Hands-on: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3

Hands-on: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3

The first Surface Laptop Go I reviewed back in 2020 started at $US550. The second version, from 2022, started at $US600. Meanwhile, the new Surface Laptop Go 3 from Microsoft jumps to a $US800 starting price – which for Australians, Microsoft is setting the starting price at $1,429. That’s inflation for you, I guess.

But it’s also largely the same system, yes, updated with newer processors and some higher-end configuration options, but the body, screen, and keyboard remain the same. The design, made of aluminium and polycarbonate composite resin, remains one of the best-looking and best-feeling budget laptops I’ve tried, even if the new starting price puts it on the very edge of what you’d consider a budget laptop.

Photo: Dan Ackerman

In fact, the configuration we tested here at the Gizmodo Labs was the $US999 upgrade, with more RAM and storage, and for the same $US999, you can get a (slightly dated) M1 MacBook Air.

Of the two configurations available, I’d default to the more expensive one, as it’s the only way to get 16GB of RAM, which is what you’re going to want for a smooth Windows 11 experience. Both versions have a 256GB SSD.

See more: Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 3 in Pictures

My main beefs with this otherwise very nice little travel laptop are as follows:

  • The 12.4-inch screen has a low resolution of 1,536×1,024 when even the most budget of budget laptops can usually fit in a full HD (1,920×1,080) screen.
  • The keyboard isn’t backlit, which should be a given at $US800 and up, and the dark gray on dark green (Microsoft calls the color sage) makes it easy to lose track of the keys in dim lighting conditions.
  • Ports are skimpy. You get a single USB-A, a single USB-C, a headphone jack and a slot for Microsoft’s proprietary magnetic power plug.
  • It includes a lower-resolution 720 webcam, when almost every new laptop has jumped to full HD webcams.

That said, it’s still a well-built, relatively powerful laptop for the price, thanks especially to a jump from older 11th-gen Intel chips to newer 12th-gen ones, although right now only the fancier, more-expensive Surface Laptop Studio 2 gets the latest 13th-gen Intel chips.

Photo: Dan Ackerman

Design-wise, this remains one of my favourite ultraportable laptops, and even with the price increase, it looks and feels like a more expensive machine. The keyboard and screen may be a bit smaller than you’re used to, but I found the typing experience to be excellent, with deep chunky keys that give you a satisfying clack. The touchpad is serviceable, and frankly better than some more-expensive Windows laptops I’ve tried.

As we’ve only had the Surface Laptop Go 3 for a few days, consider this our initial hands-on impressions. After fully benchmarking the system and further hands-on testing, we’ll return with a full review and buying recommendation.

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