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A good review of the Surface Laptop Go 2
Laptops

A good review of the Surface Laptop Go 2

A bad reputation surrounds the word basic. The best devices are simple ones that deliver everything you need without excessive extra features. Surface Laptop Go 2 delivers all the essentials for a very affordable price, so it's not as flashy as a Surface Studio or flexible as a Surface Pro 8. 

A refreshed CPU and storage, redesigned fans, a starting price of $600, and the fact that you get even more for just that small increase in price, adds even more value.

The design hasn't changed much, and I have no complaints because it's basic in the best way. With a body that weighs only 2.5 pounds, you still get the Surface aesthetic. In Microsoft's laptops, the lid and deck are made of aluminum, but the bottom is plastic, which keeps the price low.

The Laptop Go 2 is equipped with a PixelSense display with slim bezels, and while it has smaller keys and a touchpad than a larger Surface, it never felt crowded. It was a bit frugal of Microsoft to leave the keyboard without backlighting. Regardless of price, backlit keys should be standard in 2022. 

The port selection does seem a bit limited, I will admit that. The Surface Pro 3 comes with one USB-A port, one USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a magnetic Surface Connect port. For me, three USB ports would be ideal. 

There is no USB-A port on its power brick. Unlike its bigger siblings, the Surface Laptop Go 2 doesn't have any extra USB-A ports, so it isn't really useful when you want to charge an accessory. Microsoft's included brick can be swapped out for a third-party charger since the Laptop Go 2 supports USB-C power delivery.

While we received one of the higher-end review units with a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, the base model does not. Although I understand Microsoft wants to keep costs low, this should come with every installation. Microsoft retained the old model's 1,536 x 1,024 touchscreen. Even though it's not full HD, the colors are vibrant. We measured 375 nits, more than Microsoft's claim of 330 nits. 

Microsoft deserves credit for surpassing its nominal specifications. What resolution would be best for me? Definitely. Despite this, things still look quite sharp on a 12.4-inch screen. The lower pixel density is not noticeable from a normal viewing distance. 

As for the Laptop Go 2 speakers, Microsoft states that the volume is 24 percent louder than it was before. The speakers are hidden under the keyboard, so you won't see any grilles. Although the soundstage sounds shallow with less detail in the highs and lows than I'd like, the audio still comes through quite clearly. I'm satisfied with a $600 system. 

Microsoft claims a new sensor in the Laptop Go 2's cam will improve contrast and color saturation. That's true. It should still be a minimum of a 1080p webcam. In most cases, though, this webcam is plenty capable unless you're live streaming on Twitch or something.    

Surface Laptop Go 2 has the most significant performance improvements. With its 11th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, Microsoft has upgraded to an operating system that's not the latest but feels snappy in general. 

On general performance tests like PCMark 10 and Geekbench 5, the Laptop Go 2's scores were only 10 percent lower than those of a bigger machine like the HP Spectre x360 with an i5-11390H chip. In more demanding tests or workloads, it is limited by its lack of discrete graphics.

Microsoft left out 8GB of RAM for the review model, which is disappointing since the base model has just 4GB of RAM. The upgrade will probably cost you $100 if you decide to get one. While you get a 64GB eMMC drive in the Surface Laptop Go 2, the Surface Laptop Go 2 now comes with a 128GB SSD as standard. The base model gets you more storage and faster storage.

Surface Laptop Go 2 handles multiple browser tabs, and multiple office apps, and is faster in the real world, which is all I'm asking for in a device like this. Due to the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, you can also do some light video editing and casual gaming, although anything more will be pushing its capabilities. 

The Surface Laptop Go 2 endured 14 hours 43 minutes on our video rundown test. It's even longer than the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio. On our test, the 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 had a time of 15:25, which means it has an edge if longevity is your main concern. 

The fan noise on my system has also been reduced by up to 10 decibels at the maximum speed, thanks to Microsoft's efforts. Normal use of the Laptop Go 2 is relatively quiet, often running completely silent if you're just browsing the web, and rarely rising above a whisper. In some ways, this laptop seems like an ideal candidate for a fanless design. 

The M1 MacBook Air, for example, has a super-efficient chip that Windows machines do not. It's also worth remembering that an equivalent MacBook Air costs $200 more as well than the Surface Laptop Go 2 version.

Microsoft's most travel-friendly notebook stands out a bit more when compared to more expensive rivals in this context. It makes a great travel companion for someone like me who uses a desktop at home, and I would rather drag it around than my heavier Intel MacBook Pro 13. 

While it's not as powerful and has a lower-res screen, it still offers great performance while traveling. A great machine for students or anyone who wants a well-designed, no-frills notebook. The Surface does not have an IR webcam for facial authentication or a stylus, but that's fine. The Surface Laptop Go 2 is not only super portable, but it is also very affordable and almost stylish, as well as having all the essentials.

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