Pick a lane, Microsoft — Make better value laptops or don’t bother

Surface Laptops are so expensive
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and Surface Laptop Go 3 (sorry, the Go 4 doesn’t exist unless you’re a business entity) at the latest Surface Event and they’re already the most disappointing products of the year.

Doubly disappointing coming from the brand that makes Windows, but not unexpected. Windows is a nightmare, and so are Surface Laptops apparently. Yes, they’re pretty, but for how much? Catch me outside begging for change to afford something that won’t last more than a couple years.

You shouldn’t be jumping for these products, and let me tell you why.

Surface Laptop Go (away) 3

Let’s start with the Surface Laptop Go 3 — $799 for 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Okay, a little much, but wait, we’re forgetting the 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U processor. Well, what’s wrong with that? Only that it’s a year behind, and will soon be two years out of date by the time Intel’s 14th Gen rolls out in January.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 vs. Surface Laptop Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Yes, $800 is a lot of money for an out of date product. You know what’s just $869? The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED. That’s a 14-inch OLED laptop with 2.8K resolution (Surface is 1.5K), an AMD Ryzen 7 7730U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. And for just $70 more? How could that be? Easy — Microsoft is upcharging you.

You know who else upcharges its products? Apple. Do you know why it can get away with it? I’m not happy about it by any means, but the Cupertino crew has proprietary software and consistently powerful products. Microsoft has the software, but it’s not doing anything interesting with it. Tell me why I should buy a Surface if I’m not getting anything unique out of Windows?

Surface Laptop (get out of the) Studio 2

If I have to explain why the Surface Laptop Studio 2’s price is so offensive, you must be the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” setting a crime syndicate’s worth of money on fire on a daily basis. But let’s go over the starting specs real quick: 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H CPU (yes, Microsoft does know that 13th Gen exists), 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, and a 14.4-inch, 2.4K display. Not bad, right? Well, that’ll be $2,000, please.

Surface Laptop studio 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

I feel like I just died and went to a not very nice place. Oh look, we just reviewed the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED for $2,099. It comes with an Intel Core i9-13900H CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM, and a 2.8K (2800 x 1800) 14-inch OLED display. Wow, upgrades across the board for just $100 more? We must be living in fantasy land, that cannot be!

If you wanted to get a Surface Laptop Studio 2 that wasn’t completely useless, you’d have to pay $2,400 for the RTX 4050 model. But even if you go all in, you’d be paying $3,700 to get only an RTX 4060 GPU and remain uncomfortably at a Core i7 (sure, you get 64GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, but those are superficial upgrades at this price point). While Microsoft remembered 13th Gen this time around, it forgot about Core i9.

Seriously, what is the point of Surface laptops charging so much for so little? There’s absolutely nothing unique on offer that another Windows laptop can’t completely and utterly destroy.

Surface needs to change

The only way that the Surface brand doesn’t die out entirely is if Microsoft changes course. It either needs to offer the best deals for its products, like how Amazon has cornered the market on cheap tablets. Either that, or it needs to offer something exclusive, like how Google has optimized Android best for its proprietary devices.

As far as I am concerned, Microsoft needs to either get serious about its Surface devices, or just give up and focus entirely on its software. I mean come on, these devices come with only a 30-day trial for Microsoft 365 Family and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The easiest way to make these laptops worthwhile is to provide permanent licenses for its software on Surface. Wow, solved your problem, and you’ve easily become the best-selling laptop maker in the world. Too bad you won’t do that.

Sigh. I hoped for more out of Surface, but it’s just another drop in the sea of laptops.

Rami Tabari

Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.