Microsoft Surface Pro Scores Surprisingly Low Repairability Rating

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News Posted: Wed, Feb 13 2013 4:43 PM
The Microsoft Surface Pro has defied description somewhat, and it hasn’t been clear if it’s a laptop or a tablet. After what sounds like a grueling challenge, iFixit has an answer: It’s got to be a tablet, because a laptop wouldn’t be so difficult to work on. The site ended up giving the Surface Pro its lowest possible repairability rating--one out of ten.

First of all, the screen was glued down with so much black tar-like adhesive that they had to melt the stuff to remove the display. (Cutting the glue wasn’t sufficient.) Then, to remove the plastic bezel to get to the guts of the machine, they had to pull out 23 screws. Taking out the motherboard assembly and SSD required the removal of an additional 29 screws.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Aside from that, most of the tiny components, such as the cameras, speakers, microphone, and so on, came free without much trouble--until they got to the battery, which was glued into place. (At least it wasn’t soldered.)

Microsoft Surface Pro

All told, iFixit pulled out 90 screws and had to melt the adhesive on the display and the battery to take the Surface Pro completely apart. They also noted that it’s tricky to take out the SSD without ruining the device, and you’re likely to cut at least one of the four cables rimming the display when you take off the display.

Microsoft Surface Pro
Ouch.

In sum, don’t bother trying to open the Surface Pro; unless you’re a very careful professional, it’s not going to go well. It’s somewhat surprising to see a Windows PC that’s nearly impossible to tinker with, but apparently this is the new Microsoft. Maybe we should get used to it.
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Joel H replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 5:23 PM

When an MS product scores worse than Apple, it's an indication that build complexity isn't necessarily increasing device robustness.

Think about it this way. Each one of those 90 screws has to be placed. Every delicate, difficult connection is done an assembly line. Even if robots handled the entire process, it still takes time to build the system.

The more delicate the cabling and gluing, the harder it is to manufacture. We saw that with the iPhone 5, when Foxconn flatly couldn't build them as fast as Apple wanted.

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acarzt replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 5:56 PM

90 screws in that tiny thing!!! That's overkill! You shouldn't need THAT many screws! Most full blown laptops have far fewer screws!

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RWilliams replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 6:37 PM

90 screws... just wow.

I agree with Joel. I would have never expected a piece of Microsoft hardware to be more difficult to deal with than the iPad. Incredible.

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sevags replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 9:56 PM

Seriously... 90 screws... The first thing that came to mind is no much weight do 90 screws add?? And how much of that "black tar" adhesive was used that it required melting? what's the weight on that glue??

I realize that there wouldn't even be a reason to open the surface unless you wanted to upgrade the ssd but even that little bit would be nice.

I hate this whole gluing of components I just don't see why there can't be a cleaner lighter way of putting things together? Most people including myself will probably end up breaking the screen on the first try at opening it. All I can say is they better be super robust and not have any hardware problems at all in its reasonable "lifetime" only then will it not matter that it can't be opened.

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well .... it is an i5 in a tablet ... there are few devices to compare it with and none of those is on ifixit teardowns

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Feb 14 2013 9:34 AM

That's actually a good point, though you would think, since it's a standard platform design, something better could have been done.

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man, i don't know but i like the cooling design

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JDiaz replied on Thu, Feb 14 2013 7:09 PM

Things to factor though is that the Surface is more durable than the iPad, unless impacts hit the screen directly then it can usually withstand a lot more force. Also, unlike most tablets this has to deal with the heat generated by a 17W max TDP processor.

They can't afford to have issues like internal components warping because of the heat. Remember, such issues was one of the main reasons for the early XBox RRoDs!

While few tablets are intended to be user serviceable...

It is interesting the SSD is not soldered though, at the very least that means they can easily offer higher capacities later on without any system redesign.

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sevags replied on Fri, Feb 15 2013 1:10 AM

what is so special about the cooling design?....

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Feb 17 2013 7:29 PM

It is very seldom that I make a pro-MS post, so enjoy this:

You were really going to fix it yourself?

I have a chromebook that I've totally hacked (took apart to break the connection so that I could flash the BIOS) and replaced the harddrive, but you don't hear me *****ing about the huge number of screws I had to wade through. When you have an all-in-one, you deal with the consequences.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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