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Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Review: Worth The Money?
I still remember reviewing the Microsoft Surface Laptop back in 2018, and it is still one of the best compact notebooks that money can buy (obviously the latest model). Microsoft recently launched the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go in India, which is again, based on the Microsoft Surface Laptop with a few compromises to keep the price in check.
Considering the pricing and the positioning of the Surface Laptop Go, it seems Microsoft is trying to make a product to lock horns with the Apple MacBook Air. So, how does the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go fair in the real world? Is it as good as the Surface Laptop, especially considering the starting price of Rs. 71,999? Here is the full review of the Surface Laptop Go.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Specifications
- CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1
- Display: 12.4-inch IPS 1536 x 1024, 60Hz
- GPU: Intel UHD
- Memory: 8GB LPDDR4x
- Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
- Battery: Up to 13 hours (claimed)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go: Built Like A Surface
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go is made up of both plastic and aluminum. The top portion and the chassis are made using metal, while the bottom part uses soft plastic, and this is definitely a great choice of materials. This combination keeps the weight in check, and also reduces the overall cost of the product.
In fact, the Surface Laptop Go has lower chassis flex even when compared to the Dell XPS 13, which costs almost double that of the Laptop Go. However, Microsoft's offering isn't as thin as the XPS, and I don't see an issue, as it is moderately thin and light, which makes it an excellent laptop for travelers.
When it comes to I/O, I think Microsoft should have given more options. Having just a single USB-A port and a USB Type-C port does mean you might have to use a type-C dongle to connect multiple USB peripherals at the same time. On top of that, the Surface Laptop Go cannot be charged using the USB Type-C port, while most laptops at this price range do support the same.
Do note that, this is the most affordable laptop (considering Surface Go 2 as a tablet) but this is definitely not the most affordable Windows laptop with this feature set or specifications. Just like the MacBook Air, the industrial design of the Surface Laptop Go makes it an excellent laptop and is definitely one of the best premium 13-inch laptops on the market.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Display: Setting The Bar
One difference between most laptops with a similar specs sheet and the Surface Laptop Go is the fact that it supports touch input. Considering the fact that Microsoft is offering touch support even on the entry-level version of their laptop suggests that Windows 10 OS is optimized for touch input too along with a side mouse and keyboard.
I have always loved laptops with touch screens and the Surface Laptop Go is no different. The display on this laptop gives this device a tablet-like look, thanks to the curved edged on all four sides, and even the finish of the glass on top of the display makes it look premium. Like some of the Asus and Lenovo laptops, I would have loved to see a display with 360-degree rotation, which is useful while using this device in a tablet mode or even while watching movies.
The Surface Laptop Go has a 12.4-inch display, which is one of the smallest screens that I have seen on a laptop of this class. However, due to the form factor, it does feel more like a 13-inch screen. The display offers a native resolution of 1536 x 1024 (148 PPI), which is slightly less than FHD, and I would have loved to see a QHD panel, just like the Apple MacBook Air.
Before testing the Surface Laptop Go, I was reviewing the XPS 13, which has a QHD panel and in comparison, the Surface Laptop Go's display does look a bit pixelated, as it has fewer pixels per inch. Even while consuming content on this laptop I felt the same, especially when I kept the laptop closer to me.
There is a 720p web camera on the top bezel, which does a good job, just like most laptop cameras. Unlike Surface Laptop, the Laptop Go does not support Windows Hello face unlock due to the missing sensors and one has to depend on the fingerprint sensor for the security feature.
Just like the build quality, the display on the Surface Laptop Go was a mixed bag for me. In fact, it also has a lower brightness level. The next version of the Surface Laptop Go should come with a higher resolution and brighter panel, considering they are almost charging around a lack for the model that we are reviewing.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Keyboard And Trackpad: Need Some Improvement
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go has an excellent keyboard, which offers 1.3mm key travel. However, this is not a backlit keyboard, which is one of the drawbacks of this machine. The same goes for the trackpad too. It is accurate in tracking, however, it is a little too small.
I enjoyed typing on the Surface Laptop Go, and I really liked how the keys feel while typing and even the sound they make. Any writer will appreciate this keyboard, except for the fact that you cannot type on it in the low-light situation. On the function key row, there is a power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor, a great move from Microsoft, in my opinion.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Performance: Great For Regular Usage
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go is powered by the 10th Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, which is a 10th Gen quad-core eight-thread processor with a base clock speed of 1GHz and a boost clock speed or the max turbo frequency of 3.6GHz. This is a processor made for thin-and-light laptops, just like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go.
The Surface Laptop Go offers 4, 8, or 16GB LPDDR4x RAM, and please don't buy the base model with 4GB RAM, given, the laptop does not support memory expansion. In terms of storage, the laptop offers 64, 128, and 256GB SSD-based storage options, which are upgradable, but not user-upgradable, as all the screws are hidden under the rubber foot on the bottom portion of the laptop.
On Geekbench 5, the Surface Laptop Go scored 1118 points on single-core and 2157 points on multi-core performance. These numbers indicate that, despite having a quad-core processor, the multi-core performance of the laptop isn't that great. On CPU-Z, the laptop scored 245 points on single-core and 1400 points on multi-core performance.
Lastly, on Cinebench R23, the Surface Laptop Go posted 591 points on single-core and 1363 points on multi-core CPU performance, and it took more than 20 minutes to run each test. Hence, if you are looking for a laptop to edit images or videos, which requires a lot of CPU muscle, the Surface Laptop Go might not be the device.
Keeping aside the benchmarks, when it comes to normal day-to-day usage, I had no issue with the Surface Laptop Go. My line of work includes opening a lot of tabs, and I tend to outdo it, where, a browser on a laptop that I usually use will have at least 20 tabs open. Even with that, I had no issues with the Surface Laptop Go.
If your use-case involves web browsing, watching videos, typing, creating a spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation, then, the Surface Laptop Go is an excellent laptop, especially if you want a device with a touch screen and also has a compact form factor.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Battery Life: Can Last For A Day
Microsoft claims that the Surface Laptop Go can offer up to 13 hours of battery life (video playback). In the real world, the laptop can offer around 6 to 7 hours of battery life with regular usage. On top of that, it uses a proprietary charging connector. This means, if you are planning to travel somewhere post-pandemic with the Surface Laptop Go, and forgot your charger, then, you will be in big trouble for sure.
In a world where MacBooks and even some of the gaming laptops are coming with USB Type-C PD charging standards, Microsoft is still using a custom charger, which is a bummer, especially for those, who hate to carry multiple chargers.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go clearly has a few things going for it. It offers good build quality with a touch display and almost all-day battery life. However, features like a low-resolution screen, non-backlit keyboard, limited I/O, customer charger makes it a hard pick over the similarly loaded laptops.
When compared to the MacBook Air, the Surface Laptop Go has advantages like a touch screen display, upgradable storage option, and slightly lower price tag. However, the MacBook Air offers better battery life, high-resolution display, and it also has a much larger and better trackpad.
For the asking price of Rs. 91,999, we do feel the Surface Laptop Go is definitely missing a few key points at this price range. In fact, there are laptops from Asus that offer much better specifications. However, with the Surface Laptop Go, you get a first-hand Windows 10 OS experience and top-notch build quality.
Looking closely, the Surface Laptop Go doesn't have massive compromises, and one can definitely live with a device like this in 2021 without any issue. Again, we cannot compare the performance of the Surface Laptop Go with other similarly high-priced devices with 35/45W processor. However, this laptop is not meant for those use cases, and it is just a simple laptop for students and professionals, just like the MacBook Air.
To conclude, though it is not that cheap (it is much cheaper in the US) it is definitely one of the best touch-screen experience laptops with Windows OS. If you are in the market for a laptop of that class, get the Surface Laptop Go with at least 8GB RAM.