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Surface Laptop SE vs. Go 3: Which is better for students?

Surface Go
Surface Go (Image credit: Microsoft)

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

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: 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 SESurface Go 3
Operating systemWindows 11 SEWindows 11
Display11.6 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio
1366x768 (135 PPI) resolution
10.5 inches, 3:2 aspect ratio
1920x1280 (220 PPI) resolution
Touch
ProcessorIntel Celeron N4020Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y
10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100Y
GraphicsIntel UHD GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics
Memory4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
Storage64GB eMMC
128GB eMMC
64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
256GB SSD
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2)
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2)
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Snapdragon X16 LTE
Ports1x 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)
AudioDual 2W stereo speakers
Single digital microphone
Dual 2W stereo speakers
Dual far-field studio mics
BatteryUp to 16 hoursUp to 11 hours
Dimensions11.17 x 7.6 x 0.70 inches9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches
Weight2.45 pounds (1112.4g)Wi-Fi: 1.2 pounds (544g)
LTE: 1.22 pounds (533g)
Price$250Starts 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.

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.