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Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: Needs more power

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: Needs more power

Microsoft Surface Go 3

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 suffers from the same problem as its predecessor. It still feels underpowered despite a processor upgrade. To be fair, I tested the middle-of-the-road model featuring an Intel Pentium Gold processor with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. But I doubt upgrading to the best version (with an Intel 10th-gen Core i3) will make that much of a difference. Definitely try this Windows 11 tablet at the store before purchasing, especially for the base S$599 model, which comes with less memory and slower eMMC storage.

Quick specs

  • 10.5-inch (1,920 x 1,280 pixels) touchscreen
  • Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD
  • 544g
  • 28 watt-hour battery

The Surface Go 3 retains the same premium design as before. I like the feel of its magnesium chassis — smooth but with a touch of friction. Its bright and lively 10.5-inch display comes with a 3:2 aspect ratio that's better for work. The bezels, though, are rather chunky compared to the latest tablets in the market. The Surface Go 3 is also thicker and heavier than the competition, but I'll give that a pass because of its built-in kickstand. This kickstand opens up to 165 degrees and is essential for transforming the device from tablet to laptop mode. For the latter, you'll also need the Surface Go Type Cover keyboard accessory (from S$138). Those who like to draw or take notes may want to get the Surface Pen (S$148), too.

Microsoft Surface Go 3
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The Type Cover keyboard is a must-buy accessory, not just because it lets you use the Surface as a notebook. It has an excellent, clicky feel and is backlit, too. The only downside is its small keys due to the tablet's 10.5-inch form factor, though I still managed a decent typing speed (around 60 wpm) on it. Ports are limited on the Surface Go 3. You'll get a USB-C port and Microsoft's proprietary Surface Connect port. The latter is mostly useless to me as I prefer to charge using the USB-C port, and I don't have a Surface Dock (S$388). There's also a 3.5mm audio jack, which is missing in many newer tablets nowadays. Those who skimped on the storage can insert a microSD card behind the kickstand. The tablet's 5MP 1080p front-facing camera is great for video calls and it also supports Windows Hello facial recognition.

Microsoft Surface Go 3
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The Surface Go 3 runs Windows 11 S Mode that is “streamlined for security and performance”, which basically means you are restricted to apps from the Windows Store and the Microsoft Edge browser. It's not a trade-off I would recommend. Switch to the standard Windows 11 first thing, but know that you cannot switch back to S mode. In any case, you probably won't be doing too much with this tablet. It starts to feel sluggish after one too many apps. In fact, apps are a tad slow to launch. System benchmarks validate this impression — it scored 2,208 in PCMark 10, or roughly half as fast as a typical Core i5 Windows notebook. In BAPco's CrossMark, it scored 587 overall compared to 1,013 for the iPhone 12. In short, the Surface Go is suitable only for light computing tasks.

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 (available at Shopee and Lazada) did not fare much better in our battery life test. It lasted a middling 6hr 5min with the screen set at maximum brightness. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE managed over 10 hours. If you're only browsing the internet or working on office documents, the Surface Go 3 is good enough, especially with its nice screen and portability. But don't forget that its cost adds up when you factor in the Type Cover keyboard. You're probably better off picking something from our shortlist of top portable notebooks and tablets for work and play.

See Also
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2

Note: Review unit provided by Microsoft.

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Needs a bigger processor upgrade to be competitive.

Buy it at Shopee
Buy it at Lazada

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