Microsoft Surface Go 3 tablet was launched on 22nd September 2021. From what we can tell, Microsoft intends the Surface Go 3 to be for two types of customers: Children and IT professionals who need a tiny computer for their education and assignments or if someone is on their job in the field looking for an easy accessibility to a performance driving computer. These are daily working professionals, either in corporate or on the field, who love tiny computers. For both the groups, the Surface Go 3 is a bummer.
The Surface Go 3 is Microsoft’s smaller-sized Surface tablet. It has a 10.5-inch screen and one fewer port than its larger Pro sibling, but otherwise looks very similar to its predecessors. That means it offers the exact same excellent build quality and overall premium design as full-sized surface tablets. It is a great-looking device that’s often a pleasure to use – so long as you don’t use it to do too much or need it to last very long.
Gone are the days when, if you could only spend a limited amount of money on a computer, you had to accept that it would be slow or will have an average performance. Those times are behind us: you could get a Chromebook, an Apple iPad, and even some Windows laptops for under INR 35000 that will run circles around the Surface Go 3, even the higher-spec model that we are testing with a Core i3 processor that costs an approximate INR 57000 with the fancier Alcantara Type Cover.
The Surface Go 3 starts at approximately INR 55000 with a Y-series processor and a paltry 64GB of slower eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM. We can’t imagine anybody using that edition for anything more than light web browsing.
we have always said the Surface Go is a fine little computer if you understand its limitations and are willing to work within them. But by the third generation, you’d think Microsoft would have found a way to either remove more of those limits or provide better tradeoffs for them. Unfortunately, neither of those things have happened this year.
The long and specifically short of this review is simply this: four and a half hours of computing. That’s the longest we were able to keep the Surface Go 3 running in active use. One of the apps we were running was power hungry (specifically Slack), but the only other app was the Edge browser with somewhere around a dozen tabs. That’s it. When we took the Go 3 outside and needed to crank the brightness up, that battery life dropped to three hours. we’re not sure where Microsoft gets its 11-hour estimate, as claimed by the OEM, but it’s far from reality. Possibly we are running the wrong applications or the Go 3 is not built for running these apps for longer.
If the battery life were better, my old advice about working within this computer’s limitations would still apply. It has Windows 11 by default and though the edges are rough, the interface overall feels really nice and usable on this smaller, 10.5-inch touchscreen. Snap Assist for tiling windows is especially useful with this smaller screen, since it’s harder to get windows to the arrangement I’m used to on bigger displays.
Windows 11 has an advantage over iPad Operating System in that it actually supports multiple users. And compared to Chrome Operating System, it can run many more useful apps (though not yet Android apps). But it’s possible to get all those Windows benefits without making all the compromises the Go 3 demands.
The overall physical design is unchanged a bummer since the Surface Pro 8 got such a big update this year. It still works with the older Surface Pen design if you have one of those, but it doesn’t support haptics from the newer pen. The Type Cover still has a nice keyboard but a flimsy keyboard deck. It’s so flimsy that we often accidentally click the mouse simply by resting our hands on the palm rests it’s resting on our lap.
Perhaps the most baffling part of the Surface Go 3 is that it isn’t using an Arm-based processor, like the Surface Pro X. If it did, we have to imagine it would get the benefits of longer battery life without taking too much of a speed hit (even the Core i3 version can’t be described as “fast”). Perhaps those aforementioned IT pros wouldn’t be able to run the apps they need on Arm – or perhaps Microsoft simply didn’t want to spend the R&D budget necessary to redesign the Surface Go 3 around a new chip.
On the other hand, Surface Go 2 was easy to love and hard to live with. And despite everything, there are times we really do love using the Surface Go 3. There is something wonderful about having such a tiny, light device that theoretically can do anything a bigger Windows computer can do – just more slowly.
Microsoft Surface Go 3 Technical Specification
|Dimensions||9.65” x 6.9” x 0.33” (245 mm x 175 mm x 8.3 mm)|
|Display||– Screen: 10.5” PixelSense™ Display|
– Resolution: 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI)
– Aspect ratio: 3:2
– Touch: 10-point multi-touch
– Contrast ratio: 1500:1
– Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
|Memory||4GB or 8GB LPDDR3|
|Processor||– Dual-core Intel® Pentium® Gold 6500Y processor|
– Dual-core 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i3-10100Y processor
|Security||– Enterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello face sign-in|
– Firmware TPM
|Software||– Windows 11 Home in S mode|
– Microsoft 365 Family one month trial
– Xbox Game Pass Ultimate one month trial (accessible through Xbox.com/Play)
|Sensors||Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer|
|What’s in the box||– Surface Go 3|
– Power Supply
– Quick Start Guide
– Safety and warranty documents
|Weight (not including Type Cover)||Wi-Fi: 544 gm|
|Keyboard compatibility||– Surface Go Signature Type Cover |
– Surface Go Type Cover
|Pen Compatibility||Surface Go 3 supports Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP)|
|Storage||– eMMC drive: 64 GB|
– SSD drive: 128 GB
|Graphics||Intel® UHD Graphics 615|
|Connections||– 1 x USB-C®|
– 3.5 mm headphone jack
– 1 x Surface Connect port
– Surface Type Cover Port
– MicroSDXC Card Reader
|Cameras, video, and audio||– Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)|
– 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video
– 8.0MP rear-facing auto-focus camera with 1080p HD video
– Enhanced dual far-field Studio Mics
– 2W stereo speakers with Dolby® Audio™
|Wireless||– Wi-Fi 6: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax compatible|
– Bluetooth Wireless 5.0 technology
|Exterior||– Casing: Magnesium|
– Colors: Platinum
– Physical buttons: Volume, Power
|Battery Capacities||– Battery Capacity Nominal (WH) 28.0|
– Battery Capacity Min (WH) 26.8
|Warranty||1-year limited hardware warranty|
|Extended Warranty||Buy up to two additional year of extended warranty for Surface Go 3 tablet|
|Accidental Damage Protection||Buy one year accidental, physical, liquid, and screen damage protection plan|
The Good Stuffs
- Low starting price
- Sunny display with vivid colors
- Windows Hello webcam with 1080p video support
- Integrated kickstand
- SD card reader for easy storage expansion
- Long battery life
Not So Good Stuffs
- Keyboard cover not included
- Only one USB-C port
- Optional extras pump up price quickly
- Disappointing computing performance, even with Core i3 upgrade
Unless having a tiny Windows tablet is an absolute necessity, there are better options. If you don’t need Windows, ChromeOS and iPad devices can be this small and last longer on a charge. If you do need Windows, there are plenty of computers that are just slightly larger but offer way better value. In fact, at this price we’d recommend tracking down a used or refurbished Surface Pro.
Microsoft’s Surface Go 3 is the best budget Windows 2-in-1 tablet, but its performance and value are a bit below expectations for a third-generation product that competes against Chromebooks and the Apple iPad. The Surface Go 3 is always a joy to carry and often a joy to use, but we wish we could have used it for longer.