Microsoft Surface Go long-term review

I have used a 2018 Microsoft Surface Go (Pentium 4415Y CPU, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD) since early 2019. Much of my general office work such as: Word, PowerPoint, grading, email, videoconferencing, and non-gaming personal use such as: media consumption and webinars were done on the Surface Go. The Surface Go is perhaps the best value I’ve ever had in a computer: usefulness versus price.

The 2020 Surface Go 2 should be considered against the entry-level Surface Pro 7. Surface Pro 7 has proportionately more capability than the Surface Go 2 for the money. The benchmarks and initial reviews of the Core m3 2020 Surface Go 2 are favorable.

STEAM students and workers looking for a secondary device should consider:

  • Surface Go 2 Core m3 model (8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD)
  • entry-level Surface Pro 7 (8GB RAM Core i5)

Video conferencing

The 2018 Surface Go is adequate for videoconferencing as long as you’re not using other programs at the same time and are not using HD video. The 2018 Surface Go CPU isn’t powerful enough for advanced features like Zoom background replacement. While headsets are better for any laptop, the built-in array microphones of the Surface Go and Surface Pro 7 are good for videoconferencing.

Voice commands

The Surface Go generally seems to have a great array microphone. It is relatively straightforward to dictate using Windows Voice Commands to compose text with the Surface Go. This is accomplished in general by pressing ⊞ Win+h in any application, bringing up a dictation bar. Windows voice dictation accuracy is OK, but is not nearly as good as Android’s voice typing system.

charging

The Surface Go can be charged at least in three ways, which we find quite flexible:

  • OEM 24 watt (Surface connector)
  • USB-C PD to Surface connector adapter (need 15 volt USB-C PD adapter, works with other Surface devices also)
  • USB-C PD 18 watt or higher charger

Media

The 2018 Surface Go is fine to play video from YouTube and similar at the full screen resolution. The web browser is a bit slower on the 2018 Surface Go than on a mid-range laptop priced 3 times higher than the 2018 Surface Go.

Caveats

The main downside of the 2018 Surface Go is the relatively slow dual-core Pentium 4415Y. For most uses, I find the 2018 Surface Go to feel faster than a loaded 2014 i7-4650U Surface Pro 3, despite what the benchmarks say. If one is building code and running simulations, those will feel slower on the Surface Go, like a 5 year old laptop would feel.