Hands-on with Microsoft’s Snapdragon-powered Surface Laptop

The Snapdragon After a day with Microsoft’s latest Surface laptop, I’m excited about this new future.

I’ve been a Windows user my whole life. For the most part, macOS has never captured my interest. And every time I used it, I hated it more. It was a death by a thousand cuts, really. But there was one thing I couldn’t ignore. Apple has achieved this with some of the most important parts of a laptop: battery life. The switch to Apple Silicon made MacBooks more attractive than ever, to the point where I finally gave up trying to stick with Windows and just bought a MacBook Air out of sheer frustration.

But then came the Snapdragon X Elite.

Qualcomm announced a new Windows chipset last year big Promises. This was against years of Windows on Arm promises that failed incredibly well. Poor app support, disappointing performance, and rough emulation resulted in experiences that weren’t worth anyone’s time. But the Snapdragon X Elite looked promising from day one, and continued to attract attention until the devices were finally announced.

That’s why I was so excited to try out the Microsoft Surface Laptop and get rid of my MacBook Air after a few months of trial. After just one day, I was already very happy.

Starting with the hardware, the latest Surface Laptop is an excellent device. The aluminum body is thin enough and looks great in the ‘platinum’ finish I bought – blue is obviously the better choice, but I’d put leather on it anyway. The keyboard, touchpad, and screen are all excellent. The keys have plenty of travel, Microsoft’s first touchpad is easily as good as the one on the MacBook Air I used previously, and the screen is bright. The 13.8-inch size also seems perfect for travel, which was my main focus, and I always enjoy having plenty of ports.

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But obviously there are two main things we all want to know. Battery life and performance.

Since I’ve been using this device for just over a day, I can only draw so many conclusions about both. But after a full day of work, I liked both accounts. From approximately 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM, with the laptop actively used for almost all of that time, the battery charge dropped from 100% to 24%. This is great since I was not only watching videos, but also working with dozens of Chrome, WordPress, and Photoshop tabs throughout the day.

In this regard, the performance held up well throughout.

I didn’t experience a single slowdown during everything I did during the day. Photoshop has held up like a champ, which isn’t a huge surprise considering it’s a native Arm app. Almost all of the apps I run are native too, including Chrome and Slack. The only tools I’ve encountered that aren’t native yet are Beeper, Lightroom Classic, and Steam. Steam and Beeper were running in the background for most of the day as well. Performance on emulated apps, as expected, isn’t as good as native apps, but it’s not a deal breaker. Lightroom Classic was my biggest fear here, but it worked flawlessly. I was able to edit and export photos with ease and never knew I was using an emulated app.

I’m very happy with my Surface Laptop so far. It’s the machine I’ve been waiting for for years. I’ll be using this more in the coming weeks and will put together a full review, but in the meantime, what else do you want to know? Drop a comment below on something you want me to test or a question you have and I’ll see what I can do.

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