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The Surface Laptop Go is here, and could steal Apple’s 12-inch MacBook thunder

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Surface Laptop Go is Microsoft’s latest addition to the Surface range of portables, boasting a compact form-factor with a 12.4-inch display, and an affordable price tag to boot.

Indeed, this new Surface 2-in-1 could easily be seen as Microsoft’s attempt to head off Apple’s purportedly incoming MacBook 12-inch, which is expected to debut later this year with an ARM processor (after Apple ditched the 12-inch machine from its MacBook line-up in mid-2019).

The Surface Laptop Go runs with a 12.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen driven by a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 (quad-core) CPU with up to 16GB of system RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. Pricing will start at $549 / AU$999 (about £420), making this the most wallet-friendly Surface laptop yet (and considerably cheaper than the rumored ARM MacBook 12-inch, which could just be Apple’s cheapest laptop in years, but won’t be nearly that affordable).

Within the trim chassis Microsoft has provided a full-size keyboard and what the firm describes as a ‘large’ precision trackpad, so in other words, despite the compact size, the input peripherals aren’t being subject to any hampering compromises. The keyboard, with a 1.3mm key travel, offers an ‘accurate and comfortable’ typing experience, Microsoft promises.

Battery life is rated at up to 13 hours (based on typical usage with the 8GB/128GB model) and you get fast charging technology as well. Some models will further offer a power button with a fingerprint sensor built-in to allow one-touch sign-in via Windows Hello.

In terms of physical ports, you get one USB-C and one USB-A port, a Surface connector and an audio jack.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go will also have a 720p webcam, Omnisonic speakers (for immersive sound with Dolby Audio support), and it’ll be available in three different metal finishes: Ice Blue, Sandstone and Platinum.

The Laptop Go is now on pre-order in the US and some other regions ahead of an on-sale date of October 13, and it’ll come alongside the arrival of a Surface Pro X refresh.

SQ2 power

That revamped top-end Surface Pro X will pack a new Microsoft SQ2 processor, which the company notes is the fastest chip out of all the ARM-based PCs available as of the end of August.

Naturally, better performance is promised with that CPU – although Microsoft doesn’t elaborate any further than this – and the machine will do better on the longevity front, with a battery life of up to 15 hours (claimed).

The processor is the only hardware change, so this is just a minor refresh, with the additional tweak that a new platinum color will be available, too, alongside three fresh colors for the Signature Keyboard: platinum, ice blue and poppy red.

Microsoft also revealed an incoming clutch of new accessories. Keep your eyes peeled for the Microsoft Designer Compact Keyboard, which is a Bluetooth peripheral that allows for the seamless switching between three different devices, and boasts a two-year battery life. It’s also suitably slimline, and will be priced at $69.99 / AU$119.95 (about £53).

Partnering that is a standalone Bluetooth number pad ($24.99 / AU$49.95), a 4K wireless display adapter ($69.99 / AU$119.95), and the Microsoft Bluetooth Ergonomic Mouse. As the name suggests, the latter is a wireless mouse with an ergonomic design and two customizable buttons which will retail at $49.99 / AU$79.95 (about £38).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).