Microsoft is resting on its laurels

Our detailed handling

Like every year, Microsoft is taking advantage of the autumn freshness to renew its range of Surface computers. Last year, the Surface Laptop 4 and its AMD Ryzen processor seduced the Lab. What will happen this year with this new benchmark boosted by 12th generation Intel processors? Elements of response, pending a full test from the Lab.

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Getting started on a Surface Laptop 5 i7-1255U equipped with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage lent by the manufacturer.

Design and ergonomics

We are not going to cut corners: the design of the Surface Laptop 5 has absolutely not evolved since the previous generation. Or the one before, or the one that preceded it. Yes, we regret it as much as you do, but Microsoft does not seem ready to completely overhaul its consumer laptop.

Still, a little tour of the owner is needed. The laptop is thin. Very thin even, with only 14.5 mm at its highest point. Like a MacBook Air, it has a slimmer streamlined look at the palm rest and thicker towards the back to accommodate the various components of its configuration.

The design of the Surface Laptop has not changed one iota.©Pierre Crochart/L’Éclaireur

Still designed in brushed aluminum, the Surface Laptop 5 also incorporates the distinctive element of the range: its alcantara coating. Opening a Surface Laptop for the first time is indeed an experience; the keyboard is encased in a sueded textile frame and not in an aluminum or plastic frame like the competition. One thing is certain, you don’t see that anywhere else! Now, as to decide on the aesthetics of the thing… We will let each and everyone judge.

Nothing special to report on the keyboard … Except that we would have appreciated the presence of a fingerprint sensor to further strengthen the security of the whole. The fact remains that, on the striking side, comfort is essential for those who appreciate a slightly “soft” race. As such, the keyboard is very quiet. An asset for night owls, no doubt.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
The choice of coating is divisive.©Pierre Crochart/L’Éclaireur

Very light (1.27 kg), the Surface Laptop 5 still has a little poor connectivity – but sufficient. On the left side is a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB-A 3.1 port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. In contrast, Microsoft is piling up with its proprietary Surface Connect connector, which is used to charge the device. Be careful not to confuse it with an SD card slot! Note, however, that the computer can be recharged with the USB-C port.

Below, the Surface Laptop 5 has four non-slip pads that simply remove to access the screws and thus demonstrate the chassis. Finally, the back of the device has a large grille allowing hot air to be evacuated when use becomes too intense.

screen

Always tactile, the 13.5-inch LCD screen of our model offers a generous definition of 2,496×1,664 pixels in a 3:2 ratio. It is therefore a real pleasure to work on the Surface Laptop 5, even if the thickness of the borders (1 cm) starts to be indecent in 2022.

The manufacturer promises a contrast ratio of 1300:1 and optimal coverage of the sRGB gamut. We will leave it to the Lab to confirm all this with its probes. But, to the eye, we must say that the Surface Laptop 5 offers us a very satisfactory visual performance. The display finesse is impeccable, the colors are sparingly saturated to flatter the retina, and the blacks deep enough to forget that we are on an LCD panel.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
The edges of the screen remain thick for a high-end laptop of 2022.©Pierre Crochart/L’Éclaireur

Most notably, it was the screen brightness that impressed us. If we can not yet provide figures, we had no difficulty working on the computer even back to a window. The automatic brightness adjustment is effective, and the ceiling is high enough for the screen to remain readable in all circumstances. A very good point for this computer intended to be taken everywhere.

Finally a small point on the webcam. It is still a 720p model which offers a rather disappointing image in 2022. Especially at a time when videoconferencing is gaining momentum. Microsoft, when will you finally offer a Full HD camera?

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
The webcam isn’t mediocre, but far from satisfactory in 2022.©Pierre Crochart/L’Éclaireur

Performance and speed

Our test configuration is the best endowed of Microsoft’s new line-up. Bidding starts at €1,179 for a Surface Laptop 5 with 8GB of LPDDR5x RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Intel Core i5-1235U processor. If we can’t comment on this reference, our copy equipped with 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage and an i7-1255U won us over.

Capable of climbing to a frequency of 4.70 GHz when the situation requires it, the latest generation processor and RAM offer fluid navigation, very suitable for everyday tasks and office automation. The laptop has no difficulty launching many applications simultaneously and switching from one to another without further ado.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
Surface Laptop 5 is built for productivity.©Pierre Crochart/L’Éclaireur

But not everything is instantaneous. Especially when using the computer on battery power. Perhaps it is Windows 11 which is still poorly optimized, or simply the processor which is zealous to improve battery life, but a small latency is sometimes noticeable when clicking on an icon. From a daily user of a MacBook Pro equipped with an M1 Pro chip, I must say my slight disappointment on this point.

When it comes to graphics tasks, especially video games, you have to moderate your expectations. The reason ? No dedicated graphics card finds its place in the Surface Laptop 5, except for the Intel Iris Xe iGPU and its 96 processing units.

No need to beat around the bush: do not imagine throwing Cyberpunk 2077 in ultra quality with this configuration. From there to say that the video game is not possible? Absolutely not. The Surface Laptop 5 has a relative ease, but which allows it to launch without too much difficulty independent games that are not very greedy or 3D titles dated several years ago, with a few graphic concessions. In particular, we were able to take advantage of Grand Theft Auto V in medium quality (but Full HD definition) at more than 60 frames per second. However, it will have to do with a fan that rises in the towers, but it is only natural for a laptop.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
The Surface Laptop 5 has no trouble launching GTA V in “normal” quality at more than 60 frames per second.©Pierre Crochart/L’Éclaireur

Autonomy

In terms of autonomy, the Surface Laptop 5 promises endurance equivalent to the Surface Laptop 4 (AMD version), or about 18 hours in “normal use”.

We will wait for the Lab to get their hands on a copy of the laptop to confirm all this but, according to our observations, it is difficult to come to such a conclusion. Unless, of course, you reduce the (generous) brightness of the screen and curb the performance of the processor.

Moreover, it is necessary to warn the morning people that they may have difficulty taking a whole day away from the charger of their Surface Laptop 5 if they mobilize too many different applications and organize several video meetings. In fact, starting to work around 8 a.m. until noon, we ran out of autonomy around 3:30 p.m. and resumed at 1 p.m. So it’s pretty average, without being quite shameful either.

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