Microsoft usually refreshes its Surface hardware every October, typically focusing on both the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop. But this fall, we didn’t see the much-anticipated Surface Laptop 4 and got the budget-friendly Surface Laptop Go instead.
Rumor has it that Microsoft is instead planning the Surface Laptop 4 for next year. We haven’t heard much officially about the device, but there are plenty of rumors circulating. Here’s everything we currently know and want from Microsoft’s upcoming flagship Windows 10 laptop.
Price and release date
We expected the Surface Laptop 4 in October 2020, but now it is looking as though it could come in 2021 instead. Microsoft has really changed up its typical product launch schedule, possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other supply and demand issues in the PC industry.
According to Windows Central, the Surface Laptop 4 might come in the first half of 2021, a “few months” after the launch of the Surface Pro 8. We don’t have an exact timetable, but it looks like spring 2021 is likely.
As for pricing, not much is known yet. The current 13-inch model of the Surface Laptop 3 starts at $1,000, so we expect a 13-inch Surface Laptop 4 to be in the same price range. The 15-inch Surface Laptop 3, meanwhile, comes in at $1,200, so w expect the larger 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 to be in that same price range.
Aside from the Surface Pro X, Microsoft doesn’t really refresh the design of its mainline Surface products often. It’s been a “rinse and repeat” cycle. 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 alleged Surface Laptop 4 (code-named 1950) looks nearly identical to last year’s model.
With that in mind, expect the same design as before. 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. But we do hope for a change (more on that later).
The latest from Intel and AMD inside
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 that to be the same again this year, with one big change.
Again, according to Windows Central, the Surface Laptop 4 will come in two different variants. You can expect to see 13-inch versions with Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors, as well as 15-inch versions with AMD’s new Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 “Surface Edition” chips. The Surface Laptop 3 used the previous-gen Ryzen mobile chips, which was disappointing. With AMD’s potential Ryzen 5000 mobile chips on the horizon, it’s possible that Microsoft held back its launch to time it with AMD’s new processors.
Even better? For the first time, Microsoft could also offer those AMD Ryzen chips in the 13-inch versions, too.
Adding to that rumor are some Benchmarks spotted online. First noted by Windows Latest, Geekbench Benchmarks for a product code-named “OEMWY” and “OEMGR” showed a listing for two devices. The first has AMD’s new Renoir chips, and the second shows Intel Tiger Lake U. It should also be noted that Microsoft has used similar device code names in the past when testing on Geekbench.
Geekbench listings can be manipulated, so it’s best to take that rumor with a grain of salt. However, if this holds up to be true, then the Surface Laptop 4 could 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. Even AMD’s new Renoir and Ryzen chips have proven to pack a lot of punch when put up against Intel’s latest. That’s important, considering that we were really disappointed with the performance of the older Zen+-based chips in last year’s Surface Laptop 3.
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’d also be great to see the addition of an external graphics card, so the laptop can pack 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 for that feature too. Microsoft has chosen to avoid Thunderbolt on even if its most powerful Surface devices, including the Surface Book 3.
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