Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: a tablet for portable productivity

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a tiny tablet that you can use as a computer

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: tablet computer propped up on a table
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a tablet that you can use as a computer as well if you buy the snap-on keyboard to go with it. It won't blow you away with fast speeds or a long-lasting battery but it will be perfect for casual work on the go.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    10.6-inch FHD+ screen

  • +

    Weighs less than 550g

  • +

    Decent speakers built-in

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Underwhelming performance

  • -

    Short battery life

  • -

    Grainy rear camera

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Looking for a tablet to get work done while you’re on the move? This Microsoft Surface Go 3 review is exactly where you need to be, while it may not boast as much power as the best 2-in-1 laptops, it does give you all of the benefits of Windows 11 in a compact and portable piece of kit.

Microsoft’s devices are made for productivity whether you’re going all out with a creative powerhouse like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio or you’re a student who needs something simple like the Microsoft Surface Go Laptop 2 to type out lecture notes. Their tablets offer up another, even more, portable alternative, giving you the freedom to roam and work at the same time. 

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is one of the best tablets for portable productivity. You can find out everything you need to know about it before you buy right here, including a deep dive into the design and display as well as how I got on with it when it came to performance, battery life and features.

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: price and availability 

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is available to buy right now starting from $400 in the US, £369 in the UK and about AU$600 in Australia. If you wanted to buy the Signature Type Cover keyboard to go along with it, that will set you back an extra $100 / £100 / AU$150. You can also buy a stylus for $100 / £100 / AU$140.

To see the best deals on it from across the web right now, take a look at the widgets on this page.

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: design and screen 

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: website open on a tablet on a sofa

(Image credit: Future)

One of the simplest forms of 2-in-1 laptop, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 looks like a slate with a kickstand at the back that stretches across the whole width of the device to prop it up. Given the size and shape of the stand, the tablet feels secure when you use it stood up.

If you buy the extras then you can magnetically snap the Signature Type Cover keyboard onto it and use it as a laptop as well. The only issue with that is you can’t comfortably use it on your lap as it won’t be stable enough.

Measuring 245 x 175 x 8.3mm and weighing only 544g, it’s the size of a tablet so you can easily slot it into your bag which makes this perfect for anyone who works on the go a lot, and you won't need to have it placed on a table to use it effectively. If you were to pick up the additional type cover, that will actually double up as a way to protect the screen as well. 

On looks alone, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 is pretty sleek, it has a matte silver casing and a mirrored logo on the back with a small camera along one edge. Inside, the bezels are thicker than you’d get elsewhere but one does house the main webcam so it does need to be. 

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: back of tablet with kickstand open

(Image credit: Future)

The only thing you won’t get from this like you would from a laptop, are different ports to hook up your other devices. This simply has one USB-C port and a headphone jack, as well as a charging port. There's no HDMI nor is there an SD card slot. Elsewhere on the frame, you'll find a volume rocker and the power button. 

If you were to pick up the Signature Type Cover to use this as a laptop as well as a tablet, you can’t expect it to feel like a regular keyboard to type on. It’s much flimsier than that which means it moves a little as you tap away on it.

Given the 10.5-inch screen, this isn’t a device you would want to work on all the time. It’s too small for anything detailed but it will be good for firing off emails, browsing the web or even streaming videos on a commute. The quality is good enough for all of those things as well, despite not being crystal clear 4K, it has a resolution of Full HD+ at 1920 x 1280p. 

Unlike other slates, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor or facial recognition to log in to it quickly. That means you need to type a password or pin in every time you want to use it.

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: performance and features 

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: close up of tablet screen

(Image credit: Future)

Running the show is a 10th Gen Intel core i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. In terms of memory, that’s really not much so you’ll have to be quite considerate when you fill it up with your files and software. 

You can’t expect this to blow you away with ultra-fast speeds either, and it certainly won’t be a good choice for serious gamers because it simply won’t be able to handle it. What you can expect is for it to do a good enough job for the most basic tasks like word processing and streaming video, this is undoubtedly meant to be a tablet computer for more casual workloads.

On the Geekbench 5 performance benchmarking test, it picked up scores of 637 in single-core and 1468 in multicore which is pretty measly when you pit it up against other laptops or even tablets. On 3D Mark’s TimeSpy test, it only got a score of 256 so it can’t quite handle the more complex graphics either - if that is important to you then it could be worth taking a look at the best gaming laptops instead.

Another area where the Microsoft Surface Go 3 doesn’t perform so well up against the competition is battery life. You will need to charge it up quite regularly especially if you plan to use it a lot throughout the day. In my tests, it only got through about four and a half hours of video playback before the battery died which is below average for both tablets and laptops.

When you do go to charge it up again, you can expect to be waiting for about two and a half hours for it to charge up from flat to full. What’s good though is that the charger is very small so it won’t be annoying to pack away in your backpack. 

You get 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio built-in, they’re surprisingly good with plenty of volume and clarity for all your Netflix needs. I wouldn’t necessarily use this tablet to play music, but I wouldn’t use most tablets for that because it’s usually better to hook up a separate audio device like your own headphones or a speaker. 

There’s also a 5MP webcam and an 8MP rear camera. The main webcam is pretty good, you get a bright sharp image from it which makes it good for video calls, although you won’t be using it to snap professional-looking selfies. I wouldn’t really use the 8MP rear camera day to day though, the photos I took on it looked a little grainy and dull for the most part. 

Having Windows 11 as an operating system is what sets this apart from other tablets, and is what makes this one of the best small-screened slates for productivity. While the screen might be too small to make use of some features like snap layouts, you’ll still be able to use others like the home screen widgets, and you can actually download Android apps on this as well. 

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: verdict

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: tablet on a white background propped up

(Image credit: Microsoft)

When it comes down to it, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 is all about portability, it’s a compact computer as well as a tablet. Running Windows 11 means there’s nothing you can’t do, although the underwhelming performance might limit how fast you can do certain tasks while the battery life might limit how long for. 

For casual work and play, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 will do a perfectly fine job, the screen is bright and sharp, the webcam is clear enough and the speakers are pretty decent too.

If you were to pick up one of these, you would probably need to buy the extra Signature Type Cover at the very least, because that will allow you to type much more easily and there’s a mouse pad on it too. You could also consider the Surface Pen stylus if you think you would make use of that. 

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: also consider  

If it’s a compact tablet you’re after then the Apple iPad Air (2022) only weighs 461g so it won’t be a bother to carry around, and like with the Microsoft Surface Go 3, you can buy an additional keyboard to use with it. For iPhone users this is likely to be the best choice as all of your devices will sync up making it much more seamless to switch between them. 

For those who like the idea of the Microsoft Surface Go 3 but want something with a lot more in the way of power, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 could work for you. It is a lot pricier but you do get a better processor and a larger 13-inch screen.

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.