Review: Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 has a lot of problems, but I like it anyway

Surface Laptop Go 2 from Microsoft.
Zoom / Surface Laptop Go 2 from Microsoft.

Andrew Cunningham

Anyone who buys a Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 should enter it fully aware of the laptop’s flaws.

The first and most important is that the base model, whose attractive starting price gives it $600, comes with just 4GB of non-upgradeable RAM and almost everyone should ignore it. Seriously, don’t buy it, and don’t try to talk to it just to save money.

Act as if the actual starting price is $700, which is how much it costs to get the configuration with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This is still more “budget” than “high-end” as on Ultrabooks, but the list of omissions, flaws, and individual resolutions is hard to overlook when you spend more money. Old generation processor. The keyboard is not backlit. Small port selection. The touch screen is neither very high definition nor very colourful. A 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) will feel cramped for many people, and the 256GB option (1) isn’t everything. who – which Much larger and (2) adds another $100 to the price.

None of these problems should be overlooked or ignored. But despite the frustration some of them feel, the fact remains that the Go 2 is a nice, lightweight, competent laptop that’s a pleasure to use. Microsoft gets most of the important stuff here, and no laptop in this price range doesn’t come with some kind of trade-off.

Especially if you can find it on sale — and the old Laptop Go has been regularly discounted by Microsoft, Best Buy, and others who sold it — the Go 2 is a low-cost laptop worth considering if you can live with its drawbacks.

Thoughtful design and simple features

The Surface Laptop Go 2 doesn't have a backlit keyboard, although the fingerprint reader installed on the power button is a nice touch.
Zoom / The Surface Laptop Go 2 doesn’t have a backlit keyboard, although the fingerprint reader installed on the power button is a nice touch.

Andrew Cunningham

Specifications at a glance: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Monitor 12.4-inch 1536 x 1024 touch screen (148 ppi)
The operating system Windows 11 Home
CPU Intel Core i5-1135G7 Quad Core/8 Thread Processor
RAM 4 GB or 8 GB LPDDR4x
GPU Intel Iris Xe Graphics (80 EU)
storage 128 GB or 256 GB NVMe SSD
battery 41 WHr
Networks Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1
ports USB-A, USB Type-C, Surface Connect, 3.5mm headphones
size 10.95 x 8.12 x 0.62 inches (278.2 x 206.2 x 15.7 mm)
Weight 2.48 lb (1.12 kg)
a guarantee 1 year
Price as reviewed $799.99
Other perks 720p webcam and fingerprint reader installed on the power button on 8GB models

Externally, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is indistinguishable from the original. Microsoft hasn’t changed the keyboard, trackpad, screen, or chassis at all, opting only to replace the internal parts. The only external difference is the addition of a color called “Sage,” a mysterious green-tinted silver that complements the pink sandstone back, ice blue, and off-color platinum options. Weighing less than 2.5 pounds, it’s very easy to carry and carry, whether you’re carrying it in a travel bag or just moving between rooms in your home.

If you’re not familiar with the original Laptop Go, here’s a brief summary: The laptop has a lightweight aluminum cover and palm rest, along with a plastic bottom cover. This combination is reasonably lightweight and strong, although the thinner aluminum feels a little more flexible than what you get with a MacBook, Dell XPS, or Microsoft’s high-end Surface and Surface Laptops. The trackpad is small in size, yet accurate and responsive. And while the keyboard lacks backlighting, the space between the keys and travel both feel decent, and the fingerprint sensor mounted to the power button is a welcome addition.

The laptop’s biggest starting point from other laptops in this price range is a 12.5-inch 1536 x 1024 screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, making it narrower but much taller than 16:9 or 16:10 screens in most Ultrabooks. Peak screen brightness of 376 nits, contrast ratio of 1,159:1 and color gamut coverage (94 percent of the sRGB color gamut and only 68.5 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut) are good for the price.

Screen brightness comparisons.  The Laptop Go 2 is on the lower end of things, but it's also a lot cheaper than most of the devices here.
Zoom / Screen brightness comparisons. The Laptop Go 2 is on the lower end of things, but it’s also a lot cheaper than most of the devices here.

Andrew Cunningham

But the screen isn’t as dense as a regular 13.3-inch screen at 1080p or 1920 x 1200 (about 149 pixels per inch, less than 160 seconds medium to high), which makes text look a bit jagged by comparison, especially at smaller sizes and lighter weights. But the screen size and aspect ratio are great for a laptop this small and light. If you’re replacing an old 11.6-inch 16:9 netbook-y laptop with a Go 2 laptop, the difference is day and night.

It’s hard to love the Laptop Go 2’s port selection, although it shares that shortcoming with the larger Surface Laptop. You get one USB-A port, one USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a private Surface Connect port — and that’s it. It’s nice to be able to charge your laptop without blocking either of the two USB ports, and it’s easy to be able to charge via a USB-C port if you need or prefer it. It’s just a minimal selection of ports, and we’ll replace the Surface Connect with another USB-C port any day.

And while it doesn’t make a difference in the day-to-day use of the device, there’s something to be said for some of the added benefits of owning a Surface in a less expensive laptop. There are a lot of Windows devices that can’t pull UEFI firmware updates or other hardware/firmware level security features smoothly through Windows Update, and most budget devices are lucky to get many of these types of updates at all. To Microsoft’s credit, budget-focused devices like the Surface Go or Surface Laptop Go are regularly updated.

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