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Surface Laptop SE vs. Go: Which is better for your student?

Surface Laptop Se Render
Surface Laptop Se Render (Image credit: Microsoft)

Ultimately, the Surface Laptop SE is ideal for schools that need something affordable and reliable to provide to students in bulk. Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop Go is perfect for individual students that need something for schoolwork, but also want something that can be used for fun after the school day is done.

Surface Laptop SE vs. Laptop Go: Specs and availability

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

When it comes to a raw performance matchup, the Surface Laptop Go outshines the Surface Laptop SE in nearly every metric thanks to its stronger specs and more advanced hardware. This includes a more capable processor, a better display with support for touch, more RAM on commercial models, additional SSD storage, a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, and an extra microphone. The Surface Laptop SE's only advantage is its longer battery life, which is no doubt due to the performance optimizations of Windows 11 SE.

Because of this, the Surface Laptop Go is a better multipurpose device since it does a good job of handling both productivity work as well as recreational activities like media consumption and light gaming. The latter activities are things that the Surface Laptop SE simply can't do efficiently.

Surface Laptop SESurface Laptop Go
Operating SystemWindows 11 SEWindows 11
Display11.6 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio
1366x768 (135 ppi) resolution
TFT
12.45 inches
3:2 aspect ratio
1536x1024 (148 ppi) resolution
PixelSense
ProcessorIntel Celeron N4020
Intel Celeron N4120
Intel Core i5-1035G1
GraphicsIntel UHD GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics
Memory4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
16GB DDR4 (commercial only)
Storage64GB eMMC
128GB eMMC
64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
256GB SSD
Bio authenticationNoneFingerprint reader
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2), Bluetooth 5.0 LEWi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2), Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Ports1x USB-A
1x USB-C
3.5mm headphone jack
Barrel-type DC port
1x USB-C
1x USB-A
3.5mm headphone jack
1x Surface Connect
Audio2W stereo speakers
Single digital microphone
Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Premium Audio
Dual digital microphones
BatteryUp to 16 hours8-9 hours
Dimensions11.17 x 7.6 x 0.70 inches10.95 x 8.10 x 0.62 inches
Weight2.45 lbs (1112.4g)2.45 lbs (1110g)
Price$250Starts at $550

However, where the Surface Laptop SE pulls ahead is in the education sector. In situations where schools need to buy devices in bulk that are both affordable and performant enough for completing schoolwork, the Surface Laptop SE is a better choice thanks to its rock bottom $250 price. Windows 11 SE itself also comes with several education-focused benefits, such as preloaded access to Microsoft Office apps, restrictions on app installations, and fullscreen app launches.

It's important to note that when the Surface Laptop SE launches in early 2022, it will only be available for purchase in the education sector. Regular consumers will not be able to purchase the device, making the Surface Laptop Go the clear winner in this matchup for most people.

Laptop SE vs. Laptop Go: Which should you buy?

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

While both the Surface Laptop SE and the Surface Laptop Go are some of the best Windows laptops for students and educators, we feel that the Surface Laptop SE is ultimately the better choice for schools and other educational institutions looking for a classroom-friendly device to buy in bulk for students. With its extremely low cost, low-spec performance optimizations, and education-focused Windows 11 SE benefits, the Surface Laptop SE will no doubt stand as one of the top education devices.

If you're a student (or the parent of one) looking to get something that can handle work and recreational activities, the Surface Laptop Go is the clear choice here. The Surface Laptop SE doesn't have hardware that's good enough to handle the media consumption or light gaming you might want to do after your schoolwork is done, and it's not available to regular consumers anyway. This is where the Surface Laptop Go shines thanks to its 10th Gen i5 Intel CPU, support for touch, and other advantages.

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.