Microsoft Surface Go 2 review: an updated and interesting 2-in-1 tablet

Microsoft Surface Go 2

The second-generation Microsoft Surface Go 2 is positioned as a 2-in-1 multifunctional device that can simultaneously act as a portable tablet and a full-fledged laptop. However, there are several nuances here.

Firstly, the Type Cover keyboard case, which turns the device into a laptop, is not included in the package and will cost you about 10 thousand rubles. Second, Windows 10’s S-mode isn’t nearly as good for touchscreens as it is on Android or iPadOS.

In addition, the components in Surface Go 2 are not the most powerful, and the performance for a full version of Windows is not enough, so neither OS version is optimal. At least there are competitive 2-in-1 solutions on the market with a more powerful processor and a larger display. Will Surface Go 2 compete with the 2020 iPad?

Microsoft Surface Go 2 specifications

Display10.5-inch PixelSense, 1920 × 1080 resolution
CPUIntel Pentium Gold 4425Y / Intel Core M3
Graphic artsIntel UHD Graphics 615
RAM4/6/8 GB
Inner memory64/128 GB (eMMC / SSD)
operating systemWindows 10 in S mode
Cameras8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera with Windows Hello
SoundFront stereo speakers
Ports and connectorsOne × USB-C, audio combo jack, Surface Connect, Surface Type Cover, Micro SSDXC card reader.
Communication and connectionIntel Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth

Surface Go 2 Design and appearance

The second model has the usual high-quality materials for Surface – the case is made of metal; it seems reliable. The stand is also of high quality, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally dropping the tablet on the table.

The power and volume keys are located on the top side. Pressing requires quite strong, so you cannot accidentally turn off the device. The headphone jack, Surface Connect, and USB-C port are on the right, and the micro SDXC card slot is under the kickstand.

Display and multimedia

One of the main advantages of the Surface Go 2 over its predecessor is the display, which has increased from 10 inches to 10.5 inches. Yes, half an inch will hardly make a huge difference, but the bezels around the panel are smaller, which gives us a more immersive effect.

The resolution has also changed – from 1800 × 1200, it has increased to 1920 × 1280 pixels, which is great news for everyone who loves to watch videos and movies. The maximum brightness is high, although it may not be enough for a very sunny day. Since this is an IPS matrix, the color reproduction is excellent; they are clear and colorful. Go 2’s display is fine.

The speakers produce surprisingly loud and clear sound, making it easy to use the device to listen to music while doing household chores. There is also an 8MP main camera and a 5MP front camera for online video calls. Two microphones are perfect for talking or recording voice. The sound picture is detailed and clear without any distortion.

Surface Go 2: Detachable keyboard

If you’ve seen any commercials for the Microsoft Surface Go 2, the Type Cover was definitely included. However, you will have to buy it separately, the accessory costs at least 10 thousand rubles – and if you take the Blue, Red, or Platinum version, it will cost 11-12 thousand.

Yes, the Type Cover looks good, good quality, and easily connects to Surface Go 2 – magnetically attaches to the underside. However, it is not so convenient to type on it. The key travel is quite long – at least for this type of keyboard, although there is no click feedback like on a good laptop.

In addition, the keys feel small, and the layout is cramped, leading to frequent typing errors. The accessory is not very stable – with each press, it starts to wobble from side to side – uncomfortable. Although, of course, this is better than entering text through the touch screen. Type Cover will be a useful addition when you need to quickly jot down a note or make a request in a search engine, but for typing large texts and reports, it is not very good.

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Performance and system

The Surface Go two is 64% faster than its predecessor, according to Microsoft, thanks to the new 8th Gen Intel Core M3 processor. However, to get the variant with the fastest chipset, you will have to pay more.

Yes, you can buy an entry-level model with an Intel Pentium Gold 422Y processor, which is significantly cheaper, but it will be noticeable in operation. Of course, the Core M3 is also not powerful enough to compete with modern ultrabooks. However, Microsoft is positioning the Go 2 primarily as a tablet, so its main competitor is the iPad rather than any Dell XPS 13.

From this point of view

The Surface Go 2’s performance looks perfectly normal, especially in Windows 10 S-mode. It is enabled on the device by default, and even with a weak processor provides decent performance. However, it also has disadvantages.

S-Mode is only compatible with Microsoft-approved apps – that is, don’t have any problems with Spotify, YouTube, or Instagram, many third-party programs from the Internet are prohibited from installing. Moreover, Microsoft does not allow us to install competing software like Google Chrome, so we have to use Explorer to surf the web.

Fortunately, you can install full Windows 10, which already allows you to use Surface Go 2 like a regular laptop without any restrictions. True, this OS build is not optimized for tablets, so navigating the interface will be inconvenient, and performance will plummet. Even switching between two tabs on the browser will take place with a delay, which is unacceptable for constant use.

Perhaps the Intel Core M3 will handle full Windows 10 better, but the fact remains. The entry-level model can only perform well in S-mode, so you have to put up with a limited number of applications. The interface in this mode is also not the most convenient; the same Android OS or iPadOS for touch navigation is much better adapted.

Good performance on Windows 10

At the heart of the Surface Go is Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y. In terms of performance, the dual-core processor does not look very good, as Pentium models are usually less powerful and energy-efficient than comparable m3 or i5 processors. In our test, the performance was sufficient for everyday office and Internet tasks. The device can easily open multiple programs at the same time, and most Windows Store games run smoothly. If you like to open many tabs in your browser or use multiple applications, you should choose the option with 8 GB of RAM.

The good speed of the interface is due to the operating system installed on the tablet. Instead of full-fledged Windows 10, it uses Windows 10 Home S modification. In it, you can only install applications from the Windows Store and not from regular third-party sources. If you are looking for the best Surface Pro drawing app, you can download Autodesk SketchBook, Sketchable, or Microsoft Whiteboard. Although Microsoft allows the upgrade to Windows 10 Home, it will result in a serious loss in performance and affect battery life. So we do not recommend doing this. Before buying a device, check the Windows Store to make sure it has all the apps you need: the Windows Store is much smaller than the iOS and Android stores.

Autonomy Microsoft Surface Go 2

Yes, the Surface Go 2 may not be the fastest, but the battery is definitely okay here. With a display brightness of 50%, the tablet will work for more than 9 hours in active mode. That’s roughly the same results as the iPad 7, Microsoft’s main 2-in-1 competitor. However, builds with more powerful processors are not as durable, so you will also have to choose either high speed or battery life.

Ports and communications

On the right side of the tablet are: headphone jack, USB Type-C ports, and Surface Connect. The stand hides a microSD card reader (with support for memory cards up to 1 TB), and on top are a power button and a volume rocker.

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Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 are available from wireless communications. The tablet contains an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer.

Surface Go: Medium Mobility

If you leave Windows S preinstalled on your device, Surface Go’s battery life is acceptable. In a practical test with demanding office applications and several programs open at the same time, the battery lasted just over five hours.

If the display brightness is low and the functions are disabled (e.g., Bluetooth), the operating time may be increased. Microsoft itself claims a runtime of 9 hours with pure video playback. The weight of the 2-in-1 device (without keyboard cover) is 522g, which is not about the same level as tablets with aluminium cases. So the Surface Go is perfect for taking your tablet with you on a short trip.

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Microsoft Surface Go: great display, but weak hardware

The 10-inch diagonal is a very small display size for modern laptops. In addition, the company still uses thick bezels in this model, which already looks old-fashioned. However, we must admit that the matrix with PixelSense technology and a resolution of 1800 × 1200 pixels provides an excellent picture with natural colors and high contrast. Although the maximum brightness here cannot compete with more expensive models, it is sufficient for everyday tasks, but for the comfortable operation, you will have to avoid direct sunlight.

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Moving from a high-quality display to tablet equipment, the relatively low price of the device becomes understandable. The only nice thing here is the built-in USB Type-C port, through which you can connect not only data carriers but also an external monitor. The volume of the built-in flash drive depends on the model: 64 GB or 128 GB. With a MicroSD card reader slot, storage can be expanded. There are no other typical connections here.

For photos and video calls, the Surface Go has an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. The package bundle of the device from Microsoft is especially scarce: a keyboard case, stylus, and a mouse must be purchased separately.

Microsoft Surface Go 2: Battery

The device has a lithium-ion battery, which provides good autonomy results. So, in the streaming video mode, the model works for about eight hours. More intensive use (Evernote + multiple browser tabs + photo editing in Affinity Photo) will drain the tablet in about five hours. Charging time from zero to 100% is approximately 2.5 hours.


The Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet strives to be a device that performs all the functions of a tablet and a laptop, although in both cases, and in full measure, it fails. Windows 10 operating system in S mode is nowhere near as convenient as Android or iPadOS, so navigation here is not the best for a tablet. If you install full-fledged Windows 10, the device starts to slow down a lot, especially with an entry-level processor. Even basic tasks become almost impossible to perform. Of course, you can spend money and buy a model with a more powerful chipset, but the price, in this case, will be closer to modern ultrabooks, and it is not clear why we need Go 2.

Nevertheless, this device has advantages. It looks good, and as a tablet, it will suit anyone who prefers an OS from Microsoft over Apple.

Should you buy it?

For watching TV shows, surfing the web and using social media, the Surface Go 2 is quite good. For work tasks and writing large texts, it is practically unsuitable.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 Hybrid Tablet Review – Video

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  • Improved design
  • Thinner screen bezels
  • The bright and colorful display
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent microphones and webcams


  • Not user-friendly touch interface
  • The poor performance of the base model
  • S Mode in Windows 10 has many limitations
  • Type Cover is an expensive accessory and does not replace the keyboard 100%


Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a cute and durable 10.5-inch tablet. When connected to a keyboard dock, it turns into a compact laptop, which is convenient to take on a trip or business meeting. The device is equipped with a bright IPS-screen, a basic set of interfaces, loudspeakers, high-quality IR webcam.

Although the tablet is positioned as a budget creation by Microsoft, buying a stylus and keyboard dock turns it into a rather expensive device. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the performance of the new product. Using the default S mode limits the user’s options and is suitable, perhaps, for children who will play on a tablet or watch cartoons. The transition to full-fledged Windows often slows down the system. So, in fact, it is not worth pinning high hopes on the Microsoft Surface Go 2. The device is suitable for surfing the web, viewing mail, streaming video, drawing sketches, and other simple everyday tasks.

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