Surface Go vs Surface Pro: What's the Difference?

The ultimate tablet showdown

Both the Microsoft Surface Go and Microsoft Surface Pro are big names in the tablet world but their similar names can be a little confusing. Both offer some substantial advantages and disadvantages with some very different prices and target audiences. 

The Microsoft Surface Go is the smallest and cheapest of the two but being cheaper doesn't mean it's the perfect fit for everyone. If you're wondering who would win in the battle of Microsoft Surface Go vs Pro, read on as we lay out exactly what both offer. 

Surface Go vs Surface Pro
Lifewire

Overall Findings

Microsoft Surface Go
  • Low-cost entry point price.

  • Small and lightweight.

  • Ideal for schoolwork or studying.

Microsoft Surface Pro
  • High-end system.

  • Great screen quality.

  • Designed for more professional tasks.

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Microsoft Surface Go? Actually, the fight is more of a dead heat because what truly matters is what you need the system to do. They're both fantastic tablets providing your needs match what they offer.

The Microsoft Surface Go is much more inexpensive than the Microsoft Surface Pro and thanks to that, it's ideally suited for students on a tight budget. Small and lightweight also means it's great if you're going between classes or have limited space in your dorm room. However, it's not the fastest of systems and it only uses a special form of Windows known as Windows 10 S. 

In comparison, the Microsoft Surface Pro is more of a high-end device with some powerful specifications that mean it's able to do a lot more, offers the full Windows 10 experience, and a far better battery life too. It's great for more professional work or those who simply want a faster experience.

Technical Specifications: Microsoft Surface Pro Wins by a Mile

Microsoft Surface Go
  • 10.5-inch screen.

  • 8MP rear and 5MP front camera.

  • 10.5 hour battery life.

  • Uses Windows 10 S.

Microsoft Surface Pro
  • 12.3-inch screen.

  • 8MP rear and 5MP front full HD camera.

  • 10.5 hour battery life.

  • Uses Windows 10 Home.

When it comes to technical prowess, you can't beat the Microsoft Surface Pro compared to the Microsoft Surface Go. It simply offers a far superior experience thanks to being more than just a tablet. While the Microsoft Surface Go remains as a tablet at all times, the Microsoft Surface Pro is a 2-in-1 device meaning it also works as a laptop too. 

It also has a far faster processor and more powerful RAM so it's able to multi-task better and generally perform far quicker than the Microsoft Surface Go. It also has the full Windows 10 experience while the Microsoft Surface Go uses a cut down version in the form of Windows 10 S. 

However, that also means you're dealing with a machine that's much more like a laptop than a regular tablet. Not everyone needs a full laptop experience which means spending the extra on the Microsoft Surface Pro might not be needed if you simply want an efficient tablet. 

Ease of Use: Both Have Their Strengths

Microsoft Surface Go
  • Limited Windows experience.

  • Compatible with some SIM cards and networks.

  • Smaller display.

Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Full Windows 10 experience.

  • Compatible with more accessories for improving use.

  • Almost as large as a regular laptop.

In terms of which is easiest to use, it depends how you want to use them. Crucially, the Microsoft Surface Go uses Windows 10 in something known as S mode. That's a cutback and more limited version than the usual Windows 10. It means you can only install applications from the Microsoft Store, for instance, and you can only browse the web with Microsoft Edge. It's far more secure than full Windows as you can't accidentally install anything nefarious, but it can be restrictive because you can't tweak anything. Think of it as like using iOS or ChromeOS.

Alternatively, the Microsoft Surface Pro uses the full Windows 10 operating system so you can do everything on it that you would a normal PC. It's also compatible with slightly more accessories, plus you can see more on screen. Despite that, the Microsoft Surface Go has another advantage - you can go online via a SIM card if you set it up accordingly. It all depends on how you plan on using it.

Pricing: Microsoft Surface Go Is Way Cheaper

Microsoft Surface Go
  • Starts at $399.99.

  • Aimed at the tablet buying crowd.

  • SIM connectivity is extra.

Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Starts at $749.99.

  • Aimed at those buying a laptop.

  • Keyboard is extra but useful.

If you simply want the cheapest device, the Microsoft Surface Go wins easily. It starts at just under $400 compared to the Microsoft Surface Pro's initial asking price of $749.99. However, that's because you're buying a very different experience. The Microsoft Surface Go is aimed at people considering a tablet purchase while the Microsoft Surface Pro is targeting those looking for a new laptop. 

Bear in mind that you'll need some accessories to get the most from either. The Microsoft Surface Go is far more portable if you buy a compatible SIM card and data connection to go with it, while the Microsoft Surface Pro needs a keyboard accessory to get the full experience and turn it into a full laptop. It's important to budget for either accordingly. 

Final Verdict: Both Serve a Purpose

So, what should you buy between a Microsoft Surface Go and a Microsoft Surface Pro? It truly comes down to what you need a new device for. Do you simply want a new tablet that's a lot like an iPad but with a Microsoft flavor? The Microsoft Surface Go will delight you. It's great if you need to take notes while studying or simply browse online or watch streaming services. Add on a Surface Pen if you want to use it as a form of graphics tablet too. 

On the other hand, if you want something more akin to a full laptop experience with the flexibility that comes from a tablet you can't beat the Microsoft Surface Pro. It costs more but that's because it's a reasonable laptop in its own right with the option of turning into a tablet whenever you need it to. You'll definitely need to buy a keyboard to go with it but it's worth the extra expense.