Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 is a Tame Refresh — and That’s OK

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 is a Tame Refresh — and That’s OK
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Photo: Microsoft)

Microsoft is keeping the pressure on Chromebooks with the reveal of the Surface Laptop Go 2, the company’s budget-friendly traditional laptop.

Anyone hoping for major changes will be disappointed given that this sophomore release is a simple refresh of the previous model. The biggest update is the move to 11th Gen Intel Core processors from the 10th Gen chips in the original 2020 release. Beyond the chip swap, the Surface Go 2 will also be available in a new Sage colour, and Microsoft claims the 720p webcam and dual mics have been improved.

There isn’t much reason to upgrade if you own the previous model, but if you’re in the market for a solid sub-$1,199 that doesn’t run Chrome OS, the Surface Laptop 2 is poised to be a top option.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 price and release date

The Surface Laptop Go 2 will start at $1,199, up around $70 from the previous version. However, the base model now comes with a 128GB SSD paired with 8GB of RAM. You can preorder the device today, ahead of its June 7 ship date.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Starting with the new, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is powered by an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, a bump from the 10th Gen Core i5-1035G1. While this last-gen chip gets you slightly better performance, I’d argue that an even more significant upgrade is the 128GB SSD in the base model, up from the meager 64GB in the previous version. You can upgrade to 256GB if you need even more storage space.

As expected, the Surface Laptop Go 2 uses integrated Iris Xe graphics and will run Windows 11 out of the box (the original is eligible for the Windows 11 update).

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Photo: Microsoft)Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Photo: Microsoft)

The Surface Laptop Go 2 has a familiar 12.45-inch PixelSense touchscreen with a 1536 x 1024-pixel resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio. Assuming it hasn’t changed from the previous model, the screen has punchy colours, and though the resolution is rather low, it’s fine at this size. Speaking of which, I wish the Laptop Go 2 were offered with larger screen options — anything under 13 inches gets us into dreaded “netbook” terrority.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Image: Microsoft)Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Image: Microsoft)

Microsoft didn’t do much to the Surface Laptop Go 2’s design, which is fine by me. It has the same understated aesthetic as the previous version and throws in a fingerprint sensor (no IR camera) for fast login. Few laptops in this price range look as classy as the Surface Laptop Go 2, and while there is some polycarbonate resin on the base, the top and parts of the bottom are made of aluminium. It’s also thin and lightweight, at 0.6 inches and 1 kg.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Image: Microsoft)Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Image: Microsoft)

New to this 2022 version is a Sage colorway that joins Platinum, Ice Blue, and Sandstone. Credit to Microsoft for offering more than silver and grey — the Ice Blue and Sandstone were my preferred colours on the previous model and it’s nice to see them expand on those non-traditional options. Sage, by the way, is described as a greenish-grey with some blue tones. I’m hoping Microsoft sends me this model so I can give y’all a better description after seeing it in person.

Ports remain limited, with the Surface Laptop Go 2 offering only a USB Type-C, a USB Type-A, a Surface Connect port (for charging and docking), and a 3.5mm headphone jack. For connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 support. Another intriguing claim I’m eager to test is that the Surface Laptop Go 2 has an improved 720p /2.0 webcam and dual microphones. I’ve heard this line before and I won’t believe it until I see it with my own eyes.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Image: Microsoft)Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Image: Microsoft)

We can only hope the extra 30 minutes of battery life Microsoft advertises amounts to more significant improvements in our real-world tests. The original laptop was supposed to get 13 hours on a charge, but it died after just 6 hours and 32 minutes on our YouTube video playback test with the screen set to 200 nits. That’s…awful. If this isn’t much better, then the only saving grace could be the Go 2’s ability to charge to 80% in about an hour.

It’s hard not to shrug at the Surface Laptop Go 2. The original model was an excellent choice for budget PC shoppers, and this new version will likely follow right along. The upgraded processors, new colour option, and (supposedly) enhanced webcams are welcome additions, but I feel there are many missed opportunities to add value; for example, by adding backlighting to the keyboard, offering a larger display option, or using an IR camera with facial recognition.