My Favourite Surface Ever!
I’ve spent the last two months using the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go. After getting over the lack of a few premium features such as inking support and a backlit keyboard, I am convinced that this is possibly one of the best Surface devices ever released. It is certainly my favourite.
I used the Surface Go and Go 2 in the past few years and enjoyed them; they left me wanting more out of them and feeling like I wasn’t getting the full Surface experience. On the face of it, the Surface Go is a miniaturized Surface Pro, but with the power of the Pentium Gold processor, lack of RAM and a slightly cramped keyboard and trackpad, I felt slightly underwhelmed compared to my times with the Surface Pros and Books.
I went into my time with the Surface Laptop Go expecting the same thing—a boiled-down version of the Surface Laptop. After two months, that absolutely wasn’t the experience I had.
The below specs are of the unit Microsoft send me for review. It was a top-end version of the Surface Laptop Go, so please keep that in mind while reading through!
Display: 12.4-inch PixelSense Display, 1536 x 1024 pixel resolution (148ppi), 3:2 aspect ratio, 10-point multi-touch
Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1
Memory: 8GB LPDDR 4x RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD
Dimensions: 278.18 x 205.67 x 15.69mm Weight: 1,110g (2.45lb)
Camera: 720p HD f/2.0 front-facing camera
Operating System: Windows 10 Home in S Mode
Battery: Up to 13 hours of “typical device usage”
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6
Sensors: Ambient light sensor Ports: 1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x Surface Connect port
Graphics: Intel UHD graphics
The display on the Surface Laptop Go is a lower resolution (1536 x 1024 pixels) than what you find on other Surface machines but, as was the case with previous Surfaces I have used, including the Go versions, the Laptop Go’s display was bright, vibrant and for my use, accurate. No, it isn’t Full HD, but this is not a media consumption device. It is geared towards users who are on the go and need something small, reliable and well built.
Like all other Surface devices, the Laptop Go has the same 3:2 aspect ratio. I think that all laptops should have this aspect ratio. I think the world is over 16:9. Some manufacturers have moved to 16:10, which is great, but for productivity, nothing beats 3:2.
Like all Surface computers, the Laptop Go has a touch screen. It works well, but with the laptop form factor compared to the Surface Pro and Go tablet-style, I didn’t use it much. It was more for scrolling webpages and documents.
Ports and Connectivity
I/O ports and Surface devices have always been a point of contention. Microsoft has taken the Apple approach of less is more, but they have also taken a safe approach by being slow to adopt the newest I/O connectivity on their devices.
The Surface Laptop Go is no exception. Onboard you have a Surface connect power port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, one USB 3.0 Type-A port and one USB 3.0 Type-C port.
I read many complaints that the Laptop Go should have had USB-C charging and Thunderbolt 3. While I agree with the charging, this is a budget laptop, and for the target market, Thunderbolt 3 would have driven up the cost of the device.
In my opinion, this is the first Surface to strike the right amount of ports for the type of customer it is geared towards. The single USB-C port is acceptable in this context, considering the most you will need to connect to a machine of this type is a USB-C display adapter, your smartphone or other USB-C peripherals such as a card reader. If the USB-C port is occupied, you can easily fall back to the USB-A port.
I don’t have strong feelings about the 3.5mm headphone port. That was a feature on many devices a few years ago, but TWS headphones are much more readily available and affordable today than wired headphones are nothing more than an inconvenience.
The only port I would change would be to ditch the Surface Connect port for another USB-C port for charging. I am hoping Microsoft takes that bold move away from the proprietary power connection some time in 2021. Fingers crossed!
I eluded to this earlier, but I had low expectations for the Laptop Go. My previous Go experiences were positive but slightly underwhelming. In my time with the Laptop Go, I was amazed at how well it kept pace with other more powerful devices.
The 8GB of RAM helped, but I think the difference-maker is the processor compared to the Surface Go devices. The Laptop Go comes with an i5, regardless of the model, whereas the Surface Go offers a Pentium Gold processor, which is wildly underpowered by today’s standards.
Microsoft’s decision to avoid a low powered processor is a massive win for Laptop Go customers.
My Surface Laptop Go use was not incredibly heavy, but I did have to jump in and out of Photoshop periodically. Not once did I feel like the Go was lacking. Like all other Adobe apps, Photoshop is a heavy app, but the Go was up for the challenge.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Pen
The keyboard on the Laptop Go is amazing. I can’t really say much more than that. With each new surface device, I use I fall more and more for the keyboard. I used to put Lenovo on a pedestal when it came to keyboards. However, as I type this review between an X1 Carbon and this very Surface Laptop Go for the purposes of comparison, the X1 doesn’t meet the mark. Surface Laptop, to me, is the new keyboard king.
The touchpad, like all other surface devices is large and pleasant to use. I found it to be accurate and responsive.
When I initially received the Laptop Go, I was excited to use my Surface Pen, like all other surfaces. However, I had forgotten that the Laptop Go does not support inking. At first, I viewed this as a disappointment and a mark against the device. Then, when considering my earlier points about the device’s form factor, its intended audience and its price, the pen and inking support would add cost to an already premium-priced device.
Software and Windows 10
The Surface Laptop Go, like its other Go family members and the original Surface Laptop, ships with Windows 10 in S mode. In case you are unaware, Windows 10 in S mode restricts users to install apps from the Microsoft Store only. This is good for organizations that do not want their users getting into trouble installing potentially harmful applications. It is also good if you’re only browsing the web and happy with the default apps like Edge (which you should be because it is great!) and the Mail and Calendar apps. The store does contain many popular apps like Twitter and Facebook Messenger as well.
For someone like myself who likes to test various different applications or has legacy applications, I use for various purposes, S mode does not work for me. Thankfully, you can easily turn off S mode with a quick settings toggle.
Other than S mode, Windows 10 is Windows 10 and for me, that is a good thing!
- Premium build quality
- Outstanding webcam
- Excellent keyboard and trackpad
- Intel Core i5 processor
- No backlit keyboard
- No support for inking
- Lower resolution display
- Limited I/O
Conclusion: Should You Buy The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go?
I always find myself hard-pressed not to recommend a Surface device, which is still the case here. I will admit, the Surface Laptop Go is expensive, some may say too expensive, but with a Surface device, you are buying into a family of devices that are incredibly well built, well supported and look great. The Surface Laptop Go makes the perfect laptop for someone on the go who wants to consume the web, send email but can hold its own for tasks like editing photos and consuming multimedia when needed.
If your needs are exceptionally low and you live only in email and on the web, with no need for more power from time to time, a Chromebook may suit you fine. However, a Chromebook boxes you in with no way out, even with a more expensive model. The Surface Laptop Go will have its limits, but the ceiling is considerably higher.