OPINION: The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go has been one of my favourite laptop ranges for a few years now, and a go-to option for recommendations. But, not anymore.
The range doesn’t have any unique features and performance is below average, but it hits the sweet spot for pricing. The Surface Laptop Go 2 had a starting price of $599/£529, putting it towards the cheaper end of the Windows laptop market.
As a result, Trusted Reviews has frequently positioned the Surface Laptop Go at the top of our Best Budget Laptop ranking. But, following the launch of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3, I’m not convinced that strong form will continue.
Instead of keeping to that low affordable price, Microsoft has upped the starting price of the Surface Laptop Go 3 to $799/£799. There are caveats to this price increase, chiefly that Microsoft has ditched the base 4GB RAM and 128GB storage options, leaving you with 8GB RAM and 256GB as the minimum specs.
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I can understand this decision to some degree, as 4GB RAM is very low by 2023’s standard. However, I didn’t personally have a major problem with using 4GB of RAM for past iterations of the Surface Laptop Go, just as long as I accepted the laptop’s limitations. Having multiple spec options also allows customers to choose the ideal performance for their workloads – maybe they just need a laptop to open emails and watch YouTube.
It’s also questionable whether Microsoft has made enough tweaks to the Surface Laptop Go series over the years to justify that $799/£799 price point. The Surface Laptop Go 3 has only been treated to a single upgrade: a new processor. What’s worse, that processor is already over a year out of date – I’ve previously forgiven that sin since it’s been reflected by the price, but it’s becoming harder to forgive now the cost is creeping up.
It’s frustrating that Microsoft hasn’t provided any additional upgrades to the laptop. I’m still pining for a 1080p screen resolution, a Full HD webcam and a keyboard backlight. The design feels outdated too, with a chunky bezel taking up valuable screen space.
It’s admittedly true that the price of the Surface Laptop Go 3 still undercuts the vast majority of Windows portables on the market, so expecting all of the above upgrades is unrealistic. But I’m still disappointed that Microsoft hasn’t bothered to upgrade anything other than the processor since the original Surface Laptop Go first launched back in 2020.
And with the new $799/£799 starting price, it’s difficult not to be tempted by slightly more expensive laptops. The M1-powered MacBook Air is the most obvious choice, costing just $999/£999 and featuring superior performance, screen, battery life and design. If you have the extra $200/£200 to spend, it’s a massive upgrade.
Neglecting laptop ranges certainly isn’t a new thing for Microsoft – it’s done the exact same for the Surface Laptop, Surface Pro and Surface Go ranges. But the potential decline of the Surface Laptop Go feels particularly sour given it’s previously provided so many people with an affordable entry point to Windows laptops.
Microsoft finally had a laptop worth buying over the likes of the MacBook Air, Dell XPS 13 and more. And now it’s ditched the one aspect that made the Surface Laptop Go such an appealing device: a budget-friendly price.
Ctrl+Alt+Del is our weekly computing-focused opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.