Surface laptops regain Consumer Reports recommendation

Last year, Consumer Reports dropped its recommendation for Microsoft's Surface products, citing reliability issues after a survey of 90,000 tablet and laptop owners. Today, Consumer Reports reversed its stance, giving Surface devices its recommendation, with the exception of Microsoft's latest entry in the lineup, the Surface Go.

"Microsoft's reliability is now on-par with most other laptop brands," allowing its products to be recommended, says Martin Lachter, senior research associate at Consumer Reports. The firm says that this is the first year that brand reliability is being included into the overall scores. Owner satisfaction is also a factor being considered in the overall score.

In all, Consumer Reports now recommends the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Book 2. Whereas these devices were previously considered separately as laptops and tablets, the firm is now rating the devices purely as laptops "based on feedback from Microsoft."

The only Surface laptop to not score high enough for a recommendation is the recently released Surface Go. The reason for the lack of recommendation largely comes down to computing performance, which falls short compared to other laptops. Maria Rerecich, who heads up electronics testing for Consumer Reports, explains: "We weigh processing power heavily when we're evaluating laptops. A computer that doesn't do well in performance testing isn't likely to get recommended."

The reversal is a big deal for Surface as a brand. When Consumer Reports pulled its recommendation for the line last year, Microsoft quickly issued a statement that strongly disagreed with the evaluation, placing an emphasis on the strong consumer satisfaction ratings it has seen among Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book owners.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • But the Surface Go isn't a laptop. If any of the devices can be described as a tablet it would be the Surface Go.
  • Describe it as a tablet, and it will fail even more because of the simply dumb mediocre windows 10 tablet mode. Just leave it as it is...stop being delusional
  • I refuse to jump on the "Windows 10 tablet mode is mediocre" bandwagon. If you have issues at least state what those issues are. I personally have no problem W10 tablet mode.
  • I think the Surface Go has been seen to perform absolutely fine for 98% of users, and consodering its overwhelmingly positive response and low price point, I don't truly understand the lack of recommendation. Any budget device with great performance is very likely to be lacking in many other areas.
  • If Consumer Reports is going to include "brand reliability" in its overall scores, for the first time they say, then they need to have changed their method of measuring that. Their traditional "surveys" are totally non-scientific from a self-selected sample of surveys sent to every subscriber. There is no way they can tell if a subscriber has ever actually used the product they are reviewing or may be an employee of some competing company happy to trash a competitor. Unless they have somehow changed this methodology, their rankings based on surveys are still just a PR gimmick. Their testing on the other hand is legitimate. I am OK with them not liking the Surface Go based on performance, although I would note that lots of reviewers have been OK with the Go's performance considering its price point.
  • "The only Surface laptop to not score high enough for a recommendation is the recently released Surface Go. The reason for the lack of recommendation largely comes down to computing performance, which falls short compared to other laptops. "
    What Go was it? 64 or 128 GB version? S or x32 mode?
  • It just the CPU
    Is not used in many devices.
  • The way I remember this is that it wasn't just reliability issues, it was the fact that the Surface brand was still quite new (at the time about 5 years old) and that meant that their comparisons weren't apples-to-apples. But whatever the case, I'm very happy with my Surface Pro overall.
  • This is good both for Microsoft and Consumer's Union (CR's publisher). From my admittedly limited perspective, I saw the SP2 through SP4 models as being problematic. Being called on it by CU put the fire to MS to make the latest Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Book 2 better, quality-control wise. Consumers everywhere benefit. P.S. I've personally had quality control issues with SP3 and SP4; the others I inferred through the internet forums (including this site).
  • Lol, this consumer report is a joke.
    The Surface Go (128 NVMe SSD) was benchmarked here in Windows Central and it showed very interesting performance results.
    SSD 1,185 MB/s read 133 MB/s write (to compare Surface Pro 4 gets 758 MB/s 159 MB/s)
    GPU 16,490 Geekbench 4.0 (to compare Surface Pro 4 gets 17,395)
    CPU 2,078 Sc 3,934 Mc (to compare Surface Pro 4 m3 6Y30 gets 2,854 Sc 5,350 Mc Don't believe me, here is the Link
  • WCentral recommends anything having MS stuff, because Microsoft..sorry but I cannot trust such type of reviewers.
  • It's benchmarks. They're repeatable by ANYONE to check for validty. You don't trust numbers? Context? Then what DO you trust, because you're not basing it on reality then, just opinions. How do you argue against empirical data - you don't "trust" it? It makes no sense, but perhaps does reveal your bias here. One could argue that our criticism - when we do make it, which is much more often then you think - is grounded more in reality because we use these products everyday and not for a review period. We're not "pro" reviewers who use Apple products the rest of the year and tried a new Surface for a few days and gave it a review. My Surface reviews always have much more detail and analysis than anything by any of the general tech sites. That's why people read them.
  • A Surface Pro a laptop lmao. That is a device where it could be its own category. Has the power of a laptop but really is a tablet and could be used as so. Same can be said about the Surface Go and Surface Book 2 (not the 1 though, that tablet was a joke)
  • That is what Microsoft calls them, laptops. If you sell them as tablets, consumers are going to be annoyed when they really just bought a laptop with the keyboard cut off.
  • Include the type cover and then we can call it a laptop
  • It isn't included for logistical reasons. Since there isn't just one style of cover, it doesn't make sense to bundle them. You keep them separate so the buyer can make the choice without requiring Best Buy to carry 25 different configurations. Either way, it is a laptop. It takes more than just removing the screen from a laptop to make a true tablet.
  • Well, I think you're cutting MS too much slack. They could just offer the SP bundled with different colors of keyboards and have the consumer choose that way. I think the real reason is that MS doesn't want to compete too much with the OEMs. The Surface brand is like Nexus or Pixel for Google: for market demonstration purposes only, a showcase for the OS inspiring OEMs to make better and different hardware. That, and (complementarily) they are establishing Surface as a high-end/cutting edge/luxury brand that can charge higher prices.
  • Microsoft does exactly what you say already. Witness the special Surface Go skew including a keyboard for Costco. And there have been special skews for Costco on Surface Pro too. Microsoft would do the same for other retailers if they asked. If you haven't seen them at certain stores, it is because the store didn't ask for it.
  • "based on feedback from Microsoft." So Microsoft basically said improve our rating or else......?
  • I think you have a reading comprehension problem. The article said "..the firm is now rating the devices purely as laptops "based on feedback from Microsoft"..." What it meant was that the devices surface pro, surface laptop and surface books 2 are rated as laptops, not tablets or other types of devices.
  • Just ordered an i5 4gb 128 microsoft refurb for $518. I think it's a good deal. will be used for office/surfing/email etc.
  • I agree with many views here. Consumer report needs to agile catch up with the latest trends in consumer ON THE GO mobile PC devices. New matrices for consumer satisfaction, productivity engagement, dependency for tasks on the go, reliability for longer lasting batteries, lesser stress for looking for Hotspots due to LTE, not missing important alerts due to always on... should all be agile included. Surface Go with LTE will be the first of its kind that will blur the line that separate mobile phone and laptop on the go - by defining what should be a mobile PC. With bluestack 4.0 Android Emulator and higher performance CPU/Gpu in future Version of Surface Go, app gap will be less of an issue. Microsoft commitment in Surface Hub 2X with WinCoreOS, UWP is here to STAY. . NET Core 3.0 will support Winform/WPF developers transition to future only WCOS desktop experience.