The Surface Go 3 is one of the very first devices to release directly under Windows 11, with no updates required. If Microsoft innovates little compared to the Surface Go 2 released in May 2020, some good surprises await us with this new iteration. But also some disappointments! We thoroughly tested the 10.5″ tablet that can turn into a small laptop, and give you our full review and all our conclusions here.
Since the launch of its first Surface in 2012, Microsoft has continued to evolve its product line. If the Surface RT has now completely disappeared (who would complain?), we now find a whole range of Surface devices: Surface Pro, Surface Book, Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Studio… And the smallest model of all, the Surface Go 3 .
It is precisely this tablet that we are interested in here. The Surface go 3 is a small tablet that throbs with Windows 11 S and can be transformed into a mini-laptop , since it is possible to attach a keyboard (optional). While the Surface Go is often seen as the affordable version of the Surface lineup, that doesn’t mean Microsoft has cut corners on the tablet’s components to make it a cheap device. Its design, its robustness, the ergonomics of its keyboard, its screen of excellent workmanship make it a product of first choice. On the other hand, the tablet is not devoid of certain defects either, as we will see here, in our complete test.
DESIGN AND COMFORT OF USE
With its 10.5″ screen, the Surface Go 3 is clearly to be stored in the shelf of tablets and not laptops (which is less obvious with the Surface Pro 8, for example). Especially since the tablet weighs only 544 grams without its type cover . For comparison, it’s a little more than an iPad (487 grams) or a Galaxy Tab S7 (498 grams), but it’s still very light.
At the front, there is an excellent IPS panel in 3:2 format. The front camera is housed in the centre, like on any other tablet or laptop. A small regret is nevertheless to be noted: on the front, the black bands which surround the screen are a little too thick . Count all the same 1.2 cm at the top and bottom, and 1 cm on the left and right edges.
At the back of the device, there is the famous adjustable stand, which allows you to place the device on a table and easily orient it in the user’s field of vision. As with previous models, the stand comes with the silver Windows logo (handy when you don’t have a mirror handy – kidding, of course).
On the connector side, there is a single USB-C port on the right side of the device , a 3.5 mm jack and a port dedicated to “Surface Connect” charging. As on all previous iterations, this port is proprietary. We would love for Microsoft to decide to use the USB-C port for charging! Finally, under the stand of the device hides a MicroSDXC card reader.
The cover, felted at the front and at the back, is very pleasant to the touch. Its magnetic system allows it to be instantly connected to the tablet. Having used different Surface models on a daily basis since the very beginning, we just hope that the bend at the hinge will now hold up over time (this one tends to wear over the months, leaving a glimpse of the interior of the device).
Typing the keyboard, despite the smallness of the keys, is comfortable from the first seconds of use. No adaptation time necessary, there is enough to be won over and find your bearings compared to a classic laptop keyboard from the start. This is not because it is a tablet that Microsoft has overlooked the office side of the device. As for the touchpad, it also demonstrates excellent ergonomics.
There is no doubt that with its Surface range, Microsoft has found its “leg”, and that the company has been able to decline this trademark on all of its devices. The Surface Go 3, the cheapest of all, also benefits from the know-how of the Redmond company in terms of design. All dressed in grey (Microsoft says “platinum”), the back of the magnesium tablet inspires confidence, robustness and gives it a premium side that is very rarely found on tablets under 500 euros.Still just as easy to transport, pleasant to handle.
Designed in Gorilla Glass 3, the Surface Go 3 screen offers a definition of 1920 x 1280 pixels at 220 DPI. As usual, Microsoft has opted for a 3:2 aspect ratio, perfect for web browsing, consulting and editing documents or tables, video conferencing, etc. On the other hand, when watching a video in full screen, you have to be content with very wide black bands at the top and bottom. Since no program (films, series, documentaries) is planned for this display format, it’s really not ideal in terms of immersion.
Admittedly, this somewhat spoils the pleasure of immersion in a film or in a series, but it is the price to pay to take advantage of a device clearly oriented towards office automation or domestic use. Anyway, watching a movie on a 10.5″ screen can never offer the same experience as on a TV over 40 or 50″, regardless of the image ratio used.
The display frequency is limited to 48 or 60 Hz. Note in passing that, if you feel cramped, the USB-C port can also act as a video output and offer a display definition higher than that of the tablet.In terms of image quality, you might as well state it from the outset: the Surface Go 3 benefits from one of the best screens we’ve seen so far on a tablet. We submitted it to our probe, and the results obtained are beyond measure for an IPS panel. We even got even better results than a Surface pro 8, that is to say.
With a DeltaE of 1.2 and an average temperature of 6304, there’s really nothing to complain about with the device’s colour settings. Note that we didn’t even need to change anything in the Windows display settings to get such results. Still using our probe, we also noted a brightness of 456 cd/m², as well as a contrast of 1496… In short, the screen is perfect all along the line.
During our various reading tests, we nevertheless noted that the brightness of the screen sometimes tended to reflect ambient lights and make certain areas of the image less discernible than others. But nothing really prohibitive, rest assured.
As mentioned above, the Surface Go 3 is available in 3 editions, on which we sometimes find a Pentium 6500Y, sometimes a Core i3-10100Y. It is the latter that we used for our tests. On this model, we also benefit from 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage. It is obviously the most powerful tablet of the three, but it is also the most expensive. There is still 240 euros difference, it is not trivial. And the benchmarks can vary completely if you opt for the model equipped with only 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage and above all a Pentium 6500Y.
The results of the model’s benchmarks in Core i3 are correct without more, as shown in the screenshots above and below. In reality, in use, the tablet really lacks response. Installing and launching an application is sometimes long and not necessarily justified. Of course, when you launch photo editing software like Photoshop or even a benchmark tool, it’s perfectly understandable.
On the other hand, what is less so are the moments experienced by the Surface Go 3 when launching much more basic applications such as instant messaging or even the Microsoft Store. In short, given the price of the tablet in Core i3, we could hope for better optimization.
We must insist on the fact that we benefited from this test from the “most powerful” model.
AUTONOMY AND CHARGING SPEED
Autonomy is certainly not the strong point of the Surface Go 3. If Microsoft announces a longevity of 11 hours in “normal use” with Wi-Fi activated, the 28 Wh battery actually struggles to last that long. Playing a video streamed over Wi-Fi on Disney+ lasts around 7:50 (using the latest firmware, which seems to solve some problems). In more varied and slightly more intensive uses, and after having used the tablet for almost two weeks on a daily basis, the Surface Go 3 offers an average autonomy of around 6 hours. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. We would have liked Microsoft to focus more on this subject, which was already one of the moot points of the Surface Go 2 .
As for the time required for a full recharge, it is really very long. Admittedly, the first battery percentages are quite quick to recover. Allow 17 minutes to regain 20% autonomy, then 37 minutes for 30%. Things go wrong afterwards, since we noted that we had to wait 60 minutes for 44%, 80 minutes for 62%… And almost 2h20 for a full recharge. With the Surface Go 3, you better not be in a rush.
As expected with this type of device, the audio quality is simply “average”. No bad surprise, the sound in movies, video games or audio streaming services is fully audible. We didn’t notice any particular saturation, even when the sound is pushed to its maximum.
On the other hand, the “treble” sounds really very “treble”, while the bass is too boomy. We will greatly prefer a model like the , certainly a little more expensive, but which has the merit of offering exemplary sound reproduction for this kind of product.
The screen has a small camera on the front, which of course allows you to video chat, but also to unlock the device via Windows Hello. And in this little game, Microsoft knows its subject on the end of the angles: the authentication works wonderfully and responds to the quarter turn.
If the front camera is 5 MP, the rear one is 8 MP. Both devices offer good quality photos and videos, although the rear one isn’t always up to scratch. Beware of far too bright backlights and far too dark shadow areas! If you are a fan of videoconferences, it is, therefore, better to place yourself properly in the room (not too close to the window, but not in a corner far from the light either).
Note- The difference between the two editions may go unnoticed at first glance, but it is significant. With Windows 11 S, all apps must be installed from the Microsoft Store. It is therefore impossible to launch or install any .exe program. Microsoft explains that this edition of Windows delivers maximum security, since all applications submitted to the Microsoft Store are subject to a drastic analysis.
The risks of compromising the system by malware are therefore nil, or almost nil. A statement that has so far been verified, since so far no malware has circulated on the Microsoft Store.
Note, however, that a “fake” Microsoft Store spreading malware was spotted earlier this year by ESET, but that the real application remains safe from threats.