Surface Laptop 5 to Finally Embrace Modern AMD Processors

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 26 Comments

A new leak suggests that the next Surface Laptop 5 will go where no Surface has gone before it, with modern AMD processors and more ports.

A site called Windows Prime got its hands on what looks like the official Surface Laptop 5 specs sheet, and if it’s real, Surface fans are in for some important improvements to what was already a terrific laptop.

As with Surface Laptop 4, the next Surface Laptop will be available in AMD and Intel models, and in 13.5- and 15-inch sizes. Some will even still feature Alcantara covers on the wrist rest, though that option is getting less and less common with each generation.

Two things really differentiate Surface Laptop 5 from the previous two Surface Laptop generations, especially: the AMD models will feature modern Ryzen mobile processors, and not previous-generation versions. And there will be two USB-C ports, instead of just one, and they will provide Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 capabilities. (Surface Laptop 5 also apparently retains the USB-A port, so this device will have three USB ports, a first for the range.) And yes, Surface Connect is still a thing.

The AMD processor choices are described as both AMD Ryzen Microsoft Edition processors and AMD Ryzen 5 6680U/Ryzen 7 6980U Mobile Processors, both with Radeon Graphics Microsoft Surface Edition (with either 6 or 8 cores depending on the configuration). The Intel choices are the 12th-generation Intel Core i5-1240P and Intel Core i7-1280P processors, both with Iris Xe graphics. Which I’d never heard of, but Intel has a big 12th-Gen announcement coming soon.

Battery life looks a bit too incredible, with the AMD variants landing at around 20 hours, depending on configuration, and the Intel versions averaging around 18 hours, again depending on the configuration.

Hopefully, Surface Laptop 5 will be announced soon: this was the only major Surface PC not upgraded last fall.

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Comments (26)

26 responses to “Surface Laptop 5 to Finally Embrace Modern AMD Processors”

  1. jwpear

    Finally, some port sanity--USB-A and USB-C! Do we have Apple's latest MacBook Pro to thank for this?

    • rob_segal

      Surface Laptop 3 and 4 has USB-A and USB-C. The spec sheet says Surface Laptop 5 will have 2 USB-C ports instead of just 1 and both will be USB 4/Thunderbolt 4.

      • jwpear

        Holy cow, I had forgotten about the SL3 having both USB-A and -C ports! I had one briefly, so not sure how I forgot that. Maybe it was the lack of thunderbolt-ness that caused me to suppress the memory.

        My wife has the SL1 with its single USB-A port. I have the SLS with the moderately generous 2 USB-C ports. I can't help but wonder why, on a device as expensive and thick as SLS, they couldn't have provided a USB-A port and an SD card reader in addition to the USB-C ports. I might be crazy, but an HDMI port would have been nice too.

        I have a drawer full of dongles. I've gathered even more with the transition to USB-C. I'm tired of dongles. They're annoying to keep up with and wasteful of resources and money. We're not fully into the USB-C/thunderbolt world yet, so I'd like to see Microsoft (and others) continue to offer a variety of ports.

        Computers, especially Windows computers, are meant to be tools that help us get things done. Missing ports is like having a circular saw, but you can't attach the blade without first purchasing an adapter.

  2. Donte

    "Finally Embrace Modern AMD Processors"

    Ha, a little too late. If I were buying this for performance I would go with the I7-1280p and rock the 14C/20T vs the AMD 8C/16T.

    AMD had its moment but I think Intel, or I hope, Intel has woken up and combined with their mountain of cash an actually owning their own fabs will make a difference.

    • MikeCerm

      Hard to really make any meaningful claims until benchmarks are available for these next-gen AMD parts, but Intel is still pretty terrible when it comes to efficiency, and if Intel is able to maintain a 10% performance lead when using 50% more power, I'd call that a win for AMD. The Intel's off-the-wall TDPs don't matter on desktop, but in laptops they definitely do if it means a big hit to battery life. But we need to wait and see how these AMD CPUs actually perform to know for sure.

  3. sott3

    All great news. My users love their Surface Laptops (gens 1-4). Never had a laptop that was so universally praised. And since we have a significant investment in Surface Docks and chargers, I'm glad to see the Connector will still be around.

  4. brettscoast

    Good post Paul nice boost in CPU performance there with the nice addition of the AMD Ryzen chip's with some serious grunt behind it. The battery life is off the charts be interesting to see what the real-world battery experience is like with some serious testing.

  5. JH_Radio

    I'm thinking of Surface Laptop 8 when 2025 comes around.

    By then Intel will get really interesting in its processors.


  6. stoicjim

    LTE too, please.

  7. rmlounsbury

    I might be in the minority but I absolutely love the Surface Connect port. It's a wonderfully non fussy way to connect to a dock and charge (and it is effectively magsafe for PC). I hope Microsoft keeps it for Surface devices. I have Surface docks everywhere I would dock my Surface PC. The only problem was lack of additional ports and Thunderbolt... Which appears to be solved.

    Heck, I even like the Alcantara material on the deck. It's soft and warm vs. the cold hard aluminum without it. It can be fussy to keep clean but I do like it. I wish Microsoft just offered the Alcantara as an option on all the versions and colors of Surface Laptop (default to non-Alcantara).

    I'm have already decided to get a Surface Laptop this year. I'm just waiting for Microsoft to release SL5 before jumping on board.

    • bluvg

      Agreed, the Surface Connect port is fantastic, other than being proprietary and probably a bit dated in terms of specs. A magnetic version of a TB4 connector would be welcome.

      • rmlounsbury

        Yeah, not sure if Surface Connect will ever get an significant update or TB4 backing or not. I'd imagine it would make older generation connectors not compatible and Microsoft has been pushing the whole backwards compatibility as a key feature of Surface Connect.

  8. RobertJasiek

    The CPUs are nice, AMD / Intel choice is good, let us hope that AMD indeed also gets Thunderbolt 4 or at least USB 4, the battery life is still ok if 50% lie and 50% reality, 3:2 display is fine. Now, if only Microsoft does not again kill this notebook by a) excessive price increments and b) tiny arrow keys... Even then, I have hope that such AMD and Intel CPUs will also make it into next generation Surface Pros, for which the keyboard can be discarded. (As always, I demand reduced reflectance and user-replaceable battery.)

  9. emanon2121

    The AMD system is going to be the one you want. The graphics from AMD far out muscles the Intel Xe graphics by a large margin.

  10. bluvg

    The CPU options are a big step forward, especially the Intel 12th gen (Alder Lake), which are scoring some big wins. This won't quite bridge the current Apple vs. PC perf gap, but it will narrow it a good deal, and without some of the weird compatibility issues reported on the M1 side.

    • MikeCerm

      If the benchmarks are to be believed, the i7-1280p falls somewhere between the M1 Pro and M1 Max, although it uses like 2x as many watts to get there. Haven't seen any benchmarks for AMD's next-gen CPUs yet, but pretty much all of these things have WAY more power than the vast majority of people need out of a laptop.

      • bluvg

        "WAY more power than the vast majority of people need"

        Unless they run Teams. :P Right, Intel has very impressive overall perf until efficiency is factored in, especially at high load. Re AMD, great story on the desktop side, less so on mobile.

  11. Markld

    I just purchased an Lenovo Flex with an AMD processor, right now I am on my fifth day averaging 4 hours a day since Friday with 20% left.

    So Paul's comment: "Battery life looks a bit too incredible, with the AMD variants landing at around 20 hours, depending on configuration" seems accurate.

    Battery life is definitely something I will always consider before I buy a laptop.

  12. rob_segal

    Larger battery, an additional USB-C port, Thunderbolt 4/USB 4, and more performant processors are a nice upgrade. Quad speakers might be an upgrade, too. Microsoft's spec sheet for Surface Laptop 4 doesn't say if it's dual or quad speakers. No indication if Surface Laptop 5 will have a haptic trackpad. 120Hz display isn't a surprise.

    • MikeCerm

      2 good speakers will always sound better than 4 smaller speakers. Really, the only reason to have a quad speaker setup is on a tablet so you can have proper left-right stereo separation regardless of orientation. Since these are laptops, that can only be used effectively in landscape, there is no reason for quad speakers.

    • shameer_mulji

      Agree, these are really nice upgrades. What I'm also curious about is the SSD performance. Current premium laptops come with PCIe Gen 3 SSD's. I'd love for these new Surface Laptops to come with PCIe Gen 4 SSD's. They're nearly double the performance of the Gen 3 models.

      • Donte

        You should watch some bench mark videos on YouTube. There is no real difference in Gen 3 vs Gen 4 for 98% of use cases. That is on high end desktops where it could be used.

        On a laptop it really won’t matter. The price gap right now is pretty big. I priced out a 2TB Samsung 970 plus vs a Gen 4 2TB 980 and it was difference of over $150

  13. will

    While it is a good design, it would be nice if they slimmed the bezels on the sides down a little. Maybe get close to a 14" and closer to a 16" in the same size?

    • bluvg

      And better webcam! This is a sore spot across the industry that they could lead if they wanted. Laptop manufacturers hear the need and automatically assume the ask is for 1080p over 720p. NO! Not more pixels (which are wasted on Zoom/Teams/etc. anyway), but better optics!

      More webcam pixels are pointless. Optics not sucking is not.

  14. MikeCerm

    Can't credit Apple with this "innovation" since Surface Laptop 3 had USB-C and USB-A, and it was released in 2019.

  15. melinau

    Sounds promising. I love the style & quality of Surface products having some years ago bought a Surface Pro. Recently the relatively expensive prices & last-gen technologies have put me off. I currently run a 15" HP laptop with a Ryzen mobile and it is a great machine. The new 6xxx generation of Ryzen mobile devices looks very promising. I'll pay a premium for quality, but there's a limit! If MS can get their act together, I may well go for it....