The Surface Go 3 is Microsoft’s latest and most affordable tablet and is designed to tackle basic computing tasks. While there is no shortage of convertible Windows laptops, detachable 2-in-1s are still a rarity and usually cost a premium. This makes the Surface Go 3 quite interesting as it is priced lower than the Surface Pro line. It’s also a lot more portable, hence the name.
The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is primarily a Windows tablet, which can be turned into a laptop with the optional keyboard mount. Think of it like the Microsoft version of an iPad, but with the full desktop Windows experience you’re probably used to. It can be an attractive solution for anyone looking for a hybrid computer that can meet both work and entertainment needs, such as content consumption. However, is the Surface Go worth it? Let’s find out.
Microsoft Surface Go 3 design
Thanks to the hybrid nature of a detachable 2-in-1, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 works infinitely better as a tablet than most convertible Windows laptops with 360-degree hinges. It is about 8.3mm thick and weighs 544g, making it quite slim and light. It can be easily carried in one hand. The matte gray finish does not attract fingerprints and the metal housing feels sturdy and well put together. When used in portrait mode, you’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right and the headphone jack, USB Type-C port and a patented Surface Connect port on the bottom. The latter is used to quickly charge the tablet and to connect accessories, but the Surface Go 3 can also be charged via the Type-C port.
The left side of the Microsoft Surface Go 3 has contacts for powering an optional keyboard. Unlike most tablets, the Surface Go 3 has a built-in kickstand that gives you a wide range of usage options. Hidden behind the kickstand is a microSD card slot, which is very easy to miss as there is no inscription or marking to indicate its presence.
The Microsoft Surface Go 3 has a 10.5-inch full-HD (1920×1280) touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The brightness levels are good and the colors are vibrant and punchy. The bezel around the screen is thick enough to provide plenty of room to rest your thumbs when holding the tablet. There is a 5 megapixel webcam and an infrared camera for Windows Hello facial recognition. The Surface Go 3 also has an 8-megapixel camera on the back. You also get cutouts on either side of the screen’s edge for the front-firing stereo speakers.
Microsoft Surface Go 3 Specifications and Software
The Microsoft Surface Go 3 launched in multiple variants, but only one configuration is available online, at least at the time of this review. It’s the same one Microsoft sent me, and it has a 10th Gen Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y CPU, 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, and a 128GB SSD. This variant is officially priced at Rs. 57,999, although you should be able to find it online for less.
Other variants can be found under a separate section on Microsoft’s site, called Surface for Business. These include a base variant with 64 GB eMMC storage and 4 GB RAM, and a top variant with an Intel Core i3-10100Y CPU. There is optional LTE connectivity with the Surface for Business variants and they come with Windows 11 Pro. These variants can be purchased from listed resellers, but are not easily found on mainstream ecommerce platforms.
For what it’s worth, I think Microsoft chose the right configuration for consumer use, as the lower-end variants have eMMC storage and only 4GB of RAM, which isn’t ideal for Windows. The Core i3 CPU in the top variant doesn’t offer much compared to the Pentium Gold, just higher clock speeds for the CPU cores and a slightly better integrated GPU. All variants of the Surface Go 3 are equipped with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
In terms of software, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 comes with Windows 11 in S mode, which only lets you download apps from the Microsoft Store and use the Microsoft Edge browser for security and management. You can easily switch to Standard mode, which will allow you to install just about any Windows application, but there’s no going back. There aren’t many pre-installed third-party apps, which is a refreshing change. You do get a trial version of Microsoft 365 Family. A full version of at least Office Home and Student would have been nice, and many of Microsoft’s OEM partners offer this with their laptops.
Before we go any further, let’s talk about some of the accessories you’ll probably want to buy along with the Surface Go 3. Microsoft offers a standard Type Cover (Rs. 10,950) keyboard or a Signature Type Cover (Rs. 15,699), which is made from Alcantara fabric. Microsoft also sent me a Surface Pen, which costs Rs extra. 9,099 in India. The pen runs on a single AAAA battery and snaps onto the top of the tablet magnetically. These drive up the total price considerably.
Microsoft Surface Go 3 performance and battery life
I’ve been using the Microsoft Surface Go 3 for both work and leisure for a few weeks now, and I can confidently say that it easily lives up to its intended purpose. I can’t speak for the basic variant, but the one with the 128GB SSD and 8GB RAM is good enough for basic computing tasks like writing, attending video calls, answering emails, and even a little Photoshop work. Windows 11 runs well, although you will have to get used to a small delay. In my experience this was always present. It was noticeable when I woke up the Surface Go 3 from sleep mode and every time I had to navigate the Windows UI. Heavy apps like Photoshop take longer than usual to load, although this worked well for me once up and running.
Without the keyboard, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a decent tablet. Windows is a bit tricky to use without a stylus, and the lack of good tablet-friendly apps in the Windows Store doesn’t help either. However, for content viewing, the built-in kickstand is a lifesaver. You can place the tablet at any angle and anywhere and start watching. The Surface Pen is useful for taking notes or drawing, although I’m not a big stylus user, so I ended up not using it too much. The only tablet feature I miss on Windows is the ability to just turn off the screen without putting the entire device to sleep, which would allow for use cases like listening to music.
The Surface Go 3 easily functions as a productivity machine once you attach the keyboard. The whole setup wasn’t as easy or comfortable to use on my lap as a regular laptop, as the Type Cover keyboard has some flex and the sharp edge of the stand tended to dig into my thighs after extended use. However, it worked well when placed on a stable surface. The keyboard keys are very comfortable to type on, with even backlighting. The glass trackpad is also very good.
Casual games ran well, but anything with heavy 3D graphics struggled. Fortnite, for example, was barely playable despite lowering the graphics quality and resolution. Asphalt 9: Legends was also a little stiff in places. The sound from the stereo speakers is loud and clear. The 1080p webcam is also very good and the video is clean, even in a dimly lit room. The rear camera has autofocus and is good for an occasional photo or for scanning documents.
Microsoft claims that the Surface Go 3 can deliver up to 11 hours of runtime on a single charge, which in my experience turned out to be a bit too optimistic. With non-stop use I could get about four and a half to five hours, but if I took breaks in between I could stretch it to about seven hours. For a 10.5-inch tablet with Windows, it’s not terrible, but far from ideal. I mostly used this tablet with the keyboard plugged in, so you might get a bit more battery life without it. With light workloads, frugal usage, and a more conservative battery profile, you could get through almost a full workday on a single charge, but it would be hard.
In our Battery Eater Pro test, the tablet (without the keyboard) ran for a reasonable 2 hours and 40 minutes. With the included adapter, you can quickly charge the Surface Go 3 to about 80 percent in an hour, which isn’t bad. The charger also has a USB Type-A port that can be used to charge any device.
The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is arguably the company’s most affordable 2-in-1 Windows tablet, but Rs. 57,999 is a lot of money. One argument that often comes up is that you can get much better specs in a standard laptop for the same price, which is true, but you can’t comfortably use them as tablets. The variant I tested was adequate in terms of performance. It also has a bright screen, good speakers, a quality webcam and a solid build quality. The battery life is a bit weak and the accessories most people want are relatively expensive.
If you add in a stylus and keyboard, the Surface Go 3 costs almost Rs. 80,000, at which point the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i appears to be a much more attractive deal. It has better specs, making it more of a Surface Pro competitor, plus the keyboard and stylus are included.
The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a very good little tablet with the potential to be a 2-in-1, but the average battery life and overall cost of the whole package will keep many people from taking the plunge. .
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