Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: A portable and versatile 2-in-1, but battery life disappoints


Microsoft’s ten.five-inch Floor Go three weighs 544g (1.2lbs) without the need of the Sort Deal with keyboard.

Picture: Microsoft

The newest model of Microsoft’s diminutive 2-in-1 pill/notebook, the Surface Go three, has the regular exceptional Floor build high quality and industrial layout, and is externally indistinguishable from the Surface Go 2. The two most latest Floor Go types have a a little increased-resolution ten.five-inch display screen (1920×1280 vs 1800×1200) than the original Floor Go.

The customer model of the Floor Go three starts off at $399.99, when the ‘for Business’ model, with more safety and administration capabilities, and optional LTE mobile broadband, fees from $499.99. 


The Floor Go three fees from $399.99 (Sort Deal with and Floor Pen not bundled).

Picture: Microsoft

The new Surface Slender Pen ($129.99) will perform with the Floor Go three (as will any Floor Pen), but the keyboard has not been up to date with the charging well. If you have the keyboard from an more mature Floor Go model, it really is specifically the same Type Cover ($84.99). Neither pen nor keyboard are bundled in the tablet’s price tag.


  • The most cost-effective Floor system
  • Fantastic ten.five-inch display screen
  • Significant-high quality webcam and speakers
  • Main i3 processor selection

Really don’t Like

  • Disappointing battery lifetime under mainstream workloads
  • Keyboard and stylus not bundled
  • Not the most effective showcase for Windows eleven

One particular USB-C (not USB four) port furthermore the three.5mm audio jack and a MicroSD card slot under the kickstand means you happen to be plugging in just one peripheral at a time. But the Floor Link port means you do not have to opt for between a peripheral and charging, although you can nonetheless cost over USB-C if you will need to. Networking is the newest Wi-Fi six (802.11ax, which is newly supported in Windows eleven) and Bluetooth five.. 


The Floor Go three (left) has a slimmer display screen bezel than the very first-technology model (appropriate), but is unchanged from the Floor Go 2.

Picture: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

The consistency is deliberate. Preserving the form factor and port placement the same is an benefit for organisations that buy equipment like protecting situations. A variety of health care and emergency providers in the Uk are applying Floor Go as a light-weight and quite moveable selection, for case in point, as are connect with centres where by the modest footprint, lower price tag and skill to push an external watch are critical. 


Floor Go three keeps the ports and buttons in the same area as the unique Floor Go (prime system in each and every graphic).

Photos: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

The front-struggling with webcam is nonetheless a 5MP model that can record 1080p at 30fps, but that was previously just one of the far better notebook webcams about, effortlessly beating the 720p cameras in a lot of laptops. The 8MP rear camera is great for snaps but not a patch on what is actually in the normal smartphone. The Windows Hi 3D camera is also exceptional, recognising us in a assortment of lights conditions as before long as we turned the system on. The Dolby Audio stereo speakers audio excellent for the two songs and video clip phone calls. 

The Floor Go three may possibly glimpse unchanged externally, but inside of the scenario, you can find a spec bump. We appeared at the prime-close model with an Intel Core i3-10100Y processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. This fees $629.99 in customer guise, or $679.99 as a ‘for Business’ model. More cost-effective customer types have a Pentium Gold 6500Y with 4GB RAM/64GB eMMC ($399.99, but may possibly struggle with functionality) or 8GB RAM/128GB SSD ($549.99). 

The new Main i3 CPU provides a respectable advancement on earlier Floor Go types. It’s quite usable for mainstream organization apps, browsing and video clip meetings in Groups, but (as noted under) the Windows eleven interface does not always feel as fast and performant as the benchmark effects might lead you to be expecting. Curiously, we observed far better benchmark functionality when applying the Go 3’s individual charger, relatively than the (formal, Microsoft) charger from an earlier-technology Floor. 

Battery lifetime, as always, is dependent on what you happen to be executing. Actively playing video clips relies on greatly GPU hardware acceleration, so it really is basically quite electric power productive and we were being ready to engage in video clips consistently for a little for a longer time than Microsoft’s claimed eleven several hours. But with the display screen set to only 36% brightness, world wide web browsing, applying Twitter, copying documents and applying Business office apps like OneNote and Outlook applied up 75% of battery lifetime in just under two several hours. Battery saver kicked in that this level and we obtained a further 75 minutes of perform carried out, including up to a disappointing three several hours and fifteen minutes. For comparison, an unique Floor Go jogging Windows ten with only 50% cost gave us two several hours of perform in similar conditions. 

Of training course, with a small, light-weight pill like this, you may possibly not be settling down to perform for several hours, but grabbing the Go for a number of minutes at a time and then closing the lid. We located the Go three was nonetheless a bit extra electric power hungry than the unique Go in all those conditions (applying up eleven% of the battery in 22 minutes relatively than six% in eighteen minutes), so you may possibly want to slip a battery financial institution into your bag when you happen to be out and about. 

Windows eleven

Microsoft explained to us that the Arm-based Surface Professional X will be the only Floor that ships only with Windows eleven on other gadgets like the Floor Go three, end users will have the preference, but our review unit came with Windows eleven. We were being ready to set up the new Windows Subsystem for Android and operate apps like Amazon Kindle and (by sideloading the Google Participate in Shop) Geekbench, all of which ran just as well as frequent Windows apps. In point, when we applied the Android model of Geekbench, the scores were being practically comparable on some runs. 


Sketchbook jogging on Floor Go three with Windows eleven: an Android application that ‘just works’.

Picture: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

On a modest display screen like the Floor Go three, cell phone apps are not out of area (they are absolutely optimised for touch) and the smartphone-fashion Windows eleven interface may possibly make extra feeling — swiping over the edges of the display screen to open up widgets and notifications is extra normal on a pill than a notebook, for case in point. If you like Windows eleven, you will like it on the Floor Go three. 

But the pleasure of the Floor Go has always been that it really is a real Personal computer that can operate typical Windows workloads — just in a small, light and slim package deal. So if you find Windows eleven irritating on a larger display screen, you may possibly not like it a great deal far better listed here. 

We located the Windows eleven touch affordances these as a big invisible border about home windows, which is meant to make them less difficult to shift or resize, basically obtained in the way. Which is simply because they block what is actually behind the border — like a browser tab you can see but not near or choose. 

Windows eleven may possibly also disguise the genuine functionality of the Floor Go three. Some of what we in the beginning imagined was lousy hardware functionality was down to the inability to choose and open up apps reliably with touch. And when we connected the keyboard, concentration would randomly swap from just one window to a further or shift the cursor randomly inside of textual content, when we were being in the center of typing. Which is disappointing for a new working technique on what is actually if not great new hardware.


Picture: Microsoft


Like the preceding types, the Floor Go three shines as a moveable system: it really is great for operating on an plane tray table or a crowded train, and for throwing in a backpack or the kitbag in the again of a automobile. Having said that, battery lifetime seems to have regressed both simply because of the new Main i3 CPU or Windows eleven.  

The substantial-high quality 220ppi PixelSense display screen will make watching video clips entertaining, and the speakers and webcam make for exceptional video clip phone calls in Groups. But you will absolutely want to pick the increased-spec Main i3 model, and until you happen to be a Windows eleven enthusiast or truly will need a certain Android application, Windows ten might be the far better preference until eventually extra of the kinks are ironed out. 

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Rosa G. Rose

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