Surface Pro and Surface Laptop get the teardown treatment; earn low marks for repairability

Both the new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop just hit the streets this week, and both have now gone under the knife (so to speak) in iFixit's obligatory tech teardown. In addition to giving us a pretty neat look under the hood of both devices, iFixit also handed out its typical "repairability" score, and it's fair to say neither Surface fared too well.

Out of the two, the Surface Laptop received the worst score on iFixits repair scale, coming in at a 0 out of 10 (with 10 being easy to repair). The first bit of difficulty comes from what makes the Surface Laptop unique: its Alcantara-covered keyboard.

It's impossible to get into the guts of the machine without cutting into, and subsequently ruining, the Alcantara. Once inside, soldering is the real enemy, however: the CPU, RAM, and onboard storage are all soldered to the motherboard, which puts the kibosh on custom upgrades. Meanwhile, iFixit notes, the headphone jack and battery are also very difficult to access and replace.

Surface Pro

Meanwhile, the new Surface Pro only fared marginally better with a repairability rating of 1 out of 10. The main knocks against the Pro involve the use of adhesive to hold parts in place, the inability to replace parts without removing the display, and the fact that the SSD cannot be replaced.

Ultimately, these scores only really matter if you plan to tackle any repairs yourself. It goes without saying you'll have a pretty difficult time doing so, but it's also not all that surprising given the engineering that went into both products. In any case, it's definitely worth checking out the Surface Laptop teardown and Surface Pro teardown for a pretty fascinating look at the guts of both.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • This doesn't surprise me at all, tablets and ultrabooks often come with a low repair rating.
  • Microsoft is always good about replacing faulty Surfaces, so it doesn't really matter
  • For one year only!
  • Or unless you purchase the extended warranty which replaces it for 3 or 4 years.  
  • Two years in Australia thanks to product life expectations set by the ACCC. 
  • Given stagnation in tablets it really should be 3 years now to align with PCs.
  • This is not exactly a tablet. And my new Alienware only comes with one year warranty as well. Would be nice if it were three though.
  • 1 year is pretty standard.
  • Yea, till the warranty is up... Then, your choice... and arm or a leg to get it repaied.... Your kid dropped it and cracked the display ? Awwww...just chuck it, it would be cheaper...
  • They replaced my I7 SP3 /256 after I cracked the screen for $449 US I think. Much cheaper than a SP4 replacement at almost $2000. Easiest experience ever for warranty replacement actually. Box it up, mail it, they mailed a refurbished one 2 days later. And 6 months later, it's still flawless.
  • Yes, the replacement policy is great for more expensive models.
  • Standard warranties do not normally cover damages incurred by the user.
  • I'm not sure what else they expected. The devices are seemles, there are no visible screws. Tablet motherboards are generally hard to upgrade or fix and tbh Id expect the same technology to be used on the surface pro and laptop.
  • who cares - the best I managed is to replace the HDD with SSD on my now 8 yrs old HP laptop - you don't repare those things, that's crazy. Best thing is to buy extra support years, or hope you're lucky enough - or enjoy the desktops instead.
  • There is nothing to service... the hard drive is BGA (soldered on the MoBo).  There are zero screws holding the unit together.  You would need a de-bonding machine to get to the hardware underneath, and once there - there's nothing you can do.
  • Well, i would care and am glad i did not buy one of these, now, i am also glad that i won't buy one in the future. I need my devices to be repairable, and people should not support this type of manufacture. This is just insane. You buy a new device, the ssd gets cracked, they give you a refurbished one. After 2 years and no warranty, they give you a foot in your ass. And you're left with a pretty expensive paperweight device. And all cause of faulty ram, or ssd or gpu, or battery, or or or... No sir, no thanks
  • I've had my Pro 3 for over two years now, and I haven't need to repair it once.
  • Do you feel the same way about phones? I'm still using me original Surface Pro.
  • I agree with you actually, that's what I'm saying - if you care about it, don't buy it - but if you do, there is nothing to repair.
    I think it's crazy - but it's how tech functions today.
    I still have 1020 and all my laptops are used daily for 3-5 years. I just try to "work around it" as devices are too good to miss.
  • I mean the only thing you likely to replace on a tablet is the screen.
    He's going on about ram and cpu.
    Can the screen be replaced?
  • Most modern devices in the Surface class are typically not designed for repair anymore. Fortunately, they generally have good reliability/low failure rates, so you generally buy, use and dispose/sell it off once you're through with it. Cost of repair is not worth it anyways - if it's still under warranty, get it replaced, if it's a few years old just get a new device since you're likely to spend almost as much in repairs as the purchase of a new one. It's the new electronics world order :-(
  • The 2017 Surface Pro SSD is a new comer tech so it's reliability is unknown...
  • SP 5th gen uses PCIe NVME, which is the same type of storage used in SP4. So there is nearly 2 years of that type of storage used in Surface Pro. Plus, these are just memory chips. It is not like some company invents a new type of memory chip and the next day it is put in computers for us to test to see if it works. The NVMe group was formed 6 years ago, and they just defined the protocol for transferring data. NVMe uses flash memory chips, which have been around for decades. There are different manufacturing processes that come and go to increase capacity, speed, etc. but really they are not anything new.  
  • Thanks god someone is able to explain how tech works to some users 😁
    There isn't anything magic or mystical.
  • You mean apple devices are not magical?? :p
  • Pretty much all future devices will be like this.
  • If you want thin and light you aren't getting user repairable.
  • This
  • Reading Ifixit article, I felt that they're quite pissed on this kind of product. They don't bother removing battery, seeing micro SD card slot, camera anymore.
  • This is the "price" of Apples and Intels push for thinner and thinner devices. Why on earth beauty in a device is measured with so big an emphasis on thickness, is beyond me. I would any day of the week add a couple or 5mm if that ensures access under the hood and more ports. At what point does thickness not matter anymore? Think of all those "revolutionary" iDevices that year on year have been nothing more than -1mm and a newer gen. CPU. The most sad part is how MS and nearly everyone else is mindlessly copying this trend. Even ThinkPads gets harder and harder to upgrade...
  • This is one one of the reason s I do not like laptops, i know memory and hard drives was easy enough to update, but that was about it and fixing the things was a pain. so with so called laptops getting smaller they are getting impossibl;e to update and companies like Ms knows it, that is why they charge so much between models just because of a loarger storage or memory,    it is a rip of really.  
  • Apple must be furious as Microsoft managed to score 0/10 before them
  • didnt they hit that score with the ipad pro? i seem to remember apple got there first ...
  • Absolutely unacceptable to have to cut into alacantara to repair the SB. Purely pathetic on MS part.
  • You know who can repair them, though? Their manufacturer. So zero problem.
  • With $$ yeah MS will repair it. Why should one pay big money (and time without your device) for something stupid like replacing faulty RAM or HD? It should be 8 screws and done...
  • I don't understand why anyone would spend this kind of money on something and NOT get the extended warranty. Let's face it the useful life of these products are 5 years and then your either buying a replacement.. I don't see any reason to upgrade such a device.
  • You realize if there was no customer demand, it would not happen. People want thinner lighter devices so they can carry it all day and the marketing is driving the "lifestyle" aspect. It is us!
  • You realize if there was no customer demand, it would not happen. People want thinner lighter devices so they can carry it all day and the marketing is driving the "lifestyle" aspect. It is us!
  • There is zero customer demand for a thing that cannot be repaired. This is all companies with their planned obsolescense. You, as a customer, are supposed to keep buying new models constantly and keep the factories running. Otherwise, or modern inflated economy will collapse
  • Not true I demand just that.. I don't have any intention of repairing anything computer related. I buy extended warranties always o. These type of things. It brings peace of mind to me. I would say the majority is like me. They neither know nor care about upgrading or repairing a computer themselves.
  • Well having watched the video I'm thorougly impressed, the build quality and durablility of the laptop is amazing. So yes once youve hacked this think apart with a knife and a blowtorch its impossible to put back together, also if your run over it in a tank, drop it from the outer space, hit it with an asteroid or feed it to sharks it's not repairable either. 
  • Yeah, it's been pretty obvious for a year or two now that MS has been looking to copy the worst of Apple and make the user experience on their internals as difficult as possible. I hate the way they've taken to their internals designs for this.