The Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go 2 Review

June 17, 2020
4 mins read
Microsoft Surface Go 2 Review


Microsoft Surface Go 2 Review

PAT PILCHER finds all that glitters is in fact gold with Microsoft’s latest budget Surface Go 2 laptop/tablet hybrid.

Prices start at $749

Microsoft Surface Go 2 Review
Microsoft’s Surface Go 2

Microsoft is back with the Surface Go 2, a slinkier, faster laptop/tablet hybrid that promises better battery life.

Prices start at a wallet pleasing $749, which makes me wonder what got trimmed to hit such a compelling price. Does it have what it takes to be your daily driver?

Most of Microsoft’s Surface line up commands a price premium, so it’s good to see the Surface Go 2 available at such an affordable price point.

My first impressions are of it are favourable. Its 10.5-inch display impresses. It also sports a premium design that feels sturdy and well built. Like its more costly siblings, it’s also very portable. The anaemic battery life of the original Surface Go is resolved too.

The Type Cover keyboard

So, what do you get for under $800? The Surface Go 2 base model comes with the following:

  • Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y CPU,
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of eMMC storage (expandable via micro SD card).

For an extra $549 you can up the RAM to 8GB and double its storage to a more palatable 128GB.

The above prices do not include a Type Cover keyboard which will set you back a further $219. Given the Type Cover is a must-have, I’d have preferred that it was bundled and part of the Surface Go 2’s price. Doing this would save prospective buyers more than a little disappointment.

When it comes to look and feel, the Surface Go 2 is almost completely identical to the original Surface Go, but there are a few minor updates made to the design, some of which make a big difference.

While the Surface Go 2 is the same size as the original, its display has grown. It got bumped up from the original’s 10 inches to 10.5 inches. This Tardis-like design is possible thanks to thinner screen bezels.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 Review
The Surface Go 2 with the Type Cover keyboard

As with its other Surface siblings, the Go 2’s chassis is alloy and it has a kickstand. This is so it can get propped up to work almost anywhere. There are also only a few physical controls – a volume switch and power button.

While its design isn’t revolutionary, its build quality impresses given its sticker price. Add in a Type Cover keyboard and the Surface Go 2 becomes a versatile go-anywhere PC.

Its Type Cover keyboard is a miracle of engineering. Microsoft has crafted a wafer-thin keyboard yet there’s good key travel and tactile feedback. There are compromises, however. Using the Go 2 in my lap saw the Type Cover flexing and the Go 2 wobbling as I typed. A rigid frame for the Type Cover and a locking hinge could be a possible future fix.

It might be well-engineered, but it does feel cramped. This is unavoidable given the petite size of the Surface Go 2.

The Surface Go 2’s back side

As with other Surface Type covers, there’s an Alcantara fabric wrist rest. Home to a small trackpad, it works fine with day to day chores such as pinch-to-zoom and scrolling.

The Surface Go 2 has the same array of ports as the original model. On its right sits a USB-C socket, plus a Surface Connect port (for charging and docking) and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also a microSD slot under the kickstand.

The Surface Go 2’s 10.5-inch, display sports an aspect ratio of 3:2. It’s ideal for viewing documents and fine for watching movies. Considering the affordable price, the bright, vivid, and crisp display feels very premium. The screen is also touch-sensitive, responsive and accurate. The on-screen keyboard worked fine, as did tapping, selecting, and dragging on-screen icons.

Given its CPU spec and affordable price-point, it’s no surprise that the Surface Go 2 isn’t aimed at power users. It comes with an Intel Core m3-8100Y CPU and 8GB of RAM. This combo makes the Surface Go 2 plenty useable for everyday productivity tasks.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 Review
The Surface Go 2

With several browser tabs open and demanding apps running there was some lagging. When used for social media, email, and word processing, it worked like a charm. One standout area of performance was streaming. 1080p HD Content never hiccupped or stuttered and the Surface Go 2’s performance was flawless.

The Intel UHD 615 GPU will see AAA games on the Surface Go 2 delivering measly frame rates, but less demanding casual games worked like a charm.

One area where the Surface Go 2 exceeded expectations was its battery life. The original Surface Go struggled after seven hours. The Surface Go 2 ran for a whopping 11 hours and 35 minutes. This is impressive as other PCs at this price point usually struggle to last anywhere near this long.

Like the Surface PCs, the Surface Go 2 comes with both front and rear shooters. The 5-megapixel front-facing camera is more than ample for Skype calls and selfies. The rear sports an 8MP image sensor. I hardly needed the rear camera, whereas the front camera was often used. Both cameras can capture 1080p HD video, and their footage looks great. The other not so obvious camera is an infra-red shooter. It gets used for facial recognition via Windows Hello to log me in with no need for any passwords. Again, it’s a pleasant surprise given the affordable sticker price of the Surface Go 2. In use, it worked without a hitch.

So, if that’s the good stuff, what about the not so good? Microsoft chose to put Windows 10 S on the Go 2. Intended for school kids, it limits you to apps from the Microsoft Store. Because of this, it all but eliminates any malicious programmes from getting installed. But Windows 10 S is a pain in the ass by non-school kids. Its addition cripples an otherwise excellent piece of hardware. Being unable to install third-party apps is as frustrating as hell.

You can, however, revert to standard Windows 10. This is free of charge and easy to do. Wouldn’t it have made far more sense for S mode to get disabled by default? Parents with school kids could turn it on if they needed it. Why inflict it on non-school kid buyers? This held back the Surface Go 2 from a perfect 10/10 score.

S mode aside, the Surface Go is an excellent piece of hardware. While it doesn’t look all that different from the first Surface Go, it addresses many of its shortcomings. Battery life got boosted and users get a larger display, as well as faster performance. An excellent sticker price makes the Surface Go 2 one of those few premium products available for budget bucks.

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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