Should you buy a Microsoft Surface Go 3 device?

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 24, 2021

Microsoft unveiled new Surface devices this week, including a new Surface Go 3 device. All devices are available for preorder and come with the company's Windows 11 operating system. Surface Go 3 LTE models will launch "in the coming months" according to Microsoft.

The Surface Go 3 is the third Surface Go device. I bought the first model, the Surface Go, in 2019 and have used it as an ultra portable device for writing. It is lightweight and ideal for the task, but you should not expect performance wonders from the device.

surface go 3

All Surface Go devices have been fairly underpowered up to this point, and while you could pick the fastest available model to get more RAM and processing power, you'd still end up with a low power device.

All Surface Go 3 models come with Windows 11, Windows 11 Home in S mode to be precise. Microsoft has not confirmed it, but it is likely that Wind0ws 11 Home S can be converted to Windows 11 Home, just like it was possible to convert Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Home.

The soon-to-be released Surface Go 3 looks like its predecessor. It has the same 10.5 inch display that runs 1920x1080 and the same dimensions. Most hardware components are identical when compared to the Surface Go 2.

The main difference, the one that will matter the most to most users interested in purchasing a Surface Go device, is that the processors have been upgraded. Not to make the device Windows 11 compatible, as the Surface Go 2's processors are also found in the official Intel processor compatibility listing for Windows 11, but to improve the performance of the devices.

The Surface Go 2 came either with an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y processor or an Intel Core m3 processor. The Surface Go 3's processor is either an Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y processor or a dual core Intel Core i3-10100Y processor. Microsoft says that the new processors will improve performance by up to 60% when compared to the Surface Go 2.

The microphones that Microsoft include in the Surface Go 3 are now "enhanced dual far-field Studio Mics", opposed to the "dual far-field Studio Mics" of the Surface 2. Another difference is found when you compare battery life. Microsoft claims that the Surface Go 3's battery will last up to 11 hours "of typical device usage", that is one hour more than the battery life of the Surface Go 2 as stated on the device's product page. It is unclear if the battery has changed, as Microsoft uses different descriptors for that on the product pages.

Looking at available options, the Surface Go 3 is available in three configurations right now:

  • Intel Pentium 6500Y with 4 Gigabytes of RAM and 64 Gigabytes of eMMC storage for $399.99.
  • Intel Pentium 6500Y with 8 Gigabytes of RAM and 128 Gigabytes of SSD storage for $549.99.
  • Intel Core i3 with 8 Gigabytes of RAM and 128 Gigabytes of SSD storage for $629.99.

The configuration does not include a type cover, which most users want as it adds a physical keyboard to the device and acts as protection at the same time. Surface Go Type Covers start at $99.99 for the black version; all other version, Ice Blue, Poppy Red and Platinum, are sold for $129.99 each.

Customers may also add a Surface Pen, Surface Mobile Mouse or other devices to the purchase. If you add a pen and a mouse, available for $99.99 and $34.99 respectively, you will end up with a total price of $864.96 for the top of the line Surface Go 3 model with a black type cover, pen and mouse.

For that price, you'd get a Surface Laptop Go with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8 Gigabytes of RAM and a 256 Solid State Drive. It has a larger screen, a 12.4" touchscreen, a better processor and more battery life. Downside is that it weights more with its 1.110g starting weight, compared to the Surface Go 3's 544g plus 243g for the type cover.

Should you buy a Surface Go 3?

The Surface Go 3 features a faster processor and some enhancements over its predecessor. It is a good upgrade for owners of the Surface Go, but not so much for owners of the Surface Go 2. Surface Go owners get lots of improvements, including a larger screen, faster processors, more battery life and Windows 11.

I'd advise against buying the cheapest model; it has only 4 Gigabytes of RAM and a slower drive than the other two models. The remaining models have the same amount of RAM and storage space, but difference processors. Is it worth paying an extra $80 to get a faster processor? It is always good to have more processing power, but it depends ultimately on what you want to do with the device. If you have the $80, I'd go for the top of the line model.

Other devices may offer more value for the money that you are going to spend on the Surface Go 3. Microsoft's own Surface Laptop Go may be an alternative. Check out our Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Laptop Go comparison.

Black Friday is approaching, and if the previous years are anything to go by, it is almost certain that older Microsoft Surface devices will be sold on that date with discounts or with extras such as type covers included.

Unless you require a device right now, I suggest you wait until Black Friday, as you may get a far better deal on that day.

Will I buy a Surface Go 3? I don't think so, at least not at this point.

Now You: do you own Surface devices or plan to buy one?

Should you buy a Microsoft Surface Go 3 device?
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Should you buy a Microsoft Surface Go 3 device?
Microsoft announced a new Microsoft Surface Go 3 device. Should you get it? How does it compare to its predecessor and other choices?
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  1. common sense computing said on September 25, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    These things are literally a glued together wiretap.

  2. Zack Morris said on September 25, 2021 at 5:16 am

    No one should purchase anything from this company.

  3. Anonymous said on September 24, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    Not if it comes with Windows 11. Windows 10 would make it better.

  4. Anonymous said on September 24, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    Is the S mode that thing where only Microsoft-approved software can be installed ?

    New device size, new opportunities to screw the users.

    1. Anonymous said on September 24, 2021 at 10:08 pm

      S mode is good for non tech savvy users. For those who are cautious and don’t want someone else controlling what they may or may not install, its a PITA.

      It may have changed but to get around the S mode block for installable programs, all you had to do is switch off internet before installation.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 24, 2021 at 6:39 pm

      Yes that is it, only Microsoft Store apps allowed. Not sure how this works with the improved Store, which allows Win32 programs. Will they run?

  5. BM said on September 24, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    “1.110g starting weight, compared to the Surface Go 3’s 544g plus 243g for the type cover”

    1110g vs 787g, if I read this correctly.

    Not sure the extra 324g (0.71 lbs) is that big a deal.

    For the same approximate amount of money between the two, Surface Laptop Go – all the way.

    Are there other laptops more worthy in that price range?

  6. anonymous said on September 24, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    I recently bought a Surface Go 2, updated the firmware, and immediately wiped Windows and installed Linux Mint. Works great! I still need to figure out auto-rotation, but it’s not a high priority for me, as I intend to use it mostly as a mini-laptop for travel, rather than as a tablet. Other distros might work better for tablet functions, but since I use Mint on my other machines, I opted for consistency.

    I feel kinda dirty for buying a Microsoft device after all these years, especially now, with their persistent data harvesting.

    I prefer to buy from Linux vendors.

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