Surface Laptop 5: Release date, specs, and everything we expect
Microsoft’s Surface family has long been one of the most well-known brands in the PC space. Among them, the Surface Laptop line is probably the most “standard” . While other Surface devices have more unique or uncommon form factors, the Surface Laptop series is just that – a series of laptops. That’s not to say they’re bad, though. The Surface Laptop 4 is a fantastic premium laptop, and one of the best Surface devices available today. But with other Surface devices recently getting a refresh, what can we expect from the Surface Laptop 5?
It’s a valid question because the Surface Laptop 5 is likely the next Surface launch in line. The Surface Pro and Go families were refreshed in October, and we got a brand-new line, the Surface Laptop Studio, at the same time. Only the regular Surface Laptop hasn’t been upgraded in over half a year. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of potential for it to evolve because of that.
What’s the release date for the Surface Laptop 5?
Microsoft has yet to announce the Surface Laptop 5 in any way, so there’s nothing pointing to a specific release date just yet. However, the Surface Laptop series has been one of Microsoft’s most consistent, with releases every year or so. Sometimes it takes up to a year and a half. As such, we could either be looking at a Surface Laptop 5 next spring, or we may have to wait until we’re closer to the fall. Either way, we are almost certain to get a new Surface Laptop at some point in 2022.
What new features will the Surface Laptop 5 have?
The first thing we can expect from the Surface Laptop 5 is a refresh of its internals. The current model is powered by Intel’s 11th-generation Core processors or custom AMD Ryzen 4000-series chipsets. Looking back at the past couple of generations, Microsoft has typically used older AMD processors compared to the Intel models, even when newer ones are available. So, if it launches in the spring, there’s a high chance we’ll be looking at 12th-generation Alder Lake processors from Intel and custom versions of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series mobile chips inside the Surface Laptop 5. It would be nice to see if Microsoft used AMD’s newest hardware, but you shouldn’t count on that.
Of course, the new Surface Laptop 5 will also debut with Windows 11, and it’ll be the first one in the family to do so. But that’s just scratching the surface (no pun intended) of what we might see in this new laptop. Microsoft made quite a splash with the new Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio, both of which brought a few features that are brand new to Surface devices. It would make sense for some of these to make their way to the Surface Laptop 5, so we’ll break them down.
120Hz refresh rate
One thing the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio have is a 120Hz refresh rate display, which is certainly something we’d love to see the Surface Laptop 5 copy. High refresh rate displays have typically been reserved for gaming laptops, but with Microsoft bringing it to its premium tablet, it’s only natural to expect it in the next Surface Laptop, too. We could also see support for haptic feedback in the Surface Slim Pen 2, which the two aforementioned devices also have.
This one is tricky because one of the reasons that was often brought up for why Microsoft didn’t add Thunderbolt support to Surface devices was to maintain parity between Intel and AMD variants. Now, the company has added to the Surface Pro 8 and Laptop Studio, but Thunderbolt is Intel proprietary technology, so bringing it to non-Intel PCs is more complicated. But that’s not to say it’s impossible.
There are a few routes Microsoft can take here. First, it could bring Thunderbolt to both Intel and AMD models, which could result in a more expensive device. We know that it’s possible for non-Intel laptops to support Thunderbolt because Apple supports Thunderbolt 4 in its latest MacBook Pro powered by the Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Another option would be to bring Thunderbolt only to the Intel version, leaving the AMD variant as a less capable, but also potentially cheaper alternative. It could also just discontinue the AMD variants of the Surface Laptop, seeing as the company typically favors Intel in its devices anyway.
The last option would be to not include Thunderbolt support at all, but that would make the Surface Laptop 5 visibly less appealing than the rest of the Surface family. Hopefully, that’s not what happens.
A better webcam
While it took years (and some very unusual circumstances) for most companies to see any value in webcams, Microsoft has long been offering great webcams in most of its Surface devices. The Surface Pro line has supported 1080p video for years, including a 5MP sensor for the webcam, and even the Surface Go has one.
Oddly enough, though, the Surface Laptop family has stuck with 720p webcams, even with the Surface Laptop 4 already released during a time when remote work was much more common. The Surface Laptop Studio brought with it a 1080p webcam, however, and it would certainly be good to see it come to the Surface Laptop 5 as well.
A new design
Microsoft hasn’t really brought a huge external redesign to the Surface Laptop series since its introduction, outside of adding a 15-inch model with the Surface Laptop 3 and making the keyboard cover removable. While it’s fair to expect a minimal amount of changes considering it’s just a traditional laptop, we could be looking at some tweaks to the design. Specifically, with the Surface Pro 8 and Laptop Studio promoting the Surface Slim Pen 2 as the primary pen option, it’s possible that Microsoft will try to make the Surface Laptop 5 more friendly to this new pen, too.
To be fair, the Surface Laptop family has never been the most welcoming to the Surface Pen, since you can’t really attach it anywhere. But with the flat and thin design of the Surface Slim Pen, it would be interesting to see the company try to incorporate it into the Surface Laptop 5. An approach similar to the Surface Laptop Studio, where the pen is stored on the underside of the laptop, could be ideal for a form factor like this.
How much will the Surface Laptop 5 cost?
Depending on how many of the improvements mentioned above make it to the final product, the price of the Surface Laptop 5 could vary somewhat. The current Surface Laptop 4 already starts at $999, so one could argue Microsoft can’t afford to push the entry barrier much higher. But with a high refresh rate display and Thunderbolt support, it’s certainly possible we’d see that price increase at least to some extent with the Surface Laptop 5. Of course, we won’t know for sure until Microsoft announces it, and that’s not happening so soon.
And that’s about all we can say about the Surface Laptop 5 right now. Even though it’s the next Surface device due for a refresh, it’s still a few months away, and it’s early to know anything about it at this point. There haven’t been any rumors or reports regarding the device, either. If you need a new laptop in the meantime and can’t afford to wait, check out our list of the best 15-inch laptops you can buy today. There are plenty of great options from other brands, as well as Surface.