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Apple MacBook Pro (M1) Vs. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

The CRN Test Center compares the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 with the Surface Laptop 4, featuring a choice of Intel or AMD processors.

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Processor and RAM

Apple’s entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro is among the first three devices to come equipped with the high-performance M1 processor, which was unveiled in November. The M1 is an Arm-based chip featuring an eight-core CPU and an eight-core GPU.

As mentioned, the Surface Laptop 4 can be configured with processors from AMD in addition to Intel CPUs, a major difference from past Surface Laptop models. Notably, however, the AMD processor options are not from AMD’s latest Ryzen CPU lineup, the Ryzen 5000. Instead, the Surface Laptop 4 offers AMD Ryzen 4000 processors. The 15-inch Surface Book 4 AMD model comes with the Ryzen 7 4980U, while the 13.5-inch AMD model currently can be configured with the Ryzen 5 4680U. The AMD-powered models also feature AMD Radeon graphics.

For the Intel-powered Surface Laptop 4 models, the processors come from Intel’s 11th generation of Core i chips. Choices include the Intel Core i7-1185G7 for either size, with two additional options—the Core i5-1135G7 or the Core i5-1145G7—for the 13.5-inch model. Ultimately, Microsoft is claiming performance gains of up to 70 percent for the Surface Laptop 4 compared to the Surface Laptop 3.

But how does the Surface Laptop 4 compare on performance to the M1-powered MacBook Pro? One recent benchmark found only one 11th-gen Intel processor capable of beating the M1, the Core i9-11900K. And since the 11th-gen Intel processors found in the Surface Laptop 4 rank below that chip on speed—and the notebook opts for the previous generation of AMD Ryzen chips--it’s a safe bet that the M1-powered MacBook Pro will have a performance advantage in this comparison.

The Surface Laptop 4 does have greater choices for RAM, including a higher configuration of 32 GB of RAM, in addition to models with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM. The MacBook Pro with M1 can only be configured with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM.

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