Microsoft Surface Pro Teardown

It seems like just a couple of months ago we took apart the Microsoft Surface. Yet its more powerful sibling — the Surface Pro — found its way onto our teardown table yesterday morning. Oh how time flies when you’re having fun.

We expected the Surface RT and the Pro to share similar internals and disassembly procedures, but it turns out that the Pro is a completely different bag of beans. The display assembly is anchored down with the most adhesive we’ve ever seen on a small device; in fact, it took us well over an hour to figure out how to get inside — an iFixit first. The Surface Pro has some nifty features, like a removable SSD, but that upgradability is marred by non-accessibility to the internals. Adding salt to the wounds, the battery is buried behind the motherboard and glued down to the case. Because of this, the Surface Pro received a 1 out of 10 score on our repairability scale — the worst any tablet has ever received.

Teardown highlights:

  • We tried every method we could think of to free the display, including cutting the adhesive — to no avail. This Pro required a pro method, and thankfully we had the required heat gun and guitar picks ready.
  • The black glue we found around the perimeter looks like tar, and is unbelievably close in function, appearance, and smell to its road-paving cousin.

Opening the Microsoft Surface Pro

  • There are over 90 screws inside this device. We’re proponents of mechanical fasteners, but this number is a tad crazy.
  • Strapped to the back of the LCD is a small PCB housing a Wacom W9002 chip, which we assume is responsible for driving the Wacom Electro Magnetic Resonance (EMR) digitizer system. In this Wacom-developed system, a grid of wires embedded in the screen generates magnetic fields that induces current in a coil in the tip of the tablet pen, both powering it and indicating its position over the grid. The pen then wirelessly returns that location data, along with pressure and click information.
  • The removable Micron RealSSD C400 we found inside is responsible for the 64 GB of storage capacity. The tiny 1.8″ form factor SSD can read at 500MB/s and write at 95 MB/s. Digging a little deeper, we found that a Marvell 88SS9174 SSD processor keeps all those Micron flash ICs running smoothly.
  • This Surface Pro is all party in the front, business in the back — cooling business that is. Two small fans help this Pro keep its cool. How small, you ask? Here’s how a Surface Pro fan compares to a 2011 MacBook Pro fan and FDR’s face:

Microsoft Surface Pro fan size comparison

  • Notable chips we found inside the Pro:

    • Intel Mobile HM77 Express Chipset
    • Intel Core i5-3317U Processor
    • 8x Micron 2LEI2 D9PXV 4 Gb RAM for a total of 4GB RAM
    • Marvell Avastar 88W8797 Wireless/Bluetooth/FM Radio Controller
    • 3x Atmel MXT154E Touchscreen Controllers
    • 2x Winbond 25X05CL Serial Flash
    • Winbond 25Q64FV Serial Flash
    • Integrated Technology Express IT8519G
    • Atmel UC256l3U 256KB Flash, 32-bit AVR Microcontroller
    • ON NCP6132A 3 Phase Controller
    • Atmel MXT1386E Touchscreen Controller
  • The plastic top-rear bezel also doubles as a vent for the Pro’s laptop-worthy hardware. Two ports through the bezel act as venting ducts for the fans, directing hot air out the top. It appears that the Pro’s fans draw ambient air in through the many vent holes spaced around the perimeter, then force that air over the heat sink’s two radiators and out of the device, cooling the CPU and GPU.
  • Microsoft spared no expense when it came to keeping the Surface Pro going. They sourced the Cadillac of batteries from LG: an Escalade 42 Wh unit. The battery is rated for 7.4 V and 5676 mAh. Impressive specs? Note that the iPad 4 has a 43 Wh battery, albeit at 3.7 V. Even with all this battery juice, the reported battery life of the Surface Pro is less than 5 hours.

For more information on the Surface Pro, please consult the full teardown.