Microsoft’s been producing its own brand Surface devices for more than a decade now, largely targeting productivity professionals with its flagship Surface Pro line of hybrid tablet/laptop devices.
Surface Pros have their fans if you’re in the pro space and need that tablet form factor, but what about if you’re on a more limited budget and need a true laptop?
Microsoft’s latest foray into a more traditional (and slightly more affordable) laptop is the Surface Laptop Go 2. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks testing one out to see where it shines – and where it doesn’t.
If you’re curious about why this is a “Go” when so much of Microsoft’s Surface output has a “Pro” suffix, it’s the line that Microsoft adds for its more affordable, generally student-focused devices.
It’s a direct competitor to other student-centric Windows laptops, as well as Apple’s MacBook Air – though the Surface Laptop Go 2 has the advantage of being a fair bit cheaper than Apple’s lowest cost laptop.
The Surface Laptop Go 2 is a 12.4-inch laptop, and one of the things I do love about it is the portability. It’s easy to pick up at just a shade over 1kg and carry, or sling into my backpack when I’ve got to head out. It’s also a nicely stylish looking system, available in Platinum, Ice Blue, Sandstone and Sage finishes. The Sage model – basically a very light green is what I’ve been testing out.
For its price, it’s also reasonably powerful, which could make it a good match for students. This isn’t a high-end, high power gaming laptop for sure, but its Intel Core i5-1135G7 compares well against what you can get at this price point right now for performance using Windows 11 for everyday tasks.
The one slight caveat there is that this specific processor comes from a slightly older Intel processor family, the 11th generation. That’s more of a concern for later down the track, as it’s usually best to buy as close as you can to the top of the tech tree when you get a new laptop, because it’ll stay current and updateable for longer down the track.
The Surface Laptop Go 2’s touchscreen works well, but it’s worth noting that it’s not the sharpest screen, which could have implications if you were a student doing design work. With a resolution of 1536×1024, it’s slightly sub 1080p, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone doing serious photo or video work; opt for something with a sharper screen unless you plan to use an external monitor a whole lot.
Speaking of external monitors, you’ll need to pick your external peripherals carefully. The Surface Laptop Go 2 has a single USB A and single USB C type port on the left-hand side, along with a combination headphone/microphone jack. That means if you do need extra peripherals, investing in a USB Hub would be wise.
Microsoft’s rating for the Surface Laptop Go 2 suggests a battery life of “up to” 13.5 hours. That “up to”, as it always does have to do a bit of heavy lifting, because it allows a fair bit of wriggle room.
I typically managed around 9 hours of usage without fully draining the battery, but your experience may vary depending on the apps you’re using. Nine hours is still a pretty solid working day in any case. Recharging is via the Surface connector port on the side if you like a magnetic charger, although you’re not stuck with that. It’ll also support USB C charging through a suitable power delivery compatible adaptor, which is a nicely flexible touch.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2: Who it’s best for
Students or those on a lower budget who want a more stylish, touchscreen enabled laptop directly from Microsoft itself.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2: Who it’s not for:
Students who need more power – consider a higher end Windows machine or a MacBook in this case – or those who need a higher resolution display for their working needs.
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