The Surface Laptop Go 3 is Microsoft’s new affordable Surface laptop, with upgraded hardware and long battery life making it a compelling option for budget laptop buyers in 2023. But for anyone considering an upgrade to a Surface device at around that $800 price, the Surface Pro 7+ still presents an attractive purchase, and it can flip into a tablet when you need it.
- Availability and pricing
- Buying newer is still better
That brings to mind the age-old question, of whether newer is automatically better. In this case, it might not be. Let’s take a look at the Surface Laptop Go 3 versus Surface Pro 7+, to find out.
Availability and pricing
The Surface Pro 7+ was initially released in 2021 as a business-focused refresh of the original Pro 7 at a base price of $800. It featured various next-generation CPUs, better battery life, and the option of more memory. However, higher-end configurations were much more expensive, costing over $2,000 for the very top model. Today it’s almost impossible to find, especially in the base configuration — though some Business models are still available through the Microsoft store. Availability is unlikely to improve.
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The Surface Laptop Go 3 was announced at Microsoft’s September 2023 event and is available for preorder now. It will officially ship out to customers and go on sale, on October 3. Its base model has an Intel Core i5-1235U, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD for $800. You can upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $1,000.
The Surface Laptop Go 3 was unveiled at Microsoft’s September 2023 event. Jacob Roach / DigitalTrends
Surface Laptop Go 3
Surface Pro 7+
Intel Core i5-1235U
Intel Core i3-1115G4, Core i5-1135G7, Core i7-1165G7
8GB, 16GB, 32GB
Intel Iris Xe
Intel UHD, Intel Iris Xe
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD
12.4-inch touchscreen, 1536 x 1024
12.3-inch touchscreen, 2736 x 1824
USB-C, USB-A, headphone jack, Surface Connect
USB-C, USB-A, headphone jack, Surface Connect, MicroSDXC card reader
With several years between the release of these two devices, it’s no surprise that their specifications look quite different. The Surface Laptop Go 3 features more modern hardware, with a much more impressive processor, with more cores and better performance in single and multi-threaded workloads. Memory options are similar across both devices, though business buyers have the choice of 32GB with the Pro 7+ if they wish.
The Pro 7+ also holds a big advantage in storage size. While the Surface Laptop Go 3 does have a removable SSD, it is limited to a mere 256GB which is rather small by 2023 standards. You can swap it out or augment it with an external drive, but the Pro 7+ can have as much as a terabyte of storage right out of the box.
Both devices have touchscreen displays, but the Surface Pro 7’s is vastly more detailed with a much higher resolution. It’s also designed to work like a tablet and can be folded flat as part of its 2-in-1 convertibility. The Surface Laptop Go 3 does support touch inputs, but can’t fold out into a dedicated tablet device.
Both laptops have strong battery life, lasting up to 15 hours between charges.
Jacob Roach / DigitalTrends
The Surface Laptop Pro 7+ was an excellent 2-in-1 laptop in its day, offering strong performance, long battery life, and a very detailed touchscreen. It’s a lightweight device too at just 1.7 pounds, and with a detachable keyboard, it’s even more lightweight and functional when held in one hand as a tablet. It also offers good support for the Surface Pen, although there’s no slot for charging it like there is in later Surface Pro models.
The Surface Laptop Go 3 is a newer device, and its design looks like it. It comes in a range of colors and features much slimmer bezels. It can only function as a clamshell laptop, though, even with its touchscreen. While it’s still lightweight at just over two pounds, it’s almost 50% heavier than the Surface Pro 7+, making it a little less portable.
Port selection is almost identical between the two, with a distinct lack of Thunderbolt support on the more modern Laptop Go 3. Both come equipped with Windows 11, though it’s likely the Surface Laptop Go 3 will come with a more recent build, requiring less immediate updating. The Pro 7+ has a higher resolution 1080p webcam, versus the 720p model in the Laptop Go 3.
Chip for chip, the Surface Laptop Go 3 has an advantage. Its more modern Intel Core i5-1235U CPU has 10 cores (2P/8E), with support for 12 simultaneous threads. In comparison, the absolute best, highest-end Surface Pro 7+ CPU, the Core i7-1165G7 has just four cores, with support for eight simultaneous threads. Due to the higher clock speed of the Core i7, it claws back a bit of performance, but ultimately the newer Laptop Go 3 should be faster.
That’s faster than the top Pro 7+ model, too. With its price tag that’s more than two times that of the Laptop Go 3.
However, the CPU isn’t the whole story. With just 8GB of RAM, there will be some more demanding tasks that the base model Laptop Go 3 struggles with. Upgrading to 16GB should alleviate that and expand its ability to multi-task, likely making it faster than just about any configuration of the Surface Pro 7+. The Business model with 32GB of RAM might hold some advantages in specific memory-intensive tasks, but that older 11th-gen CPU just won’t be able to keep up with most tasks.
With storage there is an advantage with the Pro 7+, but again only if you’re willing to pay for it. It would be a lot cheaper to buy the base model Surface Laptop Go 3 and attach a fast external SSD if you need more space. It won’t be as fast, but it won’t be that much slower, either.
Buying newer is still better
As much as the Surface Pro 7+ might still hold a few advantages over the Surface Laptop Go 3, it’s hard to recommend a more than two-year-old refresh of a three-year-old device, over something brand new. The webcam in the Laptop Go 3 is lower resolution, and it’s heavier, and it can’t convert into a tablet. But it’s faster than even the fastest Pro 7+ and is much cheaper. In some cases less than half the price.
If you particularly need a tablet and a laptop in one, then the Pro 7+ might be better — but in that case, you should look at our favorite 2-in-1s instead. For anyone else, a Surface Laptop Go 3 is going to be better. It performs better, looks far more modern, and will offer much greater longevity.
Intrigued by what a bigger budget might get you? Check out the new Surface Laptop Studio 2. It’s gorgeous.