Small, premium laptops — really small ones — have fallen out of style lately. The smallest pc Apple sells has a 13.3-inch display. Dell’s tiniest XPS comes with a 13.4-inch panel. HP’s Spectre X360 line scales right down to 13.5-inch screens, which the corporate lists as a 14-inch class. The 11- or 12-inch laptops you should buy (those that aren’t tablets attempting to masquerade as one thing else) are sometimes low-cost and gradual. Fashionable laptops have trimmed weights and bezels and frames significantly, making it simpler to tote round these 13-inch or bigger screens, discovering a premium, client laptop computer with 12-inch or smaller display for the last word in portability is a problem.

That’s the place Microsoft’s Floor Laptop computer Go 2 is available in. The least costly laptop computer Microsoft sells (not counting the education-only Laptop computer SE), the $599-and-up Laptop computer Go 2, can also be the smallest and lightest, with a 12.4-inch display and weight of just below two and a half kilos. But it surely maintains the Floor design aesthetic and options, together with a cushty keyboard, clear audio system and microphones, a easy trackpad, and three:2 side ratio.

In fact, that portability doesn’t come with out compromise. The Go 2 doesn’t have the vary of processor, RAM, and storage choices of bigger laptops, sticking with an eleventh Gen Core i5 processor and maxing out at 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Battery life doesn’t even attain half a day of labor for me. This isn’t a pc for heavy, demanding workloads (and positively not avid gamers or these doing artistic visible work). It’s meant for somebody who simply wants to remain on prime of e-mail, compose some paperwork, and browse the net and needs a small, mild on-the-go machine. In spite of everything, it’s proper within the identify.

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The Floor Laptop computer Go 2 maintains Microsoft’s minimalist Floor aesthetic: its squared-off wedge form is equivalent to the first-generation Go, from 2020, or a barely shrunken-down Floor Laptop computer 4. This time round, you may get it in a sage inexperienced along with the sunshine blue, gold, or silver choices. My assessment unit has this inexperienced shade, and it’s fairly good. I’m not mad that this yr’s inexperienced telephone development is bleeding over to laptops now.

Although that is Microsoft’s least costly laptop computer, it doesn’t look or really feel like an affordable pc, with tight tolerances, lack of chassis flex, and a stiff hinge with good one-finger opening. (The shortage of cheesy stickers on the deck can also be uncommon on this value vary.) Just like the bigger Floor computer systems, the Go 2 has an aluminum lid and deck — although Microsoft does use a plastic panel on the underside, as a substitute of aluminum just like the Floor Laptop computer 4, it by no means as soon as had a unfavourable influence on my expertise. You’ll be hard-pressed to discover a nicer-feeling pc on this value vary.

The Laptop computer Go 2 has the identical port choice as its predecessor, which is to say, it’s kinda awful. There’s a single USB-A port, a single USB-C port (not Thunderbolt, sadly), a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Microsoft’s magnetic Floor Join port for charging and docking. You should utilize that USB-C to connect with exterior shows or cost the gadget, however you received’t get the advantages of superfast knowledge switch that Thunderbolt brings. Microsoft’s bigger Floor Laptops are equally port-limited, so this isn’t a shock, however one other couple USB ports right here would actually allow you to go away the dongle life behind.

The left side of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 showing the available ports in detail.

Ports are restricted to make use of one USB-C, one USB-A, and one 3.5mm headphone jack. The suitable aspect of the pc has Microsoft’s proprietary Floor Join port.

The display on the Laptop computer Go 2 can also be unchanged from its predecessor — a 12.5-inch, 3:2, 1536 x 1024 contact panel. It’s not the brightest or most pixel-dense display you may get, however in my testing, peak brightness hit a decent 360 nits, which is sufficient to let me use the laptop computer open air beneath an umbrella with out a lot challenge. In regular indoor conditions, comfy brightness (about 200 nits) was round 70 % on the slider. (One apart: in the event you do plan to make use of the Go 2 open air, you may wish to go away the polarized sun shades at residence. The polarization on the display means the show was black once I wore my sun shades, until I rotated the pc 90 levels. I shouldn’t have this challenge with MacBooks and the identical sun shades, so it’s probably one thing Microsoft might repair for subsequent time.) Contact response on the display is correct in step with expectations, although it isn’t appropriate with Microsoft’s Floor Pens for stylus enter.

Like different Floor computer systems, the Go 2’s display is well-calibrated and color-accurate out of the field. It covers 99 % of the sRGB spectrum, 74 % of AdobeRGB, and 76 % of P3, in response to my colorimeter, which implies it may very well be used for photograph enhancing work with out a lot challenge. However most individuals shopping for this pc will simply admire the display’s pleasing colours and distinction and lack of shade shifting or ghosting. They may even admire the three:2 side ratio, which offers extra vertical actual property than the everyday 16:9 screens you get on this value vary, perfect for net looking and doc work.

The Laptop computer Go 2 has a wonderful keyboard, regardless of the laptop computer’s smaller dimensions, with well-spaced keys, comfy journey, and quiet suggestions. My solely actual grievance is the dearth of keyboard backlight, which needs to be non-negotiable at this value and is discovered on many different well-liked laptops on this value vary. The trackpad is smaller than you’ll discover on a contemporary MacBook or XPS laptop computer, however it works completely fantastic for monitoring, scrolling, and different multifinger gestures, and I had no points with palm rejection.

A three quarter view of the Surface Laptop Go 2’s keyboard and trackpad.

The Laptop computer Go 2’s keyboard and trackpad are glorious. However bafflingly, it lacks any keyboard backlighting.

A detail shot of the Surface Laptop Go 2’s fingerprint scanner

There’s a fingerprint scanner on sure configurations that makes logging in to Home windows a breeze.

The ability button, within the upper-right-hand nook of the keyboard, has an built-in fingerprint scanner for Home windows Hiya authentication (on upgraded tiers, not the bottom mannequin). Dearer Floor computer systems use facial recognition cameras, however the fingerprint sensor is fast and simple to make use of; I didn’t miss facial recognition in any respect. There’s even just a little mild across the scanner that will help you discover it simply whenever you open the lid.

The digicam makes use of a 720p sensor as a substitute of the 1080p one present in different Floor computer systems. It’s not beautiful by any means, however it isn’t the worst both, with sharper pictures and extra element than Dell’s XPS cameras or the 720p digicam on Apple’s newest 13-inch M2 MacBook Professional. It’s flanked by two microphones that, together with the Laptop computer Go 2’s audio system beneath the keyboard deck, present clear video name audio.

All Floor Laptop computer Go 2 fashions have the identical Core i5-1135G7 quad-core processor inside. It’s a succesful chip and had no points dealing with my typical workload of dozens of browser tabs, Slack, Twitter, e-mail, Zoom, and different work apps unfold throughout a number of digital desktops. It isn’t, nevertheless, helpful for AAA gaming or artistic work. For enjoyable, I ran the PugetBench benchmark for Adobe Premiere Professional that we use to judge extra highly effective laptops, and it scored a 155. We sometimes see scores within the 700 and up vary in laptops which have discrete graphics playing cards and extra highly effective processors. Don’t purchase this in the event you plan on enhancing 4K video; this isn’t the laptop computer for you.

The $599 base configuration comes with simply 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which isn’t sufficient. My $799 assessment unit has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage; that’s the one mannequin I like to recommend shopping for. Any much less RAM or storage and also you’ll run into efficiency points or storage issues comparatively quickly. That value is $100 lower than a equally geared up first-gen Floor Laptop computer Go, however it’s nonetheless removed from low-cost. (As of this writing, each Microsoft and Greatest Purchase have discounted the vary from $40 to $100, which implies you may get a prime spec one for about $700. That’s not a nasty deal.)

Regardless of its small measurement and weight, the Laptop computer Go 2 is just not a fanless pc, and its small fan is audible and infrequently annoying. My first assessment pattern had a clicking sound when the fan was at a low velocity (which it continuously spins at) that was fairly irritating whereas in a quiet room. A substitute didn’t have that downside, so it’s potential it’s restricted to that particular unit. Larger fan speeds current a extra frequent whooshing sound, however I sometimes solely heard these when in Zoom calls or working benchmark checks. The underside of the laptop computer additionally will get heat, however the deck and palm rests stay comfortably cool.

Battery life is probably the largest downside I’ve with the Floor Laptop computer Go 2, nevertheless. With my normal workload and the display set to about 200 nits, I averaged lower than 5 hours of use between costs. Many days I needed to plug in earlier than midday to make sure it didn’t die in the midst of a gathering or engaged on a doc. I’ve the uncanny capacity to kill laptop computer batteries sooner than a number of my colleagues, however many 13-inch laptops can simply final twice as lengthy with my workload, so you actually need to worth the marginally smaller measurement and lighter weight to simply accept this sort of battery efficiency.

Between the fan noise, noticeable warmth, and awful battery life, I want Microsoft had simply used an Arm-based processor on this pc. Loads of Arm chips, like what’s within the Floor Professional X, Apple’s newest computer systems, and some Chromebooks, have sufficient energy to match the utilization profile of a pc like this, plus run cooler, don’t want followers, and have significantly better battery life. Home windows 11 continues to get higher with Arm too, and this looks like the correct of pc to leverage that.

A three quarter view of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 with its lid about 30 degrees open.

The Laptop computer Go 2 has the identical design aesthetics as Microsoft’s bigger and costlier laptops.

Throughout my complete time utilizing the Floor Laptop computer Go 2, I used to be reminded of Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook from 2015. Each of these have been high-end, small computer systems that have been designed to be as mild and transportable as potential, whereas nonetheless offering glorious keyboards, trackpads, and capabilities. In addition they had compromises when it got here to battery life and energy (and ports).

The Floor Laptop computer Go 2 looks like a contemporary model of these compact laptops, full with lots of the similar limitations. It’s too costly to be an actual price range choice, not highly effective sufficient to be for demanding customers, and doesn’t have the battery life to final all day away from an outlet. You may pay much less cash and get extra efficiency, battery life, and pc from a Chromebook and even one other Home windows laptop computer.

What the Laptop computer Go 2 is, although, is a small, light-weight pc with a cushty keyboard, trackpad, and display, wrapped in a nice-looking and -feeling bundle. It additionally comes with an actual processor and sufficient RAM and storage to do actual work, in contrast to different subcompact computer systems. If these are the particular belongings you worth and are searching for in a laptop computer, nicely… the Floor Laptop computer Go 2 is mainly your solely choice proper now.

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