Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 – Small and beautifully formed

Summary

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 REVIEW

From $1099

The second iteration of Microsoft’s snazzy entry-level Surface laptop is a smooth and sassy shooter, reckons PAT PILCHER.

Microsoft’s first Surface Laptop Go impressed us, so we were curious to see if Microsoft had managed to pull another rabbit out of its hat. It turns out that the new Surface Laptop Go is not only faster but also marginally more affordable than its first-gen sibling.

Where the original Surface Laptop Go kept the gorgeous Surface design, it stripped down the spec to attract buyers on a budget. This meant some of the compromises made were less than ideal. While its 12.4-inch screen and 10th-gen Intel Core i5 were expected, the 4GB of RAM and a meagre 64GB of SSD storage narrowed its appeal. Thankfully, the Go 2 can be had with a more reasonable 8GB RAM and 128GB or 256GB SSD.

 

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What stands out with the Surface Laptop Go 2 is that all the bits that impressed with the original have been kept. For a start, its excellent keyboard and roomy trackpad are largely the same. Its LCD touchscreen still has a taller 3:2 screen ratio, making it ideal for browsing and reading documents. Tucked away above the screen is a 720p webcam, which worked like a champ in video calls. Its speakers also impressed when watching streaming video; however, a good set of external speakers is probably best for music use.

As a Microsoft Surface doodah, the screen is not too shabby as you’d expect. On-screen colours and contrast levels popped. As a more affordable Surface, its display isn’t quite as bright as the high-end Surface book. Also, its keyboard isn’t backlit. That said, the fingerprint sensor built into the Go’s power button (which for some reason isn’t available on the cheapest model) is fast and accurate. It makes the usually frustrating Windows hello login almost bearable.

Under the hood sits an 11th-gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage. While its CPU is an 11th-gen Intel Core i5, most new laptops at this price point come equipped with 12th-gen Intel silicon, leaving the Go 2 a generation behind. Either way, it ran smoothly and coped with everything I threw at it. The 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage meant that the Go 2 ran almost silently, also passing the lap-based ball-scorch test with flying colours by running cooler than its predecessor.

On the battery life front, I managed to wring just under seven hours of use bashing out some content on Word, surfing and emailing. I may have had a metric shit tonne of browser tabs open. Still, nothing was terribly onerous or demanding on the CPU/GPU/storage or Network. Keeping a charger nearby is recommended.

The other notable change made with the Go 2 is that it uses Windows 11. The OS hasn’t been lobotomised into an education-specific version, so the awfulness that was Windows 10 S is thankfully gone. Thank goodness. Unlike a growing number of laptops, the Go 2 is not crammed with shovel-ware and other cruft. The only exception is a pre-installed trial of Microsoft Office, which is understandable as it’s a Microsoft product that will be of use to most buyers. Windows 11 felt polished and ran super smoothly.

The Surface Laptop Go 2 is a definite refinement over its predecessor. Not only does it feel far more responsive and quicker, but it runs a lot cooler, and it is virtually silent. While cheaper Windows notebook PCs can be found, few offer the build quality and attention to detail you get with a Surface product. As the most affordable machine in the Surface line-up, the Go 2 gets plenty right. About the only real weakness is its battery life. If this isn’t a deal-breaker for you, then the Surface Laptop Go 2 is a worthy contender for affordable computing.

www.microsoft.com

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