Best for individuals

Surface Laptop Go

Surface Laptop Go

Best for schools

Surface Laptop SE

Surface Laptop SE

If you're a student (or a parent of one) looking for a device that can handle both work and recreation, the Surface Laptop Go is an excellent choice. It's available to regular consumers, has better performance than the Surface Laptop SE, and features the full Windows 11 OS.

From $550 at Microsoft

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

The Surface Laptop SE is a low-spec machine that can only be purchased by schools and other educational facilities. Its very low cost and optimized Windows 11 SE operating system make it perfect for institutions that are buying devices in bulk for students.

$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

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

Surface Laptop GoSource: 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 SE Surface Laptop Go
Operating System Windows 11 SE Windows 11
Display 11.6 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio
1366x768 (135 ppi) resolution
TFT
12.45 inches
3:2 aspect ratio
1536x1024 (148 ppi) resolution
PixelSense
Processor Intel Celeron N4020
Intel Celeron N4120
Intel Core i5-1035G1
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
Memory 4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
16GB DDR4 (commercial only)
Storage 64GB eMMC
128GB eMMC
64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
256GB SSD
Bio authentication None Fingerprint reader
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2), Bluetooth 5.0 LE Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2), Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Ports 1x 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
Audio 2W stereo speakers
Single digital microphone
Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Premium Audio
Dual digital microphones
Battery Up to 16 hours 8-9 hours
Dimensions 11.17 x 7.6 x 0.70 inches 10.95 x 8.10 x 0.62 inches
Weight 2.45 lbs (1112.4g) 2.45 lbs (1110g)
Price $250 Starts 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?

Surface Laptop SE RenderSource: 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.

Best for individuals

Surface Laptop Go

Surface Laptop Go

The all-in-one

If you're a student (or a parent of one) looking for a device that can handle both work and recreation, the Surface Laptop Go is an excellent choice. It's available to regular consumers, has better performance than the Surface Laptop SE, and features the full Windows 11 OS.

Best for schools

Surface Laptop SE

Surface Laptop SE

A+ device

The Surface Laptop SE is a low-spec machine that can only be purchased by schools and other educational facilities. Its very low cost and optimized Windows 11 SE operating system make it perfect for institutions that are buying devices in bulk for students.

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