Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


I went hands-on with Microsoft's Surface Pro and Laptop, and I'm ready to ditch my MacBook

Design, speed, and AI applications make the new Surface releases strong MacBook competitors.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Surface Pro and Surface Laptop
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

On Monday, Microsoft launched its first consumer AI PCs-- the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro --ahead of its annual developers' conference, Microsoft Build. These devices boast a series of upgrades from their predecessors in nearly every area, with AI taking the driver's seat. I went hands-on with both Surface releases and am impressed (and slightly envious). 

Also: Microsoft's Surface Pro and Laptop are the ultimate 'AI PCs', and I'm worried for Apple

Before I even used the devices, the upgraded designs for both the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro jumped out at me. The display of the Surface Laptop has significantly improved from the previous version, with thinner bezels that allow users to get an optimal view experience while keeping a smaller, thinner, and less bulky footprint.

Bezels on new Surface Laptop
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

I was pleasantly surprised by how vibrant the pictures on the Surface Laptop looked, with crisp contrasts and dynamic colors. This display quality is due to the laptop's blend of PixelSense touchscreen display, HDR technology, Dolby Vision IQ, and Adaptive color technology, and I'm curious to see how it fares outside of the demo environment.

Also: Every Copilot+ PC Microsoft just announced to take on Apple's M3 MacBooks

Users can choose from a 13.8-inch display, which has a larger viewing area than the traditional 14-inch laptop, or a 15-inch model. Both sizes, despite feeling solidly built, don't feel heavy, coming in at 2.96 pounds for the 13.8-inch and 3.67 pounds for the 15-inch. To put that into perspective, compared to my nearly five-pound MacBook Pro M1 16-inch laptop, the 15-inch Surface Laptop felt significantly lighter. 

The Surface Laptop is offered in Platinum, Black, Dune (a light pink color), and Sapphire (a baby blue color). I was particularly drawn to the Dune colorway, seen below, which offers users a sophisticated, fun, and unique finish. Apple, take notes.

Surface Laptop Dune color
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

The event also showcased how the laptop can extend to up to three 4K monitors while the device screen is active -- a subtle jab at Apple's M3 MacBook Air, which can only support one display with up to 6K resolution while open or two 4K displays with the laptop lid closed. 

Surface Laptop three displays
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Much like the MacBook's, the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro's upgrade to a haptic trackpad adds a nice tactile touch, giving users more personalization and control when gliding and clicking.

New Surface Pro Keyboard
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Beyond design, as an AI reporter and aficionado, I was very interested in how the two devices handled AI applications. I was impressed by how quickly AI applications ran on the device, especially for image generation and live captions. In both cases, the PCs were quick and snappy.

Also: Every Copilot+ PC Microsoft just announced to take on Apple's M3 MacBooks

This speed is facilitated by the devices' Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus chips, one of the biggest highlights of the new Copilot+ PCs.

Surface Pro
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

How big of an upgrade is the Snapdragon X Elite chip? Microsoft says it allows for 90% faster speeds on the Surface Pro than its predecessor, especially when running AI applications. The new processor also improves the battery life of the Surface Pro with a 14-hour rating for video playback. Again, we'll have to see how the device performs under real-world tests.

Cocreator ran at impressive speeds on the Surface Pro.

Cocreator ran at impressive speeds on the Surface Pro. 

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

From what I saw, the 13-inch LCD panel on the Surface Pro offers the same impressive picture as the Surface Laptop. But for $500 more, you can get the Pro model with an OLED display, which brings higher contrast levels and those inky blacks that MacBooks simply can't match. 

Also: Copilot Pro vs. ChatGPT Plus: Which is AI chatbot is worth your $20 a month?

Lastly, Microsoft unveiled several new AI features during yesterday's event, including Cocreator, Recall, Live Captions with live translations, Restyle, and Windows Studio effects. After trying them all, I wish MacBooks offered similar functionalities, especially Recall, which I would take advantage of daily. Of course, Apple has the chance to land a counterpunch with WWDC looming. Until then, Microsoft has the edge when it comes to AI applications.

The Surface Laptop and Surface Pro are both available for preorder on the Microsoft website. The Surface Laptop 13.8-inch display starts at $999, and the 15-inch starts at $1,299, while the Surface Pro starts at $999 for the LCD display and $1,499 for OLED. 

Editorial standards