Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: A true MacBook Air rival

Qualcomm's powerful new Snapdragon chips bring the speed and endurance

The Surface Laptop 7 from the front.
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

While not a perfect laptop, Microsoft has harnessed the power of Qualcomm’s latest chips to create a true MacBook Air competitor that is speedy and pleasant to use.


  • +

    Sleek and light

  • +

    Fast Qualcomm performance

  • +

    Great battery life

  • +

    Wi-Fi 7 support


  • -

    AI features feel gimmicky

  • -

    Poor gaming performance

  • -

    Minimal ports

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The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 ($999 to start) is the first Surface Laptop to ship with a Qualcomm CPU inside, and that’s a big deal for Microsoft and fans of the company’s hardware. Microsoft has found a true MacBook Air competitor.

Whether you call it the Surface Laptop 7 or Microsoft’s lengthier Surface Laptop 7th Generation, this laptop brings some powerful specs, especially if you choose to upgrade to the Snapdragon X Elite chip. It’s one of the first Microsoft Copilot+ PCs, thanks to the speedy NPU found in Qualcomm’s latest chip. This opens the Surface Laptop 7 up to various AI features that were never available on Windows devices. And the chips promise on-device AI for an added layer of security and privacy.

While intriguing, I went into this very skeptical about how much I’d use the AI features offered by Copilot+ in my daily life. Is it really the best place for Microsoft to invest its processing power, or should the company stick to more traditional computer experiences? 

So after a week of use, does this take pride of place as one of the best Windows laptops and the best laptops of the year (so far)? Let's find out.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: Cheat Sheet

What is it? The latest Microsoft Surface Laptop is the first to feature Snapdragon X Plus or Snapdragon X Elite chips under the hood, opening a world of AI features.
Who is it for? Those looking for a Windows 11 laptop for work who want to take advantage of Microsoft's new Copilot+ AI features.
What does it cost? The base model of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 starts at $999 on Microsoft’s online store. Higher-end models cost significantly more.
What do we like? The speedy Snapdragon X Elite performance, on-device AI processing, and excellent battery life.
What don’t we like? You can’t play many games on it, and some of the AI features still feel half-baked. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: Specs

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 7: Specs
Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Laptop 7 (13-inch) Surface Laptop 7 (15-inch) Surface Laptop 7 (As tested)
Starting Price$999$1,299$1,399
CPUSnapdragon X Plus or EliteSnapdragon X EliteSnapdragon X Elite
RAM16GB, 32GB, 64GB16GB, 32GB, 64GB16GB
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB512GB
Display13.8 inch (2304 x 1536) 120Hz touchscreen15 inch LCD (2496 x 1664) 120Hz touchscreen13.8 inch (2304 x 1536) 120Hz touchscreen
GraphicsQualcomm AdrenoQualcomm AdrenoQualcomm Adreno
Ports2x USB-C/USB 4, 1x USB-A, 1x headphone jack2x USB-C/USB 4, 1x USB-A, 1x headphone jack2x USB-C/USB 4, 1x USB-A, 1x headphone jack
WirelessWi-Fi 7Wi-Fi 7Wi-Fi 7
Battery Life20 hours (video playback)22 hours (video playback)15 hours, 44 minutes (web surfing)
Size11.85 x 8.67 x 0.69 inches12.96 x 9.41 x 0.72 inches11.85 x 8.67 x 0.69 inches
Weight2.96 pounds3.67 pounds2.96 pounds

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: The ups

Snapdragon X performance

Surface Laptop 7 from the front lid closed

(Image credit: Future)

The main selling point of the new Surface devices from a hardware perspective is the Snapdragon X chips inside. Whether you choose the cheaper model with the Snapdragon X Plus chip or the more expensive one with the Snapdragon X Elite (the model we tested), you’re getting stellar performance for both traditional computing demands and AI. 

We ran the laptop through all kinds of benchmarks to see how it did, and the results were nothing short of impressive. For the popular Geekbench 6 single-core test, our test Surface Laptop managed to get a score of 2,809, which is narrowly defeated by the MacBook Air M3’s 3,082. 

However, it does come out ahead of the Intel Core Ultra 9 185H found in the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra, which scored 2,421 in the same test. On the multi-core side, the Snapdragon X Elite in the Surface Laptop 7 scored 14,426 compared to the MacBook Air M3’s 14,432, leaving the two basically locked in a tie. Samsung’s laptop scored 13,124, so Microsoft’s latest edges it out.

Beautiful design

Surface Laptop 7 from the top

(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft didn’t change much about the look and feel of the Surface Laptop 7 compared to the previous versions, but there are some intelligent tweaks that make an already good-looking laptop even better. 

At first glance, it looks similar, but when you dig in a bit closer, you can see the differences. Most notable are the thinner bezels around the display that flow smoothly into the rounded display corners. Offering both a look and design tweak is the larger haptic trackpad, which feels incredible to use. There’s a slightly textured element to it that lets your finger slide smoothly across while also giving you a tactile idea of where you are on the pad. Finally, Microsoft tweaked the bottom to create an angled underside, making carrying the laptop more enjoyable. With this shape, your fingers wrap nicely around the laptop and it doesn’t feel like it’s digging into your digits.

The laptop is available in four different colors, though the configurations are different for each color. We tested the Sapphire (a lovely light blue), but the laptop is also available in Dune (tan), Platinum and Black. I really like the look of the Sapphire, as it’s tasteful but stands out a little more than a simple color like black or silver. 

Impressive battery life

Surface Laptop 7 bottom

(Image credit: Future)

The Surface Laptop 7 lasts a long time on a single charge. Microsoft claims it will handle around 20 hours of continuous video playback on the 13-inch model and 22 hours on the 15-inch.

In our battery test, however, which saw us continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi with the display set to 150 nits of brightness, the laptop lasted 15 hours and 44 minutes. That barely edges out the 15 hours and 10 minutes we saw with the 13-inch MacBook Air M3, though the two devices are in a similar range when faced with the same test.

This is a big deal because the best Windows laptops have struggled to match the 12-15 hours of (tested) battery life that you can get from any MacBook with an M-series chip inside. Now, Microsoft finally has a flagship laptop that can (almost) match the staying power of a modern MacBook, and that’s a win for Windows fans.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: The downs

The Surface Laptop 7 is well-made, but it’s not without flaws. If you can get past them, it’s a solid MacBook competitor. Don’t expect the AI features to reinvent the wheel, and don’t even consider buying it for gaming as it lacks the graphical punch for anything more than the basics.

Gimmicky AI features

Surface Laptop 7 with AI features

(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft is pushing Copilot+ as the next big thing for its Surface laptops, and it may be at some point. But for now, most of the features feel like gimmicks. Most of the stuff it does could easily be accomplished by simply going to ChatGPT’s website and entering a prompt. Perhaps I just haven’t figured out how to implement AI into my daily workflow. Or maybe AI just is not necessary for a laptop. Either way, unless you’re really into using an AI chat app locally, you can probably live without much of the Copilot+ stuff for now.

In our Surface Pro 11 review, my colleague Tony Polanco called the AI features “half-baked,” and I have to agree. Between Microsoft pulling back on the security nightmare that Recall turned out to be (the feature was meant to be available on these laptops at launch, but is now instead being delayed for further testing) and the fact that nothing Copilot+ does feels needed, it seems like it was time for Microsoft to release new Surface devices and wanted a flashy new feature to hook people’s attention. With everyone focused on AI of late, it only made sense for Microsoft to lean into the tech, even if it feels like it has a ways to go.

Apps and games

Surface Laptop 7 playing the game Hades

(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft's transition from Intel to Arm has been relatively smooth for its Surface devices, but some apps still don’t run perfectly. ARM chips are different than traditional x86 Intel processors, so not all the apps you’re used to using on Windows will work. If an app isn’t designed to run on ARM, it either won’t work or runs terribly. Thankfully, you can emulate an x86 environment to run apps that aren’t compatible with the Arm-based Snapdragon X CPUs, but that’s far from an ideal experience.

Also, you can forget about gaming on the Surface Laptop 7. With onboard Qualcomm Adreno graphics powering the system, you’ll have difficulty enjoying more than just simple gaming experiences.

We tested the laptop playing Civilization VI to see how it performed, and the results were acceptable but not good. Running at 1080p, the Surface Laptop 7 averaged 20.63 fps. The MacBook Air M3 got 41 fps at an even higher 1200p resolution, showing the difference in overall gaming performance between the two devices. 

Where are the ports?

Surface Laptop 7 ports

(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft included two USB4 Type-C ports, a single USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the laptop’s left side. The magnetic proprietary Surface Connect charging port lives on the right side, giving you enough to work with for most daily applications. However, seeing at least one more USB-C port on the laptop would have been nice to connect everything you might need during a workday. 

The closest competitor, the MacBook Air, has even fewer ports, with just two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm jack and Apple’s MagSafe charging port. At least Microsoft included a USB-A port for connecting those older devices. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 review: Verdict

Surface Laptop 7 from the side

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, Microsoft got it right with the latest version of the Surface Laptop 7. While I don’t find the AI features to be particularly useful in their current state, you can safely ignore those and still have one of the best-performing laptops on the market. The battery life will get you through a full day of work and play with ease.

Add in the slick design and nice color choices, and you have a device you’ll be proud to carry with you everywhere. 

Of course, those who don’t like Windows as an operating system are unlikely to be swayed by the things the Surface Laptop 7 offers and will probably want to stick with their MacBooks. For those who do like Windows 11, I have no problem recommending this laptop — whether you choose the base model or you want to invest a little more for a larger screen, more performance or both.

Dave LeClair
Senior News Editor

Dave LeClair is the Senior News Editor for Tom's Guide, keeping his finger on the pulse of all things technology. He loves taking the complicated happenings in the tech world and explaining why they matter. Whether Apple is announcing the next big thing in the mobile space or a small startup advancing generative AI, Dave will apply his experience to help you figure out what's happening and why it's relevant to your life.