Surface Go 2 with 4GB Ram and 4425Y worth it?
from to on 05 Dec 2023 08:47

Hi! There’s no Surface on Linux Lemmy community (yet), but I didn’t feel like asking on reddit, so I thought that this community is my best bet.

I was thinking about getting a surface go, since I really like the form factor and have fond memories of my old Surface Pro 3 in Uni.

Now, there’s a deal going on, where they’re selling the tablet for under 300€, but it’s the low-spec one with 4GB RAM and the weakest processor. I was wondering if I would be doing myself a favor by getting a tablet with these low-end specs.

My usecases would be: Note taking with rnote/xournalpp, surfing, reading, youtube and maybe some light coding.

A FOSS system with encrypted home directory is essential for me, which is why I’m not even considering Android/Apple tablets.

I think I’d give Fedora Silverblue a shot, because Gnome is supposedly great for tablets and it seems more stable to fuck-ups. But maybe the meager storage space (64GB) makes this infeasible

Do any of you have any experiences with these low specs? Or even with a Surface Go 2 in 2023 daily use?


threaded - newest on 05 Dec 2023 09:22 next collapse

Don’t waste your money on a PC with 4GB of RAM that’s soldered on the motherboard. on 05 Dec 2023 09:28 collapse

Sorry, that’s just not a helpful comment. It kind of ignores my usecase.

It’s a tablet and I’m not going to use it for big workloads.

If you know of any PCs with stylus support that I can carry in the pockets of my jacket with modular RAM, please do tell. on 05 Dec 2023 09:35 next collapse

I’m afraid this isn’t really the place to ask for such a device. If you ask for any kind of laptop, they pretty much only tell you to buy a ThinkPad X1 Carbon here. Sure, it’s probably a great laptop, but not for every usecase. on 05 Dec 2023 09:53 next collapse

I’m using a Thinkpad X1 Yoga with touchscreen and stylus support. Works flawlessly with Fedora. Bought the 8 GB version with an 8th gen i7 from a local shop in Vienna for 200€, but there’s also a 16 GB one.

I would say that Surface is too old for proper use especially for that price. Have a look around more, and better deals just gonna fall into your lap. on 05 Dec 2023 12:52 collapse

I was specifically hoping for something with the 10" form factor. I already have a thinkpad as a laptop and was hoping for something with a smaller form factor. on 05 Dec 2023 09:56 next collapse

You’re probably not going to find a tablet with modular RAM, but 4GB will barely run a web browser these days. You will be using swap a lot and that will put a lot of wear on the non replacable SSD. on 05 Dec 2023 12:49 collapse

Oof. Didn’t even think of the SSD bit. The surface devices are generally good quality but the repairability is apparently atrocious with all these soldered Chips. on 07 Dec 2023 14:42 collapse

Although the new surfaces have good repairability apparently! on 07 Dec 2023 15:36 collapse

The SSD is still soldered to the motherboard. on 05 Dec 2023 10:08 collapse

It’s a 10" tablet, how big is your pocket?

My bigger concern checking its specs is this:

Storage: 64 GB eMMC Flash, 64 GB

Unlike ram, ssds die after some use. So the lifespan of this device depends on this SD card, eMMC is basically a soldered SD card, a bad quality ssd. I have 3 old tablets with dead eMMC, they are otherwise perfectly fine devices, but unusable for anything

I’m not too familiar with the surface lineup, but iirc there are higher end devices with replaceable ssds. I think soldered ram is not a big deal in this form factor if it’s enough for the expected use case, but a soldered hard drive lowers the lifespan of your device on 05 Dec 2023 10:15 collapse

I have big pockets (in my jacket) ;)

The SSD thing you mentioned is quite a good point. :/ on 05 Dec 2023 09:29 next collapse

Not x86_64 based, but the PineTab2 and PineTab-V are 2 alternatives. The PineTab2 is aarch64 (ARM) based while the PineTab-V is, you guessed it, RISC-V based.

Both 8 GB RAM versions go for about $210 on their website. on 05 Dec 2023 09:53 collapse

Unfortunately, those don’t support a stylus. Although I love seeing a RISC-V tablet (although I wouldn’t be able to use it, since I’m not a kernel developer ;) on 05 Dec 2023 09:57 collapse

No worries. Just wanted to throw some alternatives your way, since I think €300 is a steep price for a 4 GB RAM tablet with no upgrade option. :) PS: Didn’t know stylus support was a thing. TIL about EMR. on 05 Dec 2023 10:07 collapse

A shame that android/google and apple have the market cornered so much. on 05 Dec 2023 09:49 next collapse

Not sure I’d recommend getting anything resembling a computer with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage nowadays, but it’ll certainly still work.

I’d probably start with a minimal Debian installation (or Arch if you prefer being on the bleeding edge I guess) and then add GNOME desktop and whatever else I need afterwards. I don’t recommend checking the box that says “GNOME” in the Debian installer, as that installs a whole bunch of packages you’ll probably never use, and disk space is at a premium here.

Performance should be doable as long as you don’t multitask a lot, but don’t expect any wonders as 2 physical cores really isn’t a lot these days. on 05 Dec 2023 12:50 collapse

Thanks for the tips. I guess it’s really a bad idea after all.

Here’s hoping that the pinetab will be in stock sometime in the future. :) on 05 Dec 2023 10:54 next collapse

Anything that has less than 6GB of RAM nowadays it completely useless for normal use. Don’t buy it. on 05 Dec 2023 11:20 next collapse

I’d say 4GB of RAM is barely enough. It’ll probably do for the things you mentioned. But opening a browser and surfing the web, or using modern Electron apps/software will quickly get you to the limit.

Another idea would be buying something second-hand / refurbished. It’ll get you better specs for roughly the same money. But probably not a Surface or a tablet, so YMMV with that approach. on 05 Dec 2023 12:46 collapse

Thanks for the hint. I guess I was a bit over-eager since I’ve been thinking about getting one for quite some time and now this “bargain” appeared out of nowhere. :/ on 05 Dec 2023 12:05 next collapse

I have a Surface Go 1 with the 128gb ssd drive that I bought as a cheap computer while I got separated from my ex in 2019. I bought it for around 4-500$ with an included typecover.

While I’m really happy with it, it’s not what I’d recommend as you really need to hook it up to a monitor when you’re at home. It’s powerful enough for me with its 8gb of ram, but the lack of upgradability is a long term problem.

I guess yours sounds too expensive and already lacking in term of specs. If I were you, I’d at least look for a more powerful second hand Surface Go as Fedora runs perfectly on it (except the camera and slow blutooth for the mouse). on 05 Dec 2023 12:47 collapse

It wouldn’t have been my primary device, but it indeed sounds too expensive now. on 05 Dec 2023 12:51 collapse

Also, it ain’t so easy to make it a perfect portable Linux device. Just booting from Usb key without Ventoy is a hassle.

My girlfriend 2012 MacBook Pro was surprisingly easier to get Linuxed. on 05 Dec 2023 12:53 next collapse

There is quite an active Linux on Surface community, so I figured that it’s a bit easier to get it running. on 05 Dec 2023 21:09 collapse

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s still a good experience, but it’s still the most difficult Linux optimization I’ve ever had since I started installing Linux on all my computers around 2005.

But the form factor is really great if you move a lot and it’s a good tiny laptop with the typecover.

I’ve never installed the Surface kernel so I don’t know how much it would improve the experience. on 05 Dec 2023 13:36 collapse

The tablet and 2 in 1 surface devices are pretty much laptops (at least same architecture and bootloader) amd they’ve been easy to boot other stuff with in my somewhat limited experience. on 05 Dec 2023 13:31 next collapse

A month or so ago I picked up an 8gb model and it’s been really nice, I wrote a blog post about it if you’re interested and have been really happy with it. 4gb is enough for note taking & code writing, web browsing, reading, and YouTube watching (at low/mid resolutions) and I actually got away with those on a 2gb RAM 16gb storage Chromebook + Debian for a while. Still though, if you can spring for 8gb of ram that will be helpful, and a necessity if you want to do things like run waydroid.

Gnome works great, just be sure to set up the on screen keyboard and run the custom hot corners plugin to make it work everywhere. Also, I know that chromium doesn’t have the best reputation in these parts, but you’ll probably need to use either a WebKit or chromium browser for their touch controls and PWAs.

I went with Debian, but I can’t imagine Fedora offering a much different experience. Mine worked fine without a surface specific kernel, but results may vary from device to device.

Last, I bought mine used for $99 US on EBay. Not sure how it varies from country to country but at least in the states you can find older surface models in decent condition starting at $70 US or $100 US for ones in like new condition with a keyboard & charger.

Edit: beyond Surfaces, if you’re deal hunting and don’t mind more research I believe most 2 in 1s running Windows or ChromeOS will accept a custom OS. on 05 Dec 2023 14:08 next collapse

I have the 128 GB storage 8 GB RAM, it’s still very usable. I often get annoyed with the small SSD, I’d assume 64 GB is way too small. Also if I remember correctly the 64 GB version has much slower eMMC storage, while the 128 GB and up have a real SSD. on 05 Dec 2023 15:57 next collapse

€300 euro for a device with such low specs seems like a pretty bad deal to me. I just looked online and the first result was a Surface Pro 6 with 8GB RAM and 256 GB of storage for the same price. on 06 Dec 2023 09:58 collapse

The form factor is what makes the device so enticing to me. But maybe going used is the way to go. on 06 Dec 2023 11:58 collapse

Oh, I thought the Go 2 you described was also refurbished because of it’s specs. on 06 Dec 2023 12:06 collapse

I’m quite sure they’re new. Out of curiosity: Why do the specs make you think it’s refurbished? AFAIK, refurbishes don’t change the components. ;) on 06 Dec 2023 14:13 collapse

Because those specs don’t sound like something you would get on a recent device. I thought 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage was the minimum now for Windows devices but I guess I’m wrong. on 06 Dec 2023 14:56 collapse

It’s a bit older, but the other comments kind of convinced me that MS just released a severely underpowered piece of hardware as the “budget option”.

Kind of untypical for them, especially considering that the surface devices are supposed to compete with ipads and Windows 11 is supposed to run on these things. on 05 Dec 2023 17:07 next collapse

I have the Go gen 1 with 4 Gb ram, for the exact same user cases ad you described.

The compatibility with Linux is great, but be mindful that you need a Windows installation to boot from USB (!). But the pen and touchscreen works out of the box.

The performance though is not the best, boot can take some time. I’d say forget about YouTube. But light coding and non-demanding websites could work. The form factor is great though… 😊

OP, if you’re interested in buying a used one, we could perhaps arrange something, if you live in Europe? Message me in that case.

PS. A Linux surface community would be great, I’d happily join it! on 05 Dec 2023 17:29 next collapse

Thank you, but the other comments have dissuaded me from getting a 4GB device. ;) on 06 Dec 2023 09:41 collapse

be mindful that you need a Windows installation to boot from USB (!)

I have the GO1 with 8GBs and while normal USB boot sticks don’t work if I use something like ventoy it works without any issues. on 06 Dec 2023 21:38 collapse

Huh, I’ve tried booting from ubuntu and fedora sticks with no luck but ventoy would?! I’ll have to try that and if it would work, my mind will be blown 🤯 on 05 Dec 2023 22:53 next collapse

No way, if you dont already have that, its a complete waste of money. 300€ is not little! I bought a Clevo NV41MZ for that, which has 16GB RAM, 500GB SSD, i7 CPU and is supported by Coreboot on 05 Dec 2023 23:16 collapse

I already have a laptop. I was in the market for a small tablet. on 05 Dec 2023 23:47 next collapse

Oh didnt know surface also has Tablets on 06 Dec 2023 04:16 collapse

Aaand that’s how badly Microsoft messed up the marketing for the surface line. I didn’t know the surface line had laptops, I thought the surface line was a tablets only (With the detachable keyboard base). 2 random internet people who are involved in the tech world had 2 completely opposite understandings of their product line because they made the marketing and branding so bad. on 06 Dec 2023 09:04 collapse

I have used it and cannot recommended it. If I was you I would buy a Google Pixel Tablet and then Install GrapheneOS or CalyxOS on it. on 06 Dec 2023 01:24 next collapse

Absolutely not.

Get a used Thinkpad X1 tablet. You find get a 16GB ram version for 300EUR. Works great with Linux without any tinkering. on 06 Dec 2023 04:36 next collapse

I feel like 300GBP might be a bit high. I got myself a Surface 3 in 2015 for about 500USD. It hat an Intel Atom with 2GB RAM and 64GB ssd. I used it for just under six years. I ended up using it with Windows 10 and OneNote mostly and it was pretty good. on 06 Dec 2023 13:10 collapse

I have the 8gb model and I cant recommend. Battery life is ridiculously low, it struggle with windows, but got a little better on fedora. Keyboard broke after a year, it was about 90euros to replace Overall it’s really overpriced, you can find better.