(Image: © Future)
The Surface Go 2 has a bigger screen, longer battery life and better performance than its predecessor, though you need to prepare to exit budget territory to get one of the better configurations.
- Excellent build quality and design
- Long battery life
- Bright and colorful display
- LTE option available at launch
- Pricey after affordable base model
- Type Cover not included
- Low performance for the price
Microsoft’s Surface 2-in-1s, headed up by the Surface Pro line, are among the most portable computers out there in thin, light designs. The Surface Go 2 ($399.99 to start; $729.99 as tested, plus an additional $129.99 Type Cover), is the company’s second shot as a device meant to, as the name hints, go with you anywhere. The company has clearly taken feedback, delivering a bigger screen and better battery life. The option of an Intel Core m3 CPU also provides more power, though not as much as other devices in this price range.
That makes the Go 2 a device for those who want a premium portable with budget performance, rather than cutting corners on screens and materials. But the Surface Go 2 was released at a time when most of us are stuck inside. Is there room for a new Go when there is nowhere, to, well, go?
As soon as you look at the Surface Go 2, you’ll notice that something big has changed. The unsightly bezels from the original Surface Go have been shrunken down, making more room for the display. The new device has a 10.5-inch panel, half an inch larger than its predecessor. There’s still enough bezel to comfortably hold the Surface Go 2 as a tablet, but you get more screen real estate.
Otherwise, the Surface Go 2 is effectively a clone of its predecessor. It comes in platinum gray with a reflective Windows logo on the back, as well as the rear camera. There’s no ventilation — the low-powered Intel CPUs Microsoft used allow for a fanless design. The hinge is sturdy and feels reliable, but this design, like the original Surface Go and Surface Pro for years, is better on a desk than on your lap, where it isn’t as stable as I’d like it to be.
Almost all of the Surface Go’s ports are on the right side of the tablet, including the USB Type-C port, proprietary Surface Connect port for charging, as well as the headphone jack. There’s a microSD card slot under the hinge and, on our model with LTE support, a SIM card tray on the right side. If you get a Type Cover keyboard, that attaches magnetically to the bottom of the device.
The Surface Go 2 measures 9.7 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches and weighs 1.2 pounds, far smaller than the average budget or mainstream notebook. The Acer Swift 3 we recently reviewed was 2.6 pounds and 12.7 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches in a traditional clamshell form factor that weighs 2.8 pounds.
Microsoft Surface Go 2 Specifications
|CPU||Intel Core m3-8100Y|
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 615|
|Display||10.5-inch PixelSense display, 1920 x 1280 resolution, 3:2 aspect ratio|
|Networking||Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||USB Type-C,3.5 mm headphone jack, Surface Connect port, Surface Type Cover port, MicroSD card reader|
|Camera||5.0MP front camera, 8.0MP rear camera, both with 1080p video|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home in S Mode|
|Size||13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches (34.5 x 23.1 x 1.8cm)|
|Weight||1.2 pounds (544.3g)|
|Extra||LTE Advanced xt (on select Core m3 Configurations)|
|Price (as Configured)||$729.99 + $129.99 Type Cover|
Productivity Performance Our review unit of the Surface Go 2 came with a dual-core Intel Core m3-8100Y. It’s a chip that debuted in 2018 based on Intel’s Amber Lake architecture, but still offers significant gains over the Pentium chips offered in the original Go. However, that doesn’t put it in a place to match some mid-level laptops at similar prices. Our device also had 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and a 128GB PCIe-based SSD. Note: We had to move from Windows 10 Home in S Mode (as the device ships) to Windows 10 Home in order to run our benchmarks.
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
To compare the Surface Go 2 to the original, we used Geekbench 4.1. The Surface Go 2 earned a score of 6,764, handily surpassing the Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y in the original model (both had 8GB of RAM).
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
On Geekbench 5.0, which we used to test the Acer Swift 3, the Surface Go 2 earned a score of 1,563, falling quite short of the Swift’s score of 4,862 with an eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 4700U(and 8GB RAM).
It took 28 seconds for the Surface Go 2 to copy 4.97GB of files in our file transfer test, a rate of 181.8 MBps. That’s with a 128GB SSD, and we imagine the rate would be slower with the 64GB eMMC storage option (see the configuration section below). That is faster than its predecessor (154.2 MBps), but slower than the Acer Swift 3 (462.7 MBps).