Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
As a former marketing professional and a laptop reviewer, I often find myself surprised and sometimes confused by the decisions companies make when launching a laptop. An example is when a company introduces just one or two configurations that may not meet the needs of a range of users and, as a result, starts a laptop off on the wrong foot. In that case, I can at least understand the complexity of manufacturing and component sourcing. Although I’ll mention a lack of options in a review, I won’t necessarily ding a laptop because of it.
- $800 is too much
- $1,000 is even worse
Some mistakes, though, are harder to overlook. That’s how I feel about Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 3, which the company introduced at a significantly higher price than its predecessors. The laptop, which is designed and configured like a budget machine, starts at $800 and runs up to $1,000. Those are midrange prices, but the Surface just can’t compete against many midrange laptops.
$800 is too much
Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
At a starting price of $800, the Surface Laptop Go 3 comes with a last-gen Intel CPU, the Core i5-1235U, along with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. To be fair, that’s an upgrade from the previous generations’ 4GB and 128GB in the base configuration that cost $550. It uses plastic in its build and has a low-resolution display that’s less than 1080p. Today, those would be OK specifications at a $550 price.
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But let’s look at one alternative, the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED. That laptop costs $700 for a faster AMD Ryzen 5 7530U, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The kicker is the Zenbook’s spectacular 2.8K OLED display that’s much sharper and provides awesome brightness, vastly superior colors, and incredibly high contrast that makes for inky blacks. It’s a larger laptop at 14 inches versus the Surface Laptop Go’s 12.4 inches, but for many, if not most, people that would be a plus. The 14-inch display makes for a great compromise between screen and chassis size.
The Zenbook is also built better, with an all-metal chassis, and it has a better keyboard and larger touchpad. It also has a 1080p webcam versus the Surface’s 720p version, and its wireless connectivity is up to date at Wi-Fi 6E versus Wi-Fi 6. I’m putting together a more comprehensive comparison of the laptops, but the point is that the Surface Laptop Go 3 simply can’t compete. And the Zenbook isn’t the only superior laptop you can buy for $800 or less.
I’ll also mention the Dell XPS 13 9315. It’s closer in size to the Surface Laptop Go 3 with a 13.4-inch display, and it starts at just $599. It uses a lower-power 12th-gen Intel CPU, so it’s slightly slower than the Surface, but it also comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Its display is sharper and provides more accurate colors, but it’s otherwise similar in performance. Finally, it’s constructed entirely of aluminum, but also has a 720p webcam. It’s a better laptop, although not in the same class as the Zenbook, and it costs $200 less than the Surface Laptop Go 3. Not good.
Price is one of the most important marketing considerations when launching a new product. And the Surface Laptop Go 3 is just too expensive.
$1,000 is even worse
Apple MacBook Air M2 Luke Larsen / Digital Trends
There’s also a higher-end configuration of the Surface Laptop Go 3, which costs $1,000 and increases RAM to 16GB. For the same price at Best Buy, you can get an Asus Zenbook 14X with a very fast Intel Core i7-13700H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and the same OLED display as on the Zenbook 14 OLED. That’s just one example of a laptop that blows the Surface out of the water for the same money.
Just as significant, you can also get the Apple MacBook Air M1 directly from Apple for $1,000, and as I’m writing this, the MacBook Air M2 is available from Best Buy for $949. The MacBook Air M1 is still relevant, with faster performance, a much better display, and a rock-solid build. Grab the MacBook Air M2 at this sale price and you’re getting a laptop that’s slightly faster and sports a more modern design, as well as the thinnest laptop chassis at just 0.44 inches.
Clearly, these are all better laptops at $1,000. Anyone doing their research before buying will find those and others that are far better values.
No matter how you shake it, the Surface Laptop Go 3 just doesn’t belong in that class. It’s a lame guppy swimming in a sea of sharks.