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Microsoft’s latest MacBook Air competitor lets you pick between Intel or AMD


Microsoft Surface Laptop 4


Microsoft on Tuesday announced the Surface Laptop 4, a laptop that competes most closely with Apple’s MacBook Air. This year, customers can choose between Intel or AMD processors across two sizes, either a 13.5-inch laptop or a 15-inch model.

It shows Microsoft is taking a different path to its devices than Apple, which has ditched using processors from Intel in its new computers and is now offering its own in-house chips. But it also shows that Intel continues to struggle where it once dominated. Intel chips used to be the default processor in most notebook computers, for example, but companies across the board continue to offer AMD options that can sometimes pack better performance for the price. Last year, Microsoft only offered the choice on its larger 15-inch laptops.

The Surface Laptop 4 is similar to its predecessor, the Surface Laptop 3. But Microsoft is promising up to 19 hours of battery life, as opposed to 11.5 hours in the earlier model, and up to a 70% performance bump.

The Surface Pro 4 includes Dolby Atmos support for improved sound and a new 32GB memory option. Microsoft opted for a 720p webcam, however, which is the same you’ll find on a MacBook Air. It’s not a crisp as you might get from a standalone webcam or the camera on your smartphone. You also get a few things you don’t get on MacBooks, like a full-size USB port and a touchscreen display.

Microsoft wasn’t very clear on how consumers will know to pick between the AMD or Intel models. But it said the AMD models will offer better gaming performance and will be more appealing for people working with photo and video software given the boosted graphics. Part of that decision will be made for you depending on how much you want to spend. The entry-level model only comes with an AMD chip, for example.

The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 4 ranges in price from $999 for the entry-level 13.5-inch model with an AMD Ryzen chip and 256GB of storage to $2,299 with an Intel Core i7 processor and 1TB of storage. The 15-inch model starts at $1,299 with an AMD Ryzen processor and costs up to $2,399 with an Intel Core i7 chip.

The Surface Laptop 4 is available in the U.S., Canada and Japan and will ship beginning April 15. It will launch in other markets in the coming weeks.

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