Ok Battery Life And A Surprisingly Good Webcam
The Surface Go has some decent endurance for the road, lasting through six and a half hours of continuous 4K video playback on our battery life test. Thats good enough for a cross-country flight and will get you through a large chunk of the workday unplugged, but its not quite the best weve tested in this range.
Apples latest tablets both lasted significantly longer, with the iPad enduring a strong nine hours and 45 minutes and the new iPad Mini going for an even better 10 hours and 45 minutes. We also got a stronger eight hours out of last years Intel Core M3-powered Surface Go 2, so were a bit disappointed to see a downgrade here.
The Surface Go 3s webcam is very solid for the price in the right lighting conditions, at least. The Go 3s 1080p camera captured our skin tone accurately and picked up the finer details of our stubbly beard under natural light, though things quickly got dark and fuzzy when we moved to our dimmer living room. Whats more impressive is that this webcam supports Windows Hello for logging into the PC with just your face, a feature that worked consistently well. Thats one big advantage the Go 3 and other Windows PCs have over Apples devices, as Face ID unlocking is only available on the expensive iPad Pros that start at $799. Heck, even Macs dont have it yet.
Handles The Basics Well
When it comes to performance, the Laptop Go isnt exactly a powerhouse. It uses an older Intel i5-1035G1 processor instead of one of the new 11th Gen CPUs . Its also got Intels old UHD graphics instead of the impressive new Xe graphics available on the 11th Gen chips.
I dont put much stock in benchmarks as they often dont tell the whole story, but they can be a useful tool for providing a general idea of what performance is like. With that in mind, I ran a few CPU-oriented benchmarks on the Laptop Go. In Geekbench, the Laptop Go managed a reasonable 1150 single-core score and 3552 multi-core score. On Cinebench, the Laptop Go managed a low score of 1402, while the Blender bmw27 benchmark took 11 minutes and 22 seconds to complete. None of these numbers are particularly impressive, but considering that the Laptop Go is a small, portable laptop, these scores arent terrible either.
In short, benchmarks show the Laptop Go performing slightly below what youd see on a Surface Laptop 3 or Pro 7 with an i5-1035G7 or i5-1035G4 processor respectively. However, its important to note that both the Laptop 3 and Pro 7 can be equipped with i7 CPUs and more RAM, which can help boost performance.
Benchmarks aside, the Laptop Go works fine. In my use, which involved opening a ton of tabs and editing some photos in Photoshop, it handled everything well. Id get the odd stutter while scrolling around, but it was never problematic.
Who It Isn’t For:
- If you want a convertible PC
- If you want to a lot of video editing or gaming
Going into this review, I was not expecting much from Laptop Go. After reviewing premium laptops, it is sometimes hard to get excited over something that is less in every way. But the more I used Laptop Go, the more I appreciate it a similar feeling I had with Surface Go. But unlike Surface Go, the Core i5, SSD, ice blue colorway, and larger display let me enjoy it on a whole other level.
Surface Laptop Go is a lovely little laptop.
There’s no way to say it other than Surface Laptop Go is a fun and lovely little laptop.
Sure, a higher resolution display would be ideal, or maybe even a backlit keyboard. But these are forgivable omissions to keep that price down. Looking at the core features typing, trackpad, audio, display, size, weight, performance, and battery life Laptop Go does an incredibly good job of balancing all that against its $550 to $700 price.
For students whether working at home or in a college seminar Laptop Go would be an excellent choice for tossing in your bag and taking notes . The performance won’t frustrate you, and the battery life should keep you going for the whole day.
Families who are looking for an extra PC to share would also benefit from Laptop Go. It’s not expensive, and it is a joy to use on the couch or propped up in bed.
Surface Laptop Go
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Welcome To Windows 11
The Surface Go 3 is one of the first machines weve tested that ships with Windows 11, which brings a new look and features to Microsofts operating system. The biggest changes are in the aesthetics, with a centered taskbar, more colorful app icons and a set of beautiful new themes. These are joined by new backgrounds and widgets that make Windows look cleaner and lets just say it more Mac-like overall.
There are also some useful new productivity tools, such as the ability to create multiple virtual desktops and enable focus modes to avoid distracting notifications , as well as new options for snapping multiple apps together on-screen. You can check out our Windows 11 review for the full breakdown, but the TL DR is that its a nice-looking visual revamp with some useful features, and those coming from Windows 10 will likely get acclimated pretty fast.
Its worth noting that the Surface Go 3 ships with Windows 11 in S Mode, which is a streamlined version of Windows that only runs Microsoft apps such as Edge, Teams and Word. Its designed to deliver more efficient performance and tighter security. However, unless youre getting a Go 3 for someone whos just going to browse on Edge or check their email every now and then, wed recommend turning this off as soon as possible. Thats exactly what we had to do in order to use our go-to apps such as Slack, Chrome and Steam. Just note that once you switch out of S Mode, theres no going back.
Keyboard Audio And Webcam: A Decent Value
The Surface Go 3s keyboard remains unchanged from the Surface Go 2, so my opinion hasnt changed either. A small tablet means a small keyboard, one thats tolerable to type upon for long periods of time. The keyboards key travel remains at a shallow 1mm, with less key travel than some of the other excellent keyboards within the Surface lineup. A childs fingers may be small enough to type on the keys, but adults wont really enjoy it.
As for the audio, the tablet features a pair of front-facing 2W stereo speakers enhanced by Dolby Audio. It offers a satisfactory audio experience. While Microsoft has dialed down the blaring speaker volume from the Surface Go, it offers a solid mix of high-end and midrange audio. I never felt the need to plug in a pair of earbuds into the headphone jack, which is one of the higher compliments that you can give a laptop or tablet.
The front-facing 5.0Mpixel webcam continues to provide decent color saturation and lighting, though without the new lighting and color sensors added to the Surface Pro 8. With the easy migration of photos between smartphones and PCs, the rear-facing camera seems less necessary with each passing generation. But the Gos small size makes snapping a photo less awkward than with larger tablets and the 8Mpixel resolution is plenty sufficient for capturing documents and well-lit scenes.
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Laptop Se Vs Laptop Go: Which Should You Buy
While both the Surface Laptop SE and the Surface Laptop Go are some of the best Windows laptops for students and educators, we feel that the Surface Laptop SE is ultimately the better choice for schools and other educational institutions looking for a classroom-friendly device to buy in bulk for students. With its extremely low cost, low-spec performance optimizations, and education-focused Windows 11 SE benefits, the Surface Laptop SE will no doubt stand as one of the top education devices.
If you’re a student looking to get something that can handle work and recreational activities, the Surface Laptop Go is the clear choice here. The Surface Laptop SE doesn’t have hardware that’s good enough to handle the media consumption or light gaming you might want to do after your schoolwork is done, and it’s not available to regular consumers anyway. This is where the Surface Laptop Go shines thanks to its 10th Gen i5 Intel CPU, support for touch, and other advantages.
Agree To Continue: Surface Laptop Go
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it contracts that no one actually reads. Its impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit agree to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people dont read and definitely cant negotiate.
To use the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop Go, you have to agree to:
- Request for your language, region, and keyboard layout
- Windows 10 License Agreement
- Microsoft 365
- Set up Cortana
- Privacy settings, including online speech recognition, find my device, inking and typing, advertising ID, location, diagnostic data, and tailored experiences
Thats six mandatory agreements and 14 optional ones to use the Surface Laptop Go.
Theres nothing I hate about the Surface Laptop Go. Its quite portable, it looks nice, and it works just fine as a daily driver for schoolwork or everyday multitasking. But Microsoft has cut some corners. And with those corners cut, I dont understand why this laptop is still $900.
All of these computers are a bit heavier than the Go but still quite portable and they dont ask as many sacrifices in return for that portability. They all have backlit keyboards, bigger and better displays, better port selections, and the look and feel of premium competitors.
I dont mind this laptop. I just dont understand why it costs so much.
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Surface Laptop Se Vs Laptop Go: Specs And Availability
When it comes to a raw performance matchup, the Surface Laptop Go outshines the Surface Laptop SE in nearly every metric thanks to its stronger specs and more advanced hardware. This includes a more capable processor, a better display with support for touch, more RAM on commercial models, additional SSD storage, a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, and an extra microphone. The Surface Laptop SE’s only advantage is its longer battery life, which is no doubt due to the performance optimizations of Windows 11 SE.
Because of this, the Surface Laptop Go is a better multipurpose device since it does a good job of handling both productivity work as well as recreational activities like media consumption and light gaming. The latter activities are things that the Surface Laptop SE simply can’t do efficiently.
|Surface Laptop SE|
|$250||Starts at $550|
However, where the Surface Laptop SE pulls ahead is in the education sector. In situations where schools need to buy devices in bulk that are both affordable and performant enough for completing schoolwork, the Surface Laptop SE is a better choice thanks to its rock bottom $250 price. Windows 11 SE itself also comes with several education-focused benefits, such as preloaded access to Microsoft Office apps, restrictions on app installations, and fullscreen app launches.
The Display: Brighter Than Your Average Budget Panel
Besides more-pedestrian computing components than flagship tablets and laptops offer, the Go 3 also has a smaller, lower-resolution screen. The 10.5-inch display has a resolution of 1,920 by 1,280 pixels in a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is the equivalent of a full HD resolution. Its fine for watching movies, but if youre editing documents or scrolling through web pages, youll definitely notice some fuzzy text that is absent on the higher-resolution screens of the Pro 8 and the iPad Air.
Still, the Surface Go 3s screen is not only adequate for watching videos and participating in Zoom calls, its actually ideally suited for those types of tasks. The screen is brighter and offers more accurate colors than equivalent laptop screens in this price range. In our testing, the Go 3 managed to display the entire sRGB color gamut, and 77% of the P3 color gamut. Further helping image quality is the surprisingly bright backlight, which registered a maximum 424 nits of brightness on our display tests.
Audio quality is excellent too, for a tablet. In my testing listening to a few audio tracks and participating in a Zoom call, I discovered the Go 3s stereo speakers rival the audio quality of many larger laptops. Room-filling sound ensures that even the most soft-spoken student in the class is understandable.
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Windows 10 Home In S Mode
The Laptop Go ships with Windows 10 Home in S mode, which restricts what you can install to apps from the Microsoft Store. Many more apps are available from the Microsoft Store, so some may be tempted to leave it in S mode.
But if, like me, you need tools such as Google Chrome, youll need to switch to the standard Windows 10 Home experience, which takes just a few clicks in the Microsoft Store.
Windows 10 on the Laptop Go runs just like any other Surface, which is typically a good, bloat- and trialware-free experience. Ive had fewer issues with Windows on Microsoft laptops than any other Windows 10 devices, but in this instance I saw tearing issues where irritating artefacts appear on screen as you scroll while reading various web pages in Edge and Chrome replicated on two different models.
I also had major issues getting my work Google Workspace email to function properly in Windows 10 Mail and Calendar. At first it would not sync the account at all. After an update to the Mail app it would sync but would routinely crash requiring a reboot of the computer. Microsoft support could not diagnose the problem, and officially said that it does not support Google Workspace, only the consumer Gmail. The infuriating issue was not isolated to the Laptop Go, nor my particular account, but all current Windows 10 machines that I had access to and all new instances of the Mail app.
Surface Laptop Go Display Audio And Camera
Surface Laptop Go vs. Surface Laptop 3 .
I can see many folks complaining about the measly 12.5-inch, 148 pixel-per-inch 1536×1024 display. That PPI is the lowest of any Surface device to date, and yeah, if you eyeball the display yOu CaN sEe tHe piXeLs, but it is sufficient in everyday use. For some perspective, Razer sells a 17-inch $3,000 gaming laptop with a full HD display with a lower 127 PPI.
Color accuracy is fantastic.
The bigger picture is the Laptop Go’s display is very good quality. It reaches nearly 400 nits in brightness the sweet spot for a laptop display that balances good battery life that is still viewable even in outdoor shade. It can drop to just two nits at zero percent, making it perfect for use in bed at night .
Color accuracy is fantastic, with 99 percent sRGB and a respectable 78 percent DCI-P3. Toss in some excellent color contrast, an auto-brightness sensor , thin bezels, and touch support, and what more do you want at $550? Speaking of bezels, these are the thinnest Microsoft has made yet for a Surface .
Video and audio sample from Surface Laptop Go’s 720P webcam.
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Graphics Performance And Battery Life
To test gaming prowess, we use 3DMark, which measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is more suited to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The results are proprietary scores.
The results parallel what we saw on the content-creation benchmarks, with the Surface Laptop Go offering enough oomph for light, casual gaming, but not as much as the IdeaPad Flex 5 with its AMD Radeon graphics processor. Note that the Ice Lake processor here employs Intel’s UHD Graphics silicon, while some of the upper-tier Ice Lake chips make use of Intel’s more muscular Iris Plus integrated graphics, which in our tests has proved comparable to the Radeon Graphics on the recent Ryzens. That seems a missed opportunity, but a likely victim of hitting the price point.
After fully recharging the laptop, we make a few battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video rundown test. In this test, we loop a video with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent until the system conks out.
A Sturdy Svelte Surface
First, a word about the Surface Laptop Go name, and where this laptop fits into the grand, confusing scheme of Microsoft’s Surface line.
The Surface Laptop Go is a new flavor of Surface. It’s not to be confused with the Surface Go , the Surface Pro , the Surface Book , or the various Surface Laptop 3 models. In brief, as its hybrid of a name implies, it’s a classic clamshell model like the Surface Laptops, but smaller and cheaper, like the Surface Go models.
The Surface Laptop Go is petite as modern laptops go, with a 12.4-inch display, but its physical design matches the rest of the Surface Laptop 3 family, which includes larger, pricier 13.5-inch and 15-inch versions. The design includes an aluminum display lid and a polycarbonate base, available in your choice of three colors: Ice Blue, Sandstone, and Platinum. The entire package feels sturdy, well-engineered, and fitting of a laptop that costs more than its $699 asking price.
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