Microsoft Surface Go 3 REVIEW
In the market for a tablet/laptop hybrid with superb build loads of cool features at an affordable price? PAT PILCHER on the Surface Go 3.
With Microsoft’s affordable convertible tablet/laptop Surface Go 3 finally hitting retailer shelves, I was dead curious to see if it was any good. After putting in the hard yards for your reading pleasure, here’s what I found.
It may look identical to the Surface Go 2, but the Surface Go 3 has a few nifty spec bumps. These include a higher-resolution 10.5-inch display complete with slimmer bezels and a faster CPU. Like its more costly MS Surface siblings, the Surface 3 Go is essentially a tablet with the optional and crazily skinny but oh-so usable Type-cover keyboard and pen. As you’d expect from a Microsoft Surface product, the build quality is excellent. Even though the Surface Go 3 is affordable, there’s hardly any Tupperware to be seen. Microsoft instead uses a Magnesium alloy for its chassis, which is a pleasant surprise given its affordable sticker price.
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Speaking of price, the good news is that the Surface 3 Go starts at a wallet pleasing $719 for the base model. The not-so-good news is that the Type-cover keyboard and Surface pen costs extra. We at Witchdoctor recommend buyers add the cost of both the Type-cover and pen into their buying budgets as the Surface Go 3 really needs them to be useful.
The Surface Pen deserves special mention. Not only is it light, but it also feels precise and thanks to its tilt to shade capabilities, it’s a lot like a real-world scribble stick. Like the Surface Go 2, this year’s model sports a single USB-C port plus a 3.5mm audio socket. There’s also a MicroSD card slot under its kickstand. The single USB-C port means that unless you buy a docking station or USB hub, you’ll be stuck using just one wired peripheral at a time. Microsoft has, however, added Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, so your bases are well covered when it comes to wireless.
Under its hood sits a 10th-gen Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y CPU, which is a marked improvement over the 8th-gen silicon used with the Surface Go 2. For $949 you get a healthy 8GB of RAM plus 128GB of SSD storage, and that’s expandable via the SD card slot. The more affordable versions of the Surface Go 3 come with the same CPU but with just 4GB RAM/64GB of storage. The review unit worked well with MS Office, email, and zoom/Skype/Facebook video calls. That said, Windows 11 sometimes lagged when the Surface 3 was disconnected from its charger. Still, it otherwise ran reasonably smoothly when connected to the bundled charger.
When it comes to performance, battery life is perhaps one of the more important measures. As nice as a competitively priced convertible tablet/laptop is, they’re only ever going to be about as useful as an ashtray on a dirt bike if they must be constantly plugged in to be useable.
To this end, I got mixed results with battery life. A looped video playback test ran for an impressive 8 hours and 15 minutes. With office productivity use (MS Office, browsing, email, video calls), I got just 3 hours and 7 minutes. This could be due to Windows 11 not being as battery optimised as Windows 10, or the higher resolution screen making more demands on the battery. Thankfully having a USB-C port means you can plug a heavy duty portable power bank in for longer runtimes. That said, it is an additional item to lug about in your laptop bag.
Thankfully, the Surface Go 3 is tiny, and weighing in at a mere 544g, it’s also feather-light. It fits perfectly on an airline tray table, and throwing it in a laptop bag is no hardship given its lightweight design. Considering its petite form factor and affordable sticker price, the Surface Go 3 is a great addition to the Surface line-up. For anyone not wanting to spend a huge wedge of cash but needing full Windows 11 functionality, the Surface Go 3 is definitely worth checking out.