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Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 was a great piece of kit and proved very popular. Many people were waiting with bated breath or the next edition which was bound to be even better. There hasn’t been any talk of a Surface Laptop 4 yet. 

The company has instead been focused on trying to build a smaller, notebook-sized version. All with the intention of marketing towards students. But also to rival competitive products such as Chromebook. 

The idea was to create a budget option. However, the premium version of their new Surface Laptop Go will set you back just short of a thousand bucks! So it is worth going over the specs to know what you are getting. Let’s start by weighing the pros and cons.

Positives

  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Great processor
  • Good aspect ratio (3:2)

Negatives

  • The screen is low-res
  • Not great for port options
  • Keyboard isn’t backlit

Buy the Surface Laptop Go @ Microsoft starting from $549.99 

You can currently get your hands on 3 different Surface Laptop Go models. All of them operate with a quad-core processor (i5-1035G1) which we can’t fault. It is efficient and everything runs smoothly. 

Image credit: cnet.com

The first model they offer is their starter model, retailing at $549. It is equipped with 4GB of RAM and provides 64GB worth of storage. This is pretty meager and you can get models with twice the specs at a similar price level. Some cheaper, leaving us a little baffled as to what you are paying for. 

Monica Chin was a little underwhelmed in her review of the Surface laptop go for The Verge. She wouldn’t recommend the base model. She even goes as far as saying that to pair a decent processor with such a small amount of memory and ram is like jacking up a bicycle with an engine.

The mid-range model offers double the Ram and storage (8GB and 128GB respectively) but comes at the cost of $699. This is again far pricier than competitive models that match the specs. Unless you rarely use it, the storage isn’t going to be sufficient for many users, least of all an older student.

Given that there are plenty of other options on the market for under the $400 mark, some with larger screens and higher resolutions it is hard to see the benefits. Monica believes a $699 investment is too much to spend on a kid and we are right behind her.

For adults with a modern lifestyle, she recommends looking for something with more than 128GB of storage. We also agree and it is worth repeating that you can get 256GB for much less.

She owns their premium model which provides 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It provides decent storage but costs $899. For that price, you can source a pretty great laptop, and as we mentioned there are compact options out there that are far cheaper. So it can’t be said that it competes well.

Microsoft Surface branding and design are most likely where your money is being spent. That said it is a great option if convenience and size are important to you. Monica herself stated she doesn’t hate it and that it runs well without any issues.

It is incredibly light, weighing in at just 2.45 pounds, for comparison, the MacBookAir weighs 2.8.

It sports the familiar logo that you see across the entire range but the lightweight body comes at a cost. It isn’t low-quality by any means but does feel a little toy-like in direct comparison. 

It features a base made from a polycarbonate composite resin system that incorporates glass fiber and has an aluminum covered top. In other words, the base is reinforced plastic. The keyboard and touchpad, also feel low-budget but work well nevertheless. It isn’t backlit either which for $900 seems a little unfair. Other gripes include camera compatibility. It can be used with Windows Hello.

You also don’t get a lot of choices when it comes to ports. There’s an audio jack, a USB-C, and a USB-A alongside your Microsoft charging port.

It has a 3:2 ratio touch screen but it is a little lacking in specs to be perfectly honest. It measures 12.45 inches but the resolution is only 1536 x 1024. It is better than 720p and you can still work with multiple windows or tabs. You won’t have to use the zoom function but again there are better resolution options available with a 3:2 ratio.

To put it into perspective the Surface Pro 2 model harbors a 10.5-inch screen offering 1920 x 1280. The Lenovo Chromebook with an even smaller 10.1-inch screen serves up1920 x 1280 and will only set you back around $300.

In essence, it seems like Microsoft has shaven the sides off of your standard 1920 x 1080 display which is a bit of a compromise.

If that sounds disappointing and your budget doesn’t meet the asking price of a Surface Laptop 3, you might want to look at the Chromebook Spin 713 by Acer. That sells for less than $700.

MICROSOFT SURFACE LAPTOP GO SPECS (AS TESTED)

  • Display: 12.45 inches, 1536 x 1024 (148 ppi) touchscreen, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Weight: 2.45lbs (1.11kg)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-1035G1
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR4x
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Ports: 1 USB-C, 1 USB-A, 1 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 Surface Connect port
  • Price: $899.99

The mid-range and premium models feature power buttons that have an integrated fingerprint reader. A prime location to stash one away and keep your property protected. 

The audio quality is above average, especially given its compact dimensions. They are surprisingly punchy, with good dynamics. That said you may still want an external set of speakers for real music enjoyment because the max volume levels aren’t party-starting.

Despite being more than a year old the quad-core i5-1035G1 chip is still pretty top of the range. It will capably handle any office tasks, deal with emails, streaming, and video conferencing. It doesn’t overheat, the fans do a good job and they are quiet unless you give it anything complex to do.

The Graphics aren’t game-worthy. The processor incorporates one of Intel’s UHD integrated graphics cards. They don’t suck but won’t deal with quality game frames.

Although the processor is pretty great, exporting can be an arduous task. Monica found that her short 4k video took over an hour to export from Adobe Pro. For comparison, she noted that the XPS 13 with a Core i7-10710U and UHD graphics took half the time. So, if you have a heavy workload with complex tasks consider a higher-spec laptop instead.

It has a Better Battery profile mode that Microsoft recommends using. Sometimes with smaller devices, the battery life is much better than a high-spec system. It outlasts a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air but doesn’t quite come up to the Surface Laptop Pro. You get an average of 8-9 hours. Of course, this depends on the type of workload and tasks you use it for.

It fully charges in under 2.5 hours. Monica timed hers under realistic conditions and found it charged to the 60% mark in under one hour. It is fair to say that it is faster charging when switched off though. 

AGREE TO CONTINUE: SURFACE LAPTOP GO

Image credit: cnbn.com

Before you can use a smart device you are required to agree to their terms and conditions. Most of us are guilty of not reading them fully when we probably should because they are non-negotiable. For an idea of just how many things you will be agreeing to before you are good to go, here is a comprehensive list of how many times you will have to hit agree upon set-up.

To use the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop Go, you have to agree to:

  • Request for your language, region, and keyboard layout
  • Windows 10 License Agreement
  • Microsoft account
  • Windows Hello PIN

The following agreements are optional:

  • Connecting to Wi-Fi
  • Windows Hello fingerprint
  • Activity History
  • Sync an Android phone
  • OneDrive backup
  • Microsoft 365
  • Set up Cortana
  • Privacy settings. This one is a big deal because it covers a whole range of features such as advertising ID, diagnostic data, find my device, inking and typing, online speech recognition, location, and tailored experiences

In total, before you can use your Surface Laptop Go you have to agree to 6 mandatory agreements and 14 optional ones.

The Surface Laptop Go is portable, stylish, functions really well, and can handle multitasking with ease. But it is quite obvious that a few corners have been cut when compared to their Flagship series. For that reason, it hard to pinpoint why it costs $900.

There are so many outstanding laptops on the current market that make for a better buy in terms of value.  An HP  Envy x360 ith matching RAM and Storage will cost you $779. It sports a six-core processor with better graphics, longer battery life, and display resolution. For less than that you can get an Acer Swift 3 with better port options and a decent 3:2 display. The storage is a little less but it will only cost you $749.

They are heavier than the Go but don’t have half as many sacrifices. They feature backlit keyboards and feel far more premium when in use.

$900 is a lot of cash, if you save a little more you could get an XPS 13s, a MacBooks, or a Surface Laptop 3.

Corners cutting is inevitable when a company manufactures a lower-budget version of a best-seller. At that end of the market you shouldn’t be expecting top tech like facial recognition but does the Surface Laptop Go measure up to its asking price? 

Our verdict is that for the budget space, it is simply overpriced perhaps when it goes on sale it might be worth another look at.

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