This is the closest analog to Apple’s MacBook Pro series. Thanks to standard 10th-generation 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. In our battery test, the 13-inch model lasted around 12 hours, and in our real-world test, we were comfortably able to use it for a full workday before needing to plug it in.
Specs to look for: 13-Inch, Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD.
This is a stripped-down, dare I say cute, little laptop that is to the Surface Laptop as the Surface Go 2 is to the Surface Pro. That is, the “Go” moniker means the emphasis is on portability and price, not power. The Surface Laptop Go (7/10, WIRED Recommends) won’t wow you by acing benchmark tests, but it is very portable and stylish. It’s a lot of fun to use, too.
It’s small and svelte, with clean lines and a nice solid feel—something that’s rare at this price. The top is aluminum and the bottom is polycarbonate resin, which is stiffer and stronger than your typical laptop plastic. It feels like a $1,000 laptop, but it does make some compromises to keep the price so low. The biggest is the subpar screen, which is not even HD (1080p) resolution. That means text can appear slightly pixelated.
Still, if you like the portability of the Surface Go hybrid, but want the more traditional clamshell design, the Surface Laptop Go is an excellent option. There are three configurations available, all using the same Intel i5 chip, but varying in RAM and SSD size. The middle option is the best value, offering 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 128-gigabyte SSD. The low-end model is $550, but it only has 4 gigabytes of RAM, which won’t get you far these days.
Specs to look for: Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD.
Even though the Surface lineup has never been as diverse as it is now, there are still some imperfections that may impact your enjoyment of a shiny new Microsoft computer. The first annoyances begin when you add a device to your cart. If you’re grabbing a Surface hoping to use the famous, fabulous Surface Pen with it, you’ll need to buy it separately. In years past, the Surface Pro and the Surface Book included the Pen, but that’s no longer the case.
Ports are another mixed bag for Surface devices. You’ll find USB-C ports throughout the Surface line, but there’s still no support for Thunderbolt 3. You get the connector support but not the full speed. Despite the USB-C ports, Microsoft stuck with its magnetic Surface Connect charger (confusingly, you can charge with USB-C too). If you miss Apple’s MagSafe era this isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re looking forward to a one-connector future, Microsoft hasn’t properly delivered on that yet.