Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Review: The Best Window to Windows?
Cutting corners the right way
Microsoft’s Surface line-up arguably offers the best Windows 10 experience since both the hardware and software are designed and developed by Microsoft themselves which results in an optimized and smooth experience for the end-user. This is something that Apple has been doing for years with the iPhone and now more recently, with the Mac too starting with the ARM-based M1 silicon.
While the guts of the Surface Laptop Go that we have been using for almost a month now is still manufactured by Intel, the rest of the hardware choices are still made by Microsoft, the result of which is a premium experience even on an entry-level device that does not break the bank. Starting at a price of Rs. 71,999, is the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go your best window to Windows? Let’s dig under the surface and find out.
Clean and minimalistic design
The Surface Laptop Go is a notebook meant to be carried around which means its design philosophy leans towards the portable side. This makes it extremely joyful to use whether you have it on your lap while working or you slide it into your backpack while on the move. The metallic chassis is also fairly thin and while there is nothing out of the ordinary about the way it looks, the laptop maintains a sober profile and can fit into any environment. Whether you are a student in a classroom or you are seated for a meeting in your company’s conference room, the Surface Laptop Go will fit right in and look classy.
The top of the notebook only has the Microsoft logo which looks elegant, and the gray accents found on the inside only add to the overall appeal of the Surface Laptop Go. While a bold, in-your-face design language like the one we see on gaming laptops may only attract a niche demographic, the subtle design of the Surface Laptop Go is sure to please everyone. Another thing to appreciate is that there are no ugly stickers on the palm-rest, unlike every other Windows laptop.
The Surface Laptop Go has zero give or flex on the deck and feels sturdy to hold. The hinge is also solid, and the display does not wobble even when applied pressure on either side. The hinge is also smooth allowing for the laptop to be opened with just a single finger when resting on a surface, something that a lot of folks actually seem to care about.
Ports and I/O
Since ports are what we mentioned first in the sub-heading, let us get through what all you can plug into the Surface Laptop Go. On the right side of the laptop, we get a USB-A port accompanied by a USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Do note that the USB-C port is not a Thunderbolt 3 compliant one and can only be used for data transfer up to 10Gbps, power two 4K displays, and charge the laptop through PD up to 45W.
On the right side of the notebook lies the Surface Connector, which works with Microsoft’s supplied charger and also connects an additional dock sold separately. The dock can extend the ports on the laptop and would be handy if you wish to connect multiple displays and external devices to it. The charger snaps onto the connector like Apple’s MagSafe back in the day on the older Mac which is convenient.
Thankfully, though, the Surface Laptop Go, as mentioned earlier can also charge via the USB-C port which is very handy especially given that the Surface Connector is a proprietary port and if you forget to carry your charger, you can always use a USB-PD charger to juice up the laptop. However, we would have appreciated seeing two USB-C ports instead of just one as the connectivity options become stifled when using the single USB-C port to charge the laptop.
Keyboard and TrackPad
Moving away from the ports onto the keyboard, this is another area where we feel Microsoft could have done a better job. The keyboard on the Surface Laptop Go seems a little cramped since the overall footprint of the laptop is also quite small. This is something you will eventually get used to as and when you use the laptop more and hence, we would not really call this an issue. What is an issue, however, is the absence of backlighting for the keyboard. It is understandable when manufacturers omit the keyboard backlight on entry-level laptops, but the Surface Laptop Go is quite an expensive and premium offering.
The lack of a backlit keyboard can be a deal-breaker for many, especially if you use your laptop a lot in dark environments or at night. It is a simple feature, but it can go a long way in improving the user experience and Microsoft has unfortunately missed out on this occasion. The key travel is decent and the feedback provided by the key presses is good. The power button, which is also a key part of the keyboard layout, has a fingerprint scanner built into it, enabling Windows Hello.
While the keyboard misses out in terms of the backlight, the trackpad on the Surface Laptop Go is one of the best in the business. It feels smooth, gestures work as intended, and the clicks give out a satisfactory feeling making it one of the best trackpads we have used in this segment right alongside the trackpads on MacBook computers which are generally regarded to take the top spot.
More 3:2 Displays, please!
If it wasn’t obvious already, the 12.4-inch display on the Surface Laptop Go has a 3:2 aspect ratio which is unusual compared to the 16:9 or 16:10 displays that we see on standard laptops. What this means for the end-user is that if you use your laptop a lot for writing documents, browsing the web, or anything that involves lists or scrolling vertically, you are going to appreciate this aspect ratio. If you are someone who watches a lot of content, be it on YouTube or Netflix, you are going to see black bars when watching something in full screen or what we usually refer to as letterboxing.
This may not be a deal-breaker or it is not really that distracting, but it is also not as immersive as a traditional 16:9 display would be. While the aspect ratio may not be that big of a deal, the resolution might seem like it would bother some folks. At 1536 x 1024, the panel is surely not the sharpest out there but if we keep the numbers aside, the display looks fairly crisp and does not feel pixelated at all. Be it in terms of viewing text or media, the experience is quite good.
Even in terms of brightness and contrast, the display on the Surface Laptop Go impresses. Colors look nice and saturated, and any sort of content looks livelier than some other displays we have seen in this segment. The bezels surrounding the display are quite thin and the corners are rounded which we like. Despite the thin bezel, the Surface Laptop Go gets a webcam that can output usable video for conferencing. The display is glossy and seamlessly blends into the bezels and turns off when it needs to giving it a seamless look. Some may have preferred an anti-glare finish on the display, but that is up to personal preference. The display also has support for touch input which makes it more user-friendly to navigate around.
Performance that gets the job done
On the inside of the Surface Laptop Go is the Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor coupled with integrated graphics, 8 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB removable SSD. It runs on Windows 10 (of course) and for day-to-day tasks like browsing the web, writing and editing documents and spreadsheets, making PowerPoint presentations, watching shows and movies, and even some light photo editing, the Surface Laptop Go is speedy and reliable. While there were occasional slow-downs during our usage, the laptop was never in an unresponsive state.
However, the lack of discrete graphics means that you cannot use the Surface Laptop Go for serious gaming or rendering videos that involve graphics-intensive layers. If you are a student looking for a laptop to do your projects and for homework and research, the Surface laptop Go fits the bill perfectly since you won’t be taxing the processor often. The same applies to you if you are someone who majorly works with Microsoft’s Office Suite and some lightweight apps and browsing. If your work involves anything more demanding, the Surface Laptop Go will start showing some signs of sluggishness after a while which is due to the fact that this is not a notebook aimed at power users.
The Surface Laptop Go excels in the battery department by lasting over 10 hours on a single charge with moderate usage. If your work involves a lot of traveling or if you stay outdoors and away from wall outlets for an extended period, the Surface Laptop Go will not die on you easily. Given the form factor, the battery life that you would get from this laptop is commendable. The included 39W power adaptor takes somewhere around 2 hours to fully charge the laptop. You can also use a 45W PD charger to increase the charging speed slightly.
Is Surface Laptop Go worth it at ₹71,999?
While the price remains the same for everyone, what’s different for each individual is value. For someone looking for a thin and light notebook that focuses on portability, solid battery life, and a good display, all with an optimized Windows experience, the Surface Laptop Go might appeal to you, provided you can get around the lack of a backlit keyboard. However, if you are looking for raw performance, and you want to play games or edit videos, there are several options for this price that are much more powerful than the Surface Laptop Go, but at the cost of portability and form factor.
If you factor in the additional cost to upgrade the internal SSD on the Surface Laptop right from Microsoft, the price goes up to Rs. 91,999 for the 512 GB variant which puts it right alongside the MacBook Air with the new Apple M1 chip, which is also a thin and light laptop with a great form factor. This brings in the fact that if you are willing to switch to macOS and if the software you use and your line of work does not limit you to using Windows, the MacBook Air offers a lot more power than the Surface laptop Go in a similar form factor while offering a better keyboard, much sharper display, better battery life, and the ability to perform intensive tasks like video editing without breaking a sweat.
However, this is only IF all the software you require is present on macOS as well and you are comfortable moving to a new platform. A lot of processes/software can still run only on the x86 architecture and not everything is optimized for the ARM-based M1 Mac so if you are planning on making the switch, make sure you are aware of what you are getting yourself into.
Anyhow, coming back to the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go, the notebook is a reliable companion that simply works and offers a premium and optimized experience when compared to thin and light laptops from other manufacturers.
- Great build and Design
- Good display
- Excellent trackpad
- Smooth day-to-day performance
- All-day battery
- No backlight on the keyboard
- Limited ports
- Only 128 GB storage on the base variant
|Build & design||
|Ports and I/O||
The Surface Laptop Go is Microsoft's attempt to make a light and compact laptop that still has enough power to run your multimedia files. Considering the 'Go' moniker. has Microsoft compromised on anything to make it the cheapest laptop in its repertoire? We find out in our Surface Laptop Go review.