Anyone who buys one Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 should be aware of the weaknesses of the laptop.
The first and most important is the base model, which gives it its appeal $600 starting price, comes with only 4GB of non-expandable RAM and should be ignored by pretty much everyone. Seriously, don’t buy it or try to convince yourself to do it just to save money.
Behave as if the actual starting price is $700, the amount it costs to get the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration. This is still closer to “budget” than “high-end” when it comes to ultrabooks, but the list of omissions, flaws, and odd choices becomes harder to overlook as you spend more money. The generations-old processor. The unlit keyboard. The tiny port selector. A touchscreen that is neither particularly high-resolution nor very colourful. A 128GB SSD that feels cramped for many people, and a 256GB option that (1) isn’t all the much larger and (2) increases the price by another $100.
None of these issues should be glossed over or ignored. But as frustrating as some of them may be, the fact remains that the Laptop Go 2 is a cute, light and competent laptop that’s a pleasure to use. Microsoft gets most of the important things right here, and there’s not a laptop in this price range that doesn’t come with some sort of compromise.
Especially if you can find it on sale – and the old Laptop Go was regularly discounted by Microsoft, Best Buy and others who sold it – the Laptop Go 2 is a no-fuss budget laptop worth considering if you live with its shortcomings.
Sophisticated design, minimalist features
|Technical data at a glance: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2|
|Screen||12.4-inch 1536 × 1024 touchscreen (148 PPI)|
|operating system||Windows 11 Home|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-1135G7 with 4 cores/8 threads|
|R.A.M.||4GB or 8GB LPDDR4x|
|graphic card||Intel Iris Xe Graphics (80 EUs)|
|storage||128GB or 256GB NVMe SSD|
|Networking||WiFi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1|
|ports||USB-A, USB Type-C, Surface Connect, 3.5mm Headphone|
|size||10.95 × 8.12 × 0.62 in (278.2 × 206.2 × 15.7mm)|
|weight||2.48 pounds (1.12 kg)|
|Price as reviewed||$799.99|
|Other perks||720p webcam, power button mounted fingerprint reader on 8GB models|
Externally, the Surface Laptop Go 2 cannot be distinguished from the original. Microsoft didn’t change the keyboard, trackpad, screen, or casing at all, just opting to replace the internals. The only exterior difference is the addition of a color called “Sage,” a vaguely green-tinted silver finish that complements the returning pink-tinted Sandstone, blue-tinted Ice Blue, and untinted Platinum options. It weighs less than 2.5 pounds, and it’s super easy to pick up and carry around, whether you’re putting it in a bag to travel or just going back and forth between rooms in your house.
If you’re unfamiliar with the original Laptop Go, here’s a quick synopsis: The laptop has a lightweight aluminum lid and palm rest combined with a plastic bottom cover. The combo is lightweight and feels reasonably sturdy, although the thin aluminum feels a bit more pliable than what you get with a MacBook, a Dell XPS, or Microsoft’s own high-end Surface and Surface Laptop. The trackpad is on the small side, but it’s accurate and responsive. And while the keyboard isn’t backlit, both key spacing and travel feel comfortable, and the power button-mounted fingerprint sensor is a welcome addition.
The laptop’s biggest difference from other laptops in this price range is a 12.5-inch 1536×1024 screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, making it narrower but much larger than the 16:9 or 16:10 ones -Screens in most Ultrabooks. The peak brightness of 376 cd/m², the contrast ratio of 1159:1 and the coverage of the color space (94 percent of the sRGB color space, only 68.5 percent of the DCI-P3 color space) are okay for the price.
But the display isn’t as dense as a more typical 13.3-inch 1080p or 1920×1200 screen (about 149 PPI, down from the mid-to-high 160s), making text look a bit jagged by comparison, especially at smaller sizes and lighter weights. But the screen size and aspect ratio are great for such a small and light laptop. If you happened to replace an older 11.6-inch 16:9 netbook-y-budget laptop with the Laptop Go 2, the difference is day and night.
It’s harder to like the Laptop Go 2’s port selection, though it shares this shortcoming with the larger Surface Laptop. You get a single USB-A port, a single USB-C port, a headphone jack, and the proprietary Surface Connect connector – and that’s it. It’s nice to be able to charge the laptop without blocking any of the USB ports, and it’s handy to be able to charge via the USB-C port if you need or prefer that. It’s a minimal selection of ports, and we’d trade Surface Connect for a different USB-C port any day.
And while it doesn’t really make a difference in day-to-day use of the device, there’s a case for getting some of the perks of Surface ownership in a less expensive laptop. There are many Windows devices that cannot seamlessly download UEFI firmware updates or other hardware/firmware-level security features through Windows Update, and most budget devices are lucky enough to get many of these types of updates at all. To its credit, Microsoft keeps budget-oriented devices like that go surface or Surface Laptop Go updated regularly.
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