Compare the two hottest 13-inch laptops today: MacBook Air and Surface Laptop 4 – VnReview


Compare the two hottest 13-inch laptops today: MacBook Air and Surface Laptop 4 - VnReview

Microsoft and Apple go head-to-head in a “tight as a string” battle between the MacBook Air and the Surface Laptop 4.

Microsoft and Apple have long been arch-rivals, competing fiercely with each other from software to hardware, where MacBooks compete for market share with Surface laptops. For the past few years, Apple seems to have led Microsoft, but the gap between them is narrowing as the Surface Laptop product line always receives valuable improvements after each generation. At least that’s the way it was until earlier this year, when the Cupertino giant rolled out its homegrown M1 processor, giving the latest MacBook Air its epic performance and unmatched battery life. could be more excellent.

Microsoft, of course, also hit back with the Surface Laptop 4, a modest upgrade from the Surface Laptop 3, with an 11th Gen Intel (or AMD 4000 series) CPU that ensures the device is both speedy, battery life long enough to meet the needs of users.

So if you put the operating system aside for a while, which 13-inch laptop model – Surface Laptop 4 or MacBook Air – is the right choice for you?

You will not save any money if you choose one of the two laptop models mentioned above. The Surface Laptop 4 has a pretty reasonable starting price, $999 for an AMD Ryzen 4680U CPU configuration, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. But for long-term use, the advice for you is to upgrade to the 16GB RAM version, which costs $ 1,199.

Are you an Intel fan? Surface Laptop 4 configuration with Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, and 512GB SSD costs $1,299. For $1,499, you get 16GB of RAM. Want the strongest version? Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD will set you back $1,699.

As for the MacBook Air, the amount to spend is about the same. For $999, you can buy the base version with an M1 SoC, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. This version has a 7-core GPU.

For $1,249, you get the 8-core GPU version, though it’s still an M1 SoC, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. You can spend an extra $200 to upgrade to 16GB RAM, and another $200 to upgrade to a 1TB SSD. The device we use to compare in this article has an 8-core GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, priced at $1,649.

Slim and refined, but beginning to show signs of aging, the MacBook Air and Surface Laptop 4 are both lightweight, ultra-thin, and durable laptops – it’s clear that it’s time for them to be redesigned to be. more fresh.

If you’ve seen a MacBook Air in the last few years, you already know what the latest model looks like. It still has the slim wedge design like the supermodel, with three colors: bronze gold, space gray, and silver. The MacBook Air remains impossibly thin and light, and its unibody aluminum chassis is crafted to a stunning finish. The recess on the front edge is an interesting highlight, and the upward speaker cluster is more reasonable than the downward facing speaker clusters commonly found in other laptop models.

However, the MacBook Air would be better if the screen bezels were a bit thinner, and more vivid if there were some new colors. Machine size is 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches, weighs 1.27kg, equivalent to the size of Surface Laptop 4 despite having a smaller screen.

Surface Laptop 4 in general also has similarities with MacBook Air. It possesses a high-end design with a simple frame made of solid aluminum. What Microsoft does better than Apple is giving users more eye-catching colors, like Ice Blue or Sand Yellow. Some models also use soft Alcantara material for the keyboard, creating more accents for an ordinary to boring design.

The Surface Laptop 4 still needs to shrink the bezels further, but the unique color choices, Alcantara material, and convenient infrared camera positioned at the top of the screen give it the win over the MacBook Air.

Both models don’t give you a wide selection of ports.

The MacBook Air relies entirely on Thunderbolt 3 ports – two ports located on the left side of the machine, to be exact, for charging or data transfer. The right side of the device has only a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Surface Laptop 4 does not have any Thunderbolt ports. Instead, it has a USB 3.1 Type-C port on the left side, right next to a USB Type-A port and headphone jack. On the right edge of the machine is a Surface Connect magnetic port to connect the dock and charge.

If the connection port disappoints you, the screen is quite the opposite. Both the MacBook Air and Surface Laptop 4 have impressive displays that deliver bright and vibrant images whether you’re watching movies, editing photos, or simply browsing the web.

Before going into screen quality, the Surface Laptop 4 won thanks to its 13.5-inch IPS display, 2256 x 1504 resolution with 3:2 aspect ratio. Taller, but narrower than the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, the Surface’s form factor is perfect for work, allowing you to see more content displayed vertically on web pages. The MacBook Air’s 13.3-inch, Retina 2560 x 1600 display is not only smaller, but also has an outdated 16:9 aspect ratio.

However, the MacBook Air still excels when showing up to 81% of the DCI-P3 color range, while the Surface Laptop 4 only reaches 77%. Unfortunately, both laptop models fall short of the 84% average.

With a peak brightness of 366 nits, the MacBook Air barely beats the Surface Laptop 4 (349 nits), but again, both screens fall short of the 389 nits average.

Interestingly enough, the colors on the Surface Laptop 4 screen look more vibrant when placed next to the MacBook Air. But that’s because its white balance favors warm or intermediate tones, while the MacBook Air has a cool, paper-like tone.

For Apple fans, the good news is that the butterfly keyboard is gone forever, replaced by the traditional chiclet keyboard. The bad news is, the Surface Laptop feels more comfortable to type on.

While the MacBook Air’s keys are firmer, they’re a bit stiffer than the Surface’s keys. Key travel is generally about the same – above average – but the MacBook Air keys require more force to press. What makes the Surface Laptop 4’s keys stand out is the bounce that when typing will make your fingers “snap” from key to key.

On the Surface Laptop 4, you can type an average of 121 keys per minute with 95% accuracy. On the MacBook Air, this is 113 keys/min with 96% accuracy.

The MacBook Air’s 4.7 x 3.2-inch touchpad is unbelievably large for a laptop of this size. It has a smooth glass surface and is responsive to swipes or finger gestures. Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop’s 4.5 x 3-inch touchpad, although not as large, feels equally smooth, and obviously it responds extremely quickly to Windwos 10’s finger operations, such as swiping. two fingers to zoom.

The M1 chip changed everything. It gives the MacBook Air confidence in the confrontation that usually Intel chip Airs prove to be inferior to competitors, especially when Apple always equips this product line with processors with low consumption. Super low power.

It can be affirmed that SoC M1 is the world’s fastest chip for ultra-compact laptops. At least that is the result obtained in most tests. In the context of actual use, both the Surface Laptop 4 and MacBook Air are more than enough to “carry” 20 Chrome tabs, four of which are streaming 1080p video while others play music from YouTube Music. Those common everyday tasks are executed equally smoothly no matter which laptop you choose. When it comes to more resource-intensive tasks, the MacBook Air is starting to get ahead.

With an overall performance score of 4,829 when tested using Geekbench 4.5, the Surface Laptop 4 with an Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM was crushed by the MacBook Air (M1 chip, score 7,575). The consolation is that the Surface Laptop 4 wins in average performance (4,368).

It takes 17 minutes and 1 second to convert a 4K video to 1080p using the Handbrake application, Surface Laptop continues to fall victim to the M1 chip on the MacBook Air, when Apple’s machine only needs 9 minutes and 15 seconds to finish!

The Surface Laptop 4’s 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD is faster than previous-generation Surface SSDs, copying 25GB multimedia files at 562.7 MBps. However, it only carries slippers for the MacBook Air (512GB SSD) – this laptop model has a speed of “wind god” to 2,897.8 MBps.

Both laptops use integrated graphics; Intel’s M1 and Iris Xe chips performed on par in the Civilization VI: Gathering Storm test. The MacBook Air ran games smoothly at 37fps, 1440 x 900, at Medium settings, while the Surface Laptop 4 hit 30fps at 1080p.

You’ll comfortably use both laptop models all day long, but the MacBook Air prevails in the battery test when it lasted 14 hours and 41 minutes, longer than the Surface Laptop 4 to … 4 hours even though Microsoft’s laptop model also has impressive battery life, 10 hours 46 minutes. Both machines beat the 10 hour 22 minute average.

If you don’t count performance and battery life, the Surface Laptop 4 wins thanks to a more comfortable keyboard and a few design advantages (infrared camera, multicolor). Unfortunately for Microsoft, performance and battery life are extremely important. With the M1 chip, the MacBook Air excels on these two fronts, enough to put it ahead of the Surface Laptop 4.

The Surface Laptop 4 is obviously not a “crawling turtle,” but it simply can’t keep up with the M1’s processing power, and the MacBook’s SSD is clearly faster. Add up to 4 hours more battery life, and the large gap between the two in these categories is more than enough for the MacBook Air to overshadow the Surface Laptop 4’s keyboard and design advantages.

If you don’t care about the operating system when looking to buy a high-end 13-inch laptop, you won’t regret either model. But in terms of performance and battery life, the MacBook Air is undeniably the better choice for most people.