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Surface Laptop 6 for Business vs Surface Laptop 5: What’s new

  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 6 for Business

    The Surface Laptop 6 is a nice spec bump compared to the last generation, but it still doesn’t bring what the SL line needs most; a redesign. With some added business- and AI-centric features, it’s still an interesting option, but especially at this price point, it feels a bit dated nowadays.

    Pros

    • Build quality is as great as ever
    • Interesting business-centric features
    • Finally top-tier performance
    Cons

    • This design is six generations old now
    • No discrete GPU option
    • Limited ports

  • Surface Laptop 5

    Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

    The Surface Laptop 5 is still a great choice if you’re looking for a machine with exceptional build quality, and you don’t need the newest CPU for your office or school work. What’s more, discounts coming after the release of the next generation might make it quite an attractive value proposition as well.

    Pros

    • Excellent build quality
    • Fantastic keyboard
    • Premium-feeling (although hard to maintain) Alcantara option
    Cons

    • Design, although still great quality, feels already dated
    • Not the fastest out there
    • Huge bezels for 2024


Gone are the days when Microsoft was simply a software company, a fact that changed when Microsoft introduced its Surface portfolio years ago. With its Surface lineup of devices ranging from PCs and tablets to phones and accessories, the company is a strong contender if you’re looking for a well-built, premium device.


This heritage is clearly visible with the newest Surface Laptop 6 for Business, which carries on the Surface line into an AI-centric world. Indeed, the new Laptop 6 is geared towards business users, but we do expect a consumer-focused model to be announced later this year, perhaps as soon as Microsoft Build in May.

That being said, how does the fresh, new Surface Laptop 6 for Business compare to the previous Surface Laptop 5? Here’s everything you need to know about the two devices.

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Microsoft’s event was devoted to business customers, but it gave us a look at what’s to come in the new consumer Surface Pro 10 and Laptop 6.

Price and availability

The Surface Laptop 5 was released quite a long time ago, considering the average laptop lifespan, as it hit the shelves in October 2022. This means Microsoft had almost 1.5 years to perfect the next generation. The Surface Laptop 6 was announced during the Surface event in March 2024.


At release, Surface Laptop 5 started at $999 for the 13-inch model and $1199 for its bigger brother, both for the 8/256GB configuration. The Surface Laptop 6 for Business doesn’t shake things up too much, but there is a slight price increase. The 13.5-inch version costs $1,299 for the 8/256GB configuration and the 15-inch will set you back $1,399 for the same configuration.

The Laptop 5 is currently available from retailers, while the Laptop 6 is available for preorder, with deliveries starting April 9.

surface-laptop-6-for-business-with-copilot-key-2-3Specifications

Speaking of configurations, let’s get more into the details of what has changed on the inside of the Surface Laptop 6 for Business. Starting from the brains of the operation, the new Surface Laptop comes with a choice of two Intel Processors: Intel Core Ultra 5 135H or Intel Core Ultra 7 165H. These are the new Meteor Lake laptop chips that come with 14 and 16 cores respectively. The Ultra 5 135H offers four performance cores, eight efficiency cores, and two low-power cores, while the Ultra 7 165H steps up to six performance cores, eight efficiency cores and two low-power cores.


The Surface Laptop 5, on the other hand, uses the 12th generation Intel processors, with two options to choose from as well: i5 1235U and i7 1255U. Both of them come with two performance cores and eight efficiency cores, but the i7 has a higher base and boosts clock speed.

This means not only higher frequency and overall better performance, but also native support for features such as Ray Tracing.

The new Surface Laptop 6 for Business also got a sizable boost in graphics performance. While the Surface Laptop 5 comes with integrated Intel Xe graphics, the new version bumps it up to Intel Arc integrated graphics. This means not only higher frequency and overall better performance, but also native support for features such as Ray Tracing.


To round the spec overview up, it’s also worth mentioning the memory and storage situation. The Surface Laptop 5 is available in quite a few different configurations, with availability depending on the color and size of the screen that you choose. You can configure the older-generation laptop with 8, 16, or 32GB of RAM and 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of internal storage.

The new Surface Laptop 6 for Business has new configuration options, which starts with the same 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB internal storage tiers, but in addition to the 8, 16, and 32GB of RAM, the Surface Laptop 6 also adds a 64GB option, which is ideal both for large video editing projects, and all the bulky Excel spreadsheets. If you find that the storage is not enough for you, both the Surface Laptop 5 and the Surface Laptop 6 have user-expandable storage, so you can supply your own SSD.


  • Surface Laptop 6 Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
    Operating System Windows 11 Windows 11
    CPU Intel Core Ultra 5 (135H) & 7 (165H Intel Core i5 1235U
    GPU Intel Arc Graphics or Intel Graphics (8GB) Intel Xe graphics
    RAM 8GB / 16GB / 32GB / 64GB 8 / 16 / 32GB LPDDR5x
    Storage 256GB / 512GB / 1TB 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
    Battery 47 Wh 49Wh
    Display (Size, Resolution) 13.5 or 15-inch PixelSense Display 13.5-inch, 2254×1504
    Camera 1080p front-facing 720p
    Colors Platinum or Black Black, Platinum, Sandstone, Sage
    Ports USB-C, USB-A, Surface Connect, Headphone jack USB-C, USB-A, Surface Connect, Headphone jack
    Network Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1

Surface Laptop 6 for Business_1-1Design

Consistency on the outside

If there’s one thing that’s consistent in the Surface Laptop lineup, it’s the design of these machines. Since the first generation, there has been no big generational overhaul of the looks of Microsoft’s laptops, and the Surface Laptop 6 for Business continues this tradition.

So, this year we get exactly the same design, at least externally. The shape is the same, the bezels are the same — you get the idea. The new laptop also comes in only two colors for now, Platinum and Black, without last-gen Sage and Sandstone options.

The Surface Laptop 6 for Business continues Microsoft’s efforts to once again create repairable machines, and the company claims it’s the most repairable model yet.


That being said, there is a change that’s worth mentioning, but it’s hidden inside. The Surface Laptop 6 for Business continues Microsoft’s efforts to once again create repairable machines, and the company claims it’s the most repairable model yet. Almost all the internal hardware is modular and user-replaceable, with spare parts available through Microsoft’s website — that’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Display

Don’t fix or improve what’s working?

Similarly to the design, Microsoft once again decided that the tried-and-true panel of the previous generation of Surface devices is more than enough. That means, nothing has changed between the two versions, asking for a quick and easy comparison.


Both the Surface Laptop 5 and Surface Laptop 6 for Business come in two display sizes: 13.5-inch and 15-inch. The smaller model sports a resolution of 2256 x 1504, while the bigger one bumps it up to 2496 x 1664. These are both 3:2 aspect ratio displays with 60Hz refresh rate, which are, as usual, touch-enabled.

Each display is individually color-calibrated at the factory, and supports adaptive colors to boot. They also sport 400 nits max sustained brightness and come with Gorilla Glass and an anti-reflective coating.

Related

Surface Laptop 6 for Business vs Surface Pro 10 for Business: What’s new?

Microsoft’s latest Surface devices are full of AI and business features. Are they right for you?

Performance

Updates CPU performance from the 12th-gen Intel Core

So, as not much has changed on the outside of the Surface Laptop 6 for Business, it’s the performance uplift that’s the most interesting part of the new generation. Fortunately, in this case, the new model doesn’t disappoint and delivers quite a sizable increase in performance.

As the Surface laptop 5 was released with 12th-generation Intel Core processors, the new one is equipped with a CPU that’s two generations newer. That means not only a sizable CPU power increase but an even bigger GPU power surge.


Starting from the CPU, you should expect 10-15% better single-core CPU performance when comparing the i5 to the new Core Ultra 5 135H, and around 30-50% better multi-core performance. This gap will be a bit wider when you compare the i7 to the new Core Ultra 7 165H – it should run around 20% faster in single-core workloads and around 50-75% faster in multicore applications. These gains really show the leap in performance Intel has made with just two generations of CPUs.

The story is even better when you look at GPU scores. Compared to the Intel Xe graphics in the Surface Laptop 5, the new Intel Core Ultra chips come with Intel Arc integrated graphics, the same chips as dedicated graphics cards from Intel. This means you can expect even up to twice the graphical performance from the Surface Laptop 6, with features such as Ray Tracing and AI accelerators built-in.

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Features

Keyboard, Copilot key, security access

Finally, after all the hardware discussion, let’s move on to the new features that the Surface Laptop brings to the table. The biggest change over the SL5 is easily noticeable when you look at the keyboard.


While the Surface Laptop 5 has the right Windows key, the new model is equipped with a Copilot key there instead. This, in general, shows Microsoft’s push towards AI. Copilot is integrated into Windows 11 now and will come with the new generation of Surface devices, and thanks to the new keyboard layout, you’ll be able to easily access it at all times.

Related

How to enable Microsoft Copilot on Windows 11 — even without access

Copilot keeps getting better, but some Windows users are struggling to enable it. Here’s how — plus how to force-enable if you don’t have access yet.

There’s also another cool change that will make all the business customers giddy with excitement — especially their security departments. On select configurations of the Black version of the 15″ Surface Laptop 6, you’ll now find a Smart Card reader. It’s not a memory card reader, such as an SD card. Instead, it allows you to authorize certain actions using a specialized ID card, which should make for an excellent security feature.

Surface Laptop 6 for Business Smart Card Reader-1


There are some smaller improvements. Microsoft is very proud of its new, 1080p, AI-assisted camera that replaces the old 720p model in the Surface Laptop 5. It should give you even faster Windows Hello facial recognition, as well as better quality video for all your Teams calls. Furthermore, the Surface Laptop 6 for Business moves on to Bluetooth 5.3, instead of Bluetooth 5.1 in the Surface Laptop 5. The Surface Laptop 6 for Business also improves on Wi-Fi connectivity, as it supports Wi-Fi 6E, as compared to the Surface Laptop 5’s Wi-Fi 6.

Bottom line: Which one is better?

Surface Laptop 6 for Business_1-1

Microsoft Surface Laptop 6 For Business

Overall, the Surface Laptop 6 for Business is a much better machine than the Surface Laptop 5. Although it has to be said that Microsoft’s lack of innovation on the design front is bringing the Surface Laptop down, the new processor and AI features are a bit of a saving grace. The machine is fast, has a lot of configuration options and targets business clients specifically with features such as an optional Smart Card reader, so it should fit well in corporate environments.


Surface Laptop 5

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

Although, as the design itself hasn’t changed much, the Surface Laptop 5 is still an awesome machine if you’re looking for something on a stricter budget and don’t need the latest processor for your word processing or internet browsing. We’re also expecting it to be quite heavily discounted after the Surface Laptop 6 goes on sale, so you should probably be able to snag the previous gen for quite a hefty discount.

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