Surface Go 2 announced: you need to have the right expectation

Martin Brinkmann
May 7, 2020
Updated • May 7, 2020
Hardware, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Go 2 device yesterday. The ultra-portable Windows 10 device is the successor of the Surface Go, a laptop that I bought some time ago.

Since I own and use a Surface Go, I thought I provide you with a different take on the Surface Go 2 based on my experience with the first device.

Let us take a look at the hard facts first though. The Surface Go 2 features a bigger display (10.5" at 1920x1280 and 220 PPI compared to 10" at 1800x1200 and 217 PPI of the Surface Go) while dimensions stayed the same.

Surface 2 Go users get an option to select an 8th generation Intel Core m3 processor instead of the default Intel Pentium Gold processor 4425Y that has been the only processor of the Surface Go. Microsoft states that the processor may increase performance by up to 66%; battery life has also improved by one hour when on Wi-Fi (from 9 to 10), and by 1.5 hours (8.5 to 10) when using LTE Advanced. Mileage may vary depending on activity and other factors.

The Surface Go 2 comes with dual studio mics instead of the single microphone of the Surface Go.  Internal graphics, memory and storage remain the same.

The Surface Go 2 starts at $399 in the base configuration but that is just for the device without keyboard, 4 Gigabytes of RAM, 64 Gigabytes of eMMC storage, and the Intel Pentium 4425Y processor.

A better configuration with the Intel Core M3, 8 Gigabytes of RAM and 128 Gigabytes of SSD storage starts at $629.99. Note that a keyboard is not included in the prices and that you need to add another $139 for it if you want to purchase a Surface Go keyboard from Microsoft.

My take on the Surface Go 2

surface go 2

The Surface Go 2 is a specialized device, not an all-rounder. I bought the Surface Go as a device to take on travels. I had a 15" laptop before that and the weight and size was not really that practicable when it came to traveling. The Surface Go is a tiny device that fits perfectly even in smaller bags.

I use the Surface Go for work only and that means writing and doing research for the most part. Yes, I watch the occasional video on the device but for the most part, it is a writing machine and that works really well in combination with a Surface keyboard.

Not everything is perfect, of course. I paid less than €500 for the device including the keyboard and mouse, and you cannot expect workstation-like performance on the device. For light tasks such as writing, it is a good device in my opinion.

The device has a few issues. The somewhat odd resolution of 1800x1200 means that I cannot place two web browser windows side-by-side without having to scroll. Another thing that I dislike is that the power cable connector on the device is on the right and that always clashes with mouse and keyboard use. It comes with Windows S by default but you can upgrade that to Windows 10 Home to add support for legacy programs (which you should in my opinion). Unfortunately, all you can upgrade to is Windows 10 Home and not Pro (unless you are a business customer).

Microsoft addressed the screen size issue in the Surface Go 2 by making the display slightly bigger and increasing the resolution to 1920x1080. The size remains the same which means that it is equally portable.

As far as price is concerned, it is definitely a bit on the pricey side. Not Apple-pricey, but still pricey when compared to other devices in the same price range. I'd recommend to wait a few months, maybe until Black Friday, to purchase the device at a discount if you are interested in acquiring one. I plan to buy a Surface 2 Go in the future when discounts justify the expense, and hand over my trusted Surface Go device to a family member. The better display is what excites me the most about the device.

The Surface Go 2 is not the right device if you need lots of performance, e.g. to play modern computer games or to edit 4K videos, and there are better devices out there for the price (and even cheaper).

Now You: Do you own a laptop? How satisfied are you?

Surface Go 2 announced: you need to have the right expectation
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Surface Go 2 announced: you need to have the right expectation
Microsoft unveiled the Surface Go 2 device yesterday. The ultra-portable Windows 10 device is the successor of the Surface Go, a laptop that I bought some time ago.
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  1. Anonymous said on May 13, 2020 at 3:32 am

    I bought the original Surface Go at launch and I would agree with your assessment. However I am still disappointed in the tablet usability of the device. Windows 10 is sorely lacking in touch-friendly apps and the device falls vastly short of an iPad in that regard.

  2. opensas said on May 10, 2020 at 7:45 am

    I have a surface go (8GB) and I really like it, it’s truly portable and I always put in in my bag, pretty useful thing.
    I regret the borders are too wide, which makes the creen too small, so I guess that’s a very needed improvement.
    I wish it could come with 16GB ram, and also that I could make it run with linux.
    Anybody tried to install linux on the surface go 2??
    BTW, what other device, with similar form factor, would you recommend? I’d like a really portable laptop, with fine performance, ideally 16GB and 256 SSD, to do web development on linux. I really won’t be using it as a tablet.

  3. Withheld said on May 8, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    I bought a GO(8/128) a few months ago – the same use case as Martin. In fact, right now I should have been visiting the Midwest to pick up the US keyboard I ordered from Amazon warehouse at the same time.

    I wear bifocals, and still can see the GO1 screen okay, but without a keyboard. And.. well, sometimes I dream every Microsoft employee should be required to use the GO1(4/64) sans keyboard..

    Writing of traveling light (I may seem to be a glutton for punishment), but I think I can/could get away charging (slow=5hr?) via USB-A to USB-C cable (from Samsung T5 SSD), for less brick/power cords in carry on with an iPad.

    Oh well..

    I have a fanless SP7 that replaced an SP4. I concur with Yuliya, like that very much. These days I have it mostly connected to a USB-C ‘dock’ for desktop monitor, USB keyboard, and good old Microsoft Sculpt Bluetooth mouse.

  4. Peterc said on May 8, 2020 at 1:42 am

    Because my eyesight is going downhill with age, screens as small as the Go or Go 2’s are *out of the question* for actual productivity work. With scaling and font size set to what I need, 15-inch-class screens are the *lower limit* of what I can be productive with, and I’m *loving* my new 2020 LG Gram 17’s 17″, 16:10, 2K screen.

    Sure, it was twice the price of a fully loaded Go 2 with cover/keyboard and stylus, and it won’t fit into a “man purse.” But I’m fine using a messenger bag, and the Gram is only 0.7″ (1.78cm) thick, weighs only 2.98lbs (1.35kg), has better specs (Thunderbolt 3, Ice Lake CPU, Iris Pro integrated graphics, 16GB RAM user-upgradeable to 40GB, 1 × or 2 × 512GB NVMe storage user-upgradeable to 2 × 2TB), and offers maybe 8-9 hours of real-world battery life *without being careful*.

    Anyway, for folks like me, devices as small as the Go / Go 2 are not a viable option, and with something big and super-light like the Gram 17, computing away from home no longer has to be an exercise in torture. The only real downsides are having to use a messenger bag instead of a man purse and, of course, the price (get the discounted, “stripped-down” model at Costco, with only *one* 512TB SSD, and get it on sale).

    PS: I have niggles of the sort you’d have with any laptop. I wasn’t entirely happy with the keyboard layout and had to remap some keys using AutoHotkey (with great results). I thought that bundling a 100Mbps Ethernet-to-USB-C dongle with a machine that supports gigabit Ethernet was a cheap and deceptive move on LG’s part. I find the deck’s edges a little on the sharp side. But honestly, I haven’t run into anything so far that would make me want to return it.

  5. Paul(us) said on May 7, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    All improvements look to be indeed necessary.
    The main selling point for me uses to be that Hewlett and Packard product there M.T.B.F. is much better (even superior), compared, M.T.B.F. benchmark wise speaking, than any other brand.
    But I am not seeing/finding those overall M.T.B.F. benchmark tests anymore so I do not not or a Hewlett Packard product is M.T.B.F. speaking, still worth buying when you consider their extra prize?

  6. chesscanoe said on May 7, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    I have a 57-month-old Asus netbook that met my expectations when purchased, and is still used many hours per day. However now I do not need portability much at all, and since laptops seem to be quite reliable these days, I plan to probably replace it with a Dell XPS 17 when it becomes available this summer. Current requirements can change but the laptop concept can still be useful.

    1. Peterc said on May 8, 2020 at 10:43 pm

      @chesscanoe: This was the first I’d heard about Dell reviving the XPS 17, and I learned that they’re moving to 16:10 on all of their XPS laptops. [*Finally*, more Windows laptop manufacturers are figuring out that having more vertical real estate is *useful*! The difference between 16:9 and 16:10 is only 11%, but throw in the fixed space taken up by menubars, various toolbars, statusbars, and taskbars, and you’re talking about an *appreciable* increase in space for actual content.] The XPS 17 will doubtless kick the Gram 17’s ass in terms of sheer performance (especially graphics), and I expect it will have a better keyboard, but I’m guessing it will cost *significantly* more for comparable RAM and storage than the $1350 I paid, weigh an extra pound or two, and maybe run hotter and have a shorter battery runtime. I guess we’ll find out once it has actually been released. In the meantime, it sounds pretty awesome to big-screen lovers like me.

    2. skynet said on May 7, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      I only use it at home so went for an Asus 17″ for my Windows laptop. It’s nice having the large screen and a numpad. The battery life sucks and weighs a ton but that doesn’t matter. In some ways I prefer it to my MBP, ports, keyboard, sound, matte screen I can actually read in the sun and it’s easily upgradable and serviceable. Both trackpads are bad in different ways, the old mechanical Mac ones were far better. Still far prefer MacOS over Windows for graphic design though. It’s not easy hackintosh’ing laptops or I would.

  7. olidie said on May 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    About a year ago I bought a Go (8/128) and am happy with it. True battery life could be better, processor could be faster but all in all it’s a great lightweight device. I could not think of another small 10-11 inch laptop with a good screen and touch to compete with. Since it’s capable to do photo edits and even RAW conversions with Photoshop it’s always in my camera bag when I am out on assignments. Yes, it’s slower than my XPS13 but half the weight. Whenever time is a crucial factor I take the XPS with me. Overall I have to say that the Go gets used more than the laptop.

  8. Gary said on May 7, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    The first-gen Surface Go is a well-designed and solidly built little travel/commuting laptop, which I take along when I just might need to do a bit some writing, emailing, and web browsing but don’t want lug around anything larger. It’s so light and compact that I never have to ask, “Do I really need a computer today?” The answer is usually yes, and I never regret bringing it along. That said, it’s a compromise all around, a tad slow and cramped. Yet I rarely leave home without it. I’m looking forward to the Go 2.

  9. Bren said on May 7, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    What are the better/cheaper devices that you would recommend?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 7, 2020 at 2:45 pm
  10. asd said on May 7, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I have Go 1, and think it is great for light work on the go. The only problem is battery life is not that great.

  11. JohnIL said on May 7, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    I think a iPad is better suited for this size of device. After all Windows 10 isn’t that tablet friendly and apps are a joke especially if out of the box you get Windows 10S. So you end up buying a type cover, maybe a pen and spending as much as a small 13 inch notebook with better hardware. It’s a tough sell unless the form factor really is for you. Is it for education over a Chromebook? Not at the prices Microsoft has on it. The m3 Intel is obviously a better option, at least you get a decent duel core over the Pentium. But now your talking more dollars on a small screen that may only serve as a secondary device at best. Seems like this device targets a very niche market at best.

  12. Yuliya said on May 7, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    I have a Surface Pro 7 for my portable machine. I love it, I got the i5 model, mainly for the GPU. I only wish it had one more USB-A port, or the USB-C to be a Thunderbolt 3. Power connector on this one is magnetic and stays flat with the tablet, so it doesn’t interfere with your mouse, although both USB ports are on the right side, at least they are on the upper portion.

    Mine came with 10 Pro, which is odd because when I bought it it said it would come woth 10 Home. Not complaining. I did install LTSC anyway, Microsoft even provides two driver packs, one for LTSC 1809 and another for 1909.

    10/10, I don’t really recommend it, it was extremely expensive, and I paid separately for the keyboard and pen. This is not made to be your main machine.

  13. wow said on May 7, 2020 at 10:58 am

    This reads totally like an sponsored ad.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 7, 2020 at 11:30 am

      This post has not been sponsored, just saying.

  14. skynet said on May 7, 2020 at 9:54 am

    $750 including keyboard for the generally workable but still very low end is far too expensive. As usual 1/4 the price of the base spec for the pen is an absolute rip-off too. But that only started when Apple started ripping off people with their pencil, MS used to include them, which tells you how cheap they are to make, then copied them.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 7, 2020 at 11:29 am

      I agree that it is too expensive, not Apple-expensive, but still. I would not buy it for that price but if the price drops significantly, and it will, I will buy it.

  15. Aegis said on May 7, 2020 at 8:31 am

    For me a 10.5 inch display is too small for practical use with Windows. It is a perfect size for an Android tablet, but for Windows this is too small. I own a 14 inch HP Notebook with Ryzen 5 3500U and that is the right size for me. The screen is big enough for my usage and still portable and not too heavy (1.5 kg).
    Also I think the Surface Go 2 is too expensive for a device that only has a Pentium and slow eMMC memory in the cheapest configuration.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 7, 2020 at 11:32 am

      It depends on what you do on your device. The 10″ display of the Surface Go is a bit too tiny in my opinion, and I think that the 10.5″ display with the standard 1920×1280 resolution will do better. Not saying that this is perfect but for my tasks, writing and research while travelling, it is quite good.

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