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Microsoft Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Go: Which is a better buy?

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

Microsoft Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Go tech specs

Surface Go 2Surface Go
OSWindows 10 Home in S Mode
Windows 10 Pro (Business)
Windows 10 Home in S Mode
Windows 10 Pro (Business)
ProcessorIntel Pentium Gold 4425Y
Intel Core m3-8100Y
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
RAM4GB, 8GB4GB, 8GB
Storage64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
256GB SSD (Business)
64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
Display size10.5 inches10 inches
Display resolution1920x1280
220 PPI
1800x1200
217 PPI
Aspect ratio3:23:2
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 615Intel HD Graphics 615
PortsUSB-C 3.1
3.5mm audio
Surface Connect
microSD card reader
USB-C 3.1
3.5mm audio
Surface Connect
microSD card reader
WirelessWi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 4.1
LTEOptional
eSIM or physical
Optional
Physical SIM
Audio2W Stereo speakers
Dolby Audio
Dual Studio Mics
2W Stereo speakers
Dolby Audio
Single mic
CameraFront-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 10MP (1080p)
Front-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 10MP (1080p)
BiometricsIR cameraIR camera
Battery27Wh26Wh
Dimensions9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33
(245mm x 175mm x 8.3mm)
9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33
(245mm x 175mm x 8.3mm)
WeightFrom 1.2 pounds (544 grams)From 1.15 pounds (522g)
ColorSilverSilver

Design and features

The new Surface Go 2 shares the same dimensions and (essentially) the same weight, making it just as easy to carry around with you as the original Surface Go. These are both 2-in-1 devices that work comfortable as a tablet or notebook with attached keyboard and touchpad. Old Type Covers (opens in new tab) will work with the Go 2, as will the Surface Pen (opens in new tab). The hinge for the built-in kickstand has been redesigned and the antenna cover is also a bit different, but overall the Go 2 has the same stellar design. Under the stand is still a microSD card reader you can use to expand storage.

The rear- and front-facing cameras on both devices are the same, with the rear set at 8MP (1080p) and the front at 5MP (1080p). However, for better audio quality on calls, there are two far-field Studio microphones on the Go 2. Both laptops also offer a front-facing IR camera for facial recognition through Windows Hello. Along the top edge of both devices is a power button and volume rocker for quick control when in tablet mode.

The Surface Go 2 has been stepped up to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity compared to Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1 in the original Go. You're going to see much faster wireless speeds in the newer version. Both can be had with optional LTE connectivity, and both are compatible with physical SIM. However, only the Go 2 adds the option for eSIM.

Display and inking

One of the major attractions to the refreshed Go 2 is a larger 10.5-inch display with a slimmer bezel. It holds onto the 3:2 aspect ratio for a boxy look that's slowly becoming more common. The original Go's 10-inch display has an 1800x1200 resolution, while the Go 2 has a 1920x1280 resolution with slightly higher 220 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The Go 2 looks more modern thanks to the rework, delivering more screen real estate for times when productivity is paramount.

Both displays feature 10-point multi-touch functionality and compatibility with a Surface Pen (opens in new tab), delivering 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt support for a natural inking experience. If you'd like a device that can handle note-taking and sketching, either of these excels.

Performance and price

There are several performance hardware changes with the Go 2 that will no doubt make it far more attractive than the original Go, at least for those who consider themselves more on the side of Power than Casual user.

The Go 2 has a slightly larger battery that is expected to add some life over what the Go was capable of offering (between seven and eight hours). The Go 2 also offers better Instant On so that you can get to work faster. With the Type Cover attached, all it takes is the keyboard to pull away from the screen to have the device turn on.

One downside of the original Surface Go is its relatively underpowered Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor (CPU). It has the performance to handle light productivity work and even some light gaming, but don't expect it to match up with modern Intel Core CPUs.

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

The Surface Go 2 has a similar Pentium Gold 4425Y CPU option that is close to the same performance as its predecessor. Still, it also has an 8th Gen Intel Core m3-8100Y option that significantly boosts performance. It has a lower base clock speed than the Pentium 4425Y, but the Core m3 has a boost up to 3.4GHz, whereas the Pentium is fixed at 1.7GHz. The updated Intel UHD Graphics 615 in the Go 2 is also tweaked by 50MHz for a nice little boost. We ran some benchmarks to see exactly how it stacks up to the Pentium CPU in the original Surface Go.

Geekbench 5

Geekbench 5.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)

DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Surface Go 2Core m38471,609
Surface GoPentium376947
Surface Pro XSQ17252,819
Surface Laptop 3 13.5i5-1035G71,1774,413
Surface Laptop 2i5-8250U9093,372
Surface Pro 7i5-1035G41,1914,441
Surface Pro 6i7-8650U1,1133,519
Surface Pro 6i5-8250U9043,440

Geekbench 4

Geekbench 4.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)

DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Surface Go 2Core m34,0286,804
Surface GoPentium2,0783,934
Surface 3Atom x71,0782,777
Surface Pro X (ARM)SQ13,50511,727
Surface Pro X (x86)SQ12,1826,822
Samsung Galaxy Book2 (ARM)SD8502,2627,405
Samsung Galaxy Book2 (x86)SD8501,3454,164
HP Envy x2 (ARM)SD8352,1116,314
Surface Laptop 3 13.5i5-1035G75,26517,345
Surface Laptop 2i5-8250U4,20313,233
Surface Laptopi5-7200U3,7257,523
Surface Pro 7i5-1035G45,24517,350
Surface Pro 6i7-8650U5,03713,864
Surface Pro 6i5-8250U4,28714,031
Surface Pro 5i7-7660U4,5139,346
Surface Pro 5i5-7300U4,3028,482
Surface Pro 4i5-6300U3,3196,950

GPU

Geekbench 4.0 OpenCL (higher is better)

LaptopGPUScore
Surface Go 2UHD 61519,488
Surface GoHD 61516,490
Surface 3Intel HD8,055
Surface Pro 4 (m3)HD 51514,650
Surface Pro 4HD 52017,395
Surface BookHD 52018,197
Surface Laptop i5HD 62019,256
Surface Pro 2017HD6 2020,688
Surface Pro 2017Iris 64030,678
Surface Laptop i7Iris 64031,010

3DMark

PCMark 10 (higher is better)

LaptopScore
Surface Go 22,554
Surface Go1,808

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

DeviceReadWrite
Surface Go 2 (SSD)1,630 MB/s373 MB/s
Surface Go (SSD)1,185 MB/s133 MB/s
Surface Go (eMMC)260 MB/s145 MB/s
Surface 3149 MB/s33 MB/s
Surface Pro X2,023 MB/s832 MB/s
Samsung Galaxy Book2722 MB/s205 MB/s
HP Envy x2513 MB/s197 MB/s
Surface Laptop 3 13.52,338 MB/s1,583 MB/s
Surface Laptop 3 152,028 MB/s806 MB/s
Surface Laptop 21,509 MB/s811 MB/s
Surface Laptop486 MB/s244 MB/s
Surface Pro 72,040 MB/s809 MB/s
Surface Pro 61,632 MB/s814 MB/s
Surface Pro 5847MB/s801 MB/s
Surface Book1,018 MB/s967 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 73902,400 MB/s1,228 MB/s

Write speeds are faster in the Go 2, but otherwise not much has changed. eMMC storage in the Go 2 should be far slower than the SSD alternative. You can, however, add up to a 256GB SSD option in the Go 2 Business version (opens in new tab).

Elect the Go 2 for a larger display, better performance

The Surface Go 2's larger display, Core m3 CPU option, Wi-Fi 6, slightly larger battery, and myriad other improvements no doubt make it an attractive option, especially with it priced to closely to the original Go.

Look out for great deals on the original Surface Go

The original Surface Go doesn't measure up to the Go 2 in a lot of ways, but if you can find a model bundled with accessories and on sale, it might just be worth picking up. It's still a great little PC you can take anywhere, just with fewer features.

Cale Hunt
Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.