Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Laptop are the ultimate ‘AI PCs’, and I’m worried for Apple



Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

At a special press event one day before its much-anticipated Build conference, Microsoft announced a new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop equipped with the Snapdragon X Elite processors. 

As the first of Microsoft’s new lineup of Copilot+ PCs, the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop replace the Intel Core Ultra series chips for the much-hyped Qualcomm Snapdragon X system-on-chip designed to go head-to-head with Apple’s line of Silicon chip laptops. And comparisons between the two have been anything but subtle. 

Also: Is Apple sweating yet? Every Windows laptop launching with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite

During the unveiling event, Microsoft compared the performance of the new Snapdragon X Elite chips directly against the MacBook Air with a host of metrics. For example, Microsoft says the new processors are 23% faster than the MacBook Air M3 in peak multithread performance while being 58% faster in sustained performance.


Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

The new processors run Windows on Arm, along with improvements in processing power, battery efficiency, and support for AI features with Qualcomm’s Hexagon neural processing unit (NPU).

One such feature is Recall AI, Microsoft’s new AI-powered assistant that it described as “photographic memory for your PC.” Available only on Copilot+ PCs, Recall AI allows users to ask about the location of a file, a website in their browsing history, or an email, all without having to use a manual search query.

Also: What is Copilot (formerly Bing Chat)? Here’s everything you need to know

Microsoft first unveiled a new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop as commercial products back in March, but today’s presentation shows two new devices designed for consumers as Microsoft’s own offering of Snapdragon X Elite laptops to join the bevy of other Windows devices announced Monday. 

Also worth noting is the dropping of the numbers from the model names, setting the new devices apart from previous versions as all-new versions, not merely refreshed models. HP did something similar with its new Snapdragon-equipped laptops by scrapping its naming system altogether, supporting the notion that with these laptops represent a new paradigm.

The Surface Laptop will come in 13.8- and 15-inch configurations, with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and an LCD. Improvements to the laptop include a thinner form factor, a haptic touchpad and, Microsoft says, significantly improved battery life with “nearly double” the amount of juice as the Surface Laptop 5.

During the demo, Microsoft showed off the Surface Laptop’s capabilities as a snappy and responsive machine for creators, running Adobe Photoshop and DaVinci Resolve side by side with a MacBook. The processor’s NPU, Microsoft says, is the leading feature responsible for the increase in performance and efficiency.  

Also: Windows’ new Recall feature lets you ask AI for that file or email you can’t find

The new Surface Pro will feature a 13-inch Pixel Sense Flow display with a silky 120Hz refresh rate and OLED screen, as well as a new “Flex” keyboard that can be attached to the tablet or work wirelessly. The keyboard comes with a pen and features haptic feedback and a larger touchpad, aiming for a more tactile experience. However, the Flex keyboard, available now for pre-order, is not cheap — costing $450. 

The new Surface Laptop Copilot+ PC is available for pre-order starting at $1,000 for the 13.8-inch display, and $1,300 for the 15-inch, with either the Snapdragon X Plus or X Elite processor. The new laptops come in four colors: sapphire, dune, platinum, and black.

Also: Could Windows finally get ARM right and outperform Apple silicon?

The new Surface Pro Copilot+ is available for pre-order starting at $1,000 for the LCD display, and $1,500 if you want the OLED. The Surface Pro comes in the same four colors as the laptop. 

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