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Surface Laptop 4 15-inch vs. MacBook Pro 16-inch: Which is better?

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The Apple MacBook Pro 16 is more expensive, thicker, and heavier than the Surface Laptop 4, but it trounces it by every other measure.
Apple recently underwent one of its most significant laptop updates in decades, switching all its machines from Intel CPUs to its own M1 processors. The MacBook Pro 16 now offers a choice between the Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max, two high-speed and efficient CPUs. Microsoft’s highest-end clamshell laptop, the Surface Laptop 4 15, retains its AMD and Intel CPUs and much of its design from its previous generation. Both are excellent laptops, but the new MacBook Pro 16 is the more significant update. The question is, how do they measure up? We’ll set aside the question of operating systems. If you’re choosing between these two laptops, then you’re willing to consider either Windows 11 or MacOS Monterey. If either one of those operating systems doesn’t appeal to you, then your choice is already made. Looking at the hardware, you’ll find that these are two very different machines. The Surface Laptop 4 is meant to be a very thin and light laptop, coming in at 0.58 inches and weighing just 3.4 pounds — both of which are excellent given its 15-inch 3:2 display. The MacBook Pro 16 represents a step in the opposite direction for Apple, which was also striving for thin and light laptops for years. In contrast, the MacBook Pro 16 got thicker and heavier in this version, up to 0.66 inches and 4.8 pounds. It has a 16.2-inch 16:10 display, so it was bound to be a bigger laptop. The thing is, it’s only half an inch wider and only 0.17 inches deeper, meaning it’s not much larger than the Surface Laptop 4. Apple finally incorporated thinner bezels to fit into a smaller — if still thicker and heavier — chassis. We’ll note that there’s a notch in the MacBook Pro 16 display that’s similar to the one you’ll find in an iPhone, but that’s a trifling concern overall. You’ll find that both laptops are well built, sporting CNC machined aluminum bodies that resist all bending, twisting, and flexing. Both hinges can be opened with one hand while holding the displays firmly in place. These are two of the best-made laptops around, and neither has an advantage. In terms of their aesthetics, both are attractive laptops. The Surface Laptop 4 is a streamlined design that comes in two colors, Platinum and Matte Black. It sports simple lines and angles and is quite minimalist in its appearance. The MacBook Pro 16 is similar. It, too, has simple angles and lines and, in fact, is a bit boxy — although its rounded corners smooth things out a bit. Overall, the MacBook Pro 16 is more conservatively elegant, while the Surface Laptop 4 is slightly more extravagant.

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