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


Microsoft Surface Laptop 4


Microsoft unveiled on Tuesday the Surface Laptop 4, which competes most closely with Apple’s MacBook Air.

Customers can choose Intel or AMD processors across two sizes, 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 in favor of its own chips. It also shows Intel is still struggling where it once dominated.

Intel chips used to be the default processor in most notebook computers. But companies across the board continue to offer AMD options that can sometimes pack better performance for the price. Last year, Microsoft offered the choice only on its larger 15-inch laptops.

The Surface Laptop 4 is similar to 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 as crisp as what you might get from a stand-alone webcam or the camera on your smartphone. It also includes things not on available on Macbooks, like a full-size USB port and a touchscreen display.

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

The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 4 ranges 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 start shipping Thursday. It will launch in other markets in coming weeks.

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