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

Surface Laptop Go Vs Surface Go
Surface Laptop Go Vs Surface Go (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Surface Laptop Go vs Surface Go 2: tech specs

Comparing the specs side by side, Surface Laptop Go and Surface Go 2 are two very different yet somewhat similar devices.

Surface Laptop GoSurface Go 2
CPUIntel Core i5-1035G1Intel Pentium GOLD 4425Y
Intel Core m3-8100Y
RAM4GB, 8GB, 16GB4GB, 8GB#
Storage64GB eMMC
128GB or 256GB SSD
64GB eMMC
128GB or 256GB SSD
Display12.45-inch 1536x1024 touchscreen10.5-inch 1920x1200 touchscreen
GraphicsIntel® UHD GraphicsIntel® UHD Graphics 615
SecurityWindows Hello fingerprintWindows Hello facial recognition
Pen SupportNoYes
Ports1x USB-A, 1x USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect1x USB-C, Surface Connect, microSD
Dimensions278.18 mm x 205.67 mm x 15.69 mm (10.95" x 8.10" x 0.62")245 mm x 175 mm x 8.3 mm (9.65" x 6.9" x 0.33")
OSWindows 10 Home in S modeWindows 10 Home in S mode
ColorsPlatinum, Sandstone, Ice BluePlatinum

Beautiful design on a budget

Surface Laptop Go Vs Surface Go Top

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

Both the Surface Laptop Go and Surface Go 2 deliver premium hardware design on a budget. Surface Laptop Go features a combination of aluminum and polycarbonate, which feels excellent to hold and is very durable. Surface Go 2 features Microsoft's tried and true magnesium alloy, which is sturdy and premium. Both devices are fantastic from a design perspective.

Surface Laptop Go features a larger display with very thin bezels, at the cost of display clarify and Windows Hello facial recognition. Surface Go 2 has a smaller display, but a much higher resolution one, meaning text and images are crisper, and it retains Windows Hello facial recognition as the bezels aren't as slim.

Laptop vs tablet

Depending on your needs, you might prefer a laptop over a tablet, or vice-versa. Surface Laptop Go is a straight-up laptop, with no quirks and design tricks up its sleeve. It comes with a built-in keyboard and trackpad, both of which are excellent, just like any other laptop. Surface Go 2, on the other hand, is a tablet that can turn into a laptop, meaning you'll need to buy separately sold Type Cover if you want to take advantage of that.

The Surface Laptop Go's keyboard is relatively full-sized, compared to the much smaller and more cramped Surface Go 2's keyboard. But, the keyboard on the Surface Laptop Go isn't backlit, which means you won't be able to see the keys in the dark. Surface Go 2's Type Cover accessory does have a backlight, meaning it lights up at night when you need to type.

Power or portability?

An easy way to choose between Surface Laptop Go, and Surface Go 2 is whether or not you need more power or more portability. If you need more power, the Surface Laptop Go is the one for you, as it features a much more powerful Intel Core i5 processor to boot. The Surface Go 2 starts with an Intel Pentium GOLD processor, which is a low-end chip. You can upgrade it to an Intel Core m3, but that still isn't as powerful as the Intel Core i5 in the Surface Laptop Go.

Both devices can be specced out with the same RAM and storage options, so there's no real comparison to be made there. If you're looking for something more portable, the Surface Go 2 is your best choice as it's smaller and lighter than the Surface Laptop Go. Paired with a Type Cover, the Surface Go 2 becomes a mighty little laptop when you need it.

Cut corners

Surface Laptop Go Plastic

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

Both the Surface Laptop Go and Surface Go 2 are devices that bring premium design to a lower cost, but to achieve that, both make compromises in different ways. The Surface Laptop Go makes these compromises in material, display resolution, and Windows Hello capabilities. For example, Windows Hello is not available on the $549 Surface Laptop Go but is available in the form of a fingerprint reader on models that cost $699 or more.

The Surface Go 2 features a smaller 10.5-inch display and a lower-end Intel Pentium GOLD 4425Y processor in the $399 model. That said, it doesn't cut corners in build quality or Windows Hello support, featuring the full Windows Hello facial recognition on all models, including the $399 model.

If you prefer the traditional clamshell design

If you want a versatile, mini 2-in-1 PC

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.