April 1, 2023
A sage-colored Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 with its screen open and facing the viewer in front of a pink and yellow backdrop.

Small, premium laptops — truly small ones — have fallen out of fashion in recent years. The smallest computer Apple sells has a 13. 3-inch screen. Dell’s tiniest XPS comes with a 13. 4-inch panel. HP’s Spectre X360 line scales down to 13. 5-inch screens, which the company lists as a 14-inch class. The 11- or 12-inch laptops you can buy (the types that aren’t tablets trying to masquerade as something else) are typically cheap and slow. Modern laptops possess trimmed weights and bezels and frames considerably, making it easier to tote around those 13-inch or larger screens, finding a premium, consumer laptop with 12-inch or smaller screen for the ultimate in portability is a challenge.

That’s where Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 comes in. The least expensive laptop computer Microsoft sells (not counting the education-only Laptop SE ), the $599-and-up Laptop Proceed 2, is also the littlest and lightest, with a 12. 4-inch display and weight of just under two and a half pounds. But it maintains the Surface design aesthetic plus features, including a comfortable keyboard, clear speakers and microphones, the smooth trackpad, and 3: 2 aspect ratio.

Of course , that portability doesn’t come without compromise. The Move 2 doesn’t have the range of processor, RAM, plus storage options of bigger laptops, sticking with an 11th Gen Core i5 processor and maxing out at 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Battery life doesn’t even reach half a day of work with regard to me. This isn’t a computer for heavy, demanding workloads (and certainly not gamers or those doing creative visual work). It’s meant regarding someone who simply needs to stay on top of email, compose some documents, plus browse the particular web and wants the small, light on-the-go machine. After all, it’s right in the name.

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The Surface area Laptop Go 2 maintains Microsoft’s minimalist Surface aesthetic: its squared-off wedge shape is identical to the first-generation Go, from 2020 , or a slightly shrunken-down Surface Laptop 4 . This particular time close to, you can get this in a sage green within addition in order to the gentle blue, gold, or silver options. My review unit has this green color, and it’s quite nice. I’m not mad that this year’s green phone trend is bleeding over to laptops now.

Though this will be Microsoft’s minimum expensive notebook, it does not look or even feel like a cheap computer, with tight tolerances, lack of chassis flex, and a stiff hinge with perfect one-finger opening. (The lack of tacky stickers on the deck is usually also rare in this particular price range. ) Like the larger Surface computers, the Proceed 2 offers an aluminum lid plus deck — though Ms does use a plastic panel on the particular bottom, instead of aluminium like the Surface Laptop computer 4, it never once had a negative impact on my experience. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a nicer-feeling computer in this cost range.

The Notebook Go two has the particular same port selection because its predecessor, which is definitely to say, it is kinda lousy. There’s a single USB-A port, a single USB-C slot (not Thunderbolt, sadly), the 3. 5mm headphone jack, and Microsoft’s magnetic Surface area Connect interface for charging and docking. You can use that will USB-C to connect to external displays or charge the device, but you won’t get the benefits of superfast data transfer that Thunderbolt brings. Microsoft’s larger Surface Laptops are similarly port-limited, so this isn’t a surprise, but another couple USB ports here would really let you leave the dongle life behind.

The left side of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 showing the available ports in detail.

The particular screen on the Laptop Move 2 can also be unchanged from its predecessor — a 12. 5-inch, a few: 2, 1536 x 1024 touch screen. It’s not really the brightest or most pixel-dense display screen you may get, yet in the testing, peak brightness hit a respectable 360 nits, which is enough to let me use the laptop outdoors under a good umbrella without much issue. In normal indoor situations, comfortable brightness (about 200 nits) was about 70 percent on the particular slider. (One aside: if you do plan to use the Go 2 outside, you might want to leave the polarized sunglasses at home. The polarization on the screen means the particular display was black when I wore our sunglasses, unless I rotated the pc 90 degrees. I do not have this issue with MacBooks and the same sun glasses, so it’s possibly something Microsoft could fix intended for next time. ) Touch response around the screen is right within line with expectations, though it is not compatible with Microsoft’s Surface Pens for stylus input.

Like other Surface area computers, the particular Go 2’s screen can be well-calibrated and color-accurate out of the box. It covers 99 percent of the sRGB spectrum, 74 % of AdobeRGB, and 76 percent associated with P3, according to my colorimeter, which means it could be used for photo editing function without much issue. But most people buying this particular computer will just appreciate the screen’s pleasing colors plus contrast and lack of color shifting or ghosting. They will also prefer the three or more: 2 element ratio, which usually provides more vertical real estate than the typical 16: 9 screens you get in this budget range, ideal to get web browsing and document work.

The particular Laptop Proceed 2 provides an excellent keyboard, despite the laptop’s smaller sized dimensions, along with well-spaced keys, comfortable travel, and quiet feedback. The only real complaint is certainly the insufficient keyboard backlight, which should be non-negotiable at this price and is found on many other popular laptop computers in this price range. The trackpad is smaller than you’ll find on a modern MacBook or even XPS laptop, but it works perfectly fine pertaining to tracking, scrolling, and other multifinger gestures, plus I had no issues with palm rejection.

A three quarter view of the Surface Laptop Go 2’s keyboard and trackpad.

A detail shot of the Surface Laptop Go 2’s fingerprint scanner

The power button, within the upper-right-hand corner from the keyboard, has an integrated fingerprint scanner meant for Windows Hello authentication (on upgraded tiers, not the base model). More expensive Surface computer systems use facial recognition cameras, but the particular fingerprint sensor is quick and easy to use; I didn’t miss facial recognition at all. There’s even a little light around the scanner to help you find it easily when you open the lid.

The particular camera uses a 720p sensor instead of the 1080p one found in other Surface computers. It’s not stunning by any means, but this isn’t the particular worst either, with sharper images plus more detail than Dell’s XPS digital cameras or the 720p camera on Apple’s latest 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro . It’s flanked by 2 microphones that, along with the Laptop Go 2’s speakers under the keyboard deck, provide obvious video call audio.

Almost all Surface Laptop computer Go 2 models have the same Core i5-1135G7 quad-core processor inside. It’s a capable chip and had no issues handling my typical workload of dozens of browser tabs, Slack, Twitter, email, Zoom, and other work apps spread across multiple virtual desktops. It is not really, however , useful for AAA gaming or creative work. For fun, I ran the PugetBench benchmark designed for Adobe Premiere Pro that will we use to evaluate more powerful laptops, and it scored the 155. We typically see scores within the 700 and up range within laptops that have discrete graphics cards and more powerful processors. Don’t buy this if you plan on editing 4K video; this isn’t the laptop computer for you.

The $599 base configuration comes with just 4GB associated with RAM and 128GB of storage, which isn’t sufficient. My $799 review device has 8GB of RAM MEMORY and 256GB of storage space; that’s the only model I recommend buying. Any less RAM or storage and you’ll run into performance problems or storage space problems relatively soon. That price is definitely $100 less than a similarly equipped first-gen Surface area Laptop Move, but it is still far from cheap. (As of this writing, both Microsoft plus Best Buy have discounted the variety from $40 to $100, which means you can obtain a top spec a single for about $700. That’s not a bad deal. )

Despite its small size and bodyweight, the Notebook Go 2 is not the fanless personal computer, and its small fan can be audible and often annoying. My first review sample had a clicking sound when the fan was at a low speed (which it frequently spins at) that has been quite irritating while in the quiet room. A replacement didn’t have that problem, so it’s possible it’s limited to that will specific unit. Higher fan speeds present a more common whooshing sound, but I usually only heard those when in Focus calls or even running benchmark tests. The particular bottom from the laptop furthermore gets warm, but the particular deck plus palm rests remain comfortably cool.

Battery life is perhaps the biggest problem We have with the Surface Laptop Go two, however. With my standard workload and the screen set to about 200 nits, I actually averaged less than five hours of make use of between charges. Many days I had in order to plug in before noon to ensure it didn’t die in the middle of a meeting or working on a document. I have the uncanny ability to kill laptop batteries faster than a lot associated with my colleagues, but many 13-inch laptops may easily last twice since long with my workload, so you really have to value the particular slightly smaller size and lighter weight in order to accept this kind of battery performance.

Between the fan noise, noticeable heat, and terrible battery life, We wish Microsoft had simply used an Arm-based processor chip in this computer. Plenty of Arm chips, such as what’s within the Surface Pro X, Apple’s latest computers, and a few Chromebooks, have enough power to match the particular usage profile of a computer like this, plus run cooler, don’t need fans, plus have much better battery existence. Windows 11 continues to get better along with Arm too, and this particular feels like the right kind of computer in order to leverage that.

A three quarter view of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 with its lid about 30 degrees open.

During the entire time using the Surface area Laptop Go 2, I was reminded of Apple’s 11-inch Mac-book Air and 12-inch Apple macbook from 2015. Both of those were high-end, little computers that were designed to be as light plus portable as possible, while still providing outstanding keyboards, trackpads, and capabilities. They also had compromises when it came to battery-life and energy (and ports).

The Surface Laptop Proceed 2 feels like a modern version of those compact notebooks, complete with many of the same limitations. It is too expensive to be the real budget option, not powerful enough to be just for demanding users, and doesn’t have the battery life to final all day away from a good outlet. You can pay less money and get a lot more performance, battery life, and computer from a Chromebook or even another Windows laptop.

What the Laptop Move 2 is certainly, though, is a small, lightweight computer with a comfortable keyboard, trackpad, plus screen, wrapped in a nice-looking and -feeling package. It also arrives with the real processor and sufficient RAM plus storage in order to do actual work, unlike other subcompact computers. If those are the specific things you value and are looking for in a laptop, well… the particular Surface Laptop computer Go 2 is basically your only option correct now.

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