The $549 Surface Laptop Go was Microsoft’s first attempt at a true budget laptop back in 2020, delivering decent performance and a particularly great design for the price. The just-announced Surface Laptop Go 2 aims to make the company’s cheapest notebook even better, packing an improved webcam and newer processor into a slick package that still comes in at a fraction of the price of most premium laptops.

Starting at $599, the Laptop Go 2 is available for preorder now from Microsoft and Best Buy and will launch on June 7. Wondering if this affordable notebook belongs in your work-from-anywhere lifestyle? Here’s what you need to know.

The same affordable package with small upgrades — and a slick new color

The Surface Laptop Go 2 looks pretty similar to its predecessor, and that’s not a bad thing. You still get a sleek, lightweight design that’s ready for the road at just 2.5 pounds, except now you have the added option of an attractive green Sage color alongside the returning Ice Blue, Sandstone and Platinum finishes. The Laptop Go 2 isn’t quite as svelte as the more expensive Surface Laptop 4, but it still looks better than just about anything else you can get for under $600.

The more notable changes are on the inside, starting with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor that should give it a modest speed bump over the 10th Gen chip that powered the original Laptop Go. Microsoft says the Go 2 has an “improved webcam,” though it still carries the same relatively low 720p resolution as the previous model. The Laptop Go 2 also promises improved thermals designed to keep it cooler and quieter while you’re plugging away, and it’s the first “secured-core” Surface, meaning it’s built with the highest level of Windows security in mind.

Microsoft also outfitted the Surface Laptop Go 2 with more replaceable components, which makes the notebook both more sustainable and a better value while allowing you to get a few more years’ use out of it. Now, on top of the already swappable solid-state drive (SSD), the new laptop lets users replace the keyset, trackpad, display cover, battery and Surflink cable.

Small upgrades aside, you’re still getting a 12.4-inch HD display with Microsoft’s signature 3:2 aspect ratio for that extra vertical screen real estate — something that’s handy for big spreadsheets or long Slack threads. You’ll get a USB-C and USB-A port (the latter of which is ideal for older accessories) as well as a headphone jack for zoning in during your Zoom calls. There’s also a fingerprint reader for quick logins, but you’ll have to spring for at least the 8GB RAM/128GB storage model to get one. Microsoft is promising up to 13.5 hours of battery life on the Go 2; we got closer to eight hours from the previous model, so we’re curious to see how that shakes out in real-world use.

We were impressed by the original Microsoft Surface Go during our initial review, particularly when it came to the notebook’s attractive design, decent ports and reliable keyboard. We found the performance of our model (which packed 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage) to be dependable for everyday work, though we noted that most customers should skip the starting model that has just 4GB of memory and a slow 64GB storage drive. Fortunately, the Surface Go 2 starts with a 128GB SSD, so you’ll be getting decent and speedy storage no matter which configuration you buy.

The takeaway

The $599 Surface Laptop Go 2 is shaping up to bring some welcomed but subtle upgrades to one of the better laptops you can get for under $600. Those who own the original Laptop Go have very little reason to upgrade, but those in the market for an affordable, attractive laptop that can handle your daily emails, Slack chats and Zoom calls should keep an eye on it.

We’ll have a final verdict on the Laptop Go 2 in the coming weeks once we get our hands on one, but for those who don’t want to wait, the system is up for preorder now.