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Surface Laptop Go 3 vs MacBook Air M2: Which student laptop wins?

The Surface Laptop Go 3 is now available to buy and it could be a top pick for students. But, it has fierce competition in the form of the MacBook Air M2. Let’s compare.

Microsoft’s recent event was more focused on new AI capabilities in Windows 11, like Copilot, leaving little time for much Surface goodness. However, the Surface Laptop Go 3, Surface Laptop Studio 2 and Surface Go 4 did get enough time to be revealed on stage.

For the Surface Laptop Go range to truly compete with the latest MacBook Air, it would’ve taken a revelatory upgrade and that didn’t come. But, there are specific pros and cons on both sides that make this decision a harder one than you might think. Here are the key points in Surface Laptop Go 3 versus MacBook Air M2.

The Surface Laptop Go 3 is cheaper

The student-friendly Microsoft laptop got a price bump this year, primarily down to it ditching cheaper models in the range. However, it remains a lower-cost option than the MacBook Air M2.

Surface Laptop Go 3
Surface Laptop Go 3 – Image Credit (Microsoft)

The Surface Laptop Go 3 starts at £799/$799 while the cheapest 13-inch M2-powered MacBook Air begins at £1,249/$1,199.

The M2-powered MacBook Air is more powerful

Despite the significant difference in price, it is easy to argue that the MacBook Air is giving you better value for money. Unlike the Surface Laptop 3, the MacBook Air doesn’t offer an older generation chip and it offers higher quality specs like a 1080p webcam, QHD+ display and luxurious build quality. That’s compared with the 720p camera on the Surface, and its lowly HD+ display.

The Apple MacBook Air M2 2022 laptop
13-inch MacBook Air (M2) – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Both of these laptops are great as productivity machines, so if you’re only looking to do some essay-writing and web browsing then there may not be much to choose between the performance of these devices for you. However, compared with the Intel Core i5-1235U, the Apple M2 chip provides more graphical grunt for those who want to dabble in creative work. The MacBook Air also offers the ability to boost the memory and storage up to 24GB and 2TB. The Surface Laptop Go 3 tops out at 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage.

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Apple’s MacBook Air should offer more battery life

The new Surface Laptop Go 3 doesn’t get a new battery but, due to efficiency gains that come from the switch to an Intel 12th generation chip, Microsoft touts a boost from 13.5 hours of battery life to 15 hours. Now, in our testing of the Surface Laptop Go 2, we found that it offered around 9 hours. By comparison, the M2 MacBook Air offered nearly 14 hours. The third iteration of the Surface Laptop Go should close this gap a tad but the MacBook Air will still have the edge.

Laptop Go 3 is more compact and colourful

The MacBook Air is renowned for being a wonderful compact laptop but the Surface Laptop Go 3 does have it beat for portability. Microsoft’s laptop weighs 1.13kg and has a footprint of 278 x 206 x 15.7 mm. Apple’s weighs in at 1.24kg and 304.1 x 215 x 11.3 mm., and that is for the smaller 13-inch model rather than the 15-inch. Interestingly, Apple still wins on thinness but the rest of the footprint is significantly increased.

Surface Laptop Go 3
Surface Laptop Go 3 colours – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Surface Laptop Go 3 also wins on colour options, which could be key for a device targeted at students. Unlike its iPads, the Apple MacBook Air choice of colours is pretty tame, with Starlight, Space Grey, Midnight and Silver options. Microsoft offers Sage, Ice Blue, Sandstone and Platinum.

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