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Lenovo IdeaPad 3 vs. Surface Go 2: Which should you buy?

Surface Go 2
Surface Go 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Both of these devices are excellent, but we think that most people will prefer the performance benefits of the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 over the better display and smaller size of the Surface Go 2. With that said, the Surface Go 2 is a fantastic device as well and we highly recommend it if you're okay with sacrificing some horsepower and storage space.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 vs. Surface Go 2: Performance or display?

Source: Lenovo (Image credit: Source: Lenovo)

Unlike most devices that are separated by their price, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 and Surface Go 2 are primarily separated by two things: their performance and their displays. The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is the undisputable winner of the matchup in terms of performance, as its array of 10th Gen i3 CPUs comfortably outperform the Surface Go 2's Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y and Intel Core m3.

The IdeaPad 3 also comes with options for more memory and storage space, which may be useful for people who occasionally have to tackle more demanding tasks beyond what you'd expect from basic productivity. Notably, the device also comes with a built-in webcam shutter that you can use for privacy, and the bezels of the display are also thinner than the Surface Go 2's.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3Surface Go 2
CPUIntel Core i3-10110U
Intel Core i3-1005G1
Intel Core i5-10210U
Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y
Intel Core m3
GPUIntel UHD GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics
Memory8GB
12GB
4GB
8GB
Storage256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB HDD
64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
Display15-inch 1366x768 touch display (220 nits)10.5-inch 1920x1280 (220 PPI) touch display (400 nits)
AudioDual 1.5W speakers with Dolby Audio2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio
BiometricsNoneWindows Hello-compatible webcam
Ports3x USB-A
1x HDMI 1.4b
1x SD card reader
1x 3.5mm headphone jack
1x USB-C
1x Surface Connect
1x microSDXC card reader
1x 3.5mm headphone jack
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, LTE (optional)
BatteryUp to 8 hoursUp to 10 hours
Dimensions14.25 x 9.98 x 0.79 inches9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches
Weight3.74 poundsUp to 1.22 pounds

Don't think that the Surface Go 2's screen is worse just because of the bezels, though. In fact, it's considerably better, as its 400 nit 1920x1280 panel is both sharper and brighter than the screen on the Lenovo IdeaPad 3. The Surface Go 2 also gets a better battery life of around 9-10 hours compared to the IdeaPad's 7-8 hours. All versions of the device also come with Windows Hello support, and there's a configuration available with LTE if you want it. Finally, the Surface Go 2's smaller size and convertible design make it useful if you need something compact, although some may prefer the Lenovo IdeaPad 3's traditional laptop design and size.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 vs. Surface Go 2: Which should you buy?

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

While both of these laptops are great choices for anyone who needs a budget-friendly machine, we feel that most people will benefit more from the Lenovo IdeaPad 3's stronger performance and its wider range of options for memory and storage. CPU strength is the biggest difference maker when it comes to productivity work, so it's difficult to advise choosing the Surface Go 2's aging processors over modern 10th Gen options.

With that said, the Surface Go 2's performance is by no means bad for general workloads, and the fact that it comes with a better display and has a more compact form factor will likely appeal to many users — especially if you frequently travel a lot.

For more options to consider, don't miss our roundups of the best Windows laptops and the best cheap laptops available.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.