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Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 (2024) review: Beating the MacBook Air for battery life

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1049
inc VAT

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is a brilliant laptop with fantastic battery life, swift performance and a competitive price


  • Long battery life
  • Superbly repairable
  • Luxurious design


  • A little on the heavy side
  • Nothing else

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is the poster child of 2024’s exciting wave of new Copilot+ PCs and comes not only with the promise of better, more efficient local AI processing and extra AI features, but also a revolution in battery life.

After years of backing Intel in its unsuccessful attempt to catch up with Apple, Microsoft has finally backed another horse: Qualcomm with its ARM-based X-series of laptop chips. As we’ve already seen with the Asus Vivobook S15 (S5507) it’s a move that is so far proving successful.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: What you need to know

This is a significant moment in the laptop industry, and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is among the first wave of a new breed of ultraportable machines.

Inside the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is one of Qualcomm’s latest laptop processors: the 12-core Snapdragon X Elite. It’s fast, it runs most of the software that most people want to run and, most importantly, it’s incredibly efficient, which means great battery life.

In fact, Microsoft is claiming up to 22 hours of battery life from the 15in Surface Laptop 7 I’m reviewing here. That’s not a figure I’ve seen it achieve in my testing, but it beats the 13.6in M3 MacBook Air and the 15in M2 MacBook Air hands down.

There’s little else that’s truly exciting about the Surface Laptop 7 but does there need to be? There’s no divergence from the style Microsoft has been using across its range of machines for a while now: all metal and smoothly finished surfaces, with easy access to the innards, a good range of physical inputs and outputs, plus a comfy keyboard and touchpad.

The display is an IPS touchscreen measuring 15in across the diagonal (or 13.8in on the smaller model) with a resolution of 2,496 x 1,664 (2,304 x 1,536 on the 13.8in) and a pixel density of 192ppi. The refresh rate has been bumped up to 120Hz from 60Hz, which is welcome, but that’s the only notable improvement. Unlike the Microsoft Surface Pro 11, which launched at the same time as this laptop, there’s no OLED option.

Inside, that Qualcomm chip is supported by a range of hardware options, starting with 16GB of RAM and rising to 32GB, and with storage running from 256GB up to 1TB. And if you don’t fancy shelling out for the 1TB model, it’s pretty easy to get inside the Surface Laptop 7 and swap out the existing 2230 SSD for a higher-capacity model.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: Price and competition

Configuration tested: 15in IPS 2,496 x 1,664 touchscreen; 12-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite X1E-80-100 processor; 32GB of RAM; 1TB SSD. Price when reviewed: £2,149 inc VAT

Microsoft has supplied me with a top-spec Surface Laptop 7 for this review; it comes with 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and costs £2,149.

If you don’t need all that memory, the 16GB variant starts at £1,349 with 256GB of storage, and a larger drive can be specified at the point of purchase. It’s £200 extra for the model with 512GB or £400 for the 1TB SSD.

The 13.8in Surface Laptop 7 is better value. It starts at £1,049 and comes with the option of the slower 10-core Snapdragon X Plus processor with 16GB of RAM and either a 256GB or a 512GB SSD, while the X Elite variant starts at £1,449 (16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) and rises to £2,049 (32GB RAM, 1TB SSD).

The principal competition for the Surface Laptop 7 comes from the M3 Apple MacBook Air, which starts at £1,099 for the 13.6in model, and £1,299 for the 15.3in model. For those prices you’re only getting 8GB of RAM, though. To match the base level Surface Laptop 7 spec, you’re looking at prices of £1,299 and £1,499 respectively; effectively, the Surface Laptop 7 is the better value machine by £150.

Start looking at other Snapdragon laptops, however, and you might not be quite so impressed. The Asus Vivobook S15 (S5507), for instance, is £1,299 and comes with a 120Hz OLED screen, a Snapdragon X Elite (X1E-78-100) processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. That makes it even better value than the Surface Laptop 7. There are downsides, however: it has no touchscreen, isn’t as pretty and you can’t buy a more compact version.

Lenovo might have you covered there, however, with its Yoga Slim 7x. It’s powered by the Snapdragon X Elite (X1E-78-100) processor, has a 14in 3k OLED 90Hz screen, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage and starts at £1,250.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 (15in) review: Design and key features

The 15in variant of the Surface Laptop 7 is a handsome thing. It’s finished in smoothly painted aluminium in grey or black – if you prefer blue or green, you’ll have to opt for the smaller machine – and it’s built extremely solidly with a nice stiff lid and an unyielding, robust base.

Unlike the Asus Vivobook, the Surface Laptop 7 looks as good from the underside as it does from above and it’s nearly as well-appointed when it comes to physical connections. You get two USB-C 4/Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left edge supporting 65W charging, DP video output and data transfer up to 40Gbits/sec. There’s also one USB-A 3.1 port, a microSDXC card slot, a 3.5mm headset jack and Microsoft’s magnetic Surface Connect slot so you can charge the laptop without having to occupy a USB-C port.

For such a good-looking, well-made premium ultraportable, though, this is not the sleekest or lightest machine. It measures 18.3mm thick and it is quite the chunk, weighing 1.66kg. That might not sound like much, but it feels a good deal weightier than either the 15in MacBook Air, which weighs 1.5kg, or the Asus Vivobook S15 at 1.32kg.

It makes up for this in a couple of different areas, though. Of the three machines, the Surface Laptop’s keyboard is the most comfortable to type on: the keystroke feels smoother, deeper and less rattly than on the MacBook Air, and it isn’t offset to the left like it is on the Vivobook, since there’s no numeric keyboard. The haptic touchpad is just as responsive as the MacBook’s, too, and less hard work on the finger than the mechanical clicker on the Vivobook.

And this is the easiest machine of the three to get inside, service and clean. You only need to remove the four quick-release rubber feet – these are simply clipped in, there’s no glue here – undo four Torx screws and remove the base. The latter is attached with magnets so there’s no need to pry it out with a special tool or worry about snapping fragile plastic clips; it simply lifts away.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be regaled with the satisfying sight of neatly labelled internals – informing you how many screws you need to remove for each component and which type of tool you need – and easily removable components. You can’t add RAM, and there’s only one M.2 slot so you have to replace the existing 2230 drive if you want more storage, should you need to replace the battery, fan, 3.5 audio jack or the Surface Connect port, these are child’s play to swap out compared with most modern ultraportables.

Of course, this is also what Microsoft is calling a “Copilot+ PC”. To gain this branding, a laptop has to have an NPU (neural processing unit) with at least 40 TOPS (trillions of operations per second) of local AI processing power and this unlocks a handful of AI features, all processed locally, not in the cloud. There’s Cocreator, an AI image creation assistant in Microsoft Paint, live captioning which can also translate for you (40 languages are supported at launch), enhanced webcam effects and Recall, which takes screenshots every few seconds and lets you search historic activity with a prompt. The latter feature is coming later down the line, however, as Microsoft rolled it back following privacy concerns.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: Performance and battery life

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is powered by the new Snapdragon X Elite chipset. I say “the” but there are, rather confusingly, three variants of the X Elite appearing across various different laptops. All have 12 cores and 45MB of cache, and all are equipped with the same Hexagon NPU, rated at 45 TOPS.

Each variant of the X Elite, however, runs at slightly different clock speeds. The lowest spec chip doesn’t have “Dual-Core Boost”, which allows the chipset to boost two of its cores to a higher frequency in bursts when required. And the top two variants have a slightly more powerful GPU, rated at 4.6TFLOPs instead of 3.8TFLOPS. The X Elite chip inside the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is the X1E-80-100, which has a maximum multithread frequency of 3.8GHz, a 4GHz Dual-Core Boost frequency and the more powerful GPU.

Stacked up against its rivals, the differences in performance levels is as you’d expect. In Geekbench 6, it’s slightly faster than the Asus Vivobook, which has the Snapdragon X Elite X1E-78-100 inside (3.4GHz and no Dual-Core Boost capability). It’s slightly slower than the X1E-84-100 in the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Edge (3.8GHz and 4.2GHz Dual-Core Boost). And it’s faster in the multicore test than the Apple M3-powered MacBook Air but slower in single-core operations.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 (2024) review geekbench 6 performance chart

Take a look at the Geekbench 6 Compute benchmark, however, and that indicates you’re going to get better performance from a GPU standpoint from Apple silicon. In the cross-platform OpenCL benchmark, the M3 MacBook Air is quite a way in front of the Surface Laptop 7.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 (2024) review geekbench 6 compute chart

Neither are what I would call particularly capable gaming machines, however. Most games will run on the Surface Laptop 7 in emulation, which adds a significant performance overhead and means modern, demanding games won’t run at their best. I’ve had some success running some older titles and 2D platformers installed via Steam (the Microsoft Store blocks the installation of most games at this point) – just don’t expect to run anything at 120fps and native resolution.

More importantly, there are plenty of serious applications from the likes of Microsoft (Office) and Adobe (Photoshop and Lightroom) that are now becoming available in ARM native versions. Remember, this is an ARM chip like Apple’s M series, and to take full advantage of the silicon and run at its best, software needs to be ported to the ARM architecture. Applications that aren’t will still run via the Microsoft Prism emulator, but they won’t run as well as native code.

It’s not just office software and Adobe apps that are going native ARM on Windows, either. There are now ARM-native versions of DaVinci Resolve, GIMP, Affinity Photo, Blender and all three of the major browsers – Chrome, Edge and Firefox. Spotify, Zoom, Disney Plus, Prime Video and Netflix are also among the convertees.

There’s still plenty of software out there that’s x86 only. Notably, no VPN provider has yet moved its software over to native ARM code – but I’d say that it’s reached a tipping point. There’s enough available now and enough x86 apps work well under emulation that most people can use one of these laptops without issue.

And when it comes to battery life, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 and its fellow Copilot+ PCs blow their Intel counterparts out of the water. They even surpass the equivalent Apple MacBooks, which have hitherto been unmatched when it comes to stamina. In my tests, the Surface Laptop 7 15in lasted a whopping 17hrs 13mins – nearly a quarter of an hour longer than the Asus Vivobook S15 (S5507) and more than three hours longer than the 13.6in M3 MacBook Air.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 (2024) review battery life chart

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: Display

Probably the least interesting aspect of the new Surface Laptop is the display. Unlike the Surface Pro, there’s no OLED option, just the same IPS-based 3:2 aspect touchscreen as before. It’s a good screen, and it’s nice to have touch compatibility, but I’d take an OLED screen over this any day of the week. The one on the Asus Vivobook S15 just has that little extra zing to it.

It’s capable of reproducing 97.4% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut and it’s accurate, too. You get a pair of colour profiles to choose from in the Windows settings panel – sRGB or Vivid – and I measured average Delta E colour accuracy using the DisplayCal app and an X-Rite i1 Display Plus calibrator at 0.83 for sRGB and 0.93 for Vivid vs DCI-P3 respectively. You’ll have no issues here unless you prefer to work in another colour space, at which point you’ll need to purchase a calibrator and produce your own profiles.

Peak brightness is excellent at 600cd/m2, with a contrast ratio of 1,242:1 – both absolutely acceptable numbers for this type of display. Overall, it isn’t quite a match for the OLED screen on the Asus but it’s nice and sharp at 2,496 x 1,664 and a highly competent all-rounder.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: Verdict

Now is an exciting time in the world of laptops and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is in the vanguard. It’s big, beautifully made, has better battery life than a MacBook Air, is plenty powerful and impressively easy to repair and upgrade.

It’s a higher-class computer than the Asus Vivobook and it has advantages over the MacBook Air 15in as well. Even the price, which is higher than the Vivobook, is still low enough to undercut Apple’s rival machines. In short, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 is an easy machine to recommend – it’s a fantastic premium laptop that’s a dream to use.

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