Best for schools

Surface Laptop SE

Surface Laptop SE

Best for individuals

Surface Go 3

Surface Go 3 Reco

Schools looking to buy devices in bulk should opt for the Surface Laptop SE, as it's capable enough to handle schoolwork, features excellent battery life, and is priced at a rock-bottom $250 per unit. However, it doesn't have a touchscreen, and the laptop is also not powerful enough to handle anything beyond simple homework tasks.

$250 at Microsoft

Pros

  • Capable enough for schoolwork
  • Low-spec performance optimizations
  • Windows 11 SE comes with Microsoft Office
  • Superb battery life
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Only available for schools
  • Not suitable for recreation
  • No touchscreen

The Surface Go 3 is the better choice for individual students, as it's more capable, comes with a touchscreen, is still very affordable, and is actually available to regular consumers. Notably, though, the battery life is a little worse, and the device doesn't come with Microsoft Office preinstalled.

From $400 at Amazon

Pros

  • Available to normal consumers
  • Great for both schoolwork and recreation
  • Full Windows 11 OS
  • Has a touchscreen
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Slightly worse battery life
  • Doesn't come with Microsoft Office

While both of these laptops are excellent, schools looking to buy in bulk should opt for the Surface Laptop SE thanks to its rock-bottom cost, ability to handle schoolwork well, and its excellent battery life. However, individual students who need a new device should get a Surface Go 3 instead. Not only can it handle some recreational activities as well as schoolwork, but it also has a touchscreen and is actually available to regular consumers.

Surface Laptop SE vs. Go 3: Specs and availability

Surface Laptop Se RenderSource: Microsoft

Across the board, the Surface Go 3 is more capable than the Surface Laptop SE in almost every way. It has a better processor, options for a larger SSD, a sharper and more color accurate display (with touch support, no less), an option for LTE connectivity, a microSD card reader, dual microphones, and it even weighs over a full pound less. It's also important to note that the Surface Go 3 is available to all consumers, whereas Microsoft only sells the Surface Laptop SE to education facilities and personnel.

The only advantages the Surface Laptop SE has are its superb 16-hour battery life and its preinstalled Microsoft Office software. These benefits are great for schools that need to buy laptops in bulk, as staff won't need to worry about paying for Microsoft Office or charging the devices much.

Surface Laptop SE Surface Go 3
Operating system Windows 11 SE Windows 11
Display 11.6 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio
1366x768 (135 PPI) resolution
10.5 inches, 3:2 aspect ratio
1920x1280 (220 PPI) resolution
Touch
Processor Intel Celeron N4020 Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y
10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100Y
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
Memory 4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
Storage 64GB eMMC
128GB eMMC
64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
256GB SSD
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2)
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2)
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Snapdragon X16 LTE
Ports 1x USB-A
1x USB-C
1x 3.5mm headphone jack
Barrel-type DC port
1x USB-C
1x Surface Connect
1x 3.5mm headphone jack
1x microSD card reader
1x Nano SIM (LTE models)
Audio Dual 2W stereo speakers
Single digital microphone
Dual 2W stereo speakers
Dual far-field studio mics
Battery Up to 16 hours Up to 11 hours
Dimensions 11.17 x 7.6 x 0.70 inches 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches
Weight 2.45 pounds (1112.4g) Wi-Fi: 1.2 pounds (544g)
LTE: 1.22 pounds (533g)
Price $250 Starts at $400

Conclusion

With all of that said, it's clear that the Surface Laptop SE will be the best choice for schools looking to buy laptops in bulk, while the Surface Go 3 is ideal for individual students who may want something more multipurpose. The Surface Laptop SE's incredibly low cost, fantastic battery life, and preinstalled Microsoft Office applications make it perfect for the classroom, while the Surface Go 3's stronger specs make it a good choice if you want something that's good for schoolwork and recreational activities like watching movies and TV shows. The Surface Go 3's touchscreen also gives it more flexibility, allowing you to use it for drawing as well as educational tasks like notetaking.

For more excellent laptops to consider, review our roundups of the best Windows laptops as well as the best budget laptops available.

Best for schools

Surface Laptop SE

Surface Laptop SE

Full marks

Schools looking to buy devices in bulk should opt for the Surface Laptop SE, as its capable enough to handle schoolwork, features excellent battery life, and is priced at a rock-bottom $250 per unit. However, it doesn't have a touchscreen, and the laptop is also not powerful enough to handle anything beyond simple homework tasks.

Best for individuals

Surface Go 3 Reco

Surface Go 3

The little Surface that could

The Surface Go 3 is the better choice for individual students, as it's more capable, comes with a touchscreen, is still very affordable, and is actually available to regular consumers. Notably, though, the battery life is a little worse, and the device doesn't come with Microsoft Office preinstalled.

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