Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): we tell you which laptop is the best

the Surface Laptop 7 and MacBook Air (M3) against a split background
(Image credit: Apple / Microsoft)

Microsoft recently released its latest entries in the Surface line, the first ones to feature Copilot+ AI and, more importantly, the first ones sporting Qualcomm's Snapdragon Elite CPUs. The result is laptops that can stand toe-to-toe with the excellent MacBook Air line.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 7, in particular, is a near-perfect laptop, garnering a 5-star rating from us. We cite that its "performance, battery life, light, and thin, price, sound quality, and more are all top-notch." Meanwhile, the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) also sports a 5-star rating due to "improved performance, a slightly tweaked design to prevent fingerprints spoiling the look, and lower price of entry compared to the previous model."

But which one is the best laptop? We pit these two titans against each other to see which one is the best portable machine to invest in.

Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): specs comparison

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Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): Specs
Surface Laptop 7MacBook Air (M3)
Display:13.8-inch and 15-inch13.6-inch
Resolution: Up to 2496 x 1664 pixels2560 x 1664 pixels
Refresh rate:120Hz120Hz
Chipset:Up to Qualcomm Snapdragon X EliteApple M3 (8-core)
RAM:Up to 64GB LPDDR5x16GB unified memory
Storage:Up to 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSDUp to 512GB SDD
Battery:Up to 66WHr47.7Whrs

Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): price and availability

black laptop on white table

(Image credit: Future)

The baseline price for the Surface Laptop 7 14-inch model is $1,399 / £1,399 / AU$2,199, while the 15-inch model starts at $1,299.99/£1,349/AU$2,399.

The starting price for the 8GB memory MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) is $999.99 / £1,049.99 / AU$1,899, while the 16GB memory version starts at $1,499 / £1,499 / AU$2,399. There's also a MacBook Air 13-inch (M3 Max) version, which is $2,299 / £2,299 / AU$3,599.

While the base MacBook Air is cheaper than the 14-inch version of the Surface Laptop 7, the latter becomes cheaper once you upgrade the specs. In this case, deciding the price depends on what kind of specs you require. 

If you simply need a productivity machine, the base MacBook Air is the better choice, but for anything higher, you should go with the Surface Laptop 7 instead.

Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): design & display

macbook air

(Image credit: Pixabay)

While both the Surface Laptop 7 and MacBook Air (M3) have beautiful screens, the latter slightly elks out the former due to a higher resolution. In terms of pure normal design, both laptops don't reinvent the wheel but sport light and thin bodies that remain sleek and sexy regardless.

However, the MacBook is lighter and thinner, with a weight of 2.7 lbs (1.24kg) and a thickness of 0.44 inches (11.3mm). The Surface Laptop 7, meanwhile, features a 2.96 lbs (1.34kg) weight and a thickness of 0.69 inches (17.5mm).

The Surface Laptop 7 is far superior in terms of port selection, sporting a well-rounded two USB 4 Type C, one USB Type A Gen 3.1, one 3.5mm combo jack, and one Surface Connect port. The MacBook Air has a paltry selection of two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), one 3.5mm headphone jack, and a MagSafe 3.

Overall, the MacBook Air is the better bet; its measurements make it one of the best thin and light laptops on the market. However, if you prefer a more robust port selection, the Surface laptop will be your go-to.

Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): performance

A Surface Laptop 7 on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Performance has always been Apple's domain, with the MacBook Air (M3) running brilliantly. Not only is it fast and responsive, with its high efficiency producing far less heat, it features a large library of apps that have been built natively for Apple’s M series of chips and sports an incredible battery life to boot.

That said, the Surface Laptop 7's performance is top-tier thanks to the Snapdragon X Elite. It runs just as efficiently as a Mac, has a full range of Windows apps and support, and has a battery life that nearly matches the MacBook Air. This tracks with the claims that the latest Qualcomm chips have beaten out Apple's M3 silicon in benchmarks.

Another feat that both CPUs boast is their ability to handle the best PC games, including the Snapdragon being able to play Baldur's Gate 3. Because these CPUs are equally powerful, they can handle both creative and editing projects, something that was previously in Apple's wheelhouse. As a result, both laptops are so equal in performance that either one would make for a phenomenal choice.

Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): battery life

The Surface Laptop 7 and the MacBook Air (M3) boast a battery life of about 15 hours during normal productivity work. When performing more taxing tasks like gaming, video streaming, or light creative work, that battery life goes down to roughly ten hours, which is still excellent.

If you're after solid battery life, both the Surface and MacBook will give you equally great results.

Surface Laptop 7 vs MacBook Air (M3): verdict

smiling person freelancer outdoors working on laptop computer MacBook by Apple with smartwatch Apple Watch, iPhone smiling, show thumb up, like gesture.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Overall, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 and Apple MacBook Air (M3) are tied, matching each other in performance and battery life. The MacBook Air (M3) has a better design, while the Surface Laptop 7 features better pricing once you delve into superior specs.

It's impressive that, in a single generation, Microsoft was able to match Apple's laptop so well that it can even be considered a rival in the first place. So, it seems that the best laptop is solely based on your personal preferences and what better suits your needs. Either choice is a great investment that should serve you well.

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Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.