Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 review

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 review: less for more


With a budget spec sheet, yet a premium price tag, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 is the odd one out in the Surface lineup.

Microsoft’s Surface range made its name for itself with convertible devices like the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop Studio – powerful and flexible high-end productivity devices with high price tags and admittedly niche use cases. They’re not for everyone, but if they suit your needs then they’re usually worth the premium price tag.

Less known is the standard Microsoft Surface Laptop range, particularly the entry-level Surface Laptop Go. Here, Microsoft faces cut-throat competition from a wide range of well-established hardware makers. It can’t charge a premium for slapping the Microsoft logo on an everyday laptop like the $1,429 Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3, not when other PC makers offer more for less.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 review

First impressions

Price tag aside, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 has some strong points but a few key flaws as a portable productivity tool.

The small footprint makes it easy to slip into your travel bag, even though it’s a little heavier than it looks at 1.13 kg. It’s not the thinnest laptop around, although on the bottom it features two long rubber strips rather than four tiny feet. This ensures it stays put when you’re working on a slippery surface.

It’s a solid build with a sturdy hinge, so there are no worries about picking it up by the screen.

Open the laptop and you’re presented with a 12.4-inch, 3:2 touchscreen display. Realistically, this is the smallest screen size you’d want in order to remain productive on the move, whether you’re a professional or a student.

It’s also one of the first places where the Surface Laptop Go 3’s value proposition starts to break down, considering that you can find larger 13-inch laptops that weigh less than 1 kg.

It’s only a 1536 x 1024 pixel display – once again you’re entitled to expect more. To make matters worse, it’s glossy rather than matte, which makes the screen difficult to see outside. This could be a problem if you’re looking to get things done on the go. Glossy screens make more sense when they’re larger, sharper and brighter, intended for entertainment.

Thankfully, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 is blessed with a decent keyboard, which can make or break a laptop for wordsmiths. The keys are well-sized and well-spaced with decent travel, even if they’re a little soft and plasticy to the touch. 

The keyboard and trackpad make minimal compromises in an effort to be compact. You’ve got a dedicated row of function keys, full-sized left and right Shift keys, full-sized left and right arrow keys but only half-sized up and down arrow keys.

Meanwhile, the keyboard’s lack of backlighting is a major disappointment, considering the price tag and the usefulness of backlit keys when you might find yourself working anywhere, anytime.

Incorporating a fingerprint reader into the power button is welcome, especially when Microsoft has skimped on the webcam – forgoing a 3D depth camera, which means you can’t use Windows Hello facial recognition to unlock your computer.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 specifications

Display size12.4-inch, 3:2 aspect ratio
Display resolution1536 x 1024 pixel, 10-point multi-touch
CPU12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U
GPUIntegrated Intel Iris Xe
Onboard storage256 GB SSD
Front camera720p, no 3D depth camera
PortsUSB-C 3.2 (data, DisplayPort and charging)
USB-A 3.1
3.5 mm headphone jack
Surface Connect port (charging)
Charging39W power supply, Surface Connect connector
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6: 802.11ax 
Operating systemWindows 11 Home
Securityfingerprint reader, Firmware TPM 2.0
Dimensions278 x 206 x 15.7 mm
WeightWeight: 1.13kg
Pricefrom $1,429 RRP
Warranty1 year
Official websiteMicrosoft Australia


As you’d expect with a laptop of this size, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 isn’t blessed with an abundance of connectivity – although it still comes out ahead of Apple’s infamous 12-inch MacBook with a single USB-C port.

The Surface Laptop Go 3 features one USB-A 3.1 port and one USB-C 3.2 port which also supports charging and DisplayPort for connecting to external monitors. Both ports are on the left-hand side of the unit, alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack.

There’s no optical drive, as you’d expect these days, but it also lacks an SD card slot. On the right-hand side, you’ve only got Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect port for docks, adapters and power (including the included AC charger). Unless you’re deeply invested in the Surface ecosystem, you’d likely prefer to swap the Surface Connect port for a more useful second USB-C port.

Under the bonnet, you’ll find a 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U power plant, which is acceptable for day-to-day tasks but an old model and far from a performance king. It’s accompanied by 8 or 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD for onboard storage.

Microsoft promises 15 hours of battery life, although that seems a little ambitious, even considering the low-res screen and mediocre performance. Geekbench 6 scores of 1118 single-core and 3635 multi-core are nothing to get excited about. It’s okay for day-to-day tasks, but you wouldn’t want to ask too much of it.

Who is the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 for?

Honestly, it’s hard to recommend the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 as a good fit for anyone. If your needs are simple and you budget humble, you can get a better laptop for less – even if you’re a student who doesn’t need the latest and greatest. If you’ve got $1,500 to spend and you need something decent, it’s not hard to find something better than this, especially if you’re after a big sharper screen and/or more grunt.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3's high price tag and lowly spec sheet doesn't stack up well against the competition.
Value for money
Ease of use
Small and lightweight
Good keyboard
Low resolution display
Glossy display
Mediocre performance