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Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs. Surface Go: Which should you buy?

We've spent plenty of time with each of these devices, and though they're both Surface 2-in-1s, the Pro is better suited for those who need the power of a standard laptop. It's still a portable device, but the Go is smaller and overall better suited for those on the move, and it still has hardware suitable for everyday productivity tasks.

Tech specs

Surface Pro (2017)Surface Go
Processor7th Gen Intel Core m3-7Y30
7th Gen Intel Core i5-7300U
7th Gen Intel Core i7-7660U
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
RAM4GB, 8GB, 16GB DDR34GB, 8GB DDR3
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB PCIe SSD64GB eMMC
128GB SSD
Display size12.3 inches
Touch
10 inches
Touch
Display resolution2,736 x 1,824
3:2 aspect ratio
1,800 x 1,200
3:2 aspect ratio
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 615 (m3)
Intel HD Graphics 620 (i5)
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (i7)
Intel HD Graphics 615
PortsUSB-A 3.0
microSD card reader
Mini DisplayPort
Surface Connect
3.5mm audio
Nano SIM
USB-C 3.1
microSD card reader
3.5mm audio
Surface Connect
LTEYesYes
BiometricsIR cameraIR camera
Battery45 Wh26.1 Wh
DimensionsTablet: 11.5 in x 7.9 in x 0.33 in
(292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm)
9.6 inches x 6.9 inches x 0.33 inches
(245 mm x 175 mm x 8.3 mm)
Weight1.69 pounds (768 g) to 1.73 pounds (784 g)
Type cover: 0.68 pounds (310 g)
Tablet: 1.15 pounds (0.52 kg)
With keyboard: 1.7 pounds (0.77 kg)

Design and features

Microsoft Surface Go

The Surface Go's chassis, compared to the Pro, has more rounded edges and corners that make it a bit easier to hold onto in tablet mode. It is smaller and lighter — the Go weighs in at just 1.15 pounds (0.52kg) without the Type Cover attached compared to the Pro's 1.69 pounds (0.77kg) — but it's made up of a single chunk of magnesium, just like the Pro. Both have kickstands on the back that can rotate out 165 degrees that allow you to type or draw with ease.

Both have front- and rear-facing cameras at 5 and 8 megapixels (MP) respectively, and both devices also have IR cameras with facial recognition that makes logging in through Windows Hello a snap. When it comes to ports, however, the Go has USB-C 3.1 while the Pro is stuck with USB-A 3.0, a difference that means more if you plan on using your device for years into the future. The Pro has a Mini DisplayPort for connecting video, both have Surface Connect for attaching a dock, and both have a microSD card reader for expanding storage.

If you need LTE capabilities, both the Pro and Go have the option. As for accessories, the existing Surface Pen — sold separately for about $100 (opens in new tab) — works flawlessly on both devices, and both have Type Covers — also sold separately (opens in new tab) — with Precision touchpads and an Alcantara fabric finish.

The keyboard on the Go is definitely small and might take a bit of time to get used to, but it's perfectly functional. Still, if you're planning on using your Surface to type on all day, the larger size of the Pro's keyboard might make more sense. The best thing to do here is try out both in person to see which you prefer.

Display

Despite the larger bezel and lower resolution, the Surface Go's touch display is quite impressive. For color accuracy, it hits 99% sRGB and 76% AdobeRGB, slightly higher results than the Surface Pro's 97% sRGB and 75% AdobeRGB. You get more real estate on the Pro's 12.3-inch display and there is less bezel, which definitely counts for something, but the Go seems set up to work more as a tablet with lots of space to hold onto, especially with a Surface Pen in-hand.

The Pro has a higher resolution than the Go — 2736x1824 compared to 1800x1200 — but the smaller overall size of the Go makes it less noticeable. Both have a functional 3:2 aspect ratio, and both have magnets in the side to hold the Surface Pen when not in use. If you love to draw, know that both devices support tilt when inking.

Performance

Microsoft Surface Go

While these two devices are meant for separate purposes, performance isn't quite as lopsided as you might think. Both have all-day battery life, meaning you can leave your charger behind when you head out. Yes, the Pentium processor (CPU) in the Go is outperformed by the Surface Pro's Core CPU lineup — you can expect about double the performance from i5 and i7 models — and integrated graphics in the Pro likewise double what the Go has to offer.

However, when it comes to storage, the Go with 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) beats out the Pro in terms of sequential read and write speeds. The Go, in testing, hit 1,185MB/s read and 546MB/s write, while the Pro was able to hit 847MB/s read and 801MB/s write. Word of warning: The Go also has a 64GB eMMC storage that performs significantly slower.

Conclusion

Surface Pro

The fifth-generation Surface Pro — not to confused with the newer Surface Pro 6 (opens in new tab), which we also compared to the Go — is still a strong option if you'd like a 2-in-1 device that can handle the performance needs often seen with a desktop PC. There are plenty of configuration options available, it has a larger display than the Go, and it's compatible with all Surface accessories.

The Go is a much better device for those who need a lightweight companion or who prefer the tablet experience. Overall performance won't match that of the Surface Pro, but that's why you can get your hands on a Go for hundreds of dollars less.