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I absolutely adore the new Surface Go 2 — this is why

Surface Go 2
Surface Go 2 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

I was a massive fan of the first Surface Go when it launched in the summer of 2018. A small, compact Windows PC that was both premium built and easy on the wallet. I loved the form factor and didn't find the Intel Pentium GOLD that powered everything to be much of an issue. Surface Go was remarkably close to being my all-time favorite Surface PC, and Surface Go 2 pushes it over the edge.

I've been using the Surface Go 2 since it launched, and while this isn't a review, I did want to share my thoughts on the product so far and how it has quickly become my favorite Surface PC as of late. When I say I loved the first Surface Go, that's not a lie. If I needed a PC for on-the-go work that didn't require a video card, I'd pick the Surface Go. It's small and agile enough to carry around in or out a bag.

In fact, this is precisely what I was doing at Microsoft Ignite 2019. You'd often find me in the press room writing up embargoes, editorials, and news articles all on a Surface Go. Most people couldn't believe I was using one, and Neowin's Rich Woods even snapped this hilarious photo of me working hard on the tiny Surface Go next to our Executive Editor Daniel Rubino's huge LG Gram with a 17-inch display.

What's improved?

Surface Go 2 Top Keyboard

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The common complaints most people had with the first Surface Go was that it was too small to type on, the battery life wasn't great, the bezels were massive, and the processor was too slow. Microsoft has attempted to fix three of those issues with the Surface Go, and I think it's done an excellent job addressing at least two of them.

The obvious one that Surface Go 2 improves upon are the big bezels. Microsoft has put in a larger 10.5-inch display inside the same size chassis to help slim down the bezels, and it makes a huge difference. Not just to look at, but to use as well. Windows 10 often felt incredibly cramped on a 10-inch display, and the additional half-inch with a slight bump in resolution gives Windows a little more room to breathe.

Surface Go 2 review

Microsoft has also "fixed" the slow processor issue by including an option for an Intel Core M3 processor. Now, I personally don't think the Intel Pentium GOLD inside the Surface Go, and Surface Go 2 is all that bad. I was able to do most of the work I'd normally do when out and about on a Surface Go just fine, but it is nice to have an option for a more powerful processor for those that do need it.

The other area that Microsoft has attempted to improve upon is the battery life. Microsoft says Surface Go 2 has a bigger battery, but it's only 1WHr more than what's in the Surface Go. As such, battery life remains much the same if only a little bit improved. There's not much Microsoft can do here, as the Surface Go 2 is small and doesn't have a lot of room for a bigger battery.

Because Surface Go 2 keeps the overall size and dimensions of the first Surface Go, Microsoft hasn't been able to increase the size of the Type Cover. That means if you struggled typing on the first Surface Go, you'll have the same issue with the Surface Go 2. This "issue" does depend on who you are, however. For me, the Surface Go's Type Cover is a great size and have no issues typing on it.

Why I love the Surface Go 2

Surface Go 2 Keyboard Bezel

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The bigger screen and optional Intel Core m3 processor push the Surface Go 2 into favorite territory for me. It propels the Surface Go from being a PC companion to a PC replacement for a lot of people. Students, teachers, and people who do office work will probably find the Surface Go 2 to be more than enough for their workloads. For writing reports, doing email, browsing the web, and listening to music, the Surface Go 2 is excellent.

The beauty of Surface Go is that it serves a specific purpose: being a sub 11-inch Windows PC. The Surface Go 2 isn't a device you'd buy as a strict tablet, because Windows isn't particularly good on tablets. You'd be better served buying an iPad for that. But that doesn't mean the Surface Go doesn't have reason to exist. If you need a small Windows PC, the Surface Go is the best one out there, by a wide margin.

Not everyone needs a small Windows PC, and that's fine. But for those that do, the Surface Go serves its purpose better than any other sub 11-inch PC before it. Surface Go 2 is my around-the-house, on the go PC for doing lightweight tasks. I wrote this entire article on my Surface Go 2 without issue, because luckily for me the size of the Surface Go Type Cover is fine. I just find the Surface Go 2 to be more accessible and convenient to use than my Surface Book or Surface Studio for quick tasks.

Surface Go 2 isn't for everyone, but I think it's a great PC for a lot of people. It's charming, fun, and easy on the wallet for the entry-level model. It's also premium, which I find to be understated in reviews. You're not buying a sub-standard PC with Surface Go. It's fully featured, with a premium chassis, Windows Hello IR, a high-quality display, pen support, touch, and everything else you'd expect to have on a premium PC.

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

33 Comments
  • I knew this thing was going to rock. This isn't a spec machine, it's a use case device. It does what the people it's made for needs. If fact, I would say it's probably not enough of a thin client pc without windows x. This is where things are going for more of the general populous imo.
  • They could address the battery problem if they'd give you a Arm option. It would also be nice if they'd address the lack of a tablet OS problem but I suppose that's upcoming. I like the idea of the Go. I might get a couple for my kids now that they are more digital than ever. I just don't have a use-case for myself. Portability is the name of the game for a small device and battery life is a key attribute.
  • I have the original Surface Go, and I do agree that it is an awesome secondary device that mainly excels in portability. I even got away with using it as my main device for some time, but the slow processor got in the way of me doing more intensive multitasking more often than not, so I went back to my Ryzen 2500U laptop as a daily driver. You do eventually get used to the keyboard and the screen (on the original one), so I can only imagine that the Surface Go 2 M3 version can only be that much better.
  • I'd be coming from a Surface Pro 4 (i5, 16GB) to the Go2 (M3/8GB). Can anyone comment on what that experience would be like for performance - would it be WAY slower or mostly not noticeable? Mostly used for email and browsing the web (ie. light computing), but I do need to run Visual Studio on it sometimes (VS Code would probably get me by though if VS Pro was unusable). I think the smaller size would be nice, but SP4 is pretty convenient itself and runs everything! Thoughts?
  • Similar, maybe the Go 2 m3 will be even slightly faster in single core operations. 8 gb ram might bottleneck if you use lots of ram intensive programs (say you use ram eating Chrome instead of Edge, and open several visual studio programs and use spotify (also ram hoarder iirc) it might lag). However my primary laptop has 8 gb ram and I can open several (small) visual studio projects, lots of office files and browser wth ~15 tabs without lag from ram.
    The gpu is better in the Go 2 m3, so if you want to casually game or 3d model on it you can.
    This review has some surface performance comparisons: https://www.windowscentral.com/surface-go-2-review#
  • Mines arriving tomorrow, can't wait to try it out.
  • I like it but the price is too high once you add the Type Cover, pen, LTE, and better processor.
  • I'm with you. If they could have significantly improved the performance without a big jump in price, it would be perfect! It's already a great little device as is.
  • That is because Intel prices these m/y cores to high sadly.
  • But pen and lte are luxury features (expensive on all tablets). For keyboard you have budget chinese variants (or just buy go 1 keyboard on sale). Than the price is fair.
  • You’re right about that pricing. I think the base model is a loss leader for MS and they mark up the higher spec models to make up for it. The M3 model is $260 higher than base and LTE is about $360 higher-almost doubling the price. Add a pen, keyboard and Microsoft’s awesome extended coverage and you’re sailing over $1000 with taxes.
  • I've been using my Go 2 (m3) since launch and it's such a massive improvement over the original. It's a shame Intel squandered the last two years when they could have been making some major improvements to the m3. That said, it's still a powerful chip. With comments I see from over the internet, you'd think every Windows program required at least an i5 just to boot. But the Go 2 is running all the software my old laptop used to (which had a 6th gen i5 if I remember correctly). I know software exists that requires a lot of horse power, but I think people overestimate how much processing power their rinkydink program actually needs.
  • Exactly this. Too many people think they always need the most power available. I am typing this on a Surface Pro 5 with an m3-7Y30, 4GB RAM and 128 GB SSD. It runs perfectly fine. This is less than 3 years old. Yes more RAM would be nice. But this is not my only PC. Its not even my only tablet. For my use, it is just fine.
  • Technically, Windows 10 can even run on 2MB of memory but who’d want to. I consider 4GB of memory below baseline for a good Windows 10 experience, however it can be done without too much issue.
  • Ditto this. I have a (5 year old?) ASUS transformer tablet that is the "original" Surface Go, that runs on a Atom(!) and 4gb ram with the latest Win10 OS update and it is still very zippy. I don't have any bloatware on it.
  • I'd love to know if the base model with the 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC storage and Pentium CPU is enough for me to take notes and do some light web browsing in university.
  • Here's some hand writing examples on the original Go. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyd3N54OjEE From other reviews I've seen for the Go 1, it's great for note taking and web browsing. However, I had the Go 1 with 8GBs and the SSD and I noticed it would struggle with Google sheets. I don't have that problem on my m3 Go 2.
  • Isn't that generally an issue with programs/web pages like Google sheets though? I've heard they're fairly ram-hungry and taxing on a CPU versus office "native" to windows work more in harmony with the hardware?
  • Yes it would work, but I guarantee you will become frustrated with the eMMC drive. Those are very slow.
  • Yes it would suffice but it might be a better idea to get a Go 1 with a ssd and 8 gb ram since the pentium cpu's are the same mostly.
  • I really want to get the baseline Go 2. I'd be using it almost exclusively as a companion device to my Laptop 3 for heavy pdf and OneNote inking and research (using laptop 3 more for word, onenote, PowerPoint, edge and some other programs as my main device). Maybe light Netflix or movie use if I'm traveling. Would the Pentium gold/4gb be okay? I use my pro 4 i5/4gb for basically this purpose. Just onenote and drawboard, really just looking for a smaller, easier to handle screen.
  • Yes it would suffice, not snappy but good enough. I would recommend using something else than Chrome however if you go for 4gb ram. I take notes on my Pro 1 (4gb ram, 128gb ssd, old i5), browse (Firefox and Edge), netflix and casually game and it all works well but I don't multitask a lot on it. The entry Go1 should be similar but with a faster graphics card but slightly slower storage.
    (You can expand storage with a microsd card.)
  • Zac, do you use tablet mode on your Go 2?
  • Just checking the UK price and with conversion it adds £100 more than US price...typical rip off for the UK.
  • I bought an HP x360 Spectre 3 years ago and it still does the job. If that device was 1 or 2 years older I would probably go for that new Surface Go 2. Maybe we will see a Qualcomm version next year
  • Help! I want to pull the trigger but I'm concerned about battery life. I run 5-ish tabs, some VERY simple word/Excell docs intermittently, a note taking app and maybe a few YouTube videos here and there... I am fine running battery saver mode, low brightness, etc... What kind of battery life can I expect on the m3 wifi version?
  • Probably somewhere between 7-9 hours if you're running it in battery mode and low brightness.
  • Anyone know if any screen protectors are out yet for the Go 2? Can't seem to find any yet. Also would be nice to get a skin to protect the back part since there's no protection with the type cover. The only issue I've run into is I can't seem to get video out working on the USB C port even with a cable rated for video...
  • I got JOTO screen protectors from Amazon. The camera cutout is too low because it’s for the Go 1. It’s a little distracting, but doesn’t interfere with Hello. I got. Skin from DecalGirl. The only thing is that it is for the non LTE model so I had to cut out for the SIM tray. My cutout isn’t as neat and precise as the factory cutouts but I seldom look at the sides. I also don’t use the front part of the skin. When I ordered,the Go 1 was the only model available, but the front bezel is the only part that is a concern.
  • Thank you Zac for sharing your experience with the new Surface Go 2. I have a Surface Go 1 and love it. I have the 4GB 64GB model. I think it is fine performance wise. It only seems slightly slower than my HP Spectre x360. I use my Go more than my HP. That might be because of where I keep it; in the kitchen. I do have my Go tuned carefully for the best experience. My top tips on tuning is to go to privacy settings and shut off most data sharing, use Defender instead of a third party anti-virus, use Edge, don't allow Edge to run in the background, and close unused browser tabs. I see people with 10,000 browser tabs open and wonder why things are slow. Also, if you have the keyboard attached, use PgUp and PgDn to scroll through web pages (or arrow keys for fine scrolling). That will provide a huge battery saving boost to your web surfing. If the Surface Go 2 offered a 256GB storage option, it could be my only computer. That is the limitation that would hold back the Surface Go 2 as being a true PC replacement for me.
  • Oh, another tip. Update your WiFi router. I just updated my 5 year old WiFi router, even though it still worked fine. It is like everything now is faster (e.g. Surface Go, Roku, etc.). If you think about it, networking is now the bottle neck; not the processor. Invest in a high performance WiFi router with large range.
  • You'll be happy to hear that there is a 256GB SSD version! It's the "business" version and you have to buy it through a different web URL than it's retail ms store. I'm sorry I don't know the details, but I know several people who have/love them. The 256GB SSD is over double the speed of the 128GB SSD in the Go2. Sorry I can't give you the URL, but otherwise I'm 100% positive about this info. Good luck!
  • Unfortunately the business 256gb version is also LTE an bumps up the price quite a bit. The microSD slot on the retail version should sufficiently increase storage at a better value.