Surface Laptop 4 vs Surface Pro 7: Which Surface device is the right choice for you?

The latest portable PC from Microsoft is the Surface Laptop 4, but the Redmond firm offers a wide variety of Surface devices. The one that has the most parity with the Surface Laptop 4 is the Surface Pro 7. They’re both under the premium umbrella and they both have similar internals, but they have different form factors. Deciding between the two can be a bit confusing, so we hope to sort that decision for you!

Surface Laptop 4 vs Surface Pro 7: Specifications

Note that the Surface Pro 7+ is specifically made for businesses. That’s why it ships with Windows 10 Pro and the price reflects the OS upgrade. It was announced in January and it’s the only way to get 11th-generation processors in a Surface Pro. Regular consumers still get 10th-generation processors in the Surface Pro 7.

Design: The Surface Laptop 4 is a laptop and the Surface Pro 7 is a tablet

The key difference between the two products is that they’re different form factors. The Surface Laptop 4 is a clamshell notebook while the Surface Pro 7 is a tablet. There are pros and cons to each, and it depends on your preference.

If you’re looking for something more traditional, that’s where the Surface Laptop 4 comes in. It’s a laptop, just like your previous PC probably was. It does actually have Surface Pen support, but it’s not very practical to use.

The Surface Pro 7 is designed for use with a pen. If you like to draw or take handwritten notes, this is definitely the way to go. You can also attach a keyboard to it, turning it into a more traditional computer.

Despite being a tablet, you don’t miss out on ports with the Surface Pro 7. Well, you don’t miss out any more than you would with a Surface Laptop 4. They both have a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, and a Surface Connect port. One advantage in the Surface Laptop 4 is the ability to remove the keyboard and replace the storage. This is something that showed up in the business-focused Surface Pro 7+, but not in the Pro 7.

They also have very different styles. The Surface Laptop 4 is made out of aluminum, and it comes in four colors. You can get it in Platinum, Matte Black, Sandstone, and Ice Blue. It weighs in at 2.79 or 2.84 pounds, depending on the model you pick, while the magnesium Surface Pro 7 starts at 1.7 pounds. Of course, a Type Cover will add on an additional 0.68 pounds.

When it comes to color choices, the Surface Pro 7 only comes in Platinum and Matte Black. This is because it’s easier to produce anodized aluminum. Magnesium is the lighter material, which is why it makes sense in a tablet, but aluminum is easier to make in pretty colors.

Some people consider the Surface Pro 7 to actually be one of the best convertible laptops around. It’s all about what feels comfortable on your lap.

Display: The Surface Pro 7 has a smaller screen

Just like all Surface products, the Laptop 4 and Pro 7 come with 3:2 displays, but the one on the Laptop is bigger. Microsoft uses a 12.3-inch screen on the Surface Pro 7, and that hasn’t changed since 2015’s Surface Pro 4. The Surface Laptop 4 has a 13.5-inch display. There’s also a 15-inch model, but there’s a pretty big disparity between the use case for a 15-inch laptop and for a 12.3-inch tablet.

As mentioned above, they both have Surface Pen support. They also both have IR cameras for Windows Hello facial recognition in the top bezel. Indeed, this has been a staple of almost every Surface product since Windows 10 was introduced.

Another key difference between the two screens is that the Surface Pro 7 has a higher pixel density at 267ppi. The Surface Laptop 4 comes in at just 201ppi. That’s a difference of about 1.6 million pixels with nearly five million in the Surface Pro 7 and just under 3.4 million in the Surface Laptop 4. Being that neither screen is particularly large, you might not even see a difference. Either one is well beyond the 1080p resolution that we’re seeing in various other laptops.

Keyboard: The Surface Laptop 4 has a sturdier base

Just like the form factor, the keyboards are completely different. The Surface Laptop 4 has a standard keyboard as you’d expect from a laptop. The Surface Pro 7 has an attachable Type Cover. These two products feel very different to type on.

With the Surface Pro Type Cover, you can pull it off, snap it back on, fold it behind the device, and use it in a variety of ways. However, when you type on it, it doesn’t feel as sturdy as a proper base. This is why it’s important to remember the form factor when making the decision. For a better typing experience, the Surface Laptop 4 is the way to go. If you go for a Surface Pro 7, you really should be planning to use it as a tablet in a fair few use cases.

As we know, Microsoft loves Alcantara fabric, so both keyboards are offered with that material on top. This is actually where the more colorful options of the Surface Pro 7 come in because you can get a Signature Type Cover in Poppy Red, Ice Blue, or Platinum. It can be fun to mix and match those colors with a Matte Black or Platinum tablet. There’s also a black Type Cover, which isn’t called ‘Signature’ because it’s not Alcantara.

For the Surface Laptop 4, you get Alcantara if you choose the Platinum or Ice Blue colors. If you get Matte Black or Sandstone, you’re getting an aluminum keyboard.

Performance: The Surface Pro 7 is still using last-gen hardware

Normally, there’s no significant difference in performance between the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro. They both use similar processors, although the Core i7 in the Surface Laptop 4 is a touch better than the one in the Surface Pro 7+. But when the Surface Pro 7+ was announced with 11th-gen processors, Microsoft left the Surface Pro 7 alone.

That means that if you’re a regular consumer, you still only get 10th-gen processors. There’s actually a pretty significant difference here. Both 10th- and 11th-gen are based on a 10nm process, which is good. But Intel has been doubling down on its integrated graphics.

10th-gen was a great start, packing Iris Plus Graphics into its chips and offering a big boost over UHD Graphics. With 11th-gen, we have Iris Xe now. Things are at a whole new level. If you care about graphics performance, the Surface Laptop 4 is the way to go. If you really want a tablet, see if you can get your hands on the Surface Pro 7+, or just wait for the Surface Pro 8.

Another thing to note is that the base model of the Surface Laptop 4 comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 4680U Surface Edition processor. It’s a competitor to an Intel Core i5, and by all accounts, it’s pretty much on par with the Core i5.

Price: The Surface Laptop 4 has a higher entry point but better value

While the Surface Laptop 4 is the most expensive of the three, it also has the least amount of add-ons that you need. Here’s a breakdown of Surface Laptop 4 pricing.

This pricing is pretty straightforward. Things get a little bit more complicated when we talk about the Surface Pro 7. That’s because while it has a lower starting price and lower minimum specs, you’ll want to buy a Type Cover and a Surface Pen. The Surface Pro Type Cover costs $129.99, or $159.99 for the Alcantara Signature Type Cover. The Surface Pen is an additional $99.99.

As you can see, the Surface Laptop 4 is actually less expensive than the Surface Pro 7 when you compare similar configurations. On top of that, the Surface Pro 7 is using last-gen specs. Also, you’ll need to buy a bunch of stuff separately with the Surface Pro 7.

So should I buy the Surface Laptop 4 or the Surface Pro 7?

It’s probably also worth noting that there’s another, more modern Surface Pro called the Surface Pro X. It’s actually one of the best 4G LTE laptops, but while it’s thinner than a Surface Pro 7, it has an ARM processor. It’s really meant more for people that are on the go, and it’s something of a different use case to either of these PCs.

When it comes down to the choice between a Surface Laptop and an Intel-powered Surface Pro, it comes down to whether you want a laptop or a tablet. In order to need a Surface Pro, you really should want to use the pen. You should be interested in drawing, writing, or doing something else that requires a tablet.

Otherwise, the laptop is a no-brainer. It’s got a bigger screen and a better keyboard for anyone that needs a good typing experience. It’s also just less expensive, especially considering that it comes with its own keyboard.

The other major downside to the Surface Pro 7 is that it’s a product that’s badly in need of a refresh. Every other premium PC right now is using 11th-gen processors. For some reason, when Microsoft refreshed the Pro 7, it made the new product exclusive to businesses.

The Surface Laptop 4 is just a great product. But ultimately, it comes down to if you want a laptop or a tablet.

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Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I’ve been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.