Microsoft's Surface Go came as a surprise release in the summer of 2018. It had been three years since the similar Surface 3, filling the vaunted lower-end and more portable tablet PC segment.
While the Surface Go has since won many converts and fans, it has always been held back by its middling Pentium processor. The Surface Go 2 fixes that by offering a pricier Core m3 option, which effectively solves many of the Go's limitations. Add a slightly bigger display (with smaller bezels), and Microsoft has pushed the Surface Go 2 as far as it can, which is great but also reflects poorly on Intel.
Here is how Surface Go 2 stacks up against its predecessor, and why it is still a remarkably fun and nimble PC even if it costs a little bit more this time.
$399 at Microsoft (opens in new tab)Bottom line: With the Core m3 processor, Surface Go 2 finally feels like a real PC. With nearly double the performance and no loss on battery life, the Go 2 is even more capable (and satisfying) than before. Toss in thinner bezels and a rich set of features, and there is still nothing else like Surface Go 2. But Surface Go 2 also proves there are some severe limits to how far Microsoft can push this design.
- Excellent, premium design, and kickstand.
- Core m3 model makes a huge difference.
- Outstanding display now with thinner bezels.
- Optional 4G LTE is great.
- Nothing else like it.
- The Pentium 4425Y model is still disappointing.
- The cost went up for the model you should get.
- Battery life just below all-day at 7 hours.
- Core m3 is old, only dual-core.
Mini Surface Pro
Microsoft Surface Go 2 technical specifications
The Surface Go 2 is a 2-in-1 tablet PC that can be accurately described as a mini-Surface Pro. Despite the weaker processor, everything about the Surface Go 2 is premium, including its fully articulating kickstand.
This year, the Surface Go 2 gets a bit more complicated thanks to two processor options. And unlike other laptops, the choice is dramatically different.
There is the Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y, a small bump from the previous Pentium Gold 4415Y in the original Surface Go. There's not much to say about this chip – it is 100Hz faster and uses UHD Graphics 615 (instead of HD Graphics 615). The Pentium Gold 4425Y is found in the $399 and $549 models of Surface Go 2.
|Category||Surface Go 2|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home in S mode|
|Display||10.5 inches, 3:2 aspect ratio|
1920x1280 (220 ppi) resolution
|Processor||Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y (1.7GHz)|
Intel Core m3-8100Y (3.4Ghz)
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 615|
256GB SSD (commercial)
|Surface Pen||4,096 levels of pressure, tilt support|
|Camera||5MP front-facing with Windows Hello|
8MP rear auto-focus
|Security||Windows Hello face sign-in|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax compatible, Bluetooth Wireless 5.0|
LTE Advanced Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem
|Ports||1x USB-C, 1x Surface Connect, microSDXC card reader, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Audio||2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium|
|Battery||Up to 10 hours|
|Dimensions||9.65 inches x 6.9 inches x 0.33 inches (245mm x 175mm x 8.3mm)|
|Weight||Wi-Fi: 1.2lbs (544g)|
LTE: 1.22lbs (553g)
|Price||Starts at $399 (opens in new tab)|
However, the Intel Core m3-8100Y is a different story. While this processor is a few years old, it offers a substantive jump in performance, so much so that it makes it hard to recommend the Pentium Gold 4425Y model at all. But the pricing for the Core m3 starts at $629 (8GB RAM, 128GB storage), making it less of a value buy.
There are other differences between the Pentium Gold and Core m3 models. That $399 model has much slower eMMC for storage compared to the faster SSD found in the $549 and up models. RAM is also at just 4GB for the entry-level edition.
But one notable change that applies to all Surface Go 2 editions is the larger display. Microsoft thinned the gargantuan bezels from Surface Go, and the result not only looks better, but the display's size has grown from 10-inch (1800 x 1200) to 10.5-inch (1920x1280). The pixels-per-inch (PPI) also modestly increased from 216 PPI to 220 PPI.
Microsoft is also launching the Surface Go 2 with optional 4G LTE, which includes both a physical nano-SIM and electronic SIM (eSIM) capability. The Surface Go 2 with LTE is only in the top-of-the-line model with 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and Core m3 for $729. It is the version used for this review.
For ports, nothing has changed. There is a single Type-C with USB 3.1 Gen 2, microSDXC slot (behind the kickstand), headphone jack, and Surface Connect for charging. That Type-C port can power one 4K display at 60Hz, or two full HD displays also at 60Hz. It can also be used for charging and data for thumb drives.
The 128GB SSD has about 81GB of free space after the initial setup. The Surface Go 2 ships with Windows 10 version 1909 (build 18363.15) in S Mode. Switching out of S-Mode is very easy with a simple button click in the Microsoft Store – you don't even have to reboot. The new Microsoft Edge came pre-installed to and pinned to the taskbar along with a few Office applications.
An awesome screen
Microsoft Surface Go 2 display, inking, audio, and cameras
While I regularly criticize Microsoft for not adding anti-reflective coatings to its display or skimping on Dolby Vision, both of which apply here, the Surface Go 2's screen is still remarkable at this price range.
The Go 2's screen can hit nearly 400 nits of brightness, which is brilliant. While many high-end laptops can go to 500 or even the rare 600 nits, Go 2's brightness level is more than enough indoors and can be used with moderate success outdoors too.
Color accuracy is also exceptionally good with 100 percent sRGB, 74 percent Adobe RGB, and 78 percent DCI-P3. Those numbers are similar to the Surface Pro 7 and reinforce the idea that Surface Go 2 is a mini Surface Pro instead of a cheap Surface.
The 10.5-inch 1920 x 1280 display has the familiar 3:2 Surface aspect and excellent contrast at 1400:1. It is a sharp, colorful display with exceptional viewing angles.
The thinner Surface Go 2 display bezels now look normal. They're not crazy Dell-InfinityEdge-thin, but there's a reason for that. The Surface keyboard now comes right up to the bottom of the display. Were the Go 2's bezels any thinner, either the keyboard would overlap onto the screen, or Microsoft would have to have a larger bezel just on the bottom, which ruins the symmetry. As is, your hand sometimes blocks the tiny Surface Go 2 display when typing, so it is not evident how those bezels could be made even thinner.
Inking has not changed between Surface Go and Surface Go 2. Both the regular Surface Pen and the new Surface Slim Pen (opens in new tab) work with the same 4,096 levels of pressure, tilt support, and Bluetooth.
Microsoft is emphasizing the cameras on the Surface Go 2 for a good reason. While nothing has changed between the previous generation and this one, the Surface Go 2's 5MP front-facing camera is the same one found in the Surface Book 3. It's not just beyond average — it is likely the best front-facing built-in web camera on any laptop. Due to workers and students needing to work from home, Surface Go 2 is an ideal teleconferencing companion. That notion is validated further with the new dual "Studio" microphones, which deliver excellent audio fidelity.
That front-facing camera is also Windows Hello compatible, letting you log in to Windows 10 with just your face. It is fast, reliable, and another premium feature that you won't find in any $400 laptop.
The speakers are first-rate. They are stereo, front-facing and nearly invisible. The positioning delivers good audio separation and volume that is aimed at your ears when using the Surface Go 2 in keyboard mode. While there is not a lot of bass, the sound is rich and enjoyable.
Unleash your creativity
While you don't need a Surface Pen to enjoy Surface Go 2, it certainly expands the tablet's abilities. Ideal for artists, notetakers, students, or business users who want some of the best PC inking around.
still the best
Surface Go 2 Type Cover is now stickier
There is no debating that the Surface Type Cover ($130) is a required purchase to make full use of the Surface Go 2. At least you get to pick one of three Alcantara-based colors, including ice blue, poppy red, and platinum. You can also save $30 with just a black, microfiber one, which costs $100 (opens in new tab).
The size of the Type Cover is small at just 9-inches across. Many people will find it too small at first. However, after some time, you realize it is not only usable but quite fantastic considering the constraints. It is hard to fathom how anyone could make a better keyboard at this size. The key travel is better than some full-sized Ultrabooks, and there is ample backlighting. While those with larger hands will feel cramped, this criticism feels obvious when talking about a tiny 10.5-inch tablet PC.
The trackpad is also well done. It is large, glass, and uses Microsoft Precision drivers. There is a satisfying click, and the trackpad registered movement with ease.
These second-generation Surface Go Type Covers are interchangeable with the first-generation saving money for those upgrading. But Microsoft did make two subtle changes this year. The functions keys have moved around with the two display brightness keys jumping from F1 and F2 to F6 and F7. The keyboard backlight key moved from F7 to F1 and so on for play/pause, volume, and mute keys, etc. These have no real impact on usability.
Microsoft also followed the Surface Pro X and put a small magnet below the trackpad in the new Surface Type Cover for Surface Go. This magnet lets the second-generation Surface Type covers stick to the Surface Go 2's bezel when closed, preventing it from flopping around. It is not a strong magnet, but it does make a difference. While you can use a first-generation Surface Go Type Cover on Surface Go 2, you won't get this little feature. The same is true in reverse as the original Surface Go does not have a matching magnet in its top bezel.
Speaking of magnets, I'm not thrilled with the lower magnet that holds the keyboard to the lower display bezel. It feels weaker on this model and would separate with too little force.
All but required
The best keyboard around
Microsoft's official Surface Go Type Cover v2 adds a small magnet to keep it closed and re-arranges the functions keys, but it is still the best and practically required accessory for Surface Go 2.
Core m3 steps up
Microsoft Surface Go benchmarks, LTE, battery, and heat
Early testing with the Surface Go 2 and Core m3 delivered striking results and a massive improvement over Pentium Gold.
The Core m3 runs at 5 watts versus the 6 watts of the Pentium chip with a lower base frequency (1.1 GHz, vs. 1.7 GHz, respectively). But the Pentium is effectively fixed at 1.7Ghz, whereas the Core m3 can use turbo to 3.4GHz. That turbo is the big difference in performance between the two chips.
Using PCMark 10, which does a decent job of simulating usage with a web browser, Microsoft Office, and video conferencing, the Core m3 gets 700 points higher than the original Surface Go.
A real-world comparison has Microsoft's Edge browser launching and loading the default MSN page taking around six seconds on Surface Go (Pentium Gold 4415Y), whereas Surface Go 2 (Core m3) can do it in just three. Multiply that by every other app or game, and you can see how Surface Go 2 with Core m3 dramatically enhances your productivity.
On 3DMark Night Raid, the Surface Go 2 gets a respectable 3,759. But even the Surface Pro X nearly doubles that score at 7,078 due to its powerful Adreno 685 GPU. The original Surface Go yields 2,873 on the same test.
Geekbench 5.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)
|Device||CPU||Single core||Multi core|
|Surface Go 2||Core m3||847||1,609|
|Surface Pro X||SQ1||725||2,819|
|Surface Laptop 3 13.5||i5-1035G7||1,177||4,413|
|Surface Laptop 2||i5-8250U||909||3,372|
|Surface Pro 7||i5-1035G4||1,191||4,441|
|Surface Pro 6||i7-8650U||1,113||3,519|
|Surface Pro 6||i5-8250U||904||3,440|
Geekbench 4.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)
|Device||CPU||Single core||Multi core|
|Surface Go 2||Core m3||4,028||6,804|
|Surface 3||Atom x7||1,078||2,777|
|Surface Pro X (ARM)||SQ1||3,505||11,727|
|Surface Pro X (x86)||SQ1||2,182||6,822|
|Samsung Galaxy Book2 (ARM)||SD850||2,262||7,405|
|Samsung Galaxy Book2 (x86)||SD850||1,345||4,164|
|HP Envy x2 (ARM)||SD835||2,111||6,314|
|Surface Laptop 3 13.5||i5-1035G7||5,265||17,345|
|Surface Laptop 2||i5-8250U||4,203||13,233|
|Surface Pro 7||i5-1035G4||5,245||17,350|
|Surface Pro 6||i7-8650U||5,037||13,864|
|Surface Pro 6||i5-8250U||4,287||14,031|
|Surface Pro 5||i7-7660U||4,513||9,346|
|Surface Pro 5||i5-7300U||4,302||8,482|
|Surface Pro 4||i5-6300U||3,319||6,950|
Geekbench 4.0 OpenCL (higher is better)
|Surface Go 2||UHD 615||19,488|
|Surface Go||HD 615||16,490|
|Surface 3||Intel HD||8,055|
|Surface Pro 4 (m3)||HD 515||14,650|
|Surface Pro 4||HD 520||17,395|
|Surface Book||HD 520||18,197|
|Surface Laptop i5||HD 620||19,256|
|Surface Pro 2017||HD6 20||20,688|
|Surface Pro 2017||Iris 640||30,678|
|Surface Laptop i7||Iris 640||31,010|
PCMark 10 (higher is better)
|Surface Go 2||2,554|
Night Raid (higher is better)
|Surface Go 2||3,759|
|Surface Pro X||7,078|
|XPS 13 (7390)||6,148|
|Galaxy Book 2||2,972|
CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)
|Surface Go 2 (SSD)||1,630 MB/s||373 MB/s|
|Surface Go (SSD)||1,185 MB/s||133 MB/s|
|Surface Go (eMMC)||260 MB/s||145 MB/s|
|Surface 3||149 MB/s||33 MB/s|
|Surface Pro X||2,023 MB/s||832 MB/s|
|Samsung Galaxy Book2||722 MB/s||205 MB/s|
|HP Envy x2||513 MB/s||197 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop 3 13.5||2,338 MB/s||1,583 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop 3 15||2,028 MB/s||806 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop 2||1,509 MB/s||811 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop||486 MB/s||244 MB/s|
|Surface Pro 7||2,040 MB/s||809 MB/s|
|Surface Pro 6||1,632 MB/s||814 MB/s|
|Surface Pro 5||847MB/s||801 MB/s|
|Surface Book||1,018 MB/s||967 MB/s|
|Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390||2,400 MB/s||1,228 MB/s|
It's not all just CPU and GPU, though. Microsoft is using a slightly faster SSD for storage, which increases read speeds by nearly 500 MB/s and write speeds almost triple to 373 MB/s. These are still well below proper Ultrabook storage performance, but they are much better than the Surface Go's original eMMC, which was just 260 MB/s (read) and 133MBs (write).
In real-world gaming, this means Rocket League can get 30 frames-per-second (FPS) when set to "performance" for graphics at 1152 x864 resolution. Side scroller action games like Bro Force or Fury Unleashed can hit 30 FPS or even 60 FPS, respectively. Meanwhile, Ori and the Will of the Wisps struggles at 10 FPS making it unplayable no matter the resolution. Ironically, while the Surface Pro X cannot play modern x64-bit video games, it will trounce Surface Go on 32-bit x86 ones due to its much more powerful GPU.
Under continued usage, the CPU hovers nicely at 2.0GHz (Intel XTU) with no drops due to thermal throttling (there is power limit throttling (PLT), which refers to how warm Surface Go 2's chassis gets, but this is standard). While the Core m3 is capable of turbo to 3.4GHz, that is only for short bursts. The Surface Go with Pentium 4415Y, however, would only hit 1.6GHz sustained, giving the Core m3 a nice 400Hz bump in overall performance for prolonged CPU-intensive tasks.
The most interesting (and complicated) metric is battery life. Despite the massive jump in performance, the Core m3 uses slightly less power than the Pentium Gold. That means battery life is not impaired from a much faster processor – a rare result. That's not to say battery life is outstanding – real-world usage pegs it at around 7 hours using typical display brightness. That number can shift to just five hours on the low-end up to eight hours if using battery saver mode. While more battery would have been nice, I found the result satisfactory, but underwhelming.
For synthetic benchmarks, PCMark 10's battery test dubbed "Modern Office" loops between productivity applications, web browsing, and video conferencing with small breaks in between to simulate everyday usage. The results may surprise some with Surface Go 2 beating the Surface Go by just over an hour (both PCs had display brightness set to 45 percent). But the reasoning is sound: The Core m3 uses 1-watt less power than the Pentium Gold processor, and it can idle at lower speeds (1.1GHz vs. 1.7GHz), which overtime pays off.
PCMark 10 Battery (Modern Office)
|Surface Go 2||7 hours, 32 minutes||20 percent left|
|Surface Go||6 hours, 20 minutes||20 percent left|
Recharging is also a breeze with the ultra-portable 24-watt charger, which is small enough to fit snugly in your front jeans pocket. Surface Go 2 does support quick charge (and you can use any Surface charger, even if it has more wattage) with the ability to replenish 80 percent of the battery in just over an hour.
Optional 4G LTE (+$100) had no connectivity issues whatsoever and is extremely reliable. The "Surface Mobile Broadband" modem is carrier unlocked. It supports global brands including T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint in the U.S. Speeds were on par with the Surface Pro X. LTE is an intriguing add-on value for Surface Go 2 letting you use the tiny PC anywhere in the world regardless of Wi-Fi. For those planning to use the Surface Go 2 regularly, the addition of LTE is encouraged.
Even if you do not opt for LTE, the new Intel AX200 with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 is welcomed over the previous Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1.
There is an improved Instant On with Surface Go 2. The PC can turn on and log into Windows 10 in just three seconds, letting it behave more like a smartphone. After six hours of idling on battery, the laptop goes into a proper hibernate (changeable under advanced power settings).
Finally, because the Core m3 is a fanless processor, there is no excessive heat with Surface Go 2. Temperatures rarely went above 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), which is well below what most laptops get on their top decks.
When and where
Microsoft Surface Go 2 pricing and availability
The Surface Go 2 is now available in these markets, following its May 12 release:
- United States
- New Zealand
Surface Go 2 will also be launching in several more markets in the coming weeks, starting with China on June 2. On June 18, Surface Go 2 will launch in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, before also launching in Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and India on July 14. Microsoft will also be launching Surface Go 2 in Mexico and South Africa, new markets for Surface, on August 25.
Multiple configurations and price points are depending on the consumer (Windows 10 Home in S-Mode) or business (Windows 10 Pro in S-Mode) SKUs:
Surface Go 2 Consumer
|Intel Pentium GOLD 4425Y, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC||$399|
|Intel Pentium GOLD 4425Y, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD||$549|
|Intel Core m3-8100Y, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD||$629|
|Intel Core m3-8100Y, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, LTE||$729|
Surface Go 2 Commercial
Commercial customers have even more configurations to choose from, such as a Core m3 model with just 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Commercial SKUs also come with Windows 10 Pro instead of Windows 10 Home in S mode:
|Intel Pentium GOLD 4425Y, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC||$449|
|Intel Core m3-8100Y, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC||$499|
|Intel Core m3-8100Y, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD||$679|
|Intel Core m3-8100Y, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, LTE||$779|
|Intel Core m3-8100Y, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, LTE||$879|
So much more fun
Microsoft Surface Go 2: As good as it gets
There are multiple ways to evaluate the Surface Go 2 and whether it is a smash hit or just an overpriced mini PC.
Compared to the original Surface Go, Surface Go 2 (Core m3) is an enormous improvement thanks to that larger display, smaller bezels, improved Instant On, and a much faster processor. You'll need to grab the $629 model to see that difference versus the $400 one, but if you are using this device hours a day, it is absolutely worth it. You get nearly double the performance, and yet do not sacrifice battery life. With this configuration, the Surface Go 2 feels like a real PC now.
Another way to look at Surface Go 2 is comparatively to other Windows laptops. Here, Microsoft wins by default. There is no other tablet PC this size that does this much. Assuming you want a 10.5-inch tablet PC that supports inking has excellent audio, a fully-articulating kickstand, microSD expansion, optional LTE, Windows Hello, all in a package that weighs just 1.2lbs (544g). It's actually an incredible machine making it ideal for students, professionals, business use, and journalists (especially if Surface Pro X is out of your price range).
But the Surface Go 2 also exists in the bigger world of Apple iPads – which device is better depends on your work style and goals. The Surface Go 2 is, at its heart, a real PC that can be docked and turned into a decently performing desktop one. The iPad is a tablet that is slowly getting better as a "real" PC but still falls short in some areas. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
What Surface Go 2 proves, unfortunately, is Microsoft may have hit a wall in design and performance. There is no way to make such a PC better (read: faster) without dramatically increasing its cost. While the Core m3 is a massive improvement in Surface Go 2, it is still a two-year-old processor – a dual-core throwback in a world of octa-core silicon. I can't spin that as a positive; it's frankly sad.
Battery life, performance, costs – these are still massive challenges for Windows 10 PCs when competing against Apple that the Surface Go 2 does not, unfortunately, solve. The needle has moved significantly, but things like longer battery life and octa-core CPUs are desperately needed in this category.
That Intel problem is not Microsoft's fault, but it is not clear what else can be done with Surface Go save for some new, low-cost/high-performance processor technologies. One does wonder, however, how the Snapdragon 7c or 8c would have compared. It is a bit bewildering that Microsoft did not make this an ARM PC.
Should anyone buy the Surface Go 2 with Pentium Gold? Sure. If you plan to use the Surface Go 2 as a companion PC to be used only occasionally in addition to your regular desktop PC or laptop. The Pentium Gold chip is OK for web browsing, email, and even light games. But if your goal is to use the Surface Go 2 habitually, the Core m3 version is preferred every time. It's not just slightly faster, it's massively so, and you get the right amount of RAM and storage capacity.
The bottom line is Surface Go 2 is the best Microsoft could have done in this form factor, and it addressed most of the original Surface Go's criticisms. I genuinely enjoy using Surface Go 2, and I could easily imagine taking it on a hike or out for the weekend when I do not need a full laptop. The performance and 4G LTE let me use it anywhere without getting frustrated, and it's still just really cool. I get why Surface Go has its fans - there is nothing else like it around. But for a Surface Go 3, I'd like to see more revolution than evolution in regards to battery and performance.
Nothing else like it
Surface Go 2 gets a much-improved processor that finally delivers on speed, but without making battery life worse. Thinner bezels and a larger display go a long way to improve usability. With options for 4G LTE and a premium build, there is still nothing like Surface Go. Unfortunately, battery life and a small price bump demonstrate the limits in this category for Windows laptops.
You need this too
The best keyboard around
Microsoft's official Surface Go Type Cover v2 adds a small magnet to keep it closed and re-arranges the functions keys, but it is still the best and practically required accessory for Surface Go 2.
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.
Thx for this full written review. Very complete. A summary video I like, too. Your tone of voice, hearing, gives also fast some info.
The Surface Go 2 is just like the Baby Yoda of the Surface family. Very nice photo. Looks like this will be a good Christmas Present.
Great review. 7 hours isn't bad at all - but I'd have liked to hear more about alternative charging options. My Surface 3 (just barely) charged with a smartphone battery pack, and it was very useful as I'm (usually) a train commuter and need to get work done on the train.
> My Surface 3 (just barely) charged with a smartphone battery pack There are several things, I have discovered trying to keep my Surface 3 powered on the go. If your battery pack is USB-A it needs to be capable of giving out 2A and you need original Surface 3 cable (with the LED on the micro-USB side). Alternatively, you can invest into USB-C-PD battery pack and use USB-C-to-microUSB cable. Either of these approaches gave me 2A of charging which is still lower that what you get from the wall (2.3A), but pretty useful.
For Go 2 since it supports PD, you can easily charge it with any portable Type-C battery bank so long as the output is at least 24W (I have ones that hit 100W for Type-C). You don't need to worry about the upper limit, but with at least 24W you can recharge, and use Go 2.
> so long as the output is at least 24W Interesting number -- is 9V a minimum voltage for PD charging on this device? That would be seriously bad... can you, by any chance confirm?
I haven't got my Go 2 yet, but from my experience with first Go, any PD power bank will work. If you have 18W one, you can prolong the usage but the battery level barely move. I also have 27W Anker and 30W Morphie, both are charging even faster than the 24W power brick. 20.000mAh power bank will basically charge the Go twice.
Awesome - thanks for all the helpful replies. The old m3 chip + 7 hours + any old battery pack for charging in a pinch sounds like a great package. If I were in college and starting from scratch (and kind of poor), I think I'd get the m3, a used old Go keyboard and a used Surface Pen, and I'd use whatever battery pack I'd have as backup.
> any old battery pack for charging From few replies around this thread, it sounds like you would not be able to charge it from anything less than 9V-capable PD battery pack. Those things are *not* "any old battery pack" -- the latter is, most likely, limited to 5V.
you can occasionally grab Gen one black keyboards fairly cheap (amazon). I bought mine for 48 US dollars. It has an odd bend in the frame so I got them to knock off an additional 10 bucks with a bit of haggling.
One thing I noticed is that scrolling in Edgeium doesn't look as smooth as on my i3 Pro 7. I wonder if it's more of a screen refresh issue than a Chrome/m3 problem.
Switched over to Firefox and scrolling is much better than on Chrome/Edge. Unfortunately, Firefox is a battery killer. We'll see how this goes.
perhaps old / non-beta Edge? (I currently use that on my old pro for touch)
I tried that and I was surprised that scrolling wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. That is why I wonder if it has to do more with the screen than the browser. Touch scrolling on Firefox is much slower than the other browsers I use so I'm thinking that's why I don't notice it as much.
For me, Pentium version with LTE would have been a perfect replacement for my LTE Surface 3. I guess Microsoft doesn't think that price-conscious people will be interested in LTE...
Very few people are interested in LTE at all, that is why you see so few machine with it.
Decent upgrade for people who are still using surface pro 1 ,surface pro 2 .
I'm wondering if it would be an upgrade performance wise to my i5 SP4...?
Not worth it if you see the benchmark chart above. You are not getting anything more in surface go2 from pro 4 except more portable formfactor. Wait for surface pro 7 i5 deals at the end of the year or snap surface pro 6 if you are getting good deal on it.
I love mine. It's much smoother than my mid-model SG1 and i'm surprised how much bigger the screen feels. That said, it can't get much better or my thumb would be constantly touching the screen. I use the SG2 95% in portrait mode. I have not, however, been able to connect to Verizon. The VZW guy said it was not compatible with the network. :(
"I have not, however, been able to connect to Verizon. The VZW guy said it was not compatible with the network. :("He's wrong. I use Verizon myself and used it for this review. You just need a data SIM from them - you could tell them it's for another device e.g. Surface Pro with LTE, or original Go with LTE. For some reason, they often ask "what device" so they can enter it in their system, but it doesn't matter on the backend.
Good idea. So i'll drop the esim and just head straight to a physica sim. Thank you!!
Microsoft should eliminate i3 version of surface pro series if they can't bundle 8 gb of ram with it. let next surface go take up that space with 11 inch screen & best available battery friendly processor like future lakefield processor that gonna power surface neo which looks like it will sit between m3 & core i3 10th generation based on early benchmarks. Next time Surface pro 8 & surface go 3 should launch simultaneously just like 11 inch & 12.9 inch iPad pros.
This would make more sense yeah. I would launch Pro and Go at the same time like you mentioned and Book and Laptop at the same time. Maybe they will keep a i3 4gb ram model for companies though.
Great review! Do you think the next Go 3 could be powered by Intel Lakefield? That seems like the next logical choice, but I'm not sure if that is a cost-effective solution considering that all announced Lakefield devices are high-end dual display/foldable laptop.
Maybe. Depends on pricing of Lakefield, which I heard is more competitive against Snapdragon 8cx in performance and price, which means it's not this affordable. How Intel positions itself in this market for 2021 is going to be very interesting. It needs to do more than a 2-year-old dual-core chip, that's for sure.
Dan any possibility of an AMD solution for the "Go" 3? I understand why AMD was left out of this year's series of devices, too much uncertainty. However now that we're seeing actual performance and battery life of the new chips, AMD would cost less also right?
I think there is a higher chance for an amd cpu in a Pro or Book since they only offer u and h cores so far for laptops (no m or Pentium variants, which use less power). But who knows. Concerning costs they should be slightly less expensive but they (/MS) would have to redesign the mobo which can be costly.
WC is the go to review as always, no pun intended. Waiting for mine to arrive in the mail. I have all types of Surface devices, but SG LTE is the one I carry when commuting to work. Now with instant on and slightly longer battery life and quick charge, faster chip and larger screen, I think it will make huge difference...once the NYC subways are safe to ride again.
Nice, congrats! The responsiveness now is just so much better, it's hard not to like it.
The "old" Go wasn't THAT bad. That's not to say to "new" isn't better BTW.
Great review. I'd love to have a 256GB Go2 + LTE. I believe that's a business config. But it would let me be completely mobile for all my work in a pinch.
I wonder why can't amd provide mobile processor like core m3 in 2020 with at least instant on & above average battery efficiency ? Intel is handicapping low end windows tablets potential with outdated recycled processors like Pentium version powering surface go 2 which is almost same as the processor which powerd surface go 1 in 2018. Isn't it shameful even after 2 years budget windows tablets don't get performance bump that they deserve. What's worrying is competition is moving at rapid pace in both software & hardware department. Apple's 329$ 7 th gen 10.2inch iPad is faster than 399$ surface go 2 . 3rd gen iPad mini 7.9 inch & 3rd gen iPad Air 10.5 inch start's at 399$ & 499$ respectively . they are powerd by a12 bionic processors which according to benchmark are faster than core m3 surface go 2 as well as core i3 surface pro 7. This is why windows on arm is so important. If Qualcomm like apple can provide uncompromised performance between 300$ to 800$ market & Microsoft delivers better tablet os in form of windows 10x than it would be game changer for windows tablet market.
I'm still not completely convinced about comparing benchmarks on full windows vs. the mobile based iOS systems. Apple claims the bionic chips are faster than the core processors, but they are not running macOS on them yet (why the long delay if the hardware is so superior??). When the bionic chips are running macOS, then we can do a true comparison between the underlying hardware when both are running desktop class OSes. For now, comparing benchmarks of Apple's chips to Intel's core chips when one is running a mobile OS and the other is running true desktop grade OS is not balanced.
That's true. but if benchmarks of Qualcomm sq1 on windows gives any indication then Apple's performance claims hold some water.
Yes, but observe that the SQ1 is only superior in multi-core benchmarks. Despite the 'old' core design, it still outperforms the SQ1 in single-core performance. Obviously, putting the same number of cores (e.g. say 8-core Ryzen or similar) against similar number of arm cores will be a completely different outcome. Power consumption envelope will then be the decisive factor. I am looking forward to Ryzen coming to low power chips where many low power x86 cores can compete with the same number of arm cores.
Sq1 single core score is same as score of Snapdragon 855/855+ on Android.
Qualcomm's single core performance is not that strong but they make up with multicore performance, power consumption & beefy gpu. unfortunately software compatibility & performance loss due to emulation is big hurdle for them to pass on windows on arm platform.
And also seem to be expensive too (or woa laptops are overpriced, or both probably). Intel m is also to expensive for that matter. U (both Ryzen and Intel) seem to be better bang for buck (unless one needs lte etc).
"I wonder why can't amd provide mobile processor "Few reasons: Cheaper CPUs = thinner profit margins There are not a lot of low-end PCs/tablets right now AMD could, and maybe they will, but let's be happy they're doing Ryzen 4000 Mobile U right now (the company told me 2 years ago they were server/desktop gaming focused, not laptops, things change) Of course, I'd love to see AMD jump in here, but right now, they are AWOL. I think they're more focused on getting 4000-U adopted, then maybe can go down further. They're totally capable.
Apple's does not seem to make profit on the regular ipads itself (more from the ecosystem and services) and they make their own CPU's which saves them license costs. Hence why I think qualcomm cPU's will not be able to compete + woa vs ipads.
I’m loving mine it was a little pricy but I have a purpose for it I’m a ham radio operator and I had a surface 3 10” a while back for running digital in the field
7 hours of use on LTE isn’t horrible and compared to my SG1 (no LTE) which gets about 5hrs, it’s s a sizeable difference and would cover my typical work day. I’ve been waiting for more reviews to see what the battery is like before upgrading.
Hey Dan, I know your hark against the Pentium model but to replace son's Acer S10032 rock'n Atom Z8350 and 2GB of RAM... the Pentium should be a pretty decent upgrade. My one question is how's the battery draw of the Pentium compared to m3 since the Pentium doesn't throttle at all.
Pentium is definitely an upgrade over Atom, which is accurate. re: battery life, I expect it to be around 5-6 hours depending on display brightness, network usage, and GPU usage. Basically, it'll be similar to the Surface Go 1, you just get faster SSD (if you get that instead of eMMC) and the larger display/thinner bezel.
But to make the Surface Go 2 worthwhile it's nowhere near the 400 dollar price, it's much closer to the low end Surface Pro 7 price. Which is still more powerful.
But that low end surface pro has only 4 gb ram (I agree though that the m core is to expensive, but Intel is probably mostly to be blamed for that).
Intel is largely at blame here. I wished that Microsoft just went with Snapdragon 7cx if that is already available without issues. I guess that SoC would be cheaper, will have LTE and gives better battery life while giving decent performance. Only caveat with ARM is that some non-ARM-native Win32 apps may not work well if not at all, especially 64-bit only apps. Though this is a Surface Go series of devices, which should not be given expectation that it is meant for powerhouse tablet.
The only conclusion from all "Go complaints" is that Microsoft need to make a 10-10.5" model named "Surface Pro C" or "Surface Pro G" with the same CPU as a Surface Pro (i.e. i5 or something) in the Business SKUs. It is pretty evident that there's a customer group who would like a smaller Pro without trading performance for size. It also means that every Go released won't be up to that standard since... it's a Go and not a Pro. The best option for the next generation (according to those demands) would be: 1. Surface Go 3. Windows 10X "for single screens", Snapdragon 8c or newer, 4-8GB RAM, 64-128GB storage. Those SKUs replace the current Pentium Gold Go:s. LTE standard.
2. Surface Pro C. A smaller Surface Pro with similar size as the Go but sporting a Pro chassis and have the same Intel (or AMD) CPU as a similar Surface Pro 8, 8GB RAM, 128-256GB SSD and optional LTE (also provided on the Pro 8). Windows 10 Pro preinstalled (consumer models with 10 Home S could be offered). It would take care of those performance complaints that have followed the original Go and the Go 2. It is logical to assume that the Go 3 will be a flagship device for the new system since Microsoft announced Windows 10X for single-screen PCs, while the Go 2 is a typical "mid-life upgrade" reusing as much of the original Go components as possible (simplified manufacturing and lower cost) . Launching next year after the Pro 8 would eliminate the current risk of internal competition between the LTE-less Pro 7 and the Go 2 LTE, which I feel is an issue that affect the strategical decisions regarding the two product lines. I have a strong feeling that Go 2 will be a "stop-gap" measure until Go 3 arrives and that we will see a "Pro C" version with a low-powered i5 in the "Business" models, thus splitting the line into the consumer centric "light computing" Go 3 and the "lightweight professional PC with LTE" for those looking for a light, compact Pro.
One option #1 please! Oh, actuaclly make it three
I have a hunch that the fact that a Go with the same processing power as a Pro doesn't exist currently means it isn't possible (or at least practical) in a form factor that small. My guess is that the higher end processors might run too hot in that size case or the battery life would be unreasonably bad.
A smaller Pro could work but I think it would have to be a thicc boi to handle that heat or perhaps actively cooled for i3/i5 models and no i7 model.
The larger screen/battery of Go 2, at least with M3, has a lot of use cases including front line workers, teachers, students, and government workers. Do wish they'd have ditched the Pentium and eMMC altogether though, and went with four configurations: M3 4GB SSD Wi-fi or LTE, and M3 8GB SSD Wi-fi or LTE. And although they may have played out their options on the processor, I think they could go a long way improving the experience by making a slim pen/keyboard accessory for it. This device is the perfect size for sketching and notetaking. Such an accessory would make it much more appealing to me.
I love my current go with 4gb of RAM and 128SSD. its the perfect combo. I feel the M3 With 4gb RAM would be in the sweet spot of price.
My Surface Go 1 is about a year and half old. I absolutely love my Go. I also have a HP Spectre. You call the Go with a Pentium a "companion" PC, but the reality is, when home, device usage goes from most use to least use in the order Go, Spectre, iPhone 8. When out an about I use my phone. When at a hotel, I use the Go. So, somehow the Go has become my most used device. The HP Spectre has turned into the "companion" for Visual Studio and music production. I have also been able to record and do music editing on the Go. I am so tempted to get the Go 2, but I have self imposed rules about how long to hold onto electronics before replacing. $629 for the m3 though seems hard to justify when I'm pretty happy with Go 1. My wife said go ahead and get it :-). Hmmm I did have a question. How do you replace a battery on Go 1 or Go 2? My self-imposed rule is 3 years for a tablet. If I stick to my guns, I might have to replace the battery in that time frame. But I think when my Go 1 hits 3 years old, the Go 3 will be out with 10X. I will not hesitate a nano-second on getting that one.
"Go 3 will be out with 10X. I will not hesitate a nano-second on getting that one."
Same, but only if it has an audio jack, no proprietary ports and slimmer chassis and bezels.
" How do you replace a battery on Go 1 or Go 2? "AFAIK, there is now way, which is a shame. Microsoft may be able to do something but cracking that bad boy open is probably not trivial.
Thanks for the response Daniel. I took a close look at my Go 1 and there is not a single exposed screw. When I owned my Lumia 950, I was pretty pleased that the battery was easily replaceable (which I did once during the three years I used it). The m3 coming in at $629, I would expect to be able to change the battery to extend its life. Isn't there some e-waste environmental regulation that requires these type of devices have replaceable batteries?
No idea. They are shifting to serviceable Surfaces (see Laptop 3, Pro X), but they need to redo the chassis to make that happen. Maybe next version.
iFixit's latest teardown of the Surface Go 2 indicates that its easier to open than the first one, but it still comes out with a repairability score of just 3.
I think the Surface line reached its maximum potential 2 years ago. Every Surface is full of compromises that they are justifying with gimmicks nobody asked for, and for some unknown reason to me, Microsoft is acting like they've nailed it and there is no room for improvement anymore. They got lazy and greedy, which is the worst combination in consumer space. Duo and Neo are just two mini tablets sticked together and that's all. And that's why they are with uncertain future even for MS. As PT and MJF said Go 3 is probably expected to run 10X, but if it's not ARM this time, it's going to be DoA. This Go 2 brings literally nothing on the table and is not worth a single cent of the pretty much same price as the previous gen. To summarize the long-*ss, but carefully composed and well writen article - Save your money.
Besides the fact that there is no wow factor that truly differentiates SG2 from iOS or Android equivalents (like a slim pen/kb accessory or at least a pen garage in the device itself or an ARM variant), the real thing I think they dropped the ball on was price. The M3 is too big a price bump. Should be: * M3/4GB/128GB SSD - $449
* M3/4GB/128GB SSD + LTE - $499
* M3/8GB/128 GB SSD - $549
* M3/8GB/128 GB SSD + LTE - $599 One could stomach those prices knowing they still need to cough up $129 more for the keyboard and $99 for the pen, even when compared to the superior performing, superior ecosystem, iPad $329. At those prices & specs I think SG2 would sell really well in education and enterprise. Even if it was a slim profit margin, Microsoft would more than make it up in increased services sales in Office 365, Skype plans, One Drive plans, and increased advertising revenue via Edge/Bing uptake. The more Surfaces they can embed in the enterprise too only means an increased chance their IT department chooses Azure over AWS or GCP. It's also a leader item for Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, Surface Book, Surface Headphone sales. Such a strategy is basically no different than product placement on the new Magnum PI. Really don't know why Microsoft had to charge such a premium for M3?
"Really don't know why Microsoft had to charge such a premium for M3?"
I told you why. Because they are lazy and greedy.
"Really don't know why Microsoft had to charge such a premium for M3?", MS does not price the m3 so high, that is Intel.
"The Surface Go with Pentium 7714Y, however, would only hit 1.6GHz sustained, giving the Core m3 a nice 400Hz bump in overall performance for prolonged CPU-intensive tasks." Where did Pentium 7714Y come from, that's an awesome typo. 😉
Love my Surface Go. I think its a huge mistake for Microsoft to limit configurations sold to consumers. Feels like they are intentionally profiteering. The Core i3 model for $499 would get sales like crazy. Microsoft should know that consumers are more price sensitive than business. In fact I'd upgrade if this was available to me.
There are no Core i3 low-end PCs for a reason. That chip as expensive as an i5, or any Core processor. To hit $499 and core i3 you'd have to ditch quality speakers, inking/touch display, SSD, Windows Hello, maybe the rear camera, micro SD.
" Feels like they are intentionally profiteering."If by "they" you mean Intel, sure. If you mean Microsoft, then no. It's Intel who sets the chip offerings and pricing, Microsoft is their customer. That's the whole argument I make in the conclusion, because it's true. It's smart for MS to add Core m3, but it bumped the price up as a result - I've been saying that would happen for years now were they to go that route. This stuff isn't free. You can't just have a premium 10.5-inch tablet AND a premium processor AND price it so Microsoft makes no money on it. What's the reason then for the investment? But, again, despite the flaws in Surface Go 1/2 there is literally nothing else in the PC space that comes to matching it for features and design. And iPad is an option, for some, right up until you're buying this because you need/want a full OS/Windows 10. (I hate how reviewers just equate the two, as if there is no difference in usage/need).
I dont know what you are talking about unless the chart on your screen is wrong. The pricing chart shows a core i3 model available to businesses for $499.
Same config and price should be made available to consumers.
The chart shows a core m3
This is a great write-up. This makes me want to upgrade. I really like my SG1 for what it is, but admittedly it's not my primary device. My biggest gripe with the SG1 is the battery life (but it doesn't sound like that improves all that much).
Looking for some advice, because I never seem to get an exact answer from Best Buy or Microsoft. I'm looking around for something smaller then always being in the basement with the Desktop. I mainly use the computer for browsing (multiple tabs open) and iTunes (yes I'm old school and still like to use the iPod as the main music listening device separate from phone). The old Dell laptop I have is terrible and can barely open web pages but I feel that may be due to 4gb ram and hdd. So for my use would the pentium with the 8gb suffice for my needs or is sucking it up and spending on the M3 the way to go? I have also looked at the pavillion and envy x360 and yoga, but really have an affinity for the Surface Go 2 from the looks of it. Sorry for the book but any advice would be great!
Pentium is not worth it in 2020. It's better to invest in future proof product. Surface go 2 core m3 is worth it imo. Other alternative can be surface pro 6 core i5 version if you able to get good deal . If you don't want surface then make sure you buy 8th gen core i series or upwards product.
Thanks! Appreciate the help!
Hey Daniel, I would love to see a review between the Go 2 and Pro X. I have a feeling, performance wise they are not that far apart. How would you compare the 2 from your personal experience?
Great review Dan, thank you so much! I will most likely be picking up the business version of the Go 2 with the 256GB of storage. I have a Pro 7 with 128GB and honestly think that the least amount for any Windows machine should be 256GB. Once I am on the go again I think this will be a perfect device with LTE and just pair it with the Surface Earbuds.
I just got my Go 2 earlier today and have been comparing it to my iPad Pro 11 --especially the keyboards ( SGo Type Cover and iPad Pro Folio Keyboard specifically), for two devices that are essentially the same width, Apple has better key spacing which makes and easier typing experience. The rows are slightly more spaced on the iPad keyboard; the QWERY row a bit wider spaced than on the Surface cover. The surface cover has more symmetry with, for example, R evenly split above D and F, while the iPad cover lets R be 2/3 over F and only slightly over D, so it keeps the same general key spacings as all other Apple keyboards (and as far as I can find from the various keyboards around me, all other keyboards including the onscreen keyboard found on the Surface!)
FINALLY! A really solid performing device with the M3 chip. I only wonder why Microsoft didn't use the M3 chip in the Surface Go (and Surface 3) a long time ago. I think the M3 chip is amazing. It's been underrated for a long time. I've purchased many Surface Pro M3 devices (for our company) over the last several years and found the M3 chip to always perform above expectations. It's dependable and awesome for what it is. This M3 device grants a smooth experience for standard computing tasks such as Excel, Word, and multiple tabs in your browser as well as using Outlook, etc. No stutter, it just works solidly, dependably, quickly. I like it. VERDICT: The Surface Go 2 is a solid performer, period. I purchased the Surface Go 2, M3, 8GB, 256GB, LTE device. I'm ready to travel and handle I.T. issues from anywhere I travel.
"The keyboard backlight key moved from F7 to F1 and so on for play/pause, volume, and mute keys, etc. These have no real impact on usability." I believe it would impact the usability for many people, myself included.
In a completely dark room, I always have trouble finding the backlight key that is on F7 on the Surface Book 2, the only tactile feedback is to find the bump on the "J" key and travel that column diagonally to the F7 key.
Having the backlight on F1 would make it much easier to find when in the dark, which is precisely when that key is useful.
Right and there are also 2 bumps I believe now on 2 of the center function keys to make it easier to find next group of functions.
the new core M3 Surface 2 specs show it to be a great Basic portable PC For Business folks.
average folks, & students who do not need to do Computer aided design programs or intensive
HDTV/4k Video editing. I will buy the Core M3 model for my travel Computer. Like most folks
I wanted the 1st Surface Go to have a core M3 model. Now that the Core M3 CPU is in the
Surface Go with LTE . it's a Hot Rod ultra portable PC Damn hard to beat
I jump between a macbook w/ VM's, and iPad Pro 11 ...and now this Go. So far, really happy. Win10 has done a lot to make that Pen a useful add-on; I was just able to connect the Go to my USB-C/Thunder bolt monitor (the trick appears to have been to use a USB C Cable ant NOT a thunderbolt cable), and now have a pretty good WFH setup. I know I won't be doing VM's here, but I don't see major slowdowns yet between browsing, mail, remote connections, teams, and powershell. Seems like a pretty good win that's already showing itself with advantages over the iPad Pro.
I bet my 2003 Surface Pro (one) still beats this GoToo device…!
No, the Surface Go 2 with Core m3 processor is faster and better than the 2013 Surface Pro in every way.
My SP1 smokes the $400 SG2 in any aspect....Do you want to bet...?
So I received my surface go 2 last week, with the LTE. It’s working great overall, however when re-booting (black screen), I see some notable and focal light leakage on the top left side of the screen. When I press on it, it seems to go away...I also noted the entire top center of of the screen, the camera area, has some give. When I press even gently on it, you get transient light leakage from various areas of the top. I am inclined to think this is not within normal, and am thinking about returning. Anyone else experience this?
Is Office Mobile free for that device too? I mean, GO 2 is 10,5"
Great and detailed review, Dan. For the layman, there is no difference in the pen, but for the artist there is. Microsoft has done alot of work in the last year to improve MPP. Most noticeably, the usual slow line jitter in MPP has been drastically reduced versus last year, both in the SP7 and now the SG2. Other manufacturers using MPP, like HP, aren't much better at inking than an old SP4.
Dan I'm asking you because you seem to knkw everything there is about Windows! What exactly is happening with Windows S or Lite or whatever the heck it's called now? I haven't heard a single thinf about it.
Great review! I've had my Surface Go 2 for a week and a half and love it! One performance-related thing -- I decided to uninstall cloud apps (OneDrive and GoogleDrive) because they were a drag on performance and battery life. I would love "all day" battery life, but this is close enough. As with other Surface devices, the performance setting makes a huge difference and if I can with the "best battery life" setting, then it is all-day. But applications I use often need better performance than that. I'm very happy with this computer, though -- amazing what such a little device can do!
Great review, I love the detail and work you put into it. However you made a comment about the Core m3 in the Surface Go 2 being a a few years old. To me (and probably most people) the word "few" means three. The Core m3 8100-y didn't find it's way into computers until late 2018 which would make it closer to a year and half old. Not a big deal but some people might be turned off thinking that Microsoft literally put a three year old m3 processor into the Surface Go 2 which just isn't the case. Overall this was probably the best review I've read about the Surface Go 2, keep up the great work.
Is the mircoSD reader the same as on the GO 1? Trying to determine if the higher speeds of U3 cards would be usable on the GO2 with the SSD. It would be great to update your microSD tests from the GO 1 on the GO 2 with the m3 and SSD.
Are there any cases that doesn't impede the ability of the keyboard to attach reversed and fold flush with the back for tablet mode?
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