The Surface Go – Microsoft’s marvellous little convertible tablet/PC hybrid – is many things, but a performance powerhouse it is not.
In every other respect though, it’s perfect for graphic designers: It’s cheap(ish), portable and compatible with the Surface Pen for drawing. So the big question: will the Surface Go run Photoshop?
Can the Surface Go run Photoshop?
The short answer is “yes, but not well”.
While that answer changes slightly depending on the specific hardware configuration (you’d have to be enormously masochistic to attempt anything complex on the original base model with 4GB RAM and eMMC storage), you’ll never get a truly smooth Photoshop experience on any version of the Surface Go – even the 2020 Surface Go 2.
As The Verge writes in its review:
“I quit every app and took a flyer on launching Photoshop and editing some RAW photos. It worked with some delays, but it was a drag at best, and I found myself waiting longer and longer for each successive edit to apply.”
Windows Central is a little more optimistic, saying that it’s “more than adequate” for light sketching in Photoshop, “although high resolution pieces with many layers may push the Surface Go to its upper limits.”
But even here, there’s a catch. “Owing to the hardware, the inking experience isn’t as good as you might find on a Surface Pro or Surface Book, which sport co-processors to reduce latency between the pen and the screen,” the site explains. “The latency means that, occasionally, the pen will continue producing ink even when it leaves the display.”
That doesn’t sound like a great experience to me. It might be fine if you only dip into Photoshop occasionally and mostly want something for web browsing, word processing and email, but if you use Photoshop more than once or twice a week, I’d certainly advise you look for something else. Probably a pre-owned older generation Surface Pro, which likely will offer better performance for less money.
If you’re still curious as to what the Surface Go Photoshop experience is like, and how performance differs between hardware generations, the video below from Tablet Pro might help. It shows the kind of input lag you get on the original Surface Go against the new 8GB Surface Go 2.