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HomeLaptops/TabletsSurface Laptop Go 2 Review – The Outsider | Tech Reviews

Surface Laptop Go 2 Review – The Outsider | Tech Reviews

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Surface Laptop Go 2 In The Test – The Outsider | Tech Reviews



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The first iteration of the Surface Laptop Go received a mixed reception. Too expensive, too few features and somehow not a real Surface. We did not have the first version in our tech reviews, so there is now the second edition to compensate.

Pros & Cons

  • Compact and light
  • Excellent workmanship
  • Almost perfect input devices
  • Very quiet even under load
  • No Windows Hello camera
  • No keyboard backlight
  • No Thunderbolt
  • Slow SSD
  • Display sometimes too dark
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With the Surface Laptop Go, Microsoft wants to close a gap that doesn’t really exist. You want to reach students in particular. With the Surface Laptop Go 2, they should get a light, compact and inexpensive notebook for everyday school life. And while the first two points seem to be correct at first glance: the Go 2 laptop is not really cheap. Our test model here with Intel Core i5 of the 11th generation, 8gb ram and 128gb ssd costs 769 euros at the time of the test. A doubling of the memory then costs an additional 100 euros and that’s it with options.

Feel and Processing

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But before we lose ourselves in price lists and comparisons, first about the Surface Laptop Go 2 itself. Compared to the name, the Laptop Go 2 is quite handy and I like it at first glance. The workmanship and feel are exactly what I expect from a Surface: flawless. The aluminum case feels very high-quality, the display can be opened with one hand, the keyboard and touchpad are again really well done. Due to its small size, however, it feels heavier in the hand than you would expect at just 1100 grams.

However, the remaining specs read rather mixed for a notebook in this price range. Intel’s “Tiger Lake” architecture is still used as the platform, i.e. the 11th generation. It was meanwhile run by the 12th generation aka. “Alder Lake” superseded. It is supported by 8GB of RAM, which should be sufficient for an ultraportable notebook. However, the 128GB SSD in our test model fills up fairly quickly, and nowadays it should be at least 256GB. Especially when you consider that Windows itself already occupies a good chunk of memory.

If we then look at the rest of the equipment, I can understand the disappointment of some colleagues with the first generation: no login via Windows Hello face recognition, no keyboard backlight, no Thunderbolt. All things that are now almost taken for granted, especially with Surface devices. Ok, Thunderbolt is still pretty new, but other than that, those little quality-of-life features have been around for quite a while. After all, Microsoft hasn’t skimped on the Surface Connector. All sorts of accessories can be connected via the dock. Otherwise there is only USB Type-C, Type-A and a jack connection.

Display – could be brighter

But enough complaining about the data sheet, the test will of course be decided in everyday life. And here the disadvantages are not noticeable at first. The display, although “only” equipped with 1536 x 1024 pixels, looks really good and the low Sub-FullHD resolution is not noticeable at first. It only gets a little blurry when you get really close, but who sits 10cm in front of their notebook? At least I didn’t notice it when sitting at a normal distance from the desk or on my lap.

The maximum brightness, on the other hand, made itself felt. You shouldn’t sit in the midday sun with it, because the combination of a maximum of 377 nit and the reflective finish ensure good reflections. It could sometimes get cramped indoors if the light source was unfavorable.

Input devices – Typical Surface

I have already touched on the input devices. The keyboard and touchpad are – as usual from Surface devices – excellent and there is nothing to complain about. Whereby: The missing keyboard lighting is particularly noticeable in the evening and should have been there. The only lighting available are status LEDs in the Capslock and Fn keys. The power button is also illuminated when Windows Hello is waiting for your fingerprint to unlock it. After all.

That’s the next point: The missing Windows Hello camera for face recognition. It was introduced with the Surface Pro 4 and since then it has actually been standard in all Surface devices – even the first Surface Go has Windows Hello, only the Laptop Go steps out of line here. Why? Only Microsoft knows that. The fingerprint reader is ok as an alternative, but it needs additional interaction – and compared to other fingerprint readers, it just isn’t accurate enough.

The shape is also not ideal for blind and first-time hits. It also means the camera is inferior to the Surface siblings. The quality of the 720p cam is ok, but there is a lot of noise even in good lighting conditions. Exposure and colors fit but otherwise.

At least Microsoft didn’t skimp on the speakers. Although they are not as good as in the Surface Pro 8, they are solid upper mid-range for notebooks of this size. Highs and mids are clear and it gets loud enough without clipping. It’s a bit lacking in the low end, but that’s not surprising for a notebook this compact.


But enough superficiality, because in the end, of course, what matters most is how things are going in everyday life. And here I have to say: Surprisingly good. Of course, you shouldn’t expect miracles from the Core i5 CPU, but it’s easily sufficient for everything that comes up in everyday life. The 8GB RAM is hardly an obstacle. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Office or small photo and video editing here and there, everything runs smoothly and without snagging. However, depending on the task, it can sometimes take a little longer.

Countless tabs open in the browser, a few terminal sessions to set up an SSH server and services, and stream music or videos at the same time – these were usually my evenings, as there is still a lot to do at the Homelab, at the Smart Home and so on. The Surface Laptop Go 2 held up wonderfully and even if it got later on the weekend, the battery still held out.

What’s really no fun is gaming – the Intel Iris Xe graphics just aren’t made for that. Similar to the Surface Laptop Studio, Microsoft is stingy with the VRAM, which is quickly noticed. Even undemanding titles like Counter Strike ran only so-so in Full HD. According to the benchmark, it achieves an average of 46 FPS, but it is still unplayable due to the existing stuttering and stuttering. Most of the other stuff wasn’t gambleable either.

Even in 720p, i.e. still well below the native resolution, it is not recommended. The SSD performance is also not that great. When it comes to writing, it’s one of the slowest SSDs I’ve tested in a long time. And as soon as you leave out the sequential read performance, you’re left with maximum mediocrity, although that’s putting it very benevolently.

As a mobile office, as a school notebook and for most courses, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is a suitable companion. Especially since it is very light and compact at only 1100 grams. In addition, it doesn’t get loud even under constant load, the fan can hardly be heard even in the AIDA stress test. I personally never noticed it under normal conditions. And the waste heat was also kept within limits.

In the stress test, the Surface Laptop Go 2 was able to maintain the boost clock of 2.6 Ghz on all cores for almost two minutes. The temperature rose to a maximum of 88°C with a power consumption of almost 20 watts. It’s all absolutely fine. After the boost, the CPU leveled off at around 1.9Ghz in the long term, and the average temperature was 65°C. In return, the Core i5 fell back to its 12 watt base TDP.

Gear up


Finally, briefly to the “Danger Zone” – the upgrade. Here the Laptop Go 2 is a real Surface and nothing works without possible damage to the device. The rubber feet have to come off and whether they stick again afterwards is a matter of luck. Underneath are seven screws and lots of small plastic clips that hold the keyboard and its bezel in place. There is not much to see afterwards: The RAM is soldered, just like everything else. The two highlights are that not everything was simply poured with glue and the SSD is actually interchangeable. An M.2 2230 PCIe SSD can be installed and thus currently up to 1TB of storage in this design. So you can save a little if you dare to open the device and swap an SSD yourself.


Overall, the Go 2 is a solid notebook that you can always have with you. Small, light, robust and with excellent input devices.

For me it’s still not a “real” Surface. For me, Surface has developed over the years into the “seamless” Windows device that all other manufacturers should learn from. Open the display, display comes on, logged in, done. With the Surface Laptop Go 2, I first have to unlock it via pin or fingerprint, which breaks this experience. Sure, that’s not the end of the world and very, very “First World Problem”, but that’s what makes a surface device for me. Even the first Surface Go tablet had Windows Hello integrated via the camera. So why not the Laptop Go 2? The missing keyboard lighting and the meager memory configuration are also not accessible to me.

On the other hand, it is the cheapest representative among the Surface laptops if we leave out the predecessor. For that you get a lot and an unbeatable processing. But there are also alternatives: The HP Pavilion x360 is currently* available for 30 euros less with a Windows Hello camera and 512GB SSD.

*at the time of research

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A full time tech enthusiast with a passion for writing. Religiously follow everything new happening in the tech world and share my two cents with my audience here.

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