CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 Refreshed with Intel 12th-Gen Chips, Thunderbolt 4

Microsoft's latest 13.5- and 15-inch Surface Laptops stick to the script of past models.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
2 min read
All four of the Surface Laptop 5 colors next to each other -- black, silver, rose gold and green

Black, silver, rose gold and green, the new color lineup of the Surface Laptop.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is here, but the number in the name is one of the few things that's changed from last year's models. The updated laptops were announced at Microsoft's Surface event on Wednesday alongside the new Surface Pro 9 detachable two-in-one and a (barely) updated Surface Studio 2 Plus all-in-one desktop. 

Watch this: Microsoft Unveils Surface Laptop 5

Available in 13.5- and 15-inch sizes, the major difference from the Surface Laptop 4 is the move to Intel's 12th-gen Core processors, specifically a choice of an i5-1245U or i7-1265U. Performance is 50% faster than the Surface Laptop 4 and battery life is a little longer, too, Microsoft said in its announcement.

With the processor change also comes faster DDR5 memory -- 8GB, 16GB or 32GB. It comes with a choice of a 256GB, 512GB or 1TB removable solid-state drive for storage. Also, AMD fans are out of luck this time around (at least for the moment). 

The Surface Laptop 5 has a dearth of ports. There's just a single USB-C port, a USB-A 3.1 port, a combo headset jack and a Surface Connect port. One positive, though, is the USB-C port is now USB 4.0/Thunderbolt 4. However, it seems Microsoft missed the memo on improving built-in webcams and stuck with a 720p HD resolution for the one in the Surface Laptop 5. Other PC-makers have bumped up to 1080p full HD for generally sharper, more detailed video conferences. 

Watch this: Hands-on With All of Microsoft's New Surface Devices

Like the other device updates, not much has changed in the look or feel of the Surface Laptop 5 -- a lot of the experiential enhancements can be attributed to Windows 11.

It ships Oct. 25, starting at $1,000 for the 13-inch model and $1,300 for the 15-inch.

Ironically, Microsoft has two new accessories to improve the hybrid meeting experience. Microsoft Presenter Plus is the first presentation controller certified for Microsoft Teams. The Bluetooth remote does all the usual presenter things -- advance slides, mute/unmute, screen pointer -- but adds a Teams button so you can raise or lower your hand in a meeting to make engagement easier.

Microsoft Audio Dock with cords running to the ports on back to demonstrate its USB-C, USB-A and HDMI ports.

Then there's the Microsoft Audio Dock (above), which is part speakerphone and part USB-C dock. Compatible with Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet, the speaker has a 15-watt woofer and 5-watt tweeters (much more power than your laptop's speakers) and dual forward-facing, noise-reducing microphones. It has built-in volume, play/pause and mute buttons, plus a mute status light, so you always know when your mic is live. 

Connect it to your laptop with its 1-meter USB-C cable and you can use the HDMI 2.0 out and one of its two USB-C ports to drive two displays. The other USB-C port can be used for charging devices or data, and there's a USB-A 3.2 port, too. 

Best laptops for 2024

A selection of the best laptops you can buy right now

See the full list of best laptops for 2022