Friday, August 28, 2020

Microsoft Surface Go 2 Review - Intel Pentium Gold


The entry level Microsoft surface go 2 was first announced on May 6, 2020 and after watching the announcement, I became very interested in this new surface go it seemed as if a lot of the things that I didn't like about my first generation surface go from 2018 had been addressed. So I went ahead and got three of these and was thrilled to find out that Microsoft had indeed addressed a lot of the issues hindered the first generation surface go. They addressed a lot of issues and this is huge not only is this a surface go that I think a lot of people will now actually want to buy but I also think that this is a surface go that people will now actually enjoy using which is very important.

If we look back in retrospect the entry-level first generation surface go was a reasonably decent computer but it wasn't for everyone and it was hard to meticulously appreciate the surface go for what it was unless you got one strictly as a secondary computer however even with that condition satisfied the experience arguably got less and less enjoyable for some people anyway the more that they tried to perform activities that usually only prosumers and power users would perform on top of that it had a cpu gpu ram and storage combination that very clearly presented the limitations of the first generation surface go.

Once you got out of windows 10 s mode so to recap the user base was definitely there but the first generation surface go was not able to meet expectations for certain tasks tasks that might have sounded like an extreme case of what someone might want to be doing on the surface go but realistically we're not that brings us to the surface go 2. if you're a person who really likes mini computers but you didn't like the surface go before you won't want to sleep on this new one the new surface go 2 is elegant versatile and most importantly very enjoyable to use let's start with the display Microsoft gave the surface go 2 a bigger 10.5 inch laminated display with a slightly higher screen resolution of 1920x1280 and a marginally higher pixel density of 220 pixels per inch on paper it might not seem like that much of an increase compared to what we had with the first generation surface go but once you actually see these displays side by side in person you'll definitely see the differences and it's still one of the best displays that you can get for a windows pc in the 4 600 price range this display has exceptional viewing angles reasonable color accuracy and absolutely no light bleeding issues whatsoever which is awesome.

You can't say that about the displays on most cheap laptops unfortunately this display is really hard to see outdoors so if you're ever going to use this thing under direct sunlight for some reason with the windows 10 dark theme on the whole time then prepare for a really uncomfortable viewing experience otherwise i'll think you'll be fine you're still getting a 3 2 aspect ratio display which is wonderful for web browsing using office applications checking email media consumption doing homework taking notes drawing and you know a lot of other basic everyday tasks of course with this display being so tall you will experience some letterboxing when watching for example youtube videos with a 16-9 aspect ratio or wider but let's just get one thing straight if you're one of those people who are still complaining about letterboxing in 2020 something's wrong you gotta stop with that junk because letterboxing is realistically not that big of a deal if anything you should be more concerned about pillar boxing which is honestly way worse than letterboxing will ever be now back in late 2018 when i made my full review of the entry-level first generation surface go.

I had a lot of beef with the bezels on that thing it was just straight up ugly like look at this thing you have this beautiful surface go with a great display and a gorgeous magnesium alloy enclosure almost everywhere but then all of a sudden you get these completely random garbage bezels in the front that was literally the biggest tech meme of 2018 for me and i really hope that whoever designed this thing learned their lesson thick sauce bezels on a tablet nowadays is just completely ridiculous microsoft better not pull this off again but with the surface go 2 we get some very reasonably sized bezels as a result of that larger display keep in mind that the general footprint of this new surface goes body hasn't changed whatsoever the surface go 2 is still 245 millimeters wide 175 millimeters tall and 8.3 millimeters thick just like its predecessor so we get smaller bezels and a larger display but not a larger device which is great all of this makes the surface go 2 so much more enjoyable to look at and so much more pleasing to handle plus it's still very easy to hold the surface go to on either of its four sides with these thinner bezels so this is definitely a win for everybody no questions asked so the surface go 2 is marketed as a tablet first and laptop second but to get the most out of your surface go experience you may want to consider purchasing a surface coat type cover for your surface go to because this device is great as a laptop but not so much as a standalone tablet.

Honestly this black microfiber type cover that i have here is about 100 here in the us but if you want to get one of those colored type covers with that nice alcantara material you'll have to pay like 30 dollars more for those to keep costs as low as possible you may want to go with the black microfiber surface go type cover since it's the cheapest one that microsoft offers plus if you're planning on getting the surface pen for taking notes or whatever you could be using those thirty dollars towards that surface pen instead of a colored keyboard now this is all assuming that you're only considering first party accessories as always amazon also offers some third-party surface go keyboards for a lot less so i'd give amazon a quick look if you want to try and save a few bucks will those keyboards be as nice as microsoft's surface code type covers probably not but you know if you gotta save money you gotta save money it's always nice to save a few bucks wherever you can for the rest of this section however i'll be talking about the first party surface code type covers since it's the recommended keyboard of choice for this computer the key travel is very short and the keys are smaller than your usual full-sized laptop keyboard so typing on the surface go.

Type cover might feel a bit cramped at first but you'll get used to it eventually it isn't too bad although the keys are small you're still getting a complete laptop key keyset here it's also backlit and you get physical function keys laid out across the top of the keyset so all the basics are checked off [Music] the trackpad on the surface go type cover might look small but this is actually a surprisingly reasonable size for a keyboard cover this small sure it might be dipping into small trackpad territory but you know the surface go is also pretty small so what can you do ultimately it's really not terrible at all i think we can forgive its size since tracking is good performing gestures is extremely easy and the texture of the trackpad surface is very smooth against your fingers honestly this small trackpad makes a lot of other trackpads feel like trash and i really mean that this is a surprisingly good trackpad overall my only other complaint aside from it just being kind of small is that you can only perform clicks on the bottom half of the trackpad and not the upper half so some people might not appreciate that one thing i do want to bring up about the surface go 2 is that it addresses an engineering flaw that was present with the first generation surface go involving the surface go type cover so on the first generation surface go the cutout for the surface type cover port was asymmetrical and that was annoying because whenever you wanted to flip the keyboard around like this one of the sides of the surface go type covers connector would actually stick out also making it prone to damage.

It's ultimately not a huge deal some people might just call this nitpicking but you know the whole point of the type covers is to be able to bend them back flip them attach it backwards like this and all that stuff so when i found out that my first generation surface go didn't actually support this functionality properly it just never really left my brain it's been bugging me ever since i found out about it so i'm really glad to see that the surface type cover port on the surface go 2 was revised to correct the engineering flaw that its predecessor had i can now attach the keyboard backwards on the surface go 2 properly which is great i'm glad that i'll never have to be bothered by that oversight again build quality is the same you're getting that very premium magnesium alloy enclosure that microsoft surfaces are so well known for having the rounded corners are still here on the surface go too and i really like that i love how those rounded corners feel in my hand in terms of ports there's also nothing new you still get one 3.5 millimeter audio i o port one usb 3.1 gen1 type c port and one surface connect port they're all in the exact same places as they were with the first generation surface go however i really wish that microsoft had scooted that surface connect port up a little bit because that part is kind of hard to plug into with the cable of the connector in question facing downward.

This orientation is really bad for the cable itself as you can see the cable is just bending way too much also there is still a micro sd card slot which i am absolutely ecstatic to see the surface pro x didn't have a micro sd card slot and that was such a huge bummer for me because most of my storage got taken up by apps so i'm really happy to see storage expansion options still here on the surface go stuff like this greatly boosts the overall value of these devices but quick side note the micro sd card interface on the surface go 2 only reads and writes up to uhs 1 speeds don't waste your money on uh s2 micro sd cards for this machine because you won't be able to peek at uh s2 speeds alright so the entry level configuration is equipped with an intel pentium gold 4425 why some of the mid-tier configurations have them too this is a six watt cpu with two cores four threads and a clock speed of 1.7 gigahertz just for reference the first generation surface go had the 4415y which also had two cores and four threads but a clock speed of 1.6 gigahertz now for most people simply looking at these numbers on paper might not mean anything to them and i don't blame you like there's only a difference in clock speed of 100 megahertz here so what that's like nothing right well not exactly we're talking about the pentium gold here although they're not exactly known for their performance these chips do actually greatly benefit from higher clock speeds as some of you may already know the most mainstream insole cpus after a certain clock speed have negligible performance differences.

It's usually up to the core count and other things to materialize a noteworthy performance increase but with the pentium golds that's not really the case higher clock speeds actually do introduce quite an increase in performance even if the differences in clock speed when comparing different chips is just 100 megahertz cpu benchmarking software won't really reflect this as practically as a set of real world tasks that someone would have to physically perform but i hope you'll take my word for it this is an odd case where the performance on paper doesn't completely match up with the actual user experience the surface go 2 just feels a lot snappier compared to the first generation surface go boot up times are faster the handling of high impact startup programs is much better and also performing any kind of heavy multitasking is now actually possible on the surface go 2.

With my first generation surface go boot up would take a while startup programs would slow down the login sequence and multitasking made windows extremely sluggish so although this processor upgrade might not sound like much on paper it does offer some very noteworthy performance improvements in contrast to its predecessor it's not like a cutting edge performance increase there's definitely still a lot of room for improvement but it's just enough of an increase so that performing basic tasks on the surface go 2 would be anything but tedious it's a lot more enjoyable to work on the surface go 2 now okay now if you're someone who just doesn't care about all these technical details and you simply want a processor that's okay and not absolute garbage i think you can trust the 4425y for some people it might be hovering really close to their idea of being quote unquote absolute garbage and that's probably just inspired by the previous negative reputation that this family of processors carry but the 4425y really isn't garbage you know i thought the first generation surface goes 4415y was okayish a couple years ago but realistically that processor doesn't hold a candle to the 4425y in the entry level surface go too you'll be able to do a lot more stuff with the 4425y plus the integrated graphics chip is quite a bit more performant than that of the one in the 4415y you're getting intel uhd graphics instead of intel hd graphics digital artists in particular will really appreciate this.

There are times when the 4425 wise limitations do show though sometimes when i'm using various cpu and gpu intensive applications the service go 2 does lag quite a bit but realistically people getting this computer will probably only be using it to do some very basic everyday tasks and the 4425y is more than enough for that on the other hand i do feel as though the surface go 2 will catch the eyes of a lot more tech savvy individuals this year so if you're in that tech savvy demographic and you're interested in a surface go to you may actually want to consider the models sporting that intel core m3 8100 y it's pretty pricey but to be honest i actually think that it's worth the money if the higher tier configurations had the pentium gold 4425y kind of like how the quote unquote higher tier first generation surface goes still had the 4415 wise then obviously that would have been a no-go but this is not the case this time the m3s are surprisingly solid on the higher tier surface go 2s so that intel core m3 alone very well justifies the price of those more expensive surface go to's now there's something about microsoft's processors of choice for the surface go to that i really feel the need to talk about so the past couple of weeks every time i've used my surface go 2 i always think that the microsoft sq1 would have really shined on this machine.

That's the arm processor that microsoft put in the surface pro x and i feel like it would have fit the surface go 2 much better because the surface go 2's intended user base wouldn't have suffered from the sq1's app compatibility limitations as greatly as that of the surface pro x's user base unlike the surface pro x the surface go 2 is not a computer targeted towards the professional demographic of computer users so i don't know i can't really help but to think that microsoft really missed their opportunity to use an arm processor on a computer that would have actually made sense to put it on not to mention it would have made the surface go too a lot faster and much more energy efficient and you know speed and battery life is very important for a tablet it's why so many people like ipads they're very fast and they offer great battery life for the average consumer okay so microsoft's still doing that thing where the entry level configuration has an emmc drive and only select mid to high tier configurations have ssds i'm kind of annoyed that they're still doing this but you know since the processor is bringing us some performance improvements i guess we can let it slide drive speeds for the entry level configuration are as shown not exactly my definition of fast that's for sure there are thumb drives out there that are much faster than the emmc drive in this thing but at 399 dollars well there's got to be some kind of sacrifice here right battery life is okay i'm getting an average of about 9 hours of battery life with heavy usage and that's rounded down to the nearest hour it's a slight.

Upgrade from the first generation surface go which has only given me about 6 hours of battery life with extremely light usage and only three hours with heavy usage since day one so i'm really happy to see that microsoft thought about battery life in the surface go to and in case you're wondering what that heavy usage is this primarily includes things like heavy web browsing with microsoft edge drawing in clip studio paints pro typing essays in word uploading and downloading dozens of gigabytes of files using onedrive and streaming music using spotify notice that i said primarily at the beginning of my sentence so deep down i'm doing a lot of other things in the background other than just drawing typing up stuff and using onedrive but you know they're just your typical background tasks okay cameras are still great nothing major has changed really you still get a 5 megapixel front facing camera and an 8 megapixel rear facing one both can shoot 1080p video and the quality is very nice i mean services have always had really good cameras um obviously you won't be taking like scenic photos with this thing but they can come in handy in an academic setting or some kind of managerial working environment also given the times these cameras would be fantastic for video calls there is one noteworthy change that i'd like to mention the surface go 2 now has dual far field front facing microphones now that of which microsoft calls studio mics and they sound really nice on the first generation surface go.

I don't have it with me right now but on the first generation surface go that device only had one microphone although i never really thought gee i wish that the microphone on my surface go was better you know what i mean so it really makes you wonder if that extra effort and money spent could have gone to using ssds instead of emmc drives all right let's wrap things up so microsoft made a small handful of changes to the surface go that greatly improves the overall service go experience it's not perfect but honestly it's way better than what we had before with the entry level surface go 2 configuration which i'd imagine most people buying since it's the cheapest you get a ton of great hardware at this price that many other similarly priced windows tablets and laptops just don't offer for some reason it's a great little device to bring with you to a coffee shop or a park because of its size but even more importantly the hardware upgrades just make this device so much more enjoyable to work on compared to the entry-level first generation surface go.

Now again microsoft didn't address everything that thwarted its predecessor like we're still getting pentium gold processors on the lower tier configurations as well as emmc storage on the entry level configuration and four gigabytes of ram which i'm really not a fan of but the more i used the surface go 2 the more i realized that this experience is seriously nothing like that of the one i had with the first generation surface go which is crazy because on paper the differences seem negligible i still think that the surface go 2 would be better off as most people's secondary computer just so you know your expectations won't be so high but i'm telling you this is a much more enjoyable surface go to use now if given to the right demographic you know middle school students certain high school students programmers or even adults who don't need to do any kind of super demanding tasks this could sufficiently be somebody's primary computer that was something that you couldn't really say about the entry level first generation surface go so this is quite a step up from microsoft they finally made the surface go to a capable go-to computer.