Surface Go 3 specs: Will new Intel processors be the difference maker?

Surface Go
Surface Go (Image credit: Microsoft)

At the recent Microsoft Surface 2021 event, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Go 3, the third iteration of the ultra-portable tablet that has been shaking up the industry ever since the original was released in 2018. Thanks to its tiny 10-inch size and low price tag, the Surface Go line has been hugely beneficial for students, budget buyers, and people who need a device that's extremely easy to carry.

Something that a lot of people don't like about the Surface Go and Surface Go 2, however, is how limited its performance capabilities are. The Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y and 4425Y processors that the base models of previous Surface Go devices shipped with just weren't powerful enough to provide an ideal user experience. The Surface Go 2's optional Intel Core m3-8100Y helped, but the device's performance still felt dated compared to many competing convertible laptops. This was somewhat expected given the Surface Go's tiny chassis and rock-bottom price range, but it was still disappointing regardless.

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

With the Surface Go 3, Microsoft has addressed the CPU issues of previous generations by refreshing the Surface Go with two new processor options: the entry-level Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y and a 10th-Gen Intel Core i3-10100Y, both of which are significantly more capable than the Surface Go processors of yesteryear. Other improvements include a small bump to battery life (10 hours to 11 hours) and the presence of Wi-Fi 6, but beyond that, the Surface Go 3 isn't very different from its predecessors. Have a look at the official specs below:

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CategorySurface Go 3
Operating systemWindows 11
Display10.5 inches, 3:2 aspect ratio1920x1280 (220 PPI) resolution
ProcessorIntel Pentium Gold 6500YIntel Core i3-10100Y
Storage64GB eMMC128GB SSD256GB SSD
Expandable storagemicroSD
Surface Pen4,096 levels of pressure, tilt support
Camera5MP front-facing with Windows Hello8MP rear auto-focus
SecurityWindows Hello face sign-in
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax compatible, Bluetooth Wireless 5.0LTE Advanced Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem
Ports1x USB-C, 1x Surface Connect, microSDXC card reader, 3.5mm headphone jack
Audio2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
BatteryUp to 11 hours
Dimensions9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches (245mm x 175mm x 8.3mm)
PriceStarting at $399

The fact that Microsoft isn't making any significant changes to the design of the Surface Go with this latest model may disappoint some, but did the Surface Go need any changes? As my colleague Daniel Rubino noted in his Surface Go 2 review, the design of the device was already impeccable. The issue was that Microsoft couldn't find a way to get more CPU horsepower into the 10-inch chassis, but that problem has now been solved — on paper, at least. We won't know how well the Surface Go 3 performs in practice until we get our hands on it, but all signs point to a significantly faster and smoother user experience.

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

The addition of more battery life and Wi-Fi 6 compatibility are nothing to scoff at, either. Even though these are minor improvements, an extra hour of battery life or a faster and more reliable Wi-Fi experience can be seriously helpful in situations where you're going to be away from a charger for a long time or have sensitive work to do and can't afford to deal with Wi-Fi connection mishaps.

What are your thoughts on the Surface Go 3? Do you think it could end up being one of the best Microsoft Surface PCs, or do you think that Microsoft should be doing more with this new version of the device? Let us know. Notably, Surface Go 3 preorders are now available with a starting price of $399.

Brendan Lowry

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.