We were surprised to see Surface Go 2 fix so many of its predecessor's flaws and became one of the best Microsoft Surface devices. More interestingly, though, it poses an interesting challenge to the Surface Pro 7. Yes, sometimes the value-driven entry-level model can dish out heat that its Pro-level sibling can't touch, as I wrote my Microsoft Surface Go 2 review.
That's what inspired this Surface Go 2 vs Surface Pro 7 face-off, which tests how Microsoft's detachables stand up to each other in a 1-on-1 fight, to help you find which model is right for you. And if you want a good deal, Best Buy's got the Surface Pro 7 at $260 off (it used to be $360, but this is still a good deal)— in a bundle that includes the Type Cover.
Editor's Note: Microsoft unveiled a bumper crop of new Windows 11-ready Surface devices at its September 2021 Surface event, including the Surface Go 3 and the Surface Pro 8. Check out our full Microsoft Surface event recap for all the details.
- Check out our Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review
- iPad Pro vs. iPad: Which Apple tablet is for you?
- Microsoft Surface Laptop Go review: What does $549 get you?
Those who can wait for the Surface Pro 8 should be excited to find out that Microsoft is still considering design changes. So, the Tiger Lake update to the Surface Pro doesn't need to look like the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+, which looks to boost endurance and upgrades CPUs. We haven't seen anything about a Surface Go 3 yet.
Oh, and if your pockets are a little deeper, check out our Surface Book 3 review to learn about Microsoft's most expensive hybrid.
Those looking for a regular laptop should check out our recently published 13-inch Surface Laptop 4 review, or our Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (15-inch, AMD) review if you're interested in a larger laptop. Further, Microsoft just expanded the Surface family, with the affordable Surface Laptop Go and the Surface Pro X 2020.
So, if the Surface Go 2's lower price has you thinking it's just the Surface Pro 7's less powerful baby brother, you might be surprised about how the Go can dunk on the Pro — especially on battery life.
Of course, as you'll see in our specs section, the Surface Pro 7 rocks more powerful processors, so it's not a total wash. But if you want that extra power and can wait a bit, check out our Surface Pro 8 preview to see where we think the flagship tablet goes next. Here's everything you need to know about how the Surface Go 2 and Surface Pro 7 stack up.
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Specs
|Microsoft Surface Go 2||Microsoft Surface Pro 7|
|Screen||11 inches (2388 x 1668)||12.3 inches (2736 x 1824)|
|Processor||Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y | 8th Gen Intel Core m3||10th-gen Intel Core i3, Core i5, Core i7|
|Storage||64GB eMMC | 128GB SSD||128GB to 1TB SSD|
|Keyboard||Type Cover supported||Type Cover supported|
|Stylus||Surface Pen supported||Surface Pen supported|
|Dimensions||9.7 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches||11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches|
|Weight||1.2 pounds||1.6 pounds|
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Price and value
The price to value ratios for the Surface Go 2 and Surface Pro 7 are relatively similar. The Surface Pro 7 ($749) may cost almost twice as much as the Surface Go 2 ($399), but it starts with both a faster Core i3 processor and faster (and more capacious) storage (64GB eMMC vs 128GB SSD).
The Core m3 Surface Go 2 ($629) and Core i5 Surface Pro 7 ($1,199) we tested are both faster, and more expensive, than the entry-level models. But both are the models we'd consider if we bought them for ourselves.
Annoyingly, neither the Surface Go 2 or Surface Pro 7 include their Type Cover keyboard or Surface Pen.
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Design
The 10.5-inch Surface Go 2 looks like a shrunken-down version of the 12.3-inch Surface Go 2. Both feature a strong and sturdy kickstand, and both offer the same strong magnesium chassis.
Microsoft's recent decision to shave the Surface Go 2's bezels down makes it fit into the current Surface lineup a lot better. The Surface Pro 7 has similar bezels that are neither chunky nor svelte.
That checks out when you compare their weights, with the Surface Go 2 weighing 1.2 pounds to the Surface Pro 7's 1.7 pounds. Both measure 0.3 inches thick.
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Ports
The Surface Pro 7 truly differentiates itself when it comes to ports.
Both give you a Surface Connector port for power, but while the Surface Go 2 gives you a USB-C port, the headphone jack and a microSD reader, the Surface Pro 7 includes all of that plus the valuable USB-A port, so you don't need to rely on adapters for older accessories.
Winner: Surface Pro 7, by a port
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Display
The Surface Go 2’s 10.5-inch PixelSense display measures 1920 x 1280 pixels, which works out to a pixel density of 220 pixels per inch. It's no surprise to see that the Surface Pro 7's 12.3-inch PixelSense panel is sharper, at 2736 x 1824 pixels, for a density of 267 pixels per inch.
However, the Surface Go 2 surprised us here by standing up to comparisons with the Pro's screen — and beating it. The Surface Go 2 produces 107% of the sRGB spectrum, exceeding the 97% score from the Surface Pro 7. The Surface Go 2 also gets brighter, maxing out at an average of 408 nits, slightly edging out the 395-nit panel in the Surface Pro 7.
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Keyboard and Stylus
Fortunately, Microsoft builds the same quality Type Cover keyboards for both the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Go 2. Its Surface Pen styli work across both devices.
The Type Cover keyboards may have a slight learning curve. When I tested out the Surface Go 2's Type Cover, I noticed that when they keyboard wasn't flat to the table — its magnets practically default you to an incline — the sensation of tapping my fingers against a keyboard that moved down was a little odd. This does not differ across either model.
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Performance
What happens when you bring a spork to a knife-fight? That's the case here, where the Surface Pro 7's 10th-gen Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs outclass the Surface Go 2's Pentium Gold and 8th Gen Core m3 chips. There's a reason why the Surface Pro 7 is for Pros.
We tested relatively up-spec'd versions of the Surface Pro 7 (Core i5-1035G4 CPU, 8GB of RAM) and the Surface Go 2 (Core m3-8100Y and 8GB of RAM). While the former is the mid-range option, the latter shows the limits of the Surface Go 2.
The high-end Surface Go 2 only managed a 6,815 on the Geekbench 4.3 general performance benchmark, which is a mere fraction of the 17,225 from the Surface Pro 7.
The Surface Pro 7's 256GB SSD smoked the Surface Go 2's 128GB SSD on our storage speed test, copying 4.97GB of files at a rate of 267 MBps. The Surface Go 2's drive copied at a rate of 180 MBps.
We again saw impressive speed from the Surface Pro 7 when it comes to gaming, as its Intel Iris Plus graphics enabled a playable 36 frames per second speed on the Dirt 3 game (graphics at Medium and resolution at 1080p). The Surface Go 2's integrated Intel UHD 615 Graphics chugged to a rate of 16.37 frames per second, which is not very playable.
Winner: Surface Pro 7
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Cameras
Having spent 5-plus years reviewing laptops, the Surface line has become a welcome surprise, boasting actually decent cameras — which you rarely ever get in laptops and tablets.
Both tablets feature the same 5.0MP front-facing camera and 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera. Both record 1080p full HD video.
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Battery life
You might think that pro users would need the most battery life, but don't expect the Surface Pro 7 to last longer.
The Surface Go 2 lasted a lot longer on a single charge than its more expensive sibling, posting a time of 10 hours and 16 minutes on our custom web surfing test. That's more than 2 hours longer than the 7:52 from the Surface Pro 7.
Winner: Surface Go 2
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Software
Windows 10 is Windows 10, except when it ships in S Mode. Yes, while both the Surface Go 2 and Surface Pro 7 run the same operating system, the former runs Windows 10 in S Mode out of the box. That means you'll have to opt out of this mode — which costs nothing — in order to install third party apps.
As much as I want to say the S in S Mode stands for Shouldn’t Exist, it might be a valuable option for those giving a laptop to someone especially younger or older that isn't as tech literate.
Surface Go 2 vs. Surface Pro 7: Verdict
|Surface Go 2||Surface Pro 7|
|Design and ports (10 points)||10||10|
|Ports (5 points)||4||5|
|Display (15 points)||13||13|
|Keyboard and Stylus (5 points)||5||5|
|Performance (20 points)||9||20|
|Cameras (10 points)||10||10|
|Battery life (20 points)||20||13|
|Software (5 points)||5||5|
|Value (10 points)||5||5|
|Overall (100 points)||71||76|
This Surface Go 2 vs Surface Pro 7 face-off features some surprises, showing how you get more battery life by spending less and how you're not sacrificing screen quality (or webcam excellence) either.
Of course, the Surface Pro 7 is still the better tablet (or 2-in-1, with the Type Cover) for power users, thanks to its faster processors. We really wish it had more battery life, a challenge marked in the sand for the upcoming Surface Pro 8.
When it comes to helping people decide which Surface is right for them, I'm going to start by gauging their productivity needs. Less demanding users should go for the $629 Surface Go 2 for its endurance, while those creating content and pushing their systems to the extreme should get the Surface Pro 7.