Microsoft Surface Laptop Go REVIEW
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go REVIEW
The premium Microsoft Surface brand offers an affordable model, but how does it stack up? PAT PILCHER takes us through the specs.
$1149 to $1749
Microsoft’s Surface PC line-up finally has something for everyone. While the Surface range had long commanded a price premium, Microsoft is moving to fill the gap with the more affordable Surface Laptop Go. Designed to appeal to price-sensitive buyers, the Surface Laptop Go is intended to be reasonably priced but not feel “cheap”.
The Surface Laptop Go is petite. It sports a 12.4-inch display, but its design includes an aluminium display lid and upper deck, plus a polycarbonate base. Available colours are Ice Blue, Sandstone and Platinum.
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In use, it feels sturdy, more like a premium piece of hardware than its affordable sticker price would indicate. Chiropractors can also rejoice as the Surface Laptop Go weighs in at just 1.1kg, making it highly portable.
Buyers get the choice of a single CPU, Intel’s Core i5. The base configuration comes with just 4GB of memory and a mere 64GB of eMMC flash storage. While this might be fine for use with educational or basic productivity apps, there are other config options. These range from 8GB RAM, and up to 256GB of SSD storage. An external drive is recommended for those with extensive media collections.
Speaking of which, hooking up an external drive isn’t difficult, as there are both USB Type-A and USB-C ports. While the Type-C port can charge the battery, Microsoft also bundles a proprietary power brick with the Surface Connect plug. Also, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack while wireless connectivity includes 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Surface Laptop Go’s 12.4-inch display continues Microsoft’s use of the 3:2 screen aspect ratio used across the entire Surface family. It is a tad taller and slightly narrower than 16:9 laptop screens, but this allows more content to be displayed. Another area where Microsoft has cut costs to keep the sticker price down is the screen’s native resolution, which is 1,536 by 1,024 with a pixel density of just 148 pixels per inch. This works out to be close to FHD resolution, and when combined with multi-point touch support plus plenty of brightness, is perfectly adequate for most tasks.
In the middle of the top bezel sits a 720p video camera. Interestingly, keeping costs down means it lacks the face recognition capabilities of Windows Hello. That said, biometric unlocking is still possible on some models (the base config lacks this capability). This is possible thanks to the power button, which doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
Some might see the lack of face recognition as a minus. I see it as a plus, given how unreliable Windows Hello face recognition is compared to fingerprint scanning, which worked quickly and accurately every time. The keyboard has plenty of travel and is comfortable to use even if there are no backlit keys. The trackpad is also generously sized.
Given its intended niches are education and enterprise, the Surface Laptop Go comes with Windows 10 S installed. It limits software to apps from the Microsoft store. While this is annoying, it’s also a great way of keeping sideloaded malware at bay. That said, there is a free option to upgrade the installation to Windows 10.
Powering the show is a Core i5, from Intel’s 10th Generation “Ice Lake” range. It clocks in at 1GHz (which keeps power consumption down), but turbo boost can take it up to 3.8GHz if needed. The Core i5 is a good compromise in that it offers enough power to handle most tasks you’d be likely to use the Surface Laptop Go for. Add in 8GB of memory and Intel’s integrated graphics, and productivity/web surfing apps run smoothly.
The Surface Laptop Go’s spec should also equate to lighter power demands. With the power saver mode engaged and moderate to light use, I got just under 11 hours which is more than enough for a day’s work or school.
So, is the Surface Laptop Go such a great deal? Prices for the base config start at $1149 and go up to $1749. You can get significantly more affordable laptops, but you’ll get what you pay for, and cheaper often equates to less durable. With the Surface Laptop Go’s slightly higher sticker price, buyers get significantly higher build quality and more durability. The other plus side is that the Surface Laptop Go spec is more capable than the Surface Go 2.