Microsoft’s new $549 Surface Laptop Go aims to compete with Chromebooks

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Microsoft is introducing a new Surface Laptop Go today, designed to be a more affordable alternative to the company’s more premium devices. It’s one of the lowest-cost Surface devices yet, at just $549. It’s only beaten in Microsoft’s lineup by the $399 Surface Go 2, and is clearly designed to target potential Chromebook buyers. But just like the Surface Go 2, the new Surface Laptop Go compromises on some specs to get to a lower price point.

The Surface Laptop Go, as the name implies, is mostly the same Surface you’ve seen before, but smaller and lighter. Microsoft is using a smaller 12.4-inch display than the 13.5-inch one found on the Surface Laptop 3, but it’s also running at just 1536 x 1024 resolution. That’s still more than standard 720p HD thanks to the 3:2 aspect ratio, but even the Surface Go 2 managed to hit 1920 x 1280 on a smaller 10.5-inch display.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go in blue.

This smaller frame makes the Surface Laptop Go the lightest Surface laptop ever, at just 2.45 pounds. That’s lighter than Apple’s MacBook Air, and many Chromebooks or Windows laptops at this price point. Microsoft is still including a full size keyboard, with 1.3mm of travel, and a large Windows Precision trackpad.

Unlike the Surface Go tablet, Microsoft is shipping what I’d call a real processor inside the Laptop Go. Microsoft has opted for a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 (1035G1), rather than the Intel Pentium Gold processor found on the base Surface Go. It’s not the latest 11th Gen Intel processors we’re starting to see in other laptops, but the quad-core chip should be sufficient for this type of device.

Unfortunately, the base model of the Surface Laptop Go includes just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. Both are serious drawbacks for a Windows laptop in 2020, especially when you can pick up something like Acer’s Aspire 3 with the same processor, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and a bigger 15-inch 1080p display for $549.

You’re obviously paying a premium for Surface design here, but I would have liked to have seen some improvements in the minimum RAM and storage options. If you want more, there’s a $699 Surface Laptop Go model that comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage.

The new fingerprint reader on the Surface Laptop Go.

Microsoft is sticking with one USB-C and one regular USB-A port on the Surface Laptop Go, alongside a headphone jack and Surface Connect charging port. At the front there’s a 720p webcam, but it won’t support face recognition through Windows Hello. Instead, Microsoft has integrated a fingerprint reader into the power button on some Surface Laptop Go models, allowing you to log into Windows with your finger. The base $549 model won’t include the fingerprint reader, though. For that, you’ll need to buy the $699 or $899 models.

There’s also Wi-Fi 6 support and fast charging to top the battery up to 80 percent in just an hour. Microsoft is offering three color variants on the Surface Laptop Go: blue, sandstone, and platinum.

The Surface Laptop Go will be available for preorders today starting at $549, and will start shipping on October 13th. There will be three models available for consumers:

  • Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage: $549.99
  • Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage: $699.99
  • Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 256GBGB of SSD storage: $899.99

Microsoft is also launching new Surface accessories today, including a $69.99 Designer Compact Keyboard, a $24.99 Microsoft Number Pad that gives you the option of a number pad, and a $69.99 4K Wireless Display Adapter to help project Windows devices onto bigger screens.

Microsoft’s new Surface accessories.

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