Review, Tablet, Windows

Microsoft Surface Go 3 Review: The Little Tablet That (Almost) Could

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 may not be an exciting successor to the previous model, but thanks to a faster processor, this portable tablet is now more practical than ever. On top of that, it is also quite a bit more affordable now while retaining its excellent build quality.

However, despite these improvements, the Surface Go 3 still falls shorts in a number of vital areas, including battery life and general practicality – more specifically, the typing experience. But if you absolutely need a portable Windows tablet, the Surface Go 3 is a fine option; so long as you know what to expect.

What It Is

Display10.5-inch PixelSense (1920 x 1280)
ProcessorIntel Core i3-10100Y (2C/4T, 1.3GHz with boost up to 3.9GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 615
RAM8GB LPDDR3
Storage128GB SSD
Camera5MP (front), 8MP (rear)
Battery28Wh
Dimensions245 x 175 x 8.3 mm
Weight544g
AudioFront-facing stereo speakers
MicroSD card reader
Ports1x USB-C
PriceRM2,988

The biggest change the Surface Go 3 brings is the Intel Core i3-10100Y processor. Granted, it’s still not a particularly fast chip, but it does provide enough processing power for comfortable everyday use. Well, as long as you’re not trying to do too much with this little tablet.

Unfortunately, that’s all that changed with the Surface Go 3. It’s still packed with a rather small 28Wh battery, which is one of the biggest shortcomings of the tablet – more on that further down this review.

The Good Stuff

Portability is the major highlight of the Surface Go 3, and it really is a light and compact tablet. Weighing only 544g with an 8.3mm thin chassis, it’s made for those who are always on the go and don’t want to lug around a larger machine.

Build quality is also one of the Surface Go 3’s strong points. The magnesium chassis feels nice and premium to the touch, and it does feel like a smaller version of the Surface Pro tablets. That’s high praise for this much more affordable tablet.

The 10.5-inch PixelSense display of the Surface Go 3 is reasonably good too. While I wish it was a tad brighter, it’s still a very usable and pleasant screen to look at with vibrant, punchy colours and wide viewing angles. All in all, it doesn’t look like a “cheap” panel at all.

Last but certainly not least is the processing power of the Surface Go 3. The Core i3-10100Y processor can keep up with my workflow quite well, which involves a ton of web browsing and word processing. The tablet does have some slight pauses here and there – especially when I have in excess of 10 open tabs – but overall, it gets the job done.

I’m also quite happy with the trackpad of the Surface Go 3’s Type Cover. It’s large enough for comfortable use, and it can track my fingers accurately. Sadly enough, the keyboard itself isn’t quite up to par.

The Bad Stuff

As a productivity-focused tablet, it’s important for the Surface Go 3’s Type Cover to be pleasant to type on. Unfortunately, that’s not the case: while the keys provide enough key travel and tactility for a comfortable typing experience, the smaller, more compact layout proved to be cumbersome to use.

Throughout the review process, I find myself hitting the wrong key every so often; this can be quite frustrating when I’m rushing to publish a story. Granted, I can probably get accustomed to the smaller layout after some time – especially if you have smaller hands – but in my two weeks with the tablet, I still can’t quite get used to it.

And then there’s the battery life of the Surface Go 3, which is decidedly average. According to Microsoft, this tablet can return “up to 11 hours of typical device usage,” but in my testing, I only managed to get around six hours of continuous use. This only involved web browsing and word processing to boot.

Although it’s more affordable than its predecessor, RM2,988 for this Core i3 variant of the Surface Go 3 still doesn’t offer particularly great value. It’s worth noting that this price tag doesn’t even include the Type Cover, which costs a steep RM578.

For the same amount of money, you can opt for a more powerful Windows laptop, though you won’t get the same premium build quality or portability of the Surface Go 3.

Is It Worth It?

It depends. If you really need a Windows tablet this portable, then yes, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a good option. But if you don’t need the utility of Windows, you may be better served by, say, an iPad, which starts at only RM1,499 while providing much faster performance.

For what it’s worth, I do enjoy using the Surface Go 3 despite the less than ideal typing experience. Personally, I find Windows to provide more utility than iPadOS too. At the end of the day, it comes down to what kind of operating system that you want in a portable form factor.

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