Microsoft announced the Surface Laptop Go 2 on Wednesday, an updated model that goes to 11 by swapping in a more powerful 11th-gen Intel Core processor and a full-fledged Windows 11 install, in exchange for a slightly higher starting price of $599. It’s more repairable, too.
Microsoft debuted the Surface Laptop Go in 2020, and the basic premise hasn’t changed that much; the lineup is Microsoft’s attempt to bring its Surface brand to a budget audience. Our review of the Surface Laptop Go found that it mostly succeeded, though we advised spending a bit more to upgrade from the rock-bottom model. On paper, the Surface Laptop Go 2 looks like more of the same.
That includes the display resolution — a key question mark with the first Surface Laptop Go. The initial Surface Laptop Go raised eyebrows with its 12.45-inch 1526×1024 (148 PPI) panel, which fell below the 1080p resolution that’s typical for most laptops. On the Surface Go 2, Microsoft specifies the display at a quoted 12.4 inches, but with the same 1525×1024 (148 PPI) as its predecessor. (You can consult our earlier review for some zoomed-in photos of the display, which we really couldn’t complain about.)
What’s changed, however, is that Microsoft has migrated to Intel’s 11th-gen Core chips, specifically the use of the Core i5-1135G7. While we don’t know how the Surface Laptop Go 2 will perform, we have seen the Core i5-1135G7 in competing value notebooks. We’d expect the Surface Laptop Go 2 will directly compete with the Acer Aspire 5. Our review of the Aspire 5 uncovered Core i5-1135G7 performance that falls squarely into the “good enough, but nothing special” camp.
Microsoft also trimmed a 64GB storage option that was available in the Surface Laptop Go. Now, you’ll receive at least 128GB of storage, a “removable” option that can be replaced by a trained Microsoft repair shop. Microsoft has also made the “C-Cover” (the keyboard and trackpad), the “AB Cover” (Microsoft-speak for the display) as well as the battery, “feet” pads, and DisplayLink cable replaceable, helping to extend the lifespan of the device. Interestingly, everything but the battery is characterized as a “customer replaceable unit,” though Microsoft still advises you choose a “skilled technician” to replace it. The battery must be swapped out either by Microsoft or a Microsoft-authorized provider.
Otherwise, the most significant change for the Surface Laptop Go 2 is its use of either Windows 11 Home, available in the consumer version of the Surface Laptop Go 2, or either Windows 11 Pro or Windows 10 Pro, offered as part of the Surface Laptop Go 2 for Business. Microsoft shipped the Surface Laptop Go with Windows 10 in S Mode, and Microsoft told us in September that it would ship a version of Windows 11 in S Mode, too. In November, however, a certificate problem took down several major features of Windows 11 in S Mode, including the Start menu. For whatever reason, you’ll find a full-fledged version of Windows 11 inside the Surface Laptop Go 2, and not the stripped-down version. (Microsoft representatives declined to comment further.)
The original Surface Laptop Go shipped in the conventional Platinum, plus Ice Blue and Sandstone. Now there’s a Sage option as well, for those who prefer a greener alternative.
One of the Surface Laptop Go’s niftier gimmicks hasn’t changed: the embedded fingerprint reader inside the power button. Sure, we’ve seen similar approaches beginning with Huawei and extending into laptops from Acer and others, but it was still a dependable, useful alternative to the Windows Hello depth camera found in other Surface devices. Microsoft has also included the Surface Connector, too. (The Surface Laptop Go allowed you to charge via USB-C if you wished.)
Here’s a short summary of the Surface Laptop Go 2’s specifications. We haven’t received the available pricing configurations, but we’d advise that you shy away from configurations with 4GB of RAM, if at all possible. If you agree, that will raise the “starting price” to something above $599. You can preorder the Surface Laptop Go 2 today on Microsoft’s site or at BestBuy.com; orders will begin shipping on June 6.
Surface Laptop Go: Specs and features
Display: 12.45-inch (1536×1024, 148 PPI) 10-point multitouch PixelSense display (On the Surface Go, there was no pen support.)
Processor: Core i5-1135G7
Graphics: Xe Graphics
Memory: 4GB-8GB LPDDR4x
Storage: 128GB-256GB SSD
Ports: 1 USB-C, 1 USB-A, Surface Connect, 3.5mm audio jack