When it comes to Windows computers, Microsoft’s Surface lineup has a special place in geeky hearts. After all, it is made by the very company that makes Windows, making the Surface line perhaps the closest thing in Windows land to the Mac world – with a lot of the hardware and all the software coming from the same brand. The problem, of course, has been that like its counterparts on the Mac side, the Surface range of computers generally tends to be on the rather expensive side – charging a premium over what similarly-specced devices from other brands would be priced at. Take the base model of the Surface Pro for instance, even with an Intel Core m processor (which is considered to be a notch below the Core i3 by most experts), it comes with a hefty price tag, generally well in excess of Rs 50,000.
This trend however seemed to change last year with the introduction of the Surface Go. The Go had a smaller display and was powered by the Intel Pentium Gold chip, which was promoted as being superior to the Core m, but was still considered a step down from the 8th-gen Core i3 series of chips. But these compromises had a bright side – the Go came at a surprising price tag of Rs 37,999. In simple terms, the Surface Go was perhaps the most affordable Surface device ever launched in India.
Note that I wrote “was.”
For, a few days ago, Flipkart introduced a deal that turned the affordable Surface world on its head. The e-commerce portal has been offering the Core m3 variant of the Surface Pro for as little as Rs 41,999. This is the same device that was launched in India last year for Rs 64,999. This is a whopping discount of over 40 percent. And it brings it into the range of the Surface Go. This in turn has sparked off a “which is the most affordable Surface?” debate.
Now, on the surface of it (yes, that pun was so intended), the Surface Go would seem to be the more obvious option. After all, it comes with the Intel Pentium Gold chip that is considered superior to the Core m3 chip. And it is still almost Rs 4,000 cheaper, even after the discounted m3 model of the Pro. But this is where things get interesting.
For, notwithstanding the slightly inferior processor (as per some, we hasten to point out), the Core m3 Surface Pro comes with several aces up its digital sleeves. For one, it comes with the obvious advantage of having a larger, higher resolution display – the Surface Pro has a 12.3 inch 2,735 x 1,824 pixel (quad HD display), while the Surface Go comes with a 10 inch 1,800 x 1,200 resolution display. And while the Core m3 is supposed to give ground to the Pentium Gold in terms of power, it delivers significantly better battery performance, delivering about 10-12 hours of battery life as compared to 6-8 hours on the Surface Go. Even one of the perceived advantages of the Surface Go, having a USB Type C port rather than a “normal” USB port (as on the Surface Pro) is not that much of a benefit, as more gadgets are likely to be able to work with the Surface Pro than with the Surface Go (you do not see many USB Type C flash drives out there!). Finally, the Surface Pro comes with Windows 10 Professional edition, while Surface Go comes with the Home edition, that too with S mode, which restricts you to apps from the Windows store.
Yes, thanks to its much smaller display, the Go is way more portable and compact than the Pro, and at 522g is much lighter than the 770g Pro, but as the Go is the only device in the Surface range with that particular display size, getting accessories for it is far more difficult.
Of course, many will still say that the Surface Go after all still costs less – Rs 37,999 as against Rs 41,999. But here too the Pro has an edge – the Pro model comes with 128GB SSD storage while the Go model has 64GB EMMC storage. The Go too has a 128GB SSD model which comes with 8GB RAM for good measure, but that is significantly more expensive at Rs 49,999.
In fact, the only areas where the Go has an edge over the Pro are the processor (and that difference is not too apparent, as neither is a gaming or multimedia monster) and its much more compact form factor. Even the price advantage it seems to enjoy on paper is a bit of a mirage. In simple terms, the Surface Pro is more of a Surface in terms of dimensions and design than the Surface Go, which is actually a shrunk version. And that for me settles the issue: anyone looking for a Surface on a budget, should go for the Core m3 Surface Pro. At this point of time, it simply delivers more than the Surface Go.
The important point to note is that all indications are that this drop in the price is not a permanent one. The Core m3 Surface Pro is likely to go back to somewhere in the vicinity of its original price come March, as per our sources. So if you are in the market for a budget Surface, my advice is to get the base level Pro. It is a little basic, yes. But right now, so is its price. And it makes more sense to go for it than the Go.
Pun so, SO intended.