How to Pick the Best Microsoft Surface Laptop or Tablet (2021)
It is the closest analogue to Apple’s MacBook Pro series. Thanks to the standard 10th generation Intel processors and an optional discrete Nvidia GPU inside the keyboard dock, you’ll get incredible performance for a portable device. Plus, you get the expected sequel to Surface goodies: Windows Hello, a gorgeous high-resolution display, a luxurious backlit keyboard, and a large silky glass trackpad.
The Surface Book 3 is available in a 13 or 15 inch case. In our battery test, the 13-inch model lasted about 12 hours, and in our real-world test, we were able to use it comfortably for a full working day before needing to plug it in.
Specs to look for: 13 inch, Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD.
This is a stripped-down, dare I say cute little laptop that’s for the Surface Laptop just like the Surface Go 2 is for the Surface Pro. That is, the nickname “Go” means the emphasis is on portability and price, not power. The Surface Laptop Go (7/10, WIRED recommends) won’t impress you with passing benchmarks, but it’s very portable and stylish. It’s also a lot of fun to use.
It’s small and svelte, with clean lines and a nice solid feel, which is rare at this price point. The top is aluminum and the bottom is polycarbonate resin, which is stiffer and stronger than your typical laptop plastic. It looks like a $ 1,000 laptop, but it does make a few tradeoffs to keep the price so low. The bigger one is the lower screen, which doesn’t even have HD (1080p) resolution. This means that the text may appear slightly pixelated.
Still, if you like the portability of the Surface Go hybrid, but want a more traditional clamshell design, the Surface Laptop Go is a great option. There are three configurations available, all using the same Intel i5 chip, but varying in RAM and SSD size. The middle option is the best value, offering 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 128 gigabyte SSD. The low-end model costs $ 550, but it only has 4 gigabytes of RAM, which won’t get you far these days.
Specs to look for: Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD.
While the Surface lineup has never been as diverse as it is today, there are some imperfections that can impact your enjoyment of a shiny new Microsoft computer. The first annoyances start when you add a device to your shopping cart. If you pick up a Surface hoping to use the famous and fabulous Surface Pen with it, you’ll need to purchase it separately. Previously, the Surface Pro and Surface Book included the stylus, but that is no longer the case.
Ports are another mixed bag for Surface devices. You’ll find USB-C ports across the entire Surface lineup, but Thunderbolt 3 is still not supported. You get connector support but not full speed. Despite the USB-C ports, Microsoft stuck with its Surface Connect magnetic charger (confusing you can charge with USB-C too). If you’re missing out on Apple’s MagSafe era, that’s not a bad thing, but if you’re looking forward to a single-connector future, Microsoft hasn’t done it right yet.