Apple recently underwent one of its biggest laptop upgrades in decades, switching all of its machines from Intel CPUs to its own M1 processors. The MacBook Pro 16 now offers a choice between the Apple M1 Pro and the M1 Max, two efficient and high-speed CPUs. Microsoft’s top-of-the-line clamshell laptop, the Surface Laptop 4 15, retains its AMD and Intel CPUs and much of its design from its previous generation.
Both are great laptops, but the new MacBook Pro 16 is the most significant upgrade. The question is, how do they measure up?
|Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 15||Apple MacBook Pro 16|
|Dimensions||13.4 inches x 9.6 inches x 0.58 inches||14.01 inches x 9.77 inches x 0.66 inches|
|Weight||3.4 pounds||4.8 pounds|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1185G7
AMD Ryzen 7 4980U Surface Edition
|Apple M1 Pro
Apple M1 Max
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe
AMD Radeon Graphics
|RAM||8GB, 16GB, 32GB||16GB, 32GB, 64GB (M1 max)|
|Monitor||15-inch 3: 2 IPS 2,256 x 1,504||16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR 3,456 x 2,234|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, and 1TB Solid State Drive (SSD)||512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB|
|Ports||1 x USB-C 3.2
1 x USB-A 3.2
1 x surface connection
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
|3 x USB-C 4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD card reader
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0|
|OS||Windows 11 startup||Mac OS|
|Battery||47 watt-hours||100 watt-hours|
|Classification||3 out of 5 stars||5 out of 5 stars|
We will put aside the question of operating systems. When you choose between these two laptops, then you are willing to consider Windows 11 or MacOS Monterey. If any of those operating systems don’t appeal to you, then your choice is already made.
If you look at the hardware, you will find that these are two very different machines. The Surface Laptop 4 is intended to be a very thin and light laptop, weighing in at 0.58 inches and weighing in at just 3.4 pounds, both of which are excellent given its 15-inch 3: 2 display. The MacBook Pro 16 represents a step in the opposite direction for Apple, which has also struggled to make thin and light notebooks for years.
In contrast, the MacBook Pro 16 got thicker and heavier in this version, down to 0.66 inches and 4.8 pounds. It has a 16.2-inch 16:10 screen, so it’s sure to be a bigger laptop. The thing is, it’s just a half-inch wider and just 0.17-inches deeper, which means it’s not much bigger than the Surface Laptop 4.
Apple eventually added slimmer bezels to fit into a smaller, albeit thicker and heavier chassis. We’ll notice there’s a notch in the MacBook Pro 16’s screen that’s similar to what you’ll find on an iPhone, but that’s a negligible concern overall.
You’ll find that both laptops are well-built, with CNC-machined aluminum sports bodies that resist all flexing, twisting, and bending. Both hinges can be opened with one hand while holding the displays firmly in place. These are two of the best-made laptops out there, and neither have an edge.
Surface Laptop 4
In terms of aesthetics, both are attractive laptops. Surface Laptop 4 is a streamlined design that comes in two colors, platinum and matte black. It has simple lines and angles and is quite minimalist in its appearance. The MacBook Pro 16 is similar. It also has simple angles and lines and is actually a bit boxy, although its rounded corners soften things up a bit. Overall, the MacBook Pro 16 is more conservative and stylish, while the Surface Laptop 4 is a bit more extravagant.
The MacBook Pro 16 has the best keyboard you can buy in a laptop today. It doesn’t have a lot of travel, but Apple has tuned the scissor switches to perfection – they’re lightweight yet nimble and are guaranteed to be accurate without causing fatigue during long typing sessions. The keyboard on the Surface Laptop 4 is also very good, it’s deeper and enjoys snappy mechanics, but it can’t keep up.
The same goes for touch panels. Surface Laptop 4 has a nice touchpad that’s big enough to be comfortable and supports all the multi-touch gestures of Windows 11. But the MacBook Pro 16’s touchpad is huge and Apple has perfected its haptic feedback engine to create ” clicks “that mimic physical buttons. The only input advantage of the Surface Laptop 4 is that its screen is touch, while the MacBook Pro 16 is not, and it also supports Microsoft’s Surface Pen.
MacBook Pro 16
Another positive step back in the design of the MacBook Pro 16 is in its connectivity. Where previous generations only had USB-C with Thunderbolt support, the newer model has a full-size HDMI 2.0 port and an SD card reader to go along with its three USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4.
Surface Laptop 4 has just one port. USB-C 3.2 (not compatible with Thunderbolt 4), a USB-A port and the Surface Connect port for power and to connect to Microsoft’s proprietary dock. They both offer Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. The MacBook Pro 16 has emerged as a true connectivity winner, although you will still need a dongle for legacy USB-A devices.
Surface Laptop 4 comes in two configurations: Intel Core i7-1185G7 quad-core / eight-thread or AMD’s Ryzen 7 4980U Surface Edition eight-core / 16-thread. The MacBook Pro 16 can be equipped with either the Apple M1 Pro or the Apple M1 Max, both of which represent the second generation of Apple’s M1 CPU. Apple’s options are a bit more complicated, with the M1 Pro 10 offering CPU cores and 16 GPU cores and the M1 Max having 10 CPU cores and 24 or 32 GPU cores. We tested the Surface Laptop 4 with the AMD Ryzen chip and the MacBook Pro 16 with the M1 Pro.
In terms of raw performance, it’s not even close. The MacBook Pro 16 knocked out the Surface Laptop 4 in our benchmarks. On Geekbench 5, for example, the Surface Laptop 4 scored 1,016 in the single-core test and 6,658 in the multi-core test, compared to the MacBook Pro 16 with 1,773 and 12,605. In Cinebench R23, Surface Laptop 4 scored 1,137 and 5,881 compared to MacBook Pro 16 at 1,531 and 12,343. On the Pugetbench benchmark running on Adobe Premiere Pro, the Surface Laptop 4 scored 163 while the MacBook Pro 16 scored a phenomenal 956.
The MacBook Pro 16 is an incredibly fast laptop and outperforms most Intel and AMD based Windows laptops. It should equip a very fast 45-watt Intel CPU to even approach the performance levels of the M1 Pro (not to mention M1 Max). Suffice it to say, Surface Laptop 4 doesn’t play in these leagues. Even in gaming, the MacBook Pro 16 will be a much faster laptop.
Surface Laptop 4 has a 15-inch IPS screen with a 3: 2 aspect ratio that favors productivity and works with a resolution of 2256 x 1,504. The MacBook Pro 16 has a 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display at 16:10 and a resolution of 3,456 x 2,234. As with performance, the MacBook Pro 16 is in an entirely different league.
The MacBook Pro 16 screen was brighter at 475 nits compared to 378 nits, it had higher contrast at an OLED 475,200: 1 compared to just 970: 1, its colors were wider at 90% AdobeRGB and 100% sRGB compared to 73% and 97%, and was more accurate with a DeltaE of 1.04 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent) compared to 1.44. It also has a significantly higher resolution and is larger.
The Surface Laptop 4’s screen is fine for productivity work. In fact, it is a very good screen. But it can’t be compared to the superior display of the MacBook Pro 16 that will also thrill creatives.
Surface Laptop 4 is slightly smaller in width and depth, and is considerably thinner and lighter. The MacBook Pro 16 is not that portable.
However, the MacBook Pro 16 has twice the battery capacity and has the more efficient M1 Pro CPU. It lasted 18.5 hours in our web browsing test, while the Surface Laptop 4 came in at just 13.5 hours. Once again, the MacBook Pro 16 outperforms the Surface Laptop 4 comfortably. It will last for a couple of days on a single charge, while connecting Microsoft’s laptop after just one day of use.
The Apple MacBook Pro 16 is expensive but worth it
Surface Laptop 4 starts at $ 1,300, configured with a Ryzen 7 4980U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. At the higher end, you’ll spend $ 2,400 for an Intel Core i7, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It’s a premium laptop, but its high-end price tag is still lower than the entry-level MacBook Pro 16.
Yes, that’s right, the MacBook Pro 16 starts at $ 2,499 for an Apple M1 Pro CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Maximum with an M1 Max chip, 64GB of RAM, and a massive 8TB SSD, and you’ll spend $ 6,099. It is an incredibly expensive laptop.
There really is no comparison. Again, these two are excellent laptops, but the MacBook Pro 16 is in an entirely different class. You are going to spend a lot more money on it, but you will find that the investment is worth it.
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