Video Overview

Introduction

Microsoft just revealed a 2-in-1 for those on the move—those wanting a Surface with a little less pro, and a little more go. This Surface might have a lot going for it, but there’s only one thing we care about: can you service it on the go, or will it be stopped in its tracks by tired batteries and shattered screens? Only one way to find out—ready, set, teardown!

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Microsoft Surface Go, use our service manual.

  1. As always, our teardown begins with a cursory in-spec-tion:
    • As always, our teardown begins with a cursory in-spec-tion:

      • 10” IPS multi-touch display with 3:2 aspect ratio and 1800 × 1200 resolution (217 ppi)

      • Dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 615

      • 4 GB RAM (8 GB optional)

      • 64 GB eMMC storage (128 GB NVMe SSD optional), with additional storage via microSDXC

      • 8 MP primary camera with 1080p video; 5 MP / 1080p selfie camera

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  2. Compared to the Pro, the Go looks to have smoother curves, rounder edges, and a vaguely more iPad-y aesthetic.
    • Compared to the Pro, the Go looks to have smoother curves, rounder edges, and a vaguely more iPad-y aesthetic.

    • The Surface Go doesn't believe in the fewer-ports-is-more-ports trend. This tablet packs a USB-C port, headphone jack, a couple proprietary connectors, and an SD card reader.

      • Hunting for that SD port, we accidentally woke the sleeping Go—presumably a magnetometer notices when the magnet-toting kickstand moves.

    • Peeking between the slightly redesigned hinges, we spy FCC info, the model number (1824), and storage and memory specifications.

    there are no magnetometers in the surface go…u probably pressed the power button when u tried opening the kickstand

    Johnny Chaw - Reply

    • There's more than one way to teardown. Our way takes a while, so our friends at Creative Electron give us the X-ray version.

    • Preliminary intel: two battery cells, lots of circuit board—and no visible heat pipes! Looks like the Surface has been on a low-copper diet.

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    • If we've learned one thing after five years of Surfacing, it's how to open these things.

    • Our well-used iOpener brings the heat, then a suction handle and opening picks (just a few this time) attack the ample adhesive.

      • We encounter the same kind of goopy glue as before, but the smaller, sturdier display makes the opening procedure seem a little less scary.

    • The display's off, and we're pleased to see that Microsoft allowed it a fairly long leash.

      • A long display cable makes it easier to disconnect the display without damaging the cable, for safer and easier display removal.

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    • One last obstacle before the display is free—an EMI claw shield guarding the display ZIF connector.

    • With the display free, we turn our attention toward the bottom edge, and discover a few display chips in their natural environment:

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  3. Spread Fixmas Cheer
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    Get $12 off your purchase of $50 or more with code FIXMAS12
    • To our great surprise, the Surface Go has an immediately disconnectable battery! With no need to fully remove the motherboard, repairability is looking up.

    • Or is it? Removing the battery is just like the bad ol' days—two giant pads of adhesive put up a staunch fight against our adhesive remover and plastic cards.

    • Glued-in batteries prevent consumers from easily extending the life of their device, and they increase costs for recyclers at the end of the device's life.

    • The battery in the Go is a lot smaller, at 26.12 Wh, than any of its pro-level predecessors—even the similarly sized iPad 6 packs a 32.9 Wh powerbank.

      • A Texas Instruments BQ40Z50 series Li-ion battery pack manager is the brains of this operation.

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    • Turning our attention to the Wi-Fi antennas, we fully expect to find them mangled after that hack-and-slash display separation.

    • Having the display cover glass glued right over the top of the Wi-Fi antennas has wreaked havoc on many a Surface Pro repair attempt. Most times, the antennas don't survive display removal.

    • This time, we have to keep looking... and looking.

    • These antennas are actually tough to spot, and seem miraculously unscathed. That's one of our poor 5th-gen Surface Pro antennas up top, for comparison.

    • They've definitely been redesigned—perhaps with slightly less of a nail-biting repair experience in mind?

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    • Our journey beneath the Surface doesn't get any easier as we move on to the motherboard.

    • Thankfully there's no glue here, but we're forced to excavate our way through seemingly endless layers of shields, tape, and hidden screws in order to unearth the board.

      • Luckily, we have our Manta Driver Kit to keep us company, and to deal with any fasteners we find.

    • Finally, we relieve the motherboard of the last of its restraints, and free it from its metal and plastic prison.

    • Even with the motherboard free, we keep digging, through shielding and fabric stickers, to find the silicon that lies hidden underneath.

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    • At last, we're rewarded for our hard work with a treasure trove of silicon:

      • Intel Pentium 4415Y processor

      • SK Hynix H26M74002HMR 64 GB eMMC5.1 NAND flash memory

      • 2x SK Hynix H9CCNNNBKTAL 16 Gb LPDDR3 SDRAM (4 GB total)

      • Texas Instruments BQ25700A battery buck-boost charge controller

      • ON Semiconductor NCP81216 phase controller

      • Qualcomm QCA6174A Wi-Fi/Bluetooth SoC

      • Parade Technologies PS87430 (likely USB host switch)

    捷騰光電(Solteamopto Inc. ,) JSA-1138 環境光源感測器

    黃國瑞 - Reply

    • More front-side chips:

      • Qualcomm QCA6174A Wi-Fi/Bluetooth SoC

      • ITE Tech Inc. IT8987 LPC bus controller

      • Realtek ALC298 audio codec

    • Back-side chips:

      • NXP P3003

      • Atmel ATSAMD20E ARM microcontroller

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    • All that silicon, and yet this Go is fan-less and heatpipe-less. This thin copper shield and some thermal paste will have to do the heat sinking for this would-be PC. (Then again, you can always run it in a freezer...)

    • It's certainly a radical departure from those thick copper tentacles we found on the 5th-gen Pro, on the right. Hopefully it'll be enough for the Go's power-sipping, non-Turbo'd processor.

    • Now to pluck the final strings of this teardown. Such as: the Windows Hello camera, the 5 MP front-facing camera, and the 8 MP rear-facing camera (complete with piggybacked LED) all sitting in a row.

    • Finally, the modular microSDXC port with Realtek 5227S card reader controller—which is technically upgradable storage!

      • Not exactly the kind of upgradability we were hoping for, but we'll take what we can get.

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    • Here are all the bits lurking beneath the Surface. Thanks for joining us!

    • And thanks as usual to Creative Electron for their X-tastic imagery!

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  4. Final Thoughts
    • The smaller form factor seems to make the glass easier to remove without breaking, but it's still terrifyingly hard.
    • If this is expected to replace a PC, the lack of upgradability will severely limit the device's lifespan.
    • The lack of modularity, especially on high-wear ports, makes repairs unnecessarily expensive.
    • Adhesive holds many components in place, including the display and battery.
    • Replacement of any part requires removal of the display assembly, an easy (and expensive) part to damage.
    Repairability Score
    1
    Repairability 1 out of 10
    (10 is easiest to repair)

24 Comments

Do you think the Surface go 128gb uses a different motherboard? This 64gb model has the eMMC ssd chip, but I don’t know if there are any pin compatible nvme ssd single-chips packages that feature the same pcb footprint and signaling as an eMMC part. I’m pretty sure an NVME ssd has to have a separate controller and nand at this point in time. I have not seen any one-chip packages yet. Even the new MacBook Pro 15" Touch Bar 2018 teardown revealed a multi-package configuration (controller + 2 nand packages) for the integrated nvme ssd. It doesn’t look like there’s room for a m.2 nvme drive in the surface go either, so I think the 128gb/256gb model uses a different motherboard. Let me know what you think! :D

Anthony Kouttron - Reply

I looked into mainboard’s picture and found many blank area on the top left. Probably it was designed for SSD and will be used on 128GB model. I don’t think Microsoft will spent too much money to design and manufacture another type of mainboard.

Huang Junjie -

I own this product and it is not that great. All you can do is search the internet and its so slow, my phone works faster! I had to re-install windows 10 Pro just to get some speed out of the unit that ships in windows 10 S mode, The S is for slow lol… The S is for secure and locked down to windows store apps, which is not much. You can opt out of S-Mode but then you get windows 10 Home. you can not even CMD or run a simple bash command in S mode. Expect a ton of returns from uneducated general public. There is no fan, but there is no vent, the back becomes extremely hot. the 9 hour battery life must have been conduced by someone who does not know how to tell time or possibly the “watchman” cause I’ve had a number of test and im getting around 3 hours.

There is no reason for the 4GB 64GB $399 table to exist, Windows is around 30GB storage after all updates needed. Its a shame that truly for a okay slow Surface is $760 with a keyboard after tax for the 8GB configuration.

My keyboard stopped working, it bent.

Jimmy Schaefer - Reply

I agree I would really like to see what the SSD motherboard looks like, I imagine that the SSD is still soldered to the board, but I wonder what controller it uses.

William Young - Reply

I believe this is the SSD used https://business.toshiba-memory.com/cont...

Ace -

Why is the logic board so large? For such a simple machine, this logic board is far too large. Compare to the MacBook 12, or even the Surface Pro logic board they have beside it. Above and to the left of the CPU are vacant pads for several large BGA chips-this is far too much space for a LTE modem or a PCIe SSD as found on the higher end models. I wonder what Microsoft has planned.

pavloscraig - Reply

I would imagine that the empty solder pads are for the optional NAND SSD and controller.

Al2Me6 -

Fantastic device! Of course, the Apple sheeple will hate on it automatically, hence some of the comments above. It’s an amazing, low cost, portable, full-fledged PC that you can take anywhere. This is coming from a 20+ yr Mac user, as well (I use both Macs and PC’s and know them well.) Def get the 8 gb configuration. I’ve been using mine nonstop for 2 days and it’s not slow at all. I’m getting around 7-8 hrs battery life (the device also fast charges fully within an hour via surface connect), screen brightness on medium. Keyboard is strong, keys have TRAVEL (something Macs don’t have anymore) and it’s sturdy and premium quality. (Go check one out at your local MS store or a Best Buy before buying.) Reparability is non existent these days, so a 1 or a 0 is fine with me. What did the last gen MacBook Pros get, a 1 or 2 as well? I generally (like everyone else I know) tend to upgrade their devices 2-3 few years, anyhow. The Surface Go is perfect for me. Thanks for the tear down!

Rob Thomas - Reply

there’s no way this is better value then Samsungs windows tablets. For the same price you get a fast ssd, AMOLED display and a core M cpu. Plus it looks better and has a better battery life.

Arthur Dent -

Arthur Dent.. That’s your opinion, and thankfully, everyone’s got one. I’m very satisfied with my Surface Go. (I have a Surface Book 2 when I really need to do major productivity.) Samsung Windows tablets don’t have Surface Pen compatibility and I think this is a much better value, seeing as it works seamlessly with all my other Surface devices. This is just literally for ‘on the go’ and it’s an amazing device in my opinion. The Samsung Galaxy is $727.99 at WalMart, a little out of my price range for a secondary device, imho. I paid around $600 for my Surface Go with the Alcantara cobalt blue type cover, using one of my other Surface Pens and Mouse.

Rob Thomas -

iPad Pro 12.9” scored 3, iPad Pro 10.5" scored 2, iPad Pro 9.7" scored 2 even iPad Mini 4 scored 2…. why this is not al least 2 then?

Danny - Reply

because, it seems, iFixit is funded, run or somewhat biased towards Apple and its products, I’ve never seen a real teardown where Apple is treated like the rest it is alwys in the line “it uses mild adhesive for the sake of lines and design” or “look, is propietary but,, hey it’s apple” things like that

jorgehpm -

The Surface line is meant to be a personal computer, while iPads are mobile devices, so the comparison should really be Surface to MacBook, and those devices score very similarly. Apple notebooks are consistently at the [http://Apple does a pretty good job prioritizing screen and battery replacements in their tablets and phones, |bottom of our repairability lists]. Apple does a comparatively good job prioritizing screen and battery replacements in their tablets and phones, and our scores reflect that.

Sam Lionheart -

Apple devices should get higher scores because of the 3rd party parts that are widely available. With Apple you get your choice of vendors. Only issue with Apple parts is deciding which vendors to buy from.

anonymous 7224 -

Correction: the SKHynix H9CCNNNBKTAL RAM is LPDDR3, not LPDDR4.

Al2Me6 - Reply

“Microsoft Surface Go is a repairability nightmare … “, writes Brian Fagioli in Betanews.

The hardware creators are always balancing many competing & contradictory factors. Apple is THE most hostile, against the end-users, and against maintenance-repairs. IFIXIT is famous for explaining these criminal actions of Apple products.

I'm surprised that it has the lowest repair-ability rating.

> "Surface Go has an immediately disconnectable battery!”

Rechargable batteries are not yet designed to last beyond a few years.

> "Thankfully there's no glue here”

There have always been alternatives to most forms of "glue" (plastic-melding, etc).

Buyers of these hardware items need to be able to instantly repair their products instantly the need to repair is needed. Users do not actually live inside the home of expert maintenance engineers, believe it or not. Often the "repair" might be just be to remove drops of water or other fluids.

Greg Zeng - Reply

We need to push for a law that ALL devices should be serviceable, and all batteries (and other toxic items) should be removable to be recycled; how hard could it be to have a removable back panel? I fear these will be going into landfill with their batteries inside in a few years.

Noel Dillabough - Reply

Buy products that have high repairablity scores and you reward those companies. Most consumers prefer cheap to better. Don’t drive up prices on cheap products because they don’t meet YOUR needs.

anonymous 7224 -

You negative “lifespan”, which has nothing to do with repair ability. A little journalistic integrity would go a long way here…

Scott Wilkins - Reply

The complete sentence reads, “If this is expected to replace a PC, the lack of upgradability will severely limit the device's lifespan.” Repairability and upgradability are both about the same thing: extending the device’s lifespan. Always has been.

Jeff Suovanen -

Some interesting engineering for the heat-pipes. They avoid the bottom left of the device, where most right-handed people would hold the device with their left hand. Cool. Literally.

Matthew Finger - Reply

You forgot to mention USB chips. Realtek RTS5452, USB controller i think, but didn’t find a datasheet for it. Parade technology USB host switch https://www.paradetech.com/products/ps87... this chip reveal docking capabilities of the tablet: USB 3.1 Gen 1 with data rate of 5Gbps, and VESA DisplayPort Alt Mode with data rates up to 5.4Gbps (HBR2).

favnir00 - Reply

I wish someone would invent a new way to put together these slate form devices to make them user repairable/upgradable.

Rowdy Bedsaul - Reply

A few companies actually do make pretty repairable tablets. Most notably, HP makes their tablets to be very serviceable, and have publicly-available service manuals. If you’d like to see our repair reviews of a variety of tablets, check out our tablet repairability page.

Adam O'Camb -

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