Surface Laptop Go 2 is an iterative upgrade to the previous model, no doubt about it. But as a device that prioritizes design, portability, and usability, keeping the price of this luxury pocket laptop within a student’s range might just be a shrewd decision.
To cut to the chase, this laptop is an absolute joy to use. Those who might not be able to afford a pricier MacBook but have long wanted to buy it should definitely take a look at the Surface Laptop Go 2. It’s the closest thing to a low-priced Apple clamshell device.
It’s super thin, and most laptops are made from sleek, lightweight aluminum. But unlike the MacBook, it also comes in a colorful set of shades. It’s basically the same selection as last time, with the addition of a delightful Sage. I’ve been testing ice blue and it’s understated, but it’s a refreshing shade of color. It’s a device you’ll happily put in and out of your bag every day, ensuring you’ve got something that looks good and will last.
Working on this laptop is a breeze, and its keyboard is one of the best options for getting your papers and musings on. The keys have a good amount of travel for such a thin device, and the level of feedback is good, staying on the mushy right side to keep things satisfying.
The trackpad isn’t the largest, but it’s not a large device either, and thankfully it’s accurate and clicky from corner to corner. What brings the bottom half of this laptop down is the lack of backlighting, which can make it tricky in a dark lecture hall. The fingerprint button (available on the two 8 GB RAM models, but not the 4 GB) does have some lighting, so you can at least log in in time. Somewhat surprisingly, this Surface device doesn’t offer Microsoft’s Windows Hello face login feature, but the webcam is still of decent quality.
Aside from the lack of keyboard backlighting, there are other tradeoffs that have varying degrees of impact. The display’s resolution is somewhere between 1080p and 720p, and you’d think that would be a major hurdle, but don’t experience it firsthand. With a small 12.4-inch screen size, it wraps the low resolution in vibrant colors and a good level of detail. Its 3:2 aspect ratio also increases notebook productivity. Screen brightness is ok: in most cases you won’t have a problem. But using it outside won’t do, nor will a slick display.
You also only get Intel 11th Gen chips, not the latest 12th Gen chips. For a device over $500, you might expect the latest components, but it doesn’t turn out to be such a big compromise. Combined with 8 GB of RAM (the model I tested), the chip is more than enough for things like note taking and web browsers. The low price is a big part of the Surface Laptop Go 2’s appeal, and considering how well it performs in reality, the 12th-gen processor doesn’t seem worth the possible cost hike.