The most affordable, smallest member of the Surface lineup is the 10.5-inch Surface Go 2 (8/10, WIRED Recommends). If your needs are minimal, or you prefer tiny computers, this is what you should buy. Despite its slower Intel chips, it gets the job done. This second-generation model fixes our main complaint with its predecessor by providing the all-day battery life you need.
Because of its excellent Surface Pen compatibility, the Go is awesome for note-taking, and with a Type Cover attached, it’s a surprisingly good, if tiny, tablet and laptop hybrid. It might not be able to take on the iPad Pro in terms of sheer computing power, but the Go 2 is well priced and good enough for most college students, or anyone who has the budget for a second, portable computer.
The tantalizingly priced $399 version might not be a great pick if you need the Surface Go 2 to serve as your main computer. Its smaller, slower storage drive and limited RAM could make multitasking and demanding apps feel slower. If you can, spring for the $630 configuration instead. Like the Surface Pro, the Go 2 does not include a $100 Type Cover keyboard or Surface Pen, so remember to pick those up with your tablet purchase.
The Best for Power Users
This transforming powerhouse is the only Surface device with an optional graphics chip that’ll boost core performance, speeding up everything from Adobe Premiere to SolidWorks. The full-size, laptop-style keyboard (with better key travel than the Go’s clip-on-type cover) makes typing easier, and the screen detaches at the press of a button to become a tablet when watching movies or annotating documents with the Surface Pen.
This is the closest analog to Apple’s MacBook Pro series. Thanks to standard 10th-gen Intel processors and an optional discrete Nvidia GPU inside the keyboard dock, you’ll get amazing performance for a portable device. Plus, you get the expected suite of Surface goodies—Windows Hello, a gorgeous high-res screen, a luxurious backlit keyboard, and a big, silky-smooth glass trackpad.
The Surface Book 3 comes in a 13-inch or 15-inch package. We haven’t finished our testing, but Microsoft is claiming battery life up to 15.5 hours and 17.5 hours, respectively.