Microsoft Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 2: What's changed between generations for Microsoft's small 2-in-1? - MrLiambi's blog


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Thursday, 23 September 2021

Microsoft Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 2: What's changed between generations for Microsoft's small 2-in-1?

Microsoft took the wraps off a host of devices during a major live stream in late September 2021, but one of the less-radical revamps that it showed off for the Surface line came in the form of the Surface Go 3.

This is, exactly as it sounds, an update to the older Surface Go 2 and, on the surface, it doesn't look too different aside from the update to Windows 11. Here, though, are some more detailed comparisons across a few key areas.


Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 2: Design

We'll tackle the elephant in the room head on here - the Go 3 and Go 2 appear to have literally identical designs - this is confirmed by Microsoft listing their dimensions as being the same down the millimetre. That means that if you liked the look of the Go 2, there's absolutely nothing holding you back from having the same view of the Go 3.

This means either way you'll get a 10.5-inch screen with fairly chunky bezels, along with a fold-away cover holding the keyboard and trackpad. Either generation is a true 2-in-1, letting you use it as either a tablet or a laptop according to your needs.

We would have hoped for a bigger revision that might improve the Go's looks a bit, but it would seem we're going to have to wait a while longer for the likes of that. The good news it that the Go 3 and Go 2 are both super lightweight, perfect for portable work.

Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 2: Display

As part of that lack of change, the actual tech specs of the display you'll be using confirm that it, too, hasn't changed between generations - in both models, it's a 1920 x 1280 resolution panel, with 220 PPI and 10-point multi-touch support.

This is no great tragedy, either - the display was updated substantially between the first Go and the Go 2, so it's no great surprise that Microsoft has stuck with it again. It's got good sharpness and colour accuracy, especially given its size.

Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 2: Hardware and software

Getting under the hood, we finally come to the area where things have actually changed a good bit. Starting with the Go 2, it was powered by either an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y or an 8th Gen Intel Core m3. The latter was the only real choice for us, but still left the Go 2 a little underpowered in some scenarios.

This was all running Windows 10 in its stripped-back "S" mode, and it all added up to a device that was handy in a pinch but could struggle with challenging tasks. To remedy this meant spending a good chunk of extra cash on step-up options like doubled RAM or the more expensive processor.

For the Surface Go 3 Microsoft has helped out a bit by upping the minimum specs a little. The Go 3 can be kitted out with a dual-core Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y or dual-core 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100Y processor, representing a decent step forward in power.

It also ships with Windows 11 (also in "S" mode) for a bit of a newer look and feel, and the benefits of new features like Xbox Cloud Gaming to make the Go 3 a bit more widely useful of a device.

Both generations can have either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and both can be built with either a paltry 64GB or 128GB of on-device storage.

Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 2: Connections and ports

The two generations of tablet have exactly the same set of ports, as you'd expect from the unchanged design - the list in full:

  • 1 USB-C
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 1 Surface Connect port
  • Surface Type Cover Port
  • MicroSDXC Card Reader

This means that you can expand your storage on either using microSD, but does leave the Go 2 and Go 3 pretty short of real ports to use - so you'll likely be picking up a dongle to go with it. Similarly, whichever version you opt for, you'll almost certainly want to pick up a Surface Type Cover so that you can actually use a keyboard with the tablet.

Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 2: Conclusion

When it comes to picking a winner between the Go 2 and Go 3, things are actually very simple for one key reason - the price. Where the Surface Go 2 arrived at £399, the Go 3 starts from £369, and the Go 2 still isn't that heavily discounted around the place.

That means, for now, the easiest logic is to opt for the more future-proof Go 3, since you'll be spending similar amounts on older hardware if you go for the older model.


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