Video Overview

Introduction

Teardown is the word of the day, and today we plan to dive into Microsoft's new Surface Laptop. Will this carpeted Alcantara clad laptop excel in our teardown room? The power is in our hands. Let's get to the point... Ladies and gents, it's teardown time!

And there's even more where that came from! Check out our Surface Pro 5 teardown to get your fill of all the latest Microsoft hardware.

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

Image 1/2: 13.5” IPS PixelSense™ Display with 2256 × 1504 resolution (201 PPI) Image 2/2: Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 (3M Cache, up to 3.10 GHz) or Core i7 (4M Cache, 4.00 GHz) CPU
  • Alright, the Surface Book is out of the box and on our chopping block teardown table. Here's what we're looking to find today:

    • 13.5” IPS PixelSense™ Display with 2256 × 1504 resolution (201 PPI)

    • Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 (3M Cache, up to 3.10 GHz) or Core i7 (4M Cache, 4.00 GHz) CPU

    • 4 GB/8 GB/16 GB RAM

    • 128 GB/256 GB/512 GB PCIe SSD storage

    • 720p front-facing camera with Windows Hello sign-in

    • USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, and SurfaceConnect charging port

    • 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth Wireless 4.0 technology

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Image 1/2: Thanks,  [http://creativeelectron.com/|new_window=true|Creative Electron]! Image 2/2: Looks like we're gonna see a lot of battery, a fan, and a beefy heat sink.
  • Before we delve into (presumably) another repair nightmare, let's get the lay of the land with some sweet X-rays.

  • Looks like we're gonna see a lot of battery, a fan, and a beefy heat sink.

  • Plus, a lot of shielding. This thing already looks scary.

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Image 1/3: We stack it up (literally) against a MacBook Air to play a game of spot the differences... Image 2/3: ... But apart from the layout, there's not a ton. Both sport a headphone jack, proprietary charging port, Mini DisplayPort connector, and at least one USB 3.0 port. Image 3/3: Connectivity differences include: an SDXC card reader and a second USB port in the Air.
  • All the usual regulatory markings are hiding out on the lower case alongside the model number: 1769.

  • We stack it up (literally) against a MacBook Air to play a game of spot the differences...

    • ... But apart from the layout, there's not a ton. Both sport a headphone jack, proprietary charging port, Mini DisplayPort connector, and at least one USB 3.0 port.

    • Connectivity differences include: an SDXC card reader and a second USB port in the Air.

The air has a thunderbolt 2 port vs just a Mini DisplayPort connector?

Luke Gould - Reply

  • We take a peek under the suspicious rubber footpads, but find metal feet instead of the screws we were hoping for.

  • Looks like we have to peel up that (dubiously luxurious) Alcantara after all.

  • Jimmy in hand, we start popping clips and peeling adhesive. Already, this doesn't feel like it's going back together.

  • We try to remove the fabric cover, but the going gets a lot tougher south of the keyboard. What's going on here?

Did you try to use a heat blower for easing the fabric removal?

Jeffo Moreira - Reply

We did! Unfortunately, it's secured with some extremely tough glue and dozens of plastic welds. (Side note: alcantara is very heat resistant, and is even used as a flame retardant in some applications.) So far as we can tell, there's no non-destructive way to get inside.

Jeff Suovanen -

Image 1/3: With more adhesive and plastic bits holding the shield from beneath, we fire up the iOpener and get back to popping. Image 2/3: Now that we've got a clear look at the plastic, it seems these aren't reusable clips at all, but weak ultrasonic spot welds that we've been busting through. This is definitely not going back together without a roll of duct tape. Image 3/3: Now that we've got a clear look at the plastic, it seems these aren't reusable clips at all, but weak ultrasonic spot welds that we've been busting through. This is definitely not going back together without a roll of duct tape.
  • We have to pull out the big guns knife now, to cut off the rest of the pelt. Layered underneath we find a metal shield, the meat in our Surface sandwich.

  • With more adhesive and plastic bits holding the shield from beneath, we fire up the iOpener and get back to popping.

    • Now that we've got a clear look at the plastic, it seems these aren't reusable clips at all, but weak ultrasonic spot welds that we've been busting through. This is definitely not going back together without a roll of duct tape.

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Image 1/3: Our pleasure is short-lived. The connector is trapped under a clip-on shield on the motherboard, complicating its removal. Image 2/3: This is surprisingly not that uncommon with recent [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+4+Teardown/51568#s112541|new_window=true|Surface] [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+5+Teardown/92362#s173095|new_window=true|devices]. Image 3/3: With the keyboard out, we begin the search for the trackpad. Presumably it's in here somewhere, let's follow that cable trail!
  • With the keyboard plate finally wrested free of its sticky and plastic-y jailers, we're at least pleased by the long cable connecting it to the body.

  • Our pleasure is short-lived. The connector is trapped under a clip-on shield on the motherboard, complicating its removal.

  • With the keyboard out, we begin the search for the trackpad. Presumably it's in here somewhere, let's follow that cable trail!

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Image 1/3: We take a moment to check the silicon before releasing this trackpad into the wild: Image 2/3: NXP/Freescale [http://www.nxp.com/products/microcontrollers-and-processors/arm-processors/kinetis-cortex-m-mcus/k-series-performance-m4/k2x-usb/kinetis-k22-120-mhz-cost-effective-full-speed-usb-microcontrollers-mcus-based-on-arm-cortex-m4-core:K22_120|MK22FN512|new_window=true] Kinetis K22-120 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 Core MCU Image 3/3: Synaptics S9101B touch controller (as seen in the [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Book+Teardown/51972#s113718|Surface Book|new_window=true])
  • The trackpad is trapped under tape and a metal shield, but it's nothing we haven't handled before.

  • We take a moment to check the silicon before releasing this trackpad into the wild:

    • NXP/Freescale MK22FN512 Kinetis K22-120 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 Core MCU

    • Synaptics S9101B touch controller (as seen in the Surface Book)

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Image 1/3: First up, speakers. What is there to say about speakers? They look like they're pretty good at speaking. Image 2/3: Like in the [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+4+Teardown/51568#s112649|Surface Pro 4|new_window=true], they are not exactly symmetrical. Just like in the [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Book+Teardown/51972#s113707|Surface Book|new_window=true], there are two of them. Image 3/3: At first glance, these white dots appear to be water damage indicators. Upon [https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/XZWeXagpIVJMGKCt.huge|new_window=true|closer inspection], they're actually port covers to contain [http://www.data-bass.com/data?page=content&id=79|damping foam|new_window=true], increasing the speakers' bass response.
  • We look around for a battery connector to dispatch, but it's nowhere to be seen. Looks like we're doing this live! Time to start pulling out parts!

  • First up, speakers. What is there to say about speakers? They look like they're pretty good at speaking.

  • At first glance, these white dots appear to be water damage indicators. Upon closer inspection, they're actually port covers to contain damping foam, increasing the speakers' bass response.

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Image 1/3: Turning back to the motherboard, all of the fun bits are hidden under shields packed with thermal pads. Looks like a lot of things get warm in here. Image 2/3: Oh well guess that means we don't really need the heat sink. Out it comes, [https://media.giphy.com/media/143FcYqWM1a2Qw/giphy.gif|and its little fan, too.|new_window=true] Image 3/3: Oh well guess that means we don't really need the heat sink. Out it comes, [https://media.giphy.com/media/143FcYqWM1a2Qw/giphy.gif|and its little fan, too.|new_window=true]
  • We are unsurprised to find an antenna nestled behind the plastic RF passthrough on the side of the case.

  • Turning back to the motherboard, all of the fun bits are hidden under shields packed with thermal pads. Looks like a lot of things get warm in here.

  • Oh well guess that means we don't really need the heat sink. Out it comes, and its little fan, too.

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Image 1/3: Intel [https://ark.intel.com/products/97537/Intel-Core-i7-7660U-Processor-4M-Cache-up-to-4_00-GHz|SR368|new_window=true] Core i7-7660U CPU Image 2/3: SK Hynix [https://www.skhynix.com/products.do?ct1=36&ct2=41&lang=eng|H9CCNNNBJTAL|new_window=true] LPDDR3 RAM Image 3/3: Toshiba THNSND256GTYA 256 GB SSD
  • Stop. Motherboard time!

    • Intel SR368 Core i7-7660U CPU

    • SK Hynix H9CCNNNBJTAL LPDDR3 RAM

    • Toshiba THNSND256GTYA 256 GB SSD

    • Marvell Avastar 88W8897 WLAN/BT/NFC SoC

    • Microsoft X904169 (x3) and X904163 display driver ICs

    • Nuvoton NPCT650SBBWX TPM IC

    • Freescale/NXP M22J9VDC Kinetis K22F 512KB 120 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 Based MCU

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Image 1/3: The Laptop packs a 45.2 Wh battery, roughly the same capacity as the latest [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+5+Teardown/92362#s173122|Surface Pro|new_window=true] (45 Wh), and more than both [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPad+Pro+10.5-Inch+Teardown/92534#s172878|New_window=true|iPad Pro 10.5"] (31 wh) and latest [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Retina+MacBook+2017+Teardown/92172#s172320|MacBook Retina|new_window=true] 41 Wh). Image 2/3: Also visible in the rear case, a secondary heat pipe stuck to the rear case, helping dissipate heat from both sides of the motherboard. Image 3/3: The modular headphone jack, not charged with any crime, is free to go, contacts and all.
  • That's right folks, ten steps in and the battery is finally disconnected!

  • Also visible in the rear case, a secondary heat pipe stuck to the rear case, helping dissipate heat from both sides of the motherboard.

  • The modular headphone jack, not charged with any crime, is free to go, contacts and all.

  • No Surface product is complete without a hinge, but these feel a little pedestrian compared to the other offerings. And with that, the display is unhinged.

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Image 1/1: Verdict: The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)
  • The Surface Laptop is finally vanquished disassembled!

  • Verdict: The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)

  • Here for your viewing pleasure: the parts that will never be whole again...

  • For more teardown below the Surface, check out the 2017 Surface Pro teardown!

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Final Thoughts
  • This laptop is not meant to be opened or repaired; you can’t get inside without inflicting a lot of damage.
  • The CPU, RAM, and onboard storage are soldered to the motherboard, making upgrades a no-go.
  • The headphone jack, while modular, can only be accessed by removing the heat sink, fan, display, and motherboard.
  • The battery is difficult and dangerous to replace, giving the device a limited lifespan.
Repairability Score
0
Repairability 0 out of 10
(10 is easiest to repair)

50 Comments

Zero! Way to go!

Tom Chai - Reply

Oh, come on, it should have gotten at least a one! Plenty of MacBooks are just as hard or harder to work on.

George A. - Reply

Most MacBooks are easy to trivial to open and replace the battery, at the very least. Many also have easily replaced storage and WiFi cards, though RAM is going the soldered route. They also don't require removal of the display for anything, unless you actually want to replace the display (or possibly the camera).

YCAU -

Macbooks are MUCH easier to work on than this.

TCRS Circuit -

Counterpoint: there are MacBooks that actually can be opened and closed without damage that scored only a 1 on iFixit. See: Retina MacBook 2017 Teardown

John Chadwick -

Good example. John. Seems to be a pretty consistent scoring method. It was marginally more openable (as you say, without damage), but still has soldered components and lots of glue for some parts.

YCAU -

Macbooks are actually quite repairable (but not upgradable) and have obviously been designed with serviceability and longevity in mind.

However ... they are also obviously designed to be only repairable by "authorized technicians", with all sorts of barriers to keep the unwashed masses from accessing their internals.

M.R. Betz -

It gets a zero because it's not fixable.

j0vian -

Ok. So its like a MacBook Air that's more expensive, and much less repairable?

Andrew spoelstra - Reply

At least you can unscrew the bottom of every Mac

anzollo - Reply

yet another product of disposable design driven by shareholders to maximize quarterly earnings instead of customer lifetime value.

Slab - Reply

The only comment in the thread with both relevance, truth, and forward thinking.

Xhiril Dhul -

From where I sit there's nothing wrong with that but then again I'm not bitter about my lack of success in life, either.

Wo Fat -

Completely false. It's just a fact that laptops assembled this way are less expensive than those using other methods to achieve similar levels of thinness, rigidity, and durability. At the same cost, a fully repairable laptop is thicker, more likely to be damaged by flexure, and has a cheaper feel.

It's also a fact that laptops lose the vast majority of their consumer value after a few years anyway, so it's a false economy to think of paying a higher price up front in pursuit of greater value years later. For most customers, that's a bad deal.

Out in the real world, consumers have owned multiple generations of products that are less upgradeable and less maintainable, but also smaller, lighter, and less expensive. They have shown they prefer this new way of building machines.

If you don't like it, that's fine, but don't imagine that you're better informed than or morally superior to other consumers or the corporate decision-makers who aren't putting your desires above those of other people.

Peter G. -

I wonder if that glue might have come apart more easily if you had heated it first.

Jeff Witt - Reply

The Alcantara material is just plastic (polyester and pu). Not sure you'd want to heat that too much.

cweagans -

On the video where they used heat it melted the keyboard.

davey0110 -

Actually Alcantara is completely fire proof. Apply all the heat and/or fire you want to it, it won't melt or catch on fire.

That's why it's so popular to use in cars and on furniture.

The flipside to that admirable quality, though, is that it is also non-recyclable.

M.R. Betz -

75C of even heat along the Outer edge for a minute or so. Should be easier to split the fabric cover and plastic from the aluminum bottom shell.

Asahi -

The iOpener does just that. Heats glue.

peerbz -

Where's the vapor chamber cooler they talked about? Is the bottom panel thicker to house it?

tipoo - Reply

Interesting, they seem to be using a split fin design like the new 15" rmbp.

https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/ig...

tipoo - Reply

How's screen repair look? I have one with a shattered display and was wondering it it's even possible to fix.

reneefaith - Reply

I think a score of zero is a good indicator to that answer. :P If there was ANY way to fix it, it would get a 1. Alas...

The Legacy -

Although iFixit is focused on reparabilty, I am curious what sort of challenges a difficult to disassemble device poses to recycling?

Andre Mas - Reply

Probably involves the following tools:

Saudering gun

Hammer

Chisel

There is no pretty way to disassemble these parts for even recycling, I'd imagine.

The Legacy -

@ The Legacy. Soldering Gun :)

Steve Tosh -

Really makes me wonder, I'd love to see Microsoft's official response to how they repair these for the inevitable SSD or battery problem that any and all computers will have over time. Maybe they fully intended to just scrap/recycle the base, maybe re-use screens?

Jeff Messer - Reply

Products like this should be illegal.

Who asked for an artificial fabric covering anyway? This was their way of ensuring zero repairability.

Simon Metcalf - Reply

Illegal? Seriously? Yikes. Maybe in California.

Biff Henderson -

Windows 10S is limited to apps in the Microsoft App Store? Deal-breaker.

Jarvis Family - Reply

Free upgrade to windows 10 pro is available for the surface laptop until the end of the year

Clorox Bleach -

microsoft surely shows more courage than apple does.

Kai - Reply

I bet this is sarcasm.

Raleigh Brecht -

Over 15 years I have owned many laptops and slate devices. I have never had to repair or needed to upgrade any of them. If they are no longer of any use, I toss them. Why the old school need to open and repair everything? This sounds like something my grandpa would do.

Biff Henderson - Reply

Over the last 15 years I've had just five laptops or tablets. I have extended the useful life of each and every one of those by performing hardware updates and repairs on them. For the past 5-6 years, the advancement of computer tech has been slow enough that devices would actually be perfectly usable for years if they survive long enough. And that survival could be helped if manufacturers wouldn't screw us over for profits. Of course Microsoft and friends would like me to just stuff my laptop in the garbage if it breaks down but that's bad for both my wallet and the environment.

Iipii -

Some people like to value what they spend, or don't want to spend 600USD every year or so when you can fix your good shape laptop with a new hard drive, new RAM, new screen, new keyboard, new charger or new battery, each one for way less than 50USD at most. There's no reason to spend on buying something new when you can fix and save a few bucks, also to preserve the environment, you don't know where your old laptop is going. Hope people in need use them for better uses than rotting in the trash.

Jesus Madrazo -

@lippi I don't believe a word you say about extending the life of laptops and tablets over the last 15yrs. Other than maybe a ram or hd upgrade, there's nothing to upgrade

buck.ten4 -

@buck.ten4 In 2002 I got a Compaq Presario 700. WIth a RAM upgrade from the original 128MB to 386MB I used that one until in 2006 I switched to some Fujitsu Amilo. On that I also upgraded the RAM from 512MB to 1GB but that's minor, since at one point, the power connector broke on it. A rather common failure that would have rendered it completely useless if I hadn't been able to repair it by soldering a new connector on the motherboard. I then bought a Compaq Mini 730 netbook in 2009 and upgraded the hard drive to an SSD and changed the 1GB stick of RAM to a 2GB one. In 2011 I bought a HP Probook 4330 with a Sandy Bridge i3 on it. This is still in daily use after six years and a HDD -> SSD upgrade and 4GB to 8GB RAM upgrade. Last year I received for free a Sony Vaio from 2013 that was thrown away because of intermittent power failures. It turned out not to be too hard to fix. Which one of these cases is unbelievable?

Iipii -

@buck.ten4: "Other than maybe a ram or hd upgrade, the two most useful upgrades to a computer, there's nothing to upgrade." There, FTFY.

dancermorris -

I have seen people being displeased with 10S made for this when they can't even change the default browser being Edge. I'm sure this teardown will push them even more further away. I also bet a drop test proves not only that it could permanently ruin this, but that any inflicted damage could mean that the entire device needs to be replaced. I may have been !#^&@@ about Microsoft since Windows 8, but this takes it to a new low.

Raleigh Brecht - Reply

Microsoft is already spending money to fight right to repair bills in states. Looks like they will avoid law by making products that cannot be repaired in the first place.

ggbyrne - Reply

Imagine when after a while the heatsink gets some dust buildup and you can't open the unit to even do basic stuff like cleaning the heatsink.

inuyasha6332 - Reply

Looks to me like a wonderful candidate for a cheap base (after someone tosses this out) for a cardboard laptop... Rip it apart and then build a case out of good old cardboard.

these should be under $300 with such crap build quality

Ben Rossington - Reply

Typical planned obsolescence from Micro$oft

imcoolpimpin - Reply

What it comes down to is this: if you buy this thing and it needs a repair then basically you will never get a refurbished one ever. This basically a throw-away product. If it's broken just throw it on the garbage pile. And that is exactly what this thing is. Garbage.

Ruurd Pels - Reply

IF you do need a repair just think, The machine you do get will be brand NEW (no files of course the drive died)

deakins202us - Reply

bought three Surface Pros for work, all three died, two within the first year under warranty. MS replaced with rebuilt ones (all data lost). third one died 1.5 years after purchase, it's a paperweight on the IT shelf. I will NEVER buy MS hardware again, and am avoiding win10 like the plague. lieflong IT (mostly MS) Pro here, have been learning Linux since win10 was released

chiefywiggum - Reply

me interesaba este equipo, pero el saber de la dificultad para cambiar la bateria...Luego este equipo es desechable y dura entre 3 o 4 años, la duracion promedio de una bateria...un asco

chzuniga - Reply

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