop 5, which is an advantage if money is tight.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: performance
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is a good workhorse; a decent all-round laptop for work and play. The Intel i5 and i7 processors perform well in my benchmarks (see results on the right) and while you won't be blown away these processors can handle most tasks with ease – web browsing, desktop software and image editing are all undertaken with little fuss.
This laptop will handle Photoshop and other intensive image and video editing software and it does so quietly and without freezing or overheating. However, you'll find it can slow down if you attempt to run multiple apps at once.
Microsoft says the Surface Laptop 5 has a 17 to 18 hour battery life, but in my time spent with this laptop I found it topped out at around 10 hours – this test model is the Intel i7.
This laptop does okay for connectivity, and features a USB Type-C, a USB Type-A, an audio jack, and a Surface Connect port. This last one, used for charging feels a little dated. While it can charge fast it's a loose connection that can drop out if you nudge the laptop – I also find only having a charging connection on the right-hand side too restrictive.
CPU (multicore): 6221 pts
CPU (single): 1089 pts
MO ratio: 5.71x
Geekbench 5 Score
Web browsing: 7,988
Digital content creation: 4,880
Photo editing: 7,437
Video editing: 4,704
3D rendering: 3,232
The webcam remains 720p while most new 2022 and 2023 laptops boast 1080p resolution. It's fine, but I would have expected more. Where the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 trumps other work laptops is with the Windows Hello Face Authentication software that powers the camera; it will automatically track your movement, focus on speakers and more. If you need a laptop to work from home and video conference Microsoft has one of the best solutions around.
The touchscreen display is excellent and reactive, and countless times in use I resorted to tapping the screen rather than scroll on the trackpad. If you're after a more modern way of working this is a good choice. It's not OLED, however, so if you're a serious gamer (you can stream via WiFi 6 and Xbox Game Pass) you may want a little more.
A plus in the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5's corner is its OS; Windows 11 is excellent. Some new features enable you to have multiple windows open and snap to sections of the screen, making for a great workflow. You can also make adjustments to accessibility options in one app and Windows 11 will remember, using your same presets across more than 20,000 apps. The best thing you can save about Windows 11 is it makes life easy and unobtrusive without ever being showy.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: should I buy one?
If money is no option then the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is a solid laptop that showcases how good Windows 11 can be; but you will need to go beyond the basic Intel i5 build and spend a little more to get a laptop that will last you a number of years before running into problems.
As an office workhorse or general laptop the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is a good buy, and while it can run intensive editing, video and image processing software you will run into issues if you try to run multiple high-end apps at once. This means while the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is great for office work and everyday tasks, it's not ideal for intensive creative tasks – though if you just want to run Photoshop, it's fine.
Whilst internally the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 has been upgraded and Windows 11 has some swish new features, this laptop is essentially the same design as previous models, so while well made and nicely finished, it can feel a little dated.
Overall I'd recommend Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 for everyday use, but if you're a graphic designer or digital artist you may want to consider a better suited laptop, such as the Apple MacBook Pro (2021).