Surface Laptop Go or Surface Go 2: a comparison
Microsoft has expanded its line of Surface devices in October 2020 adding the Surface Laptop Go to the mix. It is a cheaper, smaller, lighter, and less powerful device than the Surface Laptop 3, similarly to how the Surface Go 2 is cheaper, smaller, lighter, and less powerful than the Surface Pro 7.
If you are a regular here on this site, you may remember that I purchased a Surface Go device shortly after it came out to replace my Surface Pro device. Bought specifically as a lighter option when travelling, it turned out to be the ideal device for getting my work done while on the go. Granted, it is not very powerful and some tasks may take longer to complete than on a desktop PC or full-fledged Surface Pro device, but I find that acceptable.
The releases of the Surface Go 2 and Surface Laptop Go put some users in a predicament: which device should you pick, if you want to get a "Go" device from Microsoft? Is the more expensive Surface Laptop Go the better choice, or is the Surface Go 2 all you need?
Both devices sport the "Go" branding, but they are quite different in what they offer.
The Surface Laptop Go starts at $549.99 while the Surface Go 2 at $399.99. As far as dimensions are concerned, the Surface Go 2 is a bit smaller (245 mm x 175 mm x 8.3 mm) than the Surface Laptop Go (278.18mm x 205.67mm x 15.69mm) and lighter (544 grams in the Wi-Fi version) compared to 1,110 grams of the Surface Laptop Go. The difference can be attributed partially to the missing keyboard of the Surface Go 2, which most users may want to add; it adds about 250 grams to the overall weight of the device.
Adding the keyboard adds another $100 or so to the price of the device, and that moves it closely to the starting price of the Surface Laptop 2.
But what about specs? Here are the core differences:
- Surface Laptop Go: 12.4" with 1536x1024 (148 PPI)
- Surface Go 2: 10.5" with 1920x1280 (220 PPI)
- Surface Laptop Go: 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1
- Surface Go 2: Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y or 8th Gen Intel Core m3 processor.
- Surface Laptop: 64 GB eMMC, 128 or 256 GB SSD
- Surface Go 2: 64 GB eMMC or 128 GB SSD
- Surface Laptop Go: up to 13 hours of "typical device usage".
- Surface Go 2: up to 10 hours of "typical device usage"
- Surface Laptop Go: USB-C, USB-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, Surface connect port.
- Surface Go 2: USB-C, 3.5 mm headphone jack, Surface connect port, Surface type Cover port, MicroSDXC card reader
- Surface Laptop Go: 720p HD f2.0 camera front facing, dual-far field studio mics, Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio.
- Surface Go 2: 5.0MP front facing camera, 8.0MP rear-facing camera, dual studio mics, 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio.
- Surface Laptop Go: Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax compatible
- Surface Go 2: WiFi: IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax, LTE variant available.
The Surface Laptop Go has the better processor, better battery life, and better upgrade options; the Surface Go 2 has the better display and cameras.
Microsoft does not reveal the built-in graphics adapter of the Surface Laptop Go, as it mentions just that it is an Intel UHD Graphics adapter. Whether it is the same as the Surface Go 2's UDH 615, or a better card, e.g. the UHD 620, is unknown at this point.
The base configuration of both devices is 4 Gigabytes of RAM and 64 Gigabytes of eMMC storage; this may be sufficient for light use, especially in Windows 10 Home in S mode, but most users who want to switch to the regular Windows 10 Home edition, may want to pick the 8 Gigabyte variant with 128 Gigabyte storage instead. It offers more RAM and a better hard drive, and that should make things a lot easier.
The price of the Surface Laptop Go jumps up to $699.99 in that configuration, that of the Surface Go 2 to $549.99 if you stick to the 4425Y processor or to $629.99 if you upgrade the processor to Intel Core M3.
Considering that you may want to pick up a Surface Cover for the Surface Go 2 as well, as you'd have to use touch-input exclusively otherwise, you'd add another $99.99 to the price so that you will end up at about the same price range as the Surface Laptop Go.
Which is right then?
Both devices have certain strengths, the Surface Laptop Go has the better processor and battery life, the Surface Go 2 the better display. The screen is the Achilles Heel of the Surface Laptop Go in my opinion, as it does not support Full HD. May not be a problem if you work with a single program window at a time, but if you like to place two windows side-by-side, you won't get happy with the Laptop Go.
The Surface Laptop Go may have the better video card; if it does, it would be another positive that might persuade users to pick it over the Surface Go 2.
In any event, I advise users to pick the 8 Gigabyte variant that includes the better hard drive, or pick devices by other manufacturers such as the Asus VivoBook S13 with its 13.3" 1920x1080 display, Intel i5-1035G1 processor, 8 Gigabytes of RAM, 512 Gigabytes of PCIE SSD storage and Wi-Fi 6 for $699.99 which may be the better deal when compared to the Surface Laptop Go.
You may also want to wait for this year's Black Friday sales as it is very likely that Surface devices and laptops by other manufacturers will be discounted.
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