If you’re looking for the best Microsoft laptops for gaming, there’s no better time to find one than now. Microsoft has been adding a new selection of Surface laptops to their already wide range but more importantly, some of the new entrants boast of reality-rivaling graphics and high performance, never seen before on Microsoft laptops.
For a long time, gaming on the surface notebooks had not been a real possibility. However, when I heard the new Surface entrants boast a processor more powerful than Ultrabook chips seen on machines like the XPS 13 and a discrete graphics card, the concept of a surface gaming laptop became somewhat of a possible reality.
I say possible reality because it’s not here with us just yet. While Microsoft released some daringly good notebooks with impressive features, the surface brand is yet to prove its worth as a gaming rig. On the bright side though, Surface laptops have enough features to get me excited about picking up a Surface laptop with a tinge of gaming juice.
So, are surface laptops built for gaming? No, for good reasons, one being due to oversight of some of its configurations. However, for users who really want to try out gaming, all is not lost. It’s proper to say the Surface notebook has enough features to play games, not triple-A titles as gaming truly refers to but light gaming on some titles.
Before we list some of our favorite Microsoft laptops for gaming, here are some pros and cons that make the Surface brand a gaming laptop or not.
1. Packs the latest powerful hardware
One of the most defining features when it comes to any gaming laptop or PC is hardware. Powerful hardware help increase the quality of the gaming experience and smooth out frame rates. For the most part, this is the aspect Microsoft is good at and some of the very best Microsoft gaming comes with the latest hardware in the industry.
There are two versions of the Surface Laptop Studio — one with a Core i5-11300H with integrated graphics and another with a Core i7-11370H with an RTX 3050 Ti. The said processors are remarkable at what they do giving the surface impressive results as well as benchmarks.
2. The swivel hinge makes for a great screen for gaming
One of Microsoft Surface’s most defining features is the swivel hinge. Although swiveling the screen down will lock you out of the keyboard for peripheral-free gaming, it looks like the perfect complement to playing with a controller.
Controller gaming with a laptop just isn’t comfortable, as you normally have to push the screen back all the way to see anything. The swivel hinge solves that, bringing the screen closer to you while angling it for better visibility
3. High refresh rate Ideal for gaming
The Surface Laptop Studio comes with a 14.4-inch 2400 x 1600 display with up to a 120Hz refresh rate. A high refresh rate in displays is quickly becoming a norm in notebooks and it’s refreshing to see Microsoft joining the bandwagon. The MIS Creator Z16 is a good example of where frames rates are working marvelously.
Playing games at a higher refresh rate can have a substantial impact on your gaming experience. This is especially relevant with fast-paced, competitive games where every frame counts. In particular, esports and indie titles will benefit from the high refresh rate display, and the high refresh rates will run at their full potential.
So high refresh rates are not a new thing, but with 120Hz on the Microsoft surface gaming machines, it certainly makes a positive note for gaming on notebooks. It makes gaming on less demanding titles true especially when you see the smooth results.
4. Windows 11 is built for gaming
Microsoft laptops come pre-installed with Windows 11 which is built for gaming, certainly better than Windows 10. There are a couple of gaming-related features to look forward to, which are borrowed from Microsoft’s latest game consoles, the Xbox Series S/X. The first is DirectStorage. DirectStorage takes advantage of fast NVMe SSDs to greatly reduce load times and improve texture loading while considerably reducing CPU load for those tasks.
While DirectStorage is landing on Windows 10 too, and it’s now not essential to use Windows 11 to enjoy it, the upgraded storage stack in Windows 11 allows DirectStorage to perform to its most significant potential.
There’s also Auto-HDR, which uses machine learning and AI to bring an HDR mode to any game, no matter if it supports HDR or not. Of course, in order to take advantage of it, you’ll need an HDR-compatible monitor.
An RTX 3060 would be better
As earlier mentioned, Microsoft laptops sport an RTX 3050 graphics card which is decent for gaming. However, while it is a passable GPU for gaming it has an obvious problem — only 4GB of video memory. Despite a more recent architecture, the 6GB GTX 1660 Ti on the Surface Book 3 can still beat the RTX 3050 Ti in some games. The RTX 3050 Ti still comes out ahead overall, but not by as much as it should.
In real-world use scenarios, the 4GB memory is insufficient when it comes into play in memory-hungry titles like Control and Cyberpunk 2077. It’s a good basis for comparison when judging the Surface Laptop Studio as a gaming machine, but lacking when it comes to more memory-intensive recent triple-A gaming titles.
As a result, we recommend the RTX 3060 with 6GB memory. That extra 2GB makes a world of difference in games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and comes with low power as well.
Here are 6 Best Microsoft Laptops for Gaming/ Best Surface Gaming laptops
On this list we’ve assembled 6 of the best surface laptops, however, to make the decision easier, we’ve highlighted surface laptops in order of performance and price. If your budget is tight, there’s an option for you and if your pockets are deep, there’s a choice for you too.
1. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio – Best Microsoft Laptop for Gaming (Best Performance)
- Innovative convertible screen
- Convenient storage and charging for pen
- Comfortable keyboard and typing position
- Too few ports for mobile working
- Function keys too small
- Can be hard to hold as a tablet
- Screen size: 14-inch, 120Hz refresh rate
- Processor: Core i7-11370H quad-core processor
- RAM: 32GB
- Storage: 1TB SSD
- Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
- Battery life: 14 hours
The Surface Laptop Studio is Microsoft’s creative workstation that replaces the unique outgoing Surface Book line with a slightly more normal laptop-like form. It’s a rather chunky design, nothing as minimalistic as the surface range of sleek tablets, but all for good reason. It’s easy to confuse it for a standard laptop made of magnesium and aluminum with a traditional hinge at the back. Open the lid and it has more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s MacBook Pro from the 2010s, with a decent-sized and great-looking 14.4inch LCD touchscreen with a slick refresh rate.
Speaking of refresh rate, it sports 120Hz which is refreshing and a plus for gaming and creatives. Under the hood, it boasts of a Core i7-11370H quad-core processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card. The combo is enough to muscle through everyday work, complex image-editing, and other fairly demanding general tasks without breaking a sweat.
As far as gaming goes, it’s not capable of playing AAA titles, rendering/converting lots of videos, processing large 3D models or compiling mountains of code. That’s thanks to the 4 cores on the graphics card. However, if you want to game on less known titles, it should handle pretty well.
The Laptop Studio’s battery life is surprisingly good, lasting almost nine hours of light work, including lots of browsing, note-taking, document, and spreadsheet editing, and a short bit of image editing. That’s longer than the 13.5in Surface Laptop 4, but miles behind the 14 hours of the 14in MacBook Pro.
Overall, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is a great option. It is fast, generally quiet in operation, with a great screen, keyboard, and the best trackpad you can get on Windows. If you need a laptop that handles light gaming, transforms into a drawing tablet, and can pull double-duty as a desktop replacement, the Surface Laptop Studio is the quirky Windows 11 machine for you. It takes our top spot thanks to it’s GTX 3050 Ti GPU.
2. Surface Book 3 – Best Microsoft Laptop for Gaming (Best Budget Surface)
- Unique detachable design
- Powerful graphics processor
- Many configuration options
- Comfortable keyboard
- Dual 1080p cameras
- Beautiful PixelSense display
- Keyboard base adds significant weight
- Poor battery life 4hrs 17min
- Screen size: 13.5-inch or 15-inch display
- Processor: 10th Generation Intel Core i5 processor with Iris Plus Graphics
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
- Battery life: 7hours 8 min
The Surface Book 3 is an extremely premium piece of kit, with one of the best displays and keyboards we’ve used in a laptop to date. It also flaunts an advanced mechanical locking system for the keyboard base, powerful graphics processing, multiple cameras and batteries, and a brilliant near-4K display. However, this Surface Book 2 replacement is a bit more expensive because of a dedicated graphics card.
Surface Book 3 comes in either 13.5-inch or 15-inch display sizes and many different internal component configurations. The entry-level 13.5-inch version has a 10th Generation Intel Core i5 processor with Iris Plus Graphics, a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), and 8GB of memory. The display alone weighs just 1.59 pounds, though that jumps to 3.38 pounds when you attach the keybase.
Under the hood is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, which is definitely a gaming-capable GPU, but not really something we’d recommend for gaming at the native resolution. The GTX 1660 Ti, paired with the low-power U-series processor, only manages 36 fps in Metro Exodus at 1080p, let alone what gaming at the 4K native resolution would require. Not surprisingly, it’s the most demanding games that the GTX 1660 Ti drops the ball on; Anthem, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and Metro Exodus can’t quite maintain a steady 60fps at 1080p ultra. You’ll want to drop settings down a notch or two in such cases, but at 1080p medium, there’s still plenty of headroom left.
Meanwhile, the Surface Book 3 is strapped with 32GB of RAM, which is absolutely overkill for most everyday users. However, photo and video editors will absolutely eat that memory up – something that the included GTX 1660 Ti will also undoubtedly help with.
Overall, the Surface Book 3 is an ambitious device that digital artists, on-the-go professionals, and 1080p gamers. Also, users who need the flexibility of a detachable tablet and some significant graphics horsepower will probably appreciate it most.
3. Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best Microsoft Laptop for Gaming (3rd Best Choice)
- Modern design with thin bezels and larger (13-inch) display
- Superior 1080p webcam
- Two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support
- Well-implemented kickstand
- User-accessible SSD
- Perky performance in tested Core i7 configuration
- Higher starting price diminishes entry-level appeal
- Accessories and configuration upgrades are pricey
- Keyboard base is still sold separately
- USB-C ports only
- Screen size: 13-inch screen, 120Hz refresh rate
- Processor: Core i7-1185G7 processor with Iris Xe graphics
- RAM: 16GB
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Graphics card: Iris Xe Integrated Graphics
- Battery life: 12.5 hours
Also at the top of our list is the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 laptop, an attractive 2-in-1 with a thin-bezel 13-inch screen, smart redesign, responsive stylus pen, and 11th Generation Core i7 “Tiger Lake” processor that altogether make the Surface Pro 8 an object of envy.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 measures 0.37 by 11.3 by 8.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.96 pounds a similar footprint to the Pro 7 came in at 0.33 by 11.5 by 7.9 inches and 1.7 pounds but nonetheless compact and portable. It’s built to look and feel sleek, high quality, and sturdy, more premium than other windows tablets.
The Surface Pro 8 has a noticeably larger 13-inch screen, a bump from the 12.3-inch real estate on previous models like the Pro 7 which is a big plus for users looking for larger screens for gaming. The display also brags of 120Hz refresh which makes scrolling, web browsing, and digital drawing all look smoother when the screen is refreshing more often. Ideally, refresh rates above 60Hz are generally reserved for gaming laptops, a positive move towards making Microsoft gaming laptops “gaming possible.”
As far as connectivity goes, the Surface Pro 8 includes not one but two USB-C ports, both boasting Thunderbolt 4 support for faster throughput, an obvious upgrade from the Pro 7’s single USB Type-C port. Under the hood, it sports a Core i7-1185G7 processor with Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD.
The bumped-up CPU and RAM make this more suited to actual professional workloads and light gaming versus everyday general use. Out of the gate, for this reason, it becomes a more serious PC, as opposed to a reasonably affordable tablet solution. So, if you’re looking for a Microsoft laptop for gaming, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is the best bet. It easily clinches our Editor’s Choice for best Microsoft laptop for gaming.
4. 2020 Surface Pro X
- Better performance and battery life than last year’s model
- Still the best-looking Surface product design
- Best-in-class keyboard and clever stylus storage
- App compatibility remains an issue, especially disappointing considering the premium price
- Keyboard and stylus are sold separately and cost too much
- Updates over the original version are very, very minor
- Screen size: 13-inch PixelSense touchscreen display
- Processor: SQ2 Arm-based chips
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB
- Graphics card: Integrated
- Battery life: 10 hours
The Microsoft Surface Pro X is yet another of Microsoft’s best inventions. The Surface Pro X is an upgrade of the original Surface Pro X that introduced the Arm-based chips into the market. The 2020 Surface Pro X builds on its predecessor through the processor upgrade to an SQ2 chip, a collaboration between Microsoft and Qualcomm, based on the latter’s Snapdragon chips.
From a design perspective, the Microsoft Surface Pro X is a high-end tablet with an aluminum housing. It comes in two variants, black, and silver. Microsoft promises better performance and better battery life from the new SQ2 version and that is clearly evident with the 10 hours of battery life capacity.
Performance-wise, this new chip needs a bit of getting used to. You will have to get used to the fact that not every software app will run on an Arm-based Windows system. In that case, you will need to check any specific apps you need first. This new Surface Pro X blasts past the Windows Hello facial recognition screen, and has no issue with running Spotify or Discord. You can easily also install apps like Clatter, ShareX, or Tweeten without errors or problems, unlike the original Pro X version.
As far as gaming goes, yes it is possible to game on the Surface Pro X, but with caveats. Thanks to the diversity of Windows content, you can actually turn this into a decent gaming machine for highly optimized games and arcade-style 2D side-scrollers. Just don’t expect to be playing the latest AAA blockbuster on ultra-high graphics. At least not natively.
There are hundreds of games that run well on the Surface Pro X, but you have to accept the limitations. Visually simplistic games like Guacamelee, Dead Cells, Hollow Knight, Blasphemous, and even more layered 2D games like Ori and the Blind Forest run well on the Pro X. Essentially any 2D side-scrolling arcade-style game will run well on this device. Still, you can even push it up to 3D in some scenarios too.
Some 3D games like Diablo III, Overwatch, Fortnite, and others can achieve a playable frame rate on the lowest possible settings. Aggressively optimized games like Rocket League can also achieve very respectable frame rates, even up to 60 FPS.
In conclusion, the Microsoft Surface Pro X checks all the right boxes and fits the bill as one of the best Microsoft laptops for gaming. From having an attractive design, great performance, 10-hour battery life, and gaming capacity it is better than most tablets on the market right now.
5. Microsoft Surface Pro 7+
- Bright, vivid display
- Faster CPU and graphics performance
- Swappable SSD
- Fanless chassis
- Good webcam
- Capable of light gaming
- Battery life could be better
- Thick display bezels
- Accessories sold separately
- No Thunderbolt ports or 5G
- Screen size: 12.3-inch display with 2736 x 1824-pixel resolutions
- Processor: 11th Gen (Tiger Lake) – Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU (Core i7 available too)
- RAM: 8GB or 16GB
- Storage: 256GB or 512GB of storage
- Graphics card: Iris Plus integrated graphics
- Battery life: 12 hours
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ is a great Microsoft tablet that also builds on its Surface Pro 7 predecessor. It brags about premium and elegant design. Like the Surface Pro before it, this detachable tablet has a stylish pearlescent silver magnesium alloy chassis with clean lines and an attractive chrome Microsoft logo on the rear – not much difference other than a small rectangular door hiding under the kickstand. Speaking of the kickstand, it extends a generous 165 degrees, allowing you to adjust the tablet however you need to get the perfect viewing angle.
You get a decent assembly of ports on the Surface Pro 7+. On the right side is a USB Type-C input (still no Thunderbolt 4) alongside a USB 3.0 Type-A port and a magnetic Surface Connect port for charging and docking. The left side is home to a lone 3.5mm headphone jack. There is also a SIM card slot for 4G LTE connectivity just above the SD card door under the kickstand.
There is a 12.3-inch display with 2736 x 1824-pixel resolutions of the Pro 7+ which is nothing short of remarkable. The panel brags of vivid, bright, and the 3:2 aspect ratio which is ideal for work. Content creators, gamers, and photo/video editors, as well as those who run simulations or edit spreadsheets, will find a helpful hand in the Surface Pro 7+.
Under the hood, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ packs an 11th Gen (Tiger Lake) Intel CPU which gives it a performance advantage over its consumer-focused predecessor. Partnered with a Core i5-1135G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, the Pro 7+ is capable of powering up 20 Google Chrome tabs, a few Edge windows, a handful of 1080p YouTube videos, and a Champions League match on Paramount+ without any problems, stutters, and lags.
The highlight is that the Surface Pro 7+ is ready for all but the most demanding workloads. That means even light gaming on the side.
6. 2021 Microsoft Surface 4 Laptop
- Sleek design, aluminum chassis (available in diff colors)
- Bright and vivid display
- Fast performance
- Long battery life 11-hours
- Remarkable keyboard and touchpad
- Few ports (No Thunderbolt)
- Thick bezels
- Top configs get pricey
- Screen size:13-inch and 15-inch configurations available
- Processor:AMD Ryzen 7 processor
- RAM: 8GB and 16GB config available
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Graphics card: AMD Radeon Vega 9
- Battery life:11-13 hours
Released during the global pandemic is the Microsoft Surface 4 laptop, is thin and portable yet powerful enough to see you through most everyday workloads and a pleasure to use thanks to the gorgeous PixelSense display and one of the most comfortable keyboards you’ll find among laptops.
This 13-inch laptop comes with a Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. However, there are a few other configurations available. You can opt for a 15-inch model configuration that sports an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. That means the biggest difference between the 15- and 13-inch Surface Laptop 4, at the entry-level, is the CPU.
With such specs, even while the Microsoft Surface 4 laptop definitely isn’t built for gaming, it was able to get a pretty respectable 5,151 points in 3DMark Fire Strike, which means it should be able to handle some of the best indie games. Just don’t go thinking you can run Cyberpunk 2077 at max settings or anything.
Microsoft promises a 19-hour long battery life, but for this one, expect somewhere between 11-13hours which in the long run is more than enough for a full day of work.
Microsoft has dramatically improved on most of its surface laptops and we look forward to seeing what the next few years will bring in this brand. We’d love to see Microsoft attempt some more significant changes to the Surface Laptops formula such as the excellent speakers, improved battery life, better webcam, Thunderbolt 4 support, and more ports in general, and under-the-hood upgrades.
Best of all, we’d love to see some more gaming-capable systems with recent graphic cards, something stronger than the RTX 3050 – that would be bliss. So far, if you can get your hands on a surface laptop with dedicated graphics, you should be able to get at least 1080p gaming on older titles.