The promise of ARM-based processors in Windows laptops spans from super-thin, ultra-light, and fanless premium PCs to the lower-cost budget laptops. While there have been plenty of the former over the last few years, we haven't seen ARM-based PCs push down hard on the ultra-affordable market — until the Galaxy Book Go.
Starting at $350 (although on sale for $300), the Galaxy Book Go has a lot going right for it considering that ultra-low price point. But while this is one of the first thin and fanless budget laptops that also gets decent battery life, the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 is still at least a generation away from being truly great.
While there is always a ton of compromise when you talk about laptops at the $300 mark, Samsung offers up something unique to the market, and it gets a lot right in doing so.
Bottom line: Samsung merges its excellent laptop design chops with a low-powered ARM processor to make a very affordable laptop that falls just short of being great.
- Excellent build quality
- Nice size display, trackpad, keyboard
- Fanless, thin design
- Windows 11-ready
- Samsung app ecosystem
- Processor performance is OK
- Display quality is not the best
- Only decent battery life
Samsung Galaxy Book Go: Price and availability
The Galaxy Book Go is now available through Samsung, Amazon, Walmart, and various other retailers.
The entry-level version begins at $350 (and is reviewed here), although it can be found on sale for $300 from the resellers mentioned above. That version includes 4GB of RAM, 128GB of eUFS internal storage and is Wi-Fi only.
A 5G-enabled version with 8GB of RAM is expected later in 2021.
Samsung Galaxy Book Go: What's good
The Galaxy Book Go is an entry-level standard Windows laptop. It features a nicely sized 14-inch full HD TFT display that is non-touch with a 16:9 aspect. The chassis is a mix of metal and plastic that has some mild creaking, which is not unexpected at this price level. That also contributes to the decent 3.04-pound weight (1.38kg), which isn't super light but not too heavy either.
It's also worth pointing out the Galaxy Book Go is, comparatively, very thin at just 14.9mm. Every sub-$500 laptop is at least 17.5mm but often closer to 19mm thick. That also translates into more weight, too, and with no fan, the Galaxy Book Go is always quiet.
Two Dolby Atmos speakers are on the bottom, which is not ideal, but they do sound much better than previous budget laptops of the past.
The full-sized keyboard sports chicklet-style keys with decent travel, and it's pretty enjoyable for long typing sessions. The trackpad features Microsoft Precision drivers, is quite massive, and it has a satisfying click.
For ports and features, there is a front-facing 720P webcam that is passable. There are two Type-C ports (one on each side, which is ideal as either can be used for charging), one legacy Type-A port, and even a microSD card slot. That's a very modern offering and nice to see. There is even a tiny LED on the left side for charging status: red when charging, green when charged, and blue when used.
|Category||Galaxy Book Go/5G|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home or Pro|
|Display||14-inch TFT Full HD (1920x1080) non-touch|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2|
|Memory||4GB or 8GB LPDDR4x|
|Storage||64GB or 128GB eUFS|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 5 AC|
4G LTE (optional)
|Ports||2x USB Type-C|
1x USB 2.0
Nano Security slot
|Audio||2x Dolby Atmos|
|Power||25W USB Type-C Fast Charger|
|Dimensions||323.9mm x 224.8mm x 14.9mm|
|Weight||3.04 pounds (1.38kg)|
Performance is a mixed bag. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 is OK for web browsing, email, use with Microsoft Office, moderate photo editing, and even watching movies. Still, it struggles when running heavier apps, especially with x86 app emulation. The Galaxy Book Go edges out the Surface Go 2's Intel Core m3-8100Y processor due to the better multi-core support. However, the differences are marginal and will disappear when you run apps not compiled for ARM. Intel's chip is also from 2018, while we're talking about a Qualcomm chip from 2021.
Storage is middle of the road. Whereas the entry-level Surface Go 2 shipped with slow eMMC, the Galaxy Book Go uses faster eUFS. That's not as performant as PCIe, but it does double the speed of eMMC, so that helps things.
The good news is the Galaxy Book Go does qualify for Windows 11, and our early testing has revealed a more responsive experience due to that OS being more optimized for ARM. While it won't make up for the overall lack of speed, it is accurate to say Windows 11 results in a slightly better experience on this device including 64-bit Office support.
As you would expect from an ARM chip, hitting that seven-hour mark, battery life is decent, but it is certainly not exceptional. For standby, this laptop can last two weeks without even coming close to depleting its charge. It also turns on and resumes nearly instantly.
Finally, Samsung adds a lot of value with its bundled software (all removable, of course). There is Link to Windows (to pair your Android phone), Second Screen (which lets you use a Samsung tablet as a second display), Galaxy Book Smart Switch, Quick Share, SmartThings Find, and SmartThings Dashboard. It also supports Easy Bluetooth Connection with the Galaxy Buds. Additional bundled apps include Samsung Flow, Gallery, Notes, TV Plus, and Screen Recorder. You don't need to have a Samsung phone to leverage all of those, but if you do, the overlapping experience is fantastic, e.g., easy syncing of photos between devices. It's cool stuff and shouldn't be dismissed.
Samsung Galaxy Book Go: What's not good
There are some negatives with the Galaxy Book Go. Still, it becomes hard to tease apart design faux pas from gaffs because this is a $350 Windows laptop — some reduction in quality and features need to happen; otherwise, why are there $2,000 Ultrabooks?
That said, here are some drawbacks at this price point.
There are no biometric Windows Hello abilities. You log in with your PIN or password, and that is it. You could always get a Type-A fingerprint reader, but then you sacrifice a port.
Samsung is using a TFT display, which is an older display tech from IPS, but also common in this category. TFT has worse viewing angles, color reproduction, and the calibration leans very cool (blue) on this laptop. It has a washed-out look to it. It earns 61% sRGB, 45% Adobe RGB, and 45% DCI-P3 for color reproduction. Brightness ranges from just four nits (dim, great for night work) up to 238 nits. Most premium laptops hit a brighter 400 nits, but the matte, anti-glare design helps with bright-light situations.
The keyboard, while excellent for typing, lacks backlighting. Even Microsoft cuts this feature on the Surface Laptop Go making it a standard omission.
Storage is minimal at 128GB leaving just below 70GB available. Moreover, that storage is the slower eUFS and not the higher-performing PCIe. The result is some slow read and write speeds compared to other laptops. However, it is still miles ahead of laptops with spinning hard-disk drives or eMMC tech.
The overall design of the Galaxy Book Go is very generic but also not contentious. It's what you expect for the $300-$350 mark, and while it doesn't inspire awe, it gets the job done even with some thick bezels around the display.
Samsung Galaxy Book Go: Competition
Microsoft's Surface Go 2 is a very different PC as it is a tablet with a much smaller 10.1-inch display, but also quite nice. The Pentium 4425Y CPU won't be any better, you get just 64GB of storage (entry-level), and with the Surface Type Cover (basically required), the price is around $470 after discounts making it more costly. That also doesn't include the Surface Pen if you want that too.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 can go as low as $270. It has faster storage, a larger 15.6-inch display but uses an Intel Celeron N4020 processor, which will be a tad worse than Qualcomm's 7c Gen 2, especially on multi-core performance. The screen is slightly lower resolution (1366x768 vs. 1920x1080), and being larger means you'll see fewer pixels per inch, resulting in more jagged edges. It is, however, an overall better-looking laptop with three Type-A ports (no Type-C) and HDMI. It's also a pound heavier, which is not incidental.
Similarly, HP has a generic 14-inch laptop (14-dk1013dx) with a lower resolution, 1366x768, non-touch display, AMD Athlon Silver 3050U (which scores worse than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c on Geekbench), 4GB of RAM, and faster PCIe 128GB storage. It is slightly heavier at 3.25 pounds (1.47kg) and sets you back $330.
Samsung Galaxy Book Go: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You're a student, or need a basic laptop
- You want a well-built, thin, and affordable 14-inch PC
- You need decent battery life and prefer fanless designs
- You want a good trackpad, speakers, and keyboard
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You need to run older, legacy Windows software
The Samsung Galaxy Book Go is a very competitive offering from a brand traditionally known to be higher end. At this $300 price point, it is all about tradeoffs. Nearly all competing systems ship with the same measly 4GB of RAM, slower storage drives, and features like backlit keyboards or Windows Hello cut to reduce costs.
The Galaxy Book Go doesn't stray far from that formula, although there is supposed to be a model with 8GB of RAM and even 5G connectivity arriving in the coming months. That's an exciting value prop as we have seen only a few 5G laptops, and they are all, comparatively, costly.
Like all Windows on ARM PCs, it also comes down to compromise with the software. The inability to run x64 apps in Windows 10 is a letdown, but it is also "fixed" in Windows 11, which is coming very soon. But for this market, sticking to Microsoft Edge (browser), Microsoft Office, Outlook, Spotify, Slack, photo editing in Affinity, or Adobe (especially with Windows 11), is all doable.
The problem is, while the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 is a step up over current Intel and even AMD offerings at this price level, it is still inadequate. It's not like Intel Pentium Silver or Celeron processors, or even AMD Athlon Silver are hallmarks of outstanding performance either — indeed, they are often worse. We just need a bit more from Qualcomm.
But the hope for ARM shines brightly here: Fanless design, decent battery life (for the small battery), and finally, a price that hits that crucial entry-level market. I think, however, that the next-gen of Qualcomm budget ARM processors will be the ones to watch for in a device like the Galaxy Book Go. Those chips may finally leapfrog what Intel and AMD can do in this segment, and that is a story to watch.
Speaking strongly in favor of the Galaxy Book Go, nearly every other laptop in this category is bigger, heavier, noisier (due to a fan), thicker, and has slightly worse performance — that's kind of a big deal and vividly reveals the strengths of an ARM-based Windows PC.
Regardless, in terms of overall value, it is hard to find much wrong with Samsung's attempt here making the Galaxy Book Go a good recommendation if its tradeoffs don't bother you.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
Outside of reviews, what devices are you using the most these days, Daniel? (As in personal go-to's?)
Seeing as I'm flying in and out of NYC today, it's a good question. The answer? I'm still using Surface Pro X. I just adore the design. Runner up is the HP Elite Folio, which, in many ways, is very similar.
It's funny that this cheap laptop has a larger battery than the Pro X. I'm happy with mine but it should have come with a 42 Wh battery for real 12 hour battery life.
Are you running w11 on it?
On Surface Pro X? Absolutely. I'm running Windows 11 on about 6 devices at the moment including my desktop rigs.
Btw the 5g version with the 8cx proc and 8gb of ram is up on att now. I have one on the way already https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F2Flink...
Nice, gtk, thanks!
"no touch screen" needs to be called out as a "-" in all laptop reviews these days. I was really interested in this until I saw that it did not come with a touch screen.
Called out? Maybe. Here's the thing, it's a $300 laptop. Adding a touchscreen to that would definitely drive up the price and add weight. Maybe they could make a model with that option, but look, you have to make cuts somewhere to hit $300 and still make a profit. Touchscreen digitizers are definitely not free.
They're not expensive either? Lots of $300-400 Chromebooks have IPS Touchscreen and even Active Stylus capability built in. Just providing a $100 display upgrade option would have pushed up the sales by a whole lot. And the target demographic is for young kids who grew up with Touchscreens, and parents will want to shop for something with a Tablet-like friendliness. So it's a HUGE miss on Samsung's part not to supply that option IMHO.
"Lots of $300-400 Chromebooks have IPS Touchscreen and even Active Stylus capability built in"Please name a few 14-inch touch-enabled Chromebooks for $300. I see the Lenovo Chromebook C330 for a solid $230, but its display is merely 11.6-inches with a paltry MediaTek MT8173C processor and just 64GB of slower eMMC storage. The same goes for the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 ($290), which is also just 11.6-inches, has a worse Celeron N4020, and just 32GB (!) of slower eMMC memory. There is the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 which does have a 14-inch touch display (finally). Again, just 64GB of slow eMMC storage, but otherwise a nice looking device. It's $466, not $300 though. So, again, name me a Chromebook with a 14-inch touch display, eUFS (or faster) storage, more than 64GB of internal storage, and faster LPDDR4x RAM that costs $300.
You just proved my point. You're nitpicking about screen sizes, storage, ram, and processor, when you say that price point is priority. At $300, I would take touch screen input over minute differences in speed. And those Chromebooks you picked out had other advantages such as longer battery life, better build quality, better keyboard with backlight and better display quality over the Galaxy Book Go, which received a Poor 79% rating in Notebookcheck's review. At $300+? Any Chromebook with Intel Pentium/ Core i3 + FHD IPS screen blows the Galaxy Book Go's Snapdragon 7c + TN screen out of the water, in both raw specs AND hardware. If it was my kid, either Lenovo Flex 5 or Acer 315 would be my pick since they both come with gorgeous touchscreens under $400. Before you say anything, yes you CAN manually install Windows or upgrade to faster storage if you really wish, although personally I don't see the need to. See for yourself Daniel. Chromebooks are too good.
Not sure about the build quality of those devices though. From my experience these low budget laptops often have crappy motherboards, quality of the battery (not to be confused with capacity), psu's and plastic casings. I am guessing that at least this Samsung Go laptop is better quality wise in some of these areas. Than there is W11, which when released will make these low spec devices more interesting (smoother and apparently less heavy than W10 / less ram usage and android support).
I would not be so presumptuous. Build quality, board QC, component consistency... these things rarely have anything to do with Brands and Price points. You can buy a $5000 laptop that can break in 6 months, or a $500 laptop that lasts a decade without much cradling or maintenance. As it is, that usually depends entirely on one particular product's assembly process. You are completely right about W11 it IS better optimized they seemed to have focused on that more than anything else really. Android App support though, I don't feel too excited about after lots of frustrating Android Tablet experiences. Hopefully app developers invest more into creating native W11 tablet-friendly apps for 2-in-1 devices, since W11 has "supposedly" improved Touch UI according to MS.
If you think the average 5000$ laptop (which is usually a rugged business laptop at that price point) is in the same quality build & QC tier as the average 500$ laptop I need to have what you are smoking. Yes there is always some chance involved with electronics but the chances are much lower with the 5000$ laptop. This is related to higher quality materials being used, more extensive testing (think also of MIL-std certificates and hinge testing), extra build in protections (which almost always cost money, to give an example motherboards with extra heat sinks) and more. And second there is a big difference between 300$ and 500$ laptops. That extra 200$ can help a lot in picking better parts.
"That extra 200$ can help a lot in picking better parts." .... that's not how electronics sourcing and qc works.
"You just proved my point. You're nitpicking about screen sizes, storage, ram, and processor, when you say that price point is priority."I didn't prove your point. I proved you don't want this device, but what you want != what everyone else wants or needs. Touchscreen Chromebooks are not that common and there are no 14-inch touchscreen Chromebooks with similar specs for $300. At this price point every detail matters. Everything else you write here I disagree with especially the "build quality." I'm not sure what world you live in where Acer suddenly trumps Samsung for design and laptop build quality, but I may want to live there someday. The only thing I'm getting from this is "This laptop is not something Angels Advocate would buy," which, does not detract from the fact that others may be absolutely fine with what this device offers for $300. It has no bearing whatsoever. For instance, I consider myself a laptop snob as I have so many at my access and I don't care about having a touchscreen. Now what? 🤷♂️ $300 laptops are about tradeoffs, as I hammered home in the review. Not having a touchscreen on this model is one of those. It's not rocket science. Those Chromebooks all have tradeoffs too and if you say '"no" you're being disingenuous. And that Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 13? Sure, it's nice, but it tradeoff is 128GB of faster storage for just 64GB of slower eMMC. It's a nice device, but it is $64 more.. Newsflash: Laptops in the $300 range are very competitive and each has pros/cons, and tradeoffs for what you get. There is no perfect config for everyone, just the ideal one for you.
If you can point me to a retail website that sells any previous $300 Samsung laptop that has the popularity of Lenovo Flex 5 on Amazon or ANY Chromebook for that matter, I would agree with you.
But AFAIK such thing does not exist because Samsung isn't known for making good PCs as the public knows already. This is for K12 school kids. Of course YOU Daniel Rubino would prefer to use Windows being a "editor" of this website, but I assure you 9/10 parents will buy a Chromebook with Core i3 and IPS screen over a cheap WoA demo experiment for their children. Me? I certainly don't fancy myself a snob of any kind. I'm just being realistic at who actually pays for and uses these devices out in the real world.
"Samsung isn't known for making good PCs as the public knows already."That's utter BS. Samsung's laptop business is simply (and historically) limited to just the US, Germany, and S. Korea, so it's not as well known in this space. Their laptops are well-reviewed and there is no perception issue with them not making good laptops - quite the contrary, they have a well-known reputation in the phone and mobile space already. Go on Amazon and Best Buy and read the reviews for the Galaxy Book Go. Best Buy: 4.4 average review: "Great laptop with tons of features at a great price", "Great price and friendly service". Amazon: 4.1 out of 5, " Best laptop under 500 dollars, by far." Yeah, people are buying it and they are happy with it 🤷♂️
"but I assure you 9/10 parents will buy a Chromebook with Core i3 and IPS screen over a cheap WoA demo experiment for their children."This is vacuous. Your assurance means little as it is guesswork and your opinion.
"I'm just being realistic at who actually pays for and uses these devices out in the real world."You're making conjecture.
Samsung has always done better at the very edge of high-end. Strictly $300, your words. They don't have economies of scale or skills to be globally competitive at that price, and even worse in PC tech. I know because I've worked with Korean companies who sourced cheap Samsung laptops for years with contract. Guess what? To this day they're not very popular in mainland Korea, the locals avoid Samsung laptops and tablets like a plague unless their boss gives them one. Walk into a Korean cafe and every person you see has either a LG Gram or MacBook, with 1% minority HP and Dells (Lenovo's not popular either in Korea). Amazon's Galaxy Book Go 1st gen has 26 reviews total with 4/5 star rating. I consider that 1/10 in real value, having never bought a 4/5 product myself, much less something with under 50 reviews written in total. WoA has a future in premium market, not at entry-level where 7 year olds are befriending computers for the first time. ARM chips are simply too expensive for that. 7watt Core i3 (and soon Ryzen 3) knocks the socks off of any Snapdragon or Mediatek chip at an equivalent price. And Schools? The K-12 Shcools I know of are looking for Chromebooks and iPads. Not the U.S, but I hear your country's on the same trend.
Hmm do you expect the alleged new October Surface devices will be ARMed up? SQ3? I need a new midrange device but don't really want to buy "The Last Intel" when everyone is going to go ARM, and the state of Windows 11 and major apps is very promising
Pro X with SQ3 (with actual performance improvement) does seem likely.
Imagine if (I know I know... Farfetched) they could get the price point down to entry level iPad. Wish windows oems had a chip partner that could overpower the m1.
Surface Go X, anyone?
Just get the Surface Go 3 than. I have a Go 2 m3 and it feels like an Ipad regarding modern form factor and snappiness, and the Go 2 still used the old 14nm stuff so Go 3 can only be much better whether they go for Intel, Amd or Qualcomm.
This is where WoA should be, but with the 8cx. The 7c shouldn’t be put in Windows machines, save it for ChromeOS devices.
Erm... Surface laptop go definitely does not have a back-lit keyboard unless mine was a ripoff from best buy. Even windowscentral's own review of the go says so.
Wording is probably not clear: "The keyboard, while excellent for typing, lacks backlighting. Even Microsoft does this on the Surface Laptop Go making it a standard feature to cut." "this" above refers to having no backlighting. My point is that it's normal to cut that feature as even Microsoft cuts it.
This is a nice review, but I would not recommend WoA this for any students who need anything more than Office. I see no ARM support for the statistics, programming and mapping software that I am familiar with. These are the kinds of things that students need in many classes and in order to get many jobs. It's great to see new low-end options but ARM support has a long way to go. Maybe native W11 emulation will make it viable.
Sorry, students as in k-12, not college. Also, it depends. Some reviews on this laptop from buyers include someone in law school who needed something for writing. Even in college, if doing humanities it's probably OK (I mean, I'd always recommend something more if possible, as it's not a fast laptop).
For programming, use WSL and you're set
"Also, it depends." For sure. No doubt this'll be perfectly fine for essays and presentations and Excel and lots of browser work. And frankly for some of my (college-level) students, even $500 is a lot of money. For those students this is on the verge of amazing. But those students also may be limiting themselves with WoA (again also depending on the emulation situation on W11). I suppose if they are, say, only taking one course that requires anything above and beyond browser/Office, they could just use the computer lab (better double down on those Covid SOP's tho). There are also high school students who are serious about things like engineering or data science. For them I'd also recommend Windows x86 or an Intel Macbook. Same reason: software support.
Microsoft really needs to make an ARM Surface Go. I wouldn't mind paying $450-500 for an LTE model with a high quality touchscreen. The display on this laptop is dismal. I'm fine dealing with Windows on ARM because that can be fixed over time. Bad hardware can't be upgraded.
Definitely time for a Surface Go X. I had a Surface 3 and now have a Surface Go, as well as a Pro 5 of my own and Pro 7 for work. I skipped the Go 2 as the Go is still fine for the stuff I bought it for but I'd definitely upgrade to a Go X.
You're right about it being one gen away from great but I wouldn't hold my breath for it for a while. 7cG2 just came out.
I'm definitely waiting to pull the trigger on a new Windows PC for a good performing ARM processor. I love my Surface Go but it is painfully slow and very often frustrating. I'm jealous of Apple users and their M1 machines but I just wont buy Apple products.
I guess that the M1 will at least push Qualcomm to try harder, just as they have done to Intel. It might take some time for that kick up the backside to bear fruit though.
I mean, Qualcomm dropped $1.4 BILLION buying NUVIA earlier this year. Nuvia are ex-Apple engineers, the very ones who designed the M1 and Apple's modern line of in-house CPUs. It'll take time to see those results, but we will see them in the next few years.
The Surface Go 2 m3 is also a big upgrade from the Go 1 (especially regarding snappiness), I bought one a few months ago at entry price and at that price its great. Though now, if you can I would wait for the Go 3, than you would also have a device build for W11 (which is also less heavy regarding ram and smoother with animations etc).
At least here the review is true !
I've seen that intel is paying well to speak bad things of the WoA laptop and all of these are $$$
You need a Samsung phone to use Quick Share.
Right now you can get the HP 14" Windows on arm with 8GB and a touchscreen for $80 more at Walmart. Do you think that is worth the extra money?
Get the best of Windows Central in in your inbox, every day!
Thank you for signing up to Windows Central. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.