So a friend was looking for a good laptop in the $1000 range and I recommended her the venerable M1 MacBook Air, which is what I have and love. She went to a well known Indian retailer where a sales representative was trying to get her to buy Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 instead. He told her that the M1 MacBook Air heats up more quickly, and that the Ryzen inside the Surface laptop is a superior processor. That’s either a blatant lie or the sales representative had no idea what he was saying. I don’t know which is worse.
Here are some of the actual significant differences between the M1 MacBook Air and the Surface Laptop 4.
- Surface Laptop 4 has an 10-11 hour real world battery life whereas the M1 MacBook Air runs for 14-17 hours. Note that Microsoft claims 19 hours of maximum battery life for their laptop and Apple claims 18 hours. One of them is lying badly.
- The M1 MacBook Air has a better speaker, inbuilt microphone and camera than the Surface Laptop 4, which especially matters in this day and age of working from home and remotely.
- Surface's Ryzen 5 processor turned out to be worse than I thought. It doesn’t even have the latest Ryzen chipset. The Apple M1 outperforms it by a mile not just in CPU processing but also by over 2x in the graphics department. Reviewers have also said the Surface Laptop 4 heated up easily despite having a fan. Whereas M1 literally remains cool to the touch despite performing heavy tasks thanks to its superior processor.
- The USB-C port on the Surface Laptop 4 is basic, not the much higher speed transfer supporting “Thunderbolt” port that the MacBook has. This matters not just for transferring files but also for things you might connect your laptop to, such as external monitors or HDMI connections for presentations.
- Surface laptops have a proprietary charging port, as opposed to the standard USB-C charging on MacBooks. This means that if your Surface charger stops working, you will need to shell out over $250. Sure, a MacBook charger isn't cheap either, because Apple, but it's half the price of the Surface one. Also, since a MacBook has USB-C charging, you can use any other compatible USB-C charger you have on hand too, not just Apple's own.
To make things worse for the Surface Laptop 4, it costs roughly $150-200 more than the M1 MacBook Air. Choose wisely.