Is the Surface Laptop 2 good for gaming?

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

Is the Surface Laptop 2 good for gaming?

Best answer: Yes, but only for older, less-intensive games from Windows' extensive back catalog. As long as you're willing to compromise there, the Laptop 2 makes for a great portable gaming device.Amazon: Surface Laptop 2 ($1,245+)Microsoft: Surface Laptop 2 ($1,000+)

Saved by Windows' back catalog

The Surface Laptop 2 isn't the most powerful laptop out there, and it certainly isn't built, nor marketed, as a gaming device, and that's for a good reason. That said, Windows carries with it decades of great gaming legacy content, making the Laptop 2 a perfectly viable portable games device if you're willing to compromise.

The Laptop 2 doesn't sport a dedicated GPU that would help it achieve more gaming power. Instead, it had an integrated Intel UHD 620 chip, which is designed around a stable UI experience, media, and light graphics. As such, you won't be able to play the latest photorealistic intensive games like Battlefield V using this laptop, but there are hundreds of quality classic and even modern titles that are designed to run on more modest systems.

Well-optimized contemporary games with stylized art like Fortnite, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and League of Legends run fairly well on the Surface Laptop 2, as long as you're willing to play on low to medium settings with a decreased display resolution. PC distribution platforms like Steam carry hundreds of titles designed to run on outdated or underpowered Windows hardware, which the Surface Laptop 2 should have no trouble running — particularly if it's from the OG Xbox or Xbox 360 era. The touch screen on the Surface Laptop 2 even lends itself well to some touch-optimized titles like Hearthstone and Civilization, and of course, there are plenty of casual games like Candy Crush available in the Microsoft Store if that's your bag.

But which configuration should you buy?

The Surface Laptop 2 comes with both quad-core i5 and i7 processor options, with 8 GB and 16 GB RAM configurations. The SSDs should also provide fast loading times across the board, but game file sizes can be a little on the large side, so you may want to avoid the 128 GB SSD storage model and go for something higher.

When it comes to processors, unless it's a particularly CPU-intensive game like World of Warcraft, you probably won't notice a great deal of difference in performance between the i5 and i7 models. However, you should try and go for the 16GB RAM version if you can afford it, as it will vastly increase the amount of playable titles available to you via Steam and other PC stores.

Sadly, the Surface Laptop 2 doesn't come with an external GPU option as the USB-C ports are not Thunderbolt 3-capable. If you want a sleek, portable laptop that does come with an eGPU option via Thunderbolt 3 for more serious gaming juice, you might want to consider the Razer Stealth Laptop instead.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!