Surface Laptop 4 or Surface Laptop 3?

I'm trying to decide between buying a MS Surface Laptop 4 and a Surface Laptop 3.

The SL4 has the following specs:
Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB

Whereas the SL3 comes with:
Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB

Typically, this would be a no-brainer, with the odds firmly in favour of the newer model. My confusion lies in the fact that the SL3 boasts an i7 vs the SL4's i5. Granted, the i5 is the newer generation, but I'm guessing that the i7 previous generation might still trump the newer i5.

I'm not fussed about the Hard-drive size as I don't have a lot of data to store. Moreover, the SL3 also has double the RAM, and that should tilt the decision in its favour further. I think.

Price: they're within $10 of each other (after student discount).

Am I missing something obvious?

Grateful for any advice.


  • +2

    The new Core i5 has better performance than the last-gen Core i7 while both being 4 core, 8 threads.

    Intel's lineup and naming is frustratingly confusing nowadays so you cannot compare product lines (i5 vs i7) directly.

    • The naming scheme is supremely confusing! Thanks for the links though - I'll look at those when I've recovered sufficiently from my regret.

      • It's also worth checking if the older i7 is eligible for the official free Windows 11 upgrade. May or may not be.

        • Cheers! Would not have thought of that!

  • +2

    Where do you plan on buying the 3 from?

    • The MS store online.

  • Get the 4. Better battery life. I like my SL3, but the battery life isn't as great as they claim.

    Or pay more and get a SL4 that has equivalent specs to the SL3? i.e. a SL4 with an i7 processor?

    • SL4 with an i7 processor would be ideal, but I don't think it represents good value.

      • Since when were Surface Laptops considered good value though? They’re basically Windows laptops with Macbook aesthetics. Yes, I have a SL3, but I bought that when it was 20% off at JB Hi-Fi

        • +1

          Touché! Apples with Apples, though.
          Perhaps I can better rephrase it: the Surface Laptop models configured with i7 are much too pricey, even by Microsoft's standards.
          How's that? :)

  • It's more than just the CPU though. On Surface laptop, RAM is soldered onto the main board, and SSD uses M.2 2230 form size which can be tricky finding upgrades. Most of the modern CPUs are "good enough" but depending on your applications, you might want to invest in more memory & storage, i.e. SL3.

    • Yep, I agree. Double the RAM seemed like just the ticket. Wouldn't dream of an upgrade with either MS or Apple - it's much too pricey, and doesn't justify the cost, IMHO.

  • +1

    I find my work provided laptops chew lots of ram at idle because of all the background apps they push but if it's just going to be for general use 8gb is plenty in most cases. The newest model will be better for battery so that's what I would go with but if you can afford it, get more storage and ram in case.

    • True; but I think it's the video meetings that would be the real RAM sinks. My two year old SL2 has been working just fine, but has only now started to lag in some cases. Which is why I was thinking of the SL3 with 16GB.

  • Thanks for the replies everyone. Unfortunately, I've committed the cardinal OzB sin of being tardy, so I've missed out on the great trade-in price that MS had been offering for my SL2. To top it off, the SL3 is also no longer available - I had been leaning toward the extra RAM it offered, based on Scotty's advice.

    While it's true that 8GB RAM is plenty in most use-cases, I had been experiencing crashes on my machine when using Blackboard Collaborate, was hoping that the 16GB RAM would help with this.


    • What does task manager say the RAM usage is before it crashes? Usually full RAM kills the whole system, not just a lone app.

      • Fair point! I hadn't checked that though, and immediately blamed it on the fact that it's a Windows machine. It's only in hindsight that I'm thinking it could be RAM-related. I use the shared Macbook Air whenever I have those Collaborate sessions now.

  • I've not had issues with 8gb ram on SL3. I don't game tho.