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Should You Get The Surface Go For Gaming? My 1-Year Verdict

Is the Microsoft Surface Go a good tablet for playing Windows games? Here is my verdict after using it for a year.

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Microsoft Surface Go for Gaming

I bought the Microsoft Surface Go because I had to fly a 15-hour trans-Pacific flight.

The one reason why I bought it over an Android or iOS tablet came down to its operating system. I had a huge Steam library with games that I knew would get me engaged for hours on end.

But are my expectations too high? After all, I have the original Surface Go released five years ago. It’s nothing like a gaming PC.

So, I did some research on games it could play (and I’ll share the mega-list at the bottom).

Surface Go Gaming Capabilities

Let me just say this from the start: if the game exists natively on Android or iOS, you’re better off playing it on those tablets. You’ll get better performance and a more optimized experience overall. 

Gaming on the Surface Go often requires you to compromise on your expectations. It might play newer games, but not as smoothly as a gaming PC.

However, the good news is that with every new Surface Go, Microsoft pushes the performance envelope further and further. 

The new Surface Go 4 has major performance improvements as compared to the Surface Go 3 including a more powerful four-core Intel N200 chipset, offering a 4.5x performance increase and 8GB RAM is standard, whereas in the past, you could still buy 4GB variants. 

Ultimately, a more powerful Surface Go will allow you to play more games. If you are considering whether to buy a Surface Go 3 or Surface Go 4, read this. 

4 Reasons Why It’s Great For Gaming

No matter which version you get, here are the biggest advantages of buying a Surface Go.

Super Portable

Microsoft Surface Go vs. Gaming Laptop

The Surface Go is one of the few Windows-based tablets which weighs around 500 grams. With the Type Cover keyboard and a Bluetooth mouse or gamepad, you’ll have a portable gaming machine under one kilogram.

Plus, while the 10.5-inch screen isn’t a lot of real estate, but that could be an advantage. In cramped spaces like trains and on planes, you can’t use anything much larger than that. I tried using my 15.6” gaming laptop on a plane’s tray table and I had nowhere to put the mouse.

Fantastic Travel Computer (Charges Everywhere)

I’d like to bring your attention to my 15-hour flight.

I had two computers – one with a 230W power brick and the Surface Go, with its 24W charger. For comparison, including a 24W charger is increasingly typical for high-end smartphones.

If you tried plugging a 230W power brick into an airplane’s power socket, it wouldn’t work. On the Surface Go, I had power for the whole flight because the low wattage didn’t trip the circuit.

Microsoft Surface Go USB C Port

What’s more, you can charge the Surface Go using a USB-C charger. The Surface Go’s USB-C port supports PD 3.0 and can take 5V, 9V, 15V and 20V.

I’d recommend getting a higher-wattage USB-C charger if this is the route you’re choosing. I used a 15W USB-C charger and noticed my battery slowly whittling away even though it was charging.

Kickstand Helps You Get Eye-Level Gaming

Microsoft Surface Go kickstand

On a long flight, it becomes quite unsustainable to bend your head downwards to look at a screen. You will feel sore and tired.

The great thing about the Surface Go is that it has a thin kickstand that fits into the gap where the TV screen is.

TV screen on a plane

All you have to do is to slot the kickstand into the gap, and then adjust the screen so that it locks the Surface Go in place. While it might fall out of place if someone bumps into it or if the person in front rocks the chair, it still felt very secure for the most part.

For completeness, I’d just have to highlight here that not all planes have the same TV configuration and it can be luck of the draw.

Also, if you want to do it this way, then you will need a wireless keyboard, mouse, or gamepad because you can’t use the Type Cover while it’s dangling in the air.

Plays Windows Games Unlike Tablets

This is key.

On my 230W gaming computer, I have some games that I enjoy playing. Rimworld, Oxygen Not Included, Factorio, Deus Ex (the original from Y2K).

Strategy games are especially difficult to play without a keyboard and mouse, and hence they’re generally only seen on Windows tablets.

If you’re a gamer, you’ll know which games can suck you in for hours on end. These are fantastic games for long-distance travel because time will pass so quickly. For me, strategy games tend to be very good at occupying my time.

3 Reasons You Should Avoid The Surface Go

Small Screen Can Strain Eyes

The 10” screen is a small niche in the gaming field, which also means that sometimes, fonts that are large enough on a 24” desktop monitor might end up looking a bit too small on the Surface Go.

This was the case when I played Half-Life 2. I noticed myself bending closer to the screen so that I could read what was on the screen.

If this is the case, check whether you can increase the size of the UI. Some games like Oxygen Not Included allow you to do so. Or else, you can try running the game at a lower resolution which will enlarge all the text.

Low Internal Storage

Microsoft Surface Go with low internal storage

This is a major issue, especially if you have a modern game.

I don’t use the Surface Go purely for gaming purposes. It has Photoshop, Visual Studio Code, Adobe XD, and other software. I generally only have a few GBs of space left for games.

The good thing is that the Surface Go does have an expandable microSD slot. The downside is that some software won’t install on a removable drive and microSD is slower than the integrated SSD.

Multi-Platform Games Leave Windows Variant In The Dust

If your game exists on Android or iOS, you’re better off playing them on those platforms instead.

When developing for these platforms, game developers can optimize a game because of the more narrow parameters. On the other hand, Windows is like the Wild West. That means that weaker hardware, as seen on the Surface Go, tends to suffer from imperfect optimization.

In addition, no Surface model has a dedicated GPU. This is starkly contrasted by the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, which delivers an exceptional gaming experience. 

The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and Adreno 740 GPU which provide smooth gameplay, detailed graphics, and minimal lag to demanding games like PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9, Fortnite, and Genshin Impact.

It’s the same story with the iPads, whereby the latest M1 and M2 chips are leaving Microsoft Surface tablets in the dust. Even the top-of-the-line Surface Pro 9 will not keep up with any of these tablets in gaming performance.

So, the conclusion is… if you can’t play the game on your Surface Go, try the Android or iOS version. You might be surprised at the rift in performance!

Mega-List Of Games Playable On Surface Go

🟢 Plays smoothly

🟠 Might work better on a higher-end Surface Go

🔴 Does not play well

GamePerformance Rating
Alphabear: Hardcover Edition🟢
Amnesia: The Dark Descent🟢
Apex Legends🔴
Asphalt 8🟢
Asphalt 9🟢
Battle Chef Brigade🟠
Binding Of Isaac🟢
Blazing Chrome🟢
Book Of Demons🟠
Broken Age🟠
Brutal Legend🔴
Bully: Scholarship Edition🟢
Burnout Paradise Ultimate Box🟢
Catherine Classic🟢
Code Of Princess🟢
Conduct Deluxe!🟠
Cook, Serve, Delicious!🟢
Cosmic Star Heroine🟢
Counter-Strike 1.6🟢
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero🟢
Counter-Strike: Source🟢
Crayon Physics Deluxe🟢
Crazy Taxi🟢
Danganronpa 1 & 2🟢
Darkest Dungeon🟢
Dead Cells🟠
Dead Space (2008)🟢
Deus Ex: Game of the Year 🟢
Deus Ex: Human Revolution🔴
Dicey Dungeons🟢
Disc Jam🔴
Doom 2016🔴
Doom I🟢
Doom II🟢
Doom III🟢
Door Kickers🟢
Enter The Gungeon🟠
Fallout New Vegas🟠
Fifa 16🟢
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster🔴
Flatout 2🟢
Framed Collection🟢
Freedom Planet🟢
Gears Pop!🟢
Gems Of War🟢
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved🟢
GTA San Andreas🟠
GTA Vice City🟢
Half Life🟢
Half Life 2🟠
Half Life Source🟢
Headliner: Novinews🟢
Horizon Chase Turbo🟢
Hotline Miami🟢
Hotline Miami 2🟢
Into The Breach🟢
Ion Maiden🟠
Jet Set Radio🟢
Just Cause 2🟠
Katana Zero🟢
King Of Fighters Xiii (13) Galaxy Edition🟢
Left 4 Dead 2🟢
Legend Of Grimrock🟠
Life Is Strange – Before The Storm🟠
Life Is Strange – Episode 1🟠
Magic: The Gathering Arena🟠
Mega Man Legacy Collection🟢
Metal Gear Solid V🔴
Metal Slug 3🟢
Minecraft Bedrock🟠
Mini Metro🟢
Mini Motorways🟢
Monster Sanctuary🟢
Need For Speed Most Wanted🟠
Need For Speed Underground 2🟠
Neon Abyss🟢
Olliolli 2🟢
One Step From Eden🟢
Orcs Must Die!🟢
Orcs Must Die! 2🟢
Oxygen Not Included🟠
Persona 4 Golden🟢
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy🟢
Portal 2🟠
Prison Architect🟢
Pubg Lite🟢
Pubg Mobile🟠
Puyo Puyo Tetris🟢
Quake Iii🟢
Quake Live🟢
Rayman Origins🟢
Resident Evil Revelations🟠
Retro City Rampage🟢
Rogue Legacy🟢
Rollercoaster Tycoon 2🟢
Runaway: A Twist Of Fate🟢
Sega Mega Drive & Genesis Classics🟢
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove🟢
Sky Rogue🟠
Slay The Spire🟢
Sonic Mania🟢
South Park: The Stick Of Truth🟢
Star Wars Episode I Racer🟢
Star Wars Racer🟢
Stardew Valley🟢
Steamworld Heist🟢
Steamworld Quest: Hand Of Gilgamech🟠
Streets Of Rage 4🟢
Super Seducer 2🟢
Swat 4🟠
Tales Of Symphonia (Steam)🟠
Team Fortress 2🟠
Team Fortress Classic🟢
The Binding Of Issac: Rebirth🟠
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind🟠
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion🟢
The Escapists 2🟠
The King Of Fighters XIII🟢
The Marvellous Miss Take🟢
The Sims 4🟠
This Is The Police🟢
Tokyo Dark🔴
Tomb Raider Legend🟢
Tomb Raider Underworld🟠
Tomb Raider: Anniversary🟢
Torchlight II🟢
Towerfall Ascension🟢
Trackmania United🟢
Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3🔴
Ultra Street Fighter IV🟢
Va-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action🟢
Valkyria Chronicles🟠
Vampire The Masquerade – Bloodlines🟢
Velocity 2X🟠
Virtua Tennis 4🟢
Wolfenstein 3D🟢
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap🟢
World Of Warcraft🟠


Gaming on the Surface Go

One does not simply buy a Surface Go for gaming purposes.

Instead, I bought it because I wanted to have a portable Windows computer for work-on-the-go, entertainment, and maybe some simpler games.

The mega-list of games above shows what type of games work best. If they’re 20 years old, they will probably run. If they’re 2D games, they will likely run. If they’re recent 3D games, they’re less likely to run.

But owning the Surface Go has been great because of how many things it can do. It comes down to the question: how important is Windows in a tablet to you? 



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