Get more Surface Book storage with the low-cost BaseQi Micro SD adapter

Slide the card and adapter into the SD slot.
Slide the card and adapter into the SD slot. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft's Surface Book is gaining ground as one of the powerful laptops that you can purchase. The reason why more of us do not own the innovative and unique machine is simple: the price.

The only was to save money when buying a Surface Book is by cutting back on the hardware configuration. But you can cut corners on the configured SSD storage and expand your storage space later. I hear the howls of protest, your shouts that the Surface Book isn't hardware upgradeable. This is true. But you can still expand your storage in a neat, clean, and affordable fashion — even if you've already maxed things out with 1TB of SSD crammed inside.

BaseQi – What it is

The BaseQi microSD adapter lets you add storage your Surface Book by sticking a microSD card into the SD card slot on the side of the tablet. Right now the biggest microSD card you can buy is a capacious 256GB, but the SDXC standard in use here technically supports cards up to 2TB. There's a lot of potential storage space you can make happen here.

Why not just use a regular SD card? The SD slot on the Surface Book is not very deep. Half the SD card sticks out when using it. While it's perfect for transferring photos, it is not something you will want to leave in all the time. If you do, there is a high chance you will either (a) knock it out or (b) damage the card (and possibly the Surface Book's reader). I do not consider a regular SD card a permanent storage solution, whereas the BaseQi is.

At just $24, the aluminum adapter sits flush in the Surface Book, giving a discrete look. Just slip in any microSD card into the adapter and push it into the Surface Book. Windows 10 will ask what you want to do with the card; you can use it for OS backups or have it be treated as just a secondary hard drive.

To remove, just tell Windows to eject the card under File Explorer. Then just pull the card out with your finger nail. The adapter fits snugly into the SD card slot and will not rattle loose.

Of course, this all presumes you are not regularly using the SD card slot on the Surface Book. Nonetheless, you can eject the adapter with the card and toss in your camera's SD card with just a few clicks.

BaseQi microSD adapter

The BaseQi adapter sits flush with the Surface Book; you won't even know it's there

If you do plan to remove the adapter frequently, do not opt to install critical apps to it. Instead, just use it for media, documents, backup, or general file storage.

Save money or just expand

The real value of the BaseQi card is either you can save some money when buying a Surface Book by opting for a configuration with less storage, or you can upgrade your current device with even more space.

For now, the relatively new 256GB microSD cards ($149) (opens in new tab) are significantly more expensive than the older 200GB ones ($70) (opens in new tab). The best value is likely at the 128GB range (opens in new tab), which costs just $40. Of course, microSD card prices have been dropping precipitously in recent years while also dramatically expanding in capacity (seriously, $40 for 128GB). It won't be long before there are even larger cards on the market. And that's another benefit here: you can expand your storage now, but years down the road you can expand it even more when larger microSD card options are available.

Slide the microSD card into the adapter.

For just $95 you can add 200GB of extra storage to your Surface Book (Image credit: Windows Central)

By way of comparison, Microsoft charges $200 (opens in new tab) for an extra 128GB and $300 extra for 256GB storage at the Surface Book Core i5 level. (The Core i7 variants differ due to doubling of RAM or the dGPU choice).

At $95 (adapter + card) you can add 200GB to any Surface Book, which is a heck of a deal. Going with the more expensive 256GB microSD cards + adapter ($175) you will save $125 over Microsoft's comparable offering.

Looking at the new Surface Book with Performance Base there is a $500 difference (opens in new tab) between the 512GB and 1TB Core i7 variants. By spending $175 using the BaseQi and 256GB microSD card option you can make up some of that difference while saving $325.

While there is a notable performance deficit in using a microSD card versus the internal SSD, so long as you're not installing large apps on it (looking at you, Photoshop), you're not likely to notice that in daily use. And for the price it's hard to beat.

Wrap up

I did not even know the BaseQI microSD adapter existed before it was brought to my attention (hat tip @bbolding). I sport a 1TB Surface Book and being able to push that to 1.25TB is ostentatious, but also awesome.

My review of the Surface Book with Performance Base

Putting extremes aside, however, and I think this is a solid option for those who want a Surface Book but are looking to save a bit in the process, or for those who already have one and who want to expand their storage.

Surface Book with 200GB microSD card via BaseQi adapter

Surface Book with 200GB microSD card via BaseQi adapter

The BaseQi adapter looks great, matches the Surface Book, and offers great functionality. There's nothing to dislike here.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Need more? Read our in-depth guide for Best microSD expansion cards for Surface Book for more ideas!

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

22 Comments
  • Why not just use a regular sd card?
  • Simple: it sticks out. A lot. I'll add a note explaining that.
  • Did you format it to NTFS or EXFAT?
  • That particular card was exFAT.
  • Kinda surprised with all that space they couldn't make it a full size sd slot.  We can have way better options with a full size one
  • "all that space"
    Have you ever seen the inside of the Surface Book? It's so tightly packed it's air-sealed. You can't even fit a business card between the components. There is no wasted space on the inside of this device.
  • guess I never really looked.  I just deduced that from my phone which has room for dual sim and a microsd, gotta be some room for a full sized SD in 13" :D
  • The thing with air holes is air-sealed? How does that even make sense?
  • A lot of devices are going this way. One of the few complaints in the XPS13, the SD card sticks out.
  • Wow, it's not an all in one reader with microSD? How odd..
  • This is a cool solution to add some hidden external storage to your device. How's the performance on it? My main concern is that the operating system doesn't see this as expanded storage to your primary drive. It's just an external drive to store files on. I have the same problem on my kids' Stream laptops, where I'm constantly clearing space to have room for OS updates.
  • You can map the card to a folder on your primary HDD, then you'll have no problem. I found this solution when I wanted to install Visual Studio on it, so the following link is about that. https://aurir.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/installing-visual-studio-on-dell-...
  • Great looks and value. Really, what's not to like? Awesome tip. Thanks, Dan.
  • I've got one of these for my Surface Book, looks great and is quite useful. I would recommend picking one up if your interested.
  • Might be worth mentioning that the performance varies quite a bit depending on exactly which SD card you choose. Can often pay a bit more and get faster transfer rates if it's important. I usually recommend storagereview.com for the benchmarks.
  • Credit for a very nice idea and flush to the body of the SB.  I bet they sell a lot because you can put any card you like into it - allowing for expanded room down the road as prices become more reasonable.
  • Another reason to get a Surface Book instead of a certain fruity competitor.
  • I own a surface book and generally dislike apple products, but I feel obligated to point out that this adapter was copied in premise from the original that was made for late-model MacBook Pros.
  • Not anymore for the new Pro.
  • already have this adapter, works fine, and it is flush with the edge of the SB
  • Is this available at any retail stores in the US?
  • Well there is another reason why SurfaceBook isn't more widespread: Availability. It's a year now and still it's not available worldwide, they really need to work on that. As it looks there isn't even a time frame when it will be available in Sweden for example. And the same problem goes for Surface studio.