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Microsoft Surface Laptop vs. Apple Macbook, these are the differences

Microsoft has announced the Surface Laptop, a sleek laptop with metal housing that competes directly with Apple's MacBook. In appearance, this laptop strongly resembles the MacBooks, so we've put the differences in mind.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Platinum
Microsoft Surface Laptop Platinum

Because many iCulture readers next to their iPhone also use a Windows computer, we think that a mutual comparison makes sense. Perhaps you have not yet switched to macOS and this luxurious looking Microsoft laptop is called. Or maybe you're a stupid MacBook user and want to know what this new laptop has to offer, compared to Apple.

Microsoft Surface Laptop: Specs in short

These are the key features of this new Microsoft laptop:

Microsoft Surface Laptop Platinum
Microsoft Surface Laptop Platinum
  • The Surface Laptop runs on the new Windows 10 S variant (upgradeable to Windows 10 Pro).
  • The Surface Laptop is primarily aimed at students.
  • Available in 4 colors: platinum gray, graphite gold, cobalt blue and burgundy red (in the Benelux for the time being only in platinum).
  • Comes with 1 year Office 365 Personal and 1TB OneDrive storage.
  • Weight 1.25 kilos.
  • 14.47 mm at the thickest point.
  • 13.5-inch PixelSense Touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 3.
  • Thinest LCD touchscreen for a laptop.
  • 3.4 million pixels.
  • 7th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processor (variants with i7 only available from August).
  • 14.5 hours of battery life.
  • Keyboard and palm rest covered with alcantara-like fabric.
  • Price from $ 999 in the US, from € 1149 in the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • Available from June 15, 2017.

Surface Laptop vs. MacBook

There was a time when MacBooks had little competition because they were so high quality. While Apple chose beautiful aluminum, you were stuck in the Windows Camp with cheap plastic models. That time is over: with a Windows laptop you can now choose a tightly-shaped metal housing, and Microsoft will give it a good example by delivering this Surface Laptop. Whether the Surface Laptop is going to be a status symbol among students and digital nomads, is still awaiting. But Microsoft is throwing everything into battle, including free office membership and a specially designed mouse.

Design: Different Surface Laptop and MacBook

The Surface Laptop and the MacBook do not differ in design so much. Both have the same appearance with a metal housing, which is getting smaller on the front. Weight and thickness include the Surface Laptop (1.25kg) between the 12-inch MacBook (920g) and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (1.37kg).

Microsoft Surface Laptop Coulers
Microsoft Surface Laptop Coulers

The Surface Laptop is made of metal, plastic and Alcantara fabric, not the unibody aluminum case we use from MacBooks and which is easy to recycle. Microsoft clearly emphasizes lifestyle, as evidenced by the promotional photos and videos, something Apple has traditionally been in.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Colors
Microsoft Surface Laptop Colors

You can choose from 4 colors (silver gray, blue, gold and burgundy) with the Surface Laptop, while choosing from the 12-inch MacBook Air can be selected from spacegrijs, gold, silver and rose gold. If you choose the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you only have the choice of silver or spacegrijs.

With the Surface Laptop you can buy a matching, flexible mouse for € 80. It is not included as standard, as with MacBooks. For € 89, you buy the Magic Mouse 2 in the Apple Store, only available in white.

Winner: The Macbooks because Apple designed this design and used recyclable aluminum.

Connections

All three laptops have a 3.5mm headphone jack to listen to music. As is well known, the 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro are only equipped with USB-C port (s) for charging and connecting external accessories. At the Surface Laptop, it is obvious that USB-C is completely missing. Instead, Microsof has chosen Mini DisplayPort, a USB 3.0 port, SD card slot and Surface Connect.

The 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro have only USB-C port (s) for charging and connecting external accessories. This may be more practical, but also less future-proof like USB-C. There are more accessories and dongles that have been adapted.

Winner: neither.

Screen

Microsoft Surface Laptop Burgundy
Microsoft Surface Laptop Burgundy

The main difference is that the Surface Laptop does not have a touchscreen and the MacBooks are not. However, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar.

With the Surface Laptop you get a 13.5-inch screen with a resolution of 2256 x 1504 pixels and a pixel density of 201 ppi. The pixel density is lower than the MacBook (226ppi) and the MacBook Pro (227ppi). Microsoft has opted for PixelSense technology and claims to have made the thinnest LCD touchscreen ever in a laptop. Because the screen is touch sensitive, you can also use the Surface Pen, a stylus that lets you draw, sketch, and make notes.

For comparison: with the 12-inch MacBook, you'll find a 12-inch screen with IPS technology and a resolution of 2304 x 1440 pixels. In the MacBook Pro, you'll find a 13.3 inch retina screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, but of course no touchscreen. The Surface has a less sharp image, but scores extra points with the touchscreen.

Winner: The Surface Laptop because of the touchscreen.

Storage

With the Surface Laptop you choose from a 128GB, 256GB or 512GB SSD, and you have 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of memory. With MacBooks, you can choose 256GB or 512GB and amount of RAM between 8GB and 16GB. That means that you have an extra option at Microsoft at the bottom.

Winner: The Surface Laptop due to more storage options.

Processor

In the Surface Laptop you will find the latest Kaby Lake processor, while Apple is still in the Skylake era. Theoretically, the Microsoft laptop should perform better and should be more energy efficient, but we have considered one important factor. Apple has years of experience in optimizing the operating system and sets lower system requirements to put exactly the same (or even even better) performance. At Microsoft this is awaiting a while.

Microsoft Surface Laptop
Microsoft Surface Laptop

The Microsoft Surface Laptop runs on Intel's latest Intel Core i5 / i7 with an Intel HD 620 or Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 graphics card, depending on the model. In the 13-inch MacBook, you'll also find an Intel Core i5 / i7 with Intel Iris Graphics 540 or 550. With the 12-inch MacBook, it's all a bit less: Apple has chosen a lower-end Intel Core m3 / m5 with Intel HD Graphics 515.

Winner: Neither, although the 12-inch MacBook is likely to be in performance.

Battery life

Microsoft promises a battery life of 14.5 hours for the Surface Laptop, and in standby mode, the laptop does not consume energy at all. With MacBooks, you have to deal with the standard 10-hour battery life that Apple claims for almost all products. However, Apple is usually somewhat cautious with estimates, so the actual battery life is often over 10 hours. But we do not suspect that they will beat the Surface Laptop at 14.5 hours.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Laptop, due to the longer battery life and the 'energy neutral' standby.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Burgundy
Microsoft Surface Laptop Burgundy

Software

Finally, we come to the decisive factor: the software. On both MacBooks you'll find macOS Sierra and you can start with the latest successor later this year. On the Surface Laptop you will find Windows 10 S, a new version of Windows that needs to work faster on all hardware. The main drawback is that you can only install supervised apps from the Windows Store, while at Apple, you can also install software outside of the Mac App Store. With Apple, you get a lot more freedom (who thought that?).

The Surface Laptop allows you to encounter all kinds of constraints, because the software you need is not in the Windows Store. For example, we do not yet know if iCloud for Windows can install and whether iTunes is available. You are also required to use the Microsoft Edge browser and attach to the Bing search engine. Optionally, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro at your own cost (€ 50). This is free by the end of the year.

In addition to all of the above considerations, your macOS may be more fun than Windows. We can make this difficult for you, so go to your own preference.

Winner: The MacBooks you are free to install, also outside the App Store.

Conclusion Surface Laptop vs. MacBook

If you add all the points, it turns out that we have declared Microsoft more often as a winner. But not all of the points weigh as heavily and the fact that you need to work on the Surface Laptop with Windows 10 S can be a complete download for you, especially if you see how many restrictions Microsoft has imposed.

One thing is clear at all: Microsoft has made a dangerous competitor for the MacBooks, and it can also have beneficial effects on Apple users. Maybe Apple woke up and they're going to put extra pace behind innovations.