- Slim, lightweight design
- Bright, colorful 12.4-inch screen
- Enterprise-class security features
- ‘Forward exchange’ guarantee
- Disappointing battery life
- 720p webcam
- Average 1536x 1024 screen resolution
- Limited upgrade options
You can be forgiven for having a hard time keeping up with all the different models in the world Microsoft’s Surface rangebut the updated Surface Laptop Go 2 stands out for being the smallest, lightest, and most affordable of the clamshell laptops on offer today.
The 2022 edition isn’t a major upgrade, focusing mainly on the new 11th-generation Core i5 processor and enhanced security features for business users. However, the lightweight and stylish design of the Surface Laptop Go 2 should appeal to those looking for an ultraportable laptop for general, everyday use. It also covers many bases and offers both customer and company variants aimed at users ranging from budget-constrained students to business travelers.
As if it 2020 predecessor, the Surface Laptop Go 2 opts for a 12.4-inch touchscreen that helps keep the device’s weight down to just 1.13kg, while the slim profile is just 15.7mm thick. It’s easy to pick up with one hand and slip into a backpack or briefcase when you’re ready to hit the road. The build quality is impeccable, despite the competitive price. Available in a variety of colors (Sage, Ice Blue, Sandstone, and Platinum), the Laptop Go 2’s aluminum body feels sturdy enough to take a few knocks when you’re travelling.
The keyboard feels surprisingly sturdy and comfortable. Microsoft claims it offers “30% more keystroke than the MacBook Air,” and the keyboard certainly feels satisfying when typing. That said, it’s odd that there’s no backlight built into the keyboard for use in darkened rooms or airplane cabins.
The small screen has its drawbacks, with a resolution of only 1536 by 1024 pixels (148 dpi). Opting for a 3:2 aspect ratio is a good decision, as the screen is high enough to be clearly visible when reading or scrolling through documents or web pages. However, the screen quickly starts to feel a bit cluttered once you have a few overlapping windows or apps open at once. The screen is bright and colorful – sometimes too much for my naked eye – with the colors sometimes appearing slightly oversaturated, especially on the red end of the spectrum.
Microsoft’s spec sheet makes no mention of the display’s brightness or color gamut, but the company tells us it’s 330 nits and 100% sRGB. Obviously, the Surface Laptop Go 2 isn’t intended for professional-level graphics work, but the display works perfectly for viewing documents, web pages, or watching video.
The compact design of the Surface Laptop Go 2 means that connectivity is somewhat limited. On the wireless side, there’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, but physical connectors are limited to just one USB-C and one USB-A port, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack and Microsoft’s Surface Connect port for charging and dock. Fortunately, the USB-C port allowed me to connect the Laptop Go 2 to an external 4K display — Microsoft’s website seems to imply that this requires the additional Surface Dock 2 ($259.99). Business users who want to use the Laptop Go 2 as part of their office setup may still have an additional dock or hub to provide features such as Ethernet for an office network or additional USB ports.
And the only clear sign of cost savings with the Surface Laptop Go 2 is the 720p webcam, although Microsoft says there’s a new camera module that offers improved brightness, contrast and color balance. The picture is certainly bright enough even on a gloomy UK summer day, but there is still a slightly grainy quality, so business users who need a high-quality webcam for video calls and meetings may prefer to buy a 1080p webcam along with their desktop. hub.
Prices & options
As mentioned, the Surface Laptop Laptop Go 2 is available in both customer and company editions, with the latter including Windows 11 Pro, and providing Secured Core PC security features, including a physical RPM 2.0 chip (instead of implementing TPM in firmware like the consumer model does).
Business users also benefit from Microsoft’s “advance exchange” warranty, which allows them to request a replacement device before their defective Surface device is collected for repair. We’ll focus on the business pricing here, but consumer prices are generally only $100 cheaper for each individual configuration.
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Business pricing for the Surface Laptop Go 2 starts at $699.99 for a quad-core model Core i5-1135G7 processor runs at 2.4GHz (up to 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost), along with a rather stingy 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage. The base model does not include a fingerprint sensor, although the sensor is built into the power button on all other configurations.
Our review unit had 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, bringing the price to $899.99; there’s also a $1099.99 model with 16GB of RAM, which seems rather expensive for a simple memory upgrade. There are no additional processor or other upgrade options, and all configurations rely on the Core i5’s integrated Iris Xe Graphics.
You can’t accuse Microsoft of overhyping the Surface Laptop Go 2’s performance, as the website simply states that it “provides performance to run everyday apps”.
That’s an accurate description of the performance of the 11th generation Core i5 processor, which achieves scores of 1345 (single core) and 4140 (multi core) in the Geek Bench 5 CPU benchmark. By contrast, Apple’s current M1-based MacBook Air ($999.99) scores 1730 and 7590, respectively.
That modest CPU performance is also reflected in the PCMark 10 application tests, with a score of 4466 that just lifts it out of the lowest third of the results table. To be fair, the Surface Laptop Go 2 can handle basic productivity software like Microsoft Office, along with web browsing, email, and video calling without a hitch.
The integrated Iris Xe Graphics might be the star here, with a PCMark 10 score of 7508 for photo editing work, so the Laptop Go 2 should be able to manage some basic photo editing for presentations if needed. It won’t be able to handle much in the way of video editing or gaming, though, with a PCMark 10 video score of 4341, while the game score of 10,820 in the 3DMark Night Raid test places it firmly in the “under 20 fps” category.
The only real disappointment with the Surface Laptop Go 2 is the battery life. Microsoft cites up to 13.5 hours of ‘typical device use’, but our review unit only managed halfway through our video streaming test, lasting a modest six hours and 40 minutes, even with the screen brightness reduced to 50%. You might be able to extend that to a full eight-hour workday if you don’t use Wi-Fi all day, but that’s still way behind the excellent 17 hours the M1 MacBook Air offers.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 is something of a mixed bag. Judging by its performance and battery life alone, this is an entry-level laptop with a distinctly mid-range price point – and some rather expensive memory upgrades.
The saving grace of the Surface Laptop Go 2 is its sleek, ultra-portable design, which is both stylish and sturdy, great for hybrid and mobile work. If you put portability above all else, the lightweight Laptop Go 2 is certainly tempting.
Business users who need to do more than just use Microsoft Office may prefer one of the more powerful models in the Surface range, or one of its many ultraportable rivals.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 Specifications
|Dimensions||278.2mm x 206.2mm x 15.7mm (10.95in x 8.12in x 0.62in)|
|To build||aluminum (top), aluminum and polycarbonate composite resin system with fiberglass and 30% post-consumer recycled material (base)|
|Colors||Sage, ice blue, sandstone, platinum|
|OS||Windows 11 Home (consumer) • Windows 11 Pro or 10 Pro (business)|
|Display||12.4-inch PixelSense, 1536 x 1024 (3:2, 148ppi), 330 nits, 10-point multi-touch|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-1135G7|
|RAM||4GB, 8GB (LPDDR4x)|
|Storage||128 GB, 256 GB (removable SSD)|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe graphics|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)|
|Connections||USB-C, USB-A, 3.5mm audio out, Surface Connect|
|Camera||720p HD f/2.0|
|audio||dual far-field microphones, omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio Premium|
|battery life||up to 13.5 hours (normal device usage)|
|Safety||TPM 2.0 (Consumer Firmware, Business Model Hardware) • Windows Hello Login • Fingerprint Power Button (excluding 4GB/128GB configuration)|
|In the box||Surface Laptop Go 2, 39W power supply, quick start guide, safety and warranty documents|
|Price||from $599.99 (consumer) • from $699.99 (business)|
Alternatives to consider
The Surface Laptop Go 2 is one of the thinnest, lightest Windows laptops out there, but it has plenty of competition in the ultraportable device category, across a range of price points.
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