Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

Featured Guide

Featured Guide

This guide has been found to be exceptionally cool by the iFixit staff.

It has finally come: Microsoft's all-new Surface Pro 3—all-new in the sense that it's third in a trilogy of devices. Where the second was actually just a rehashing of the original, the third is showing some promise of striking out on its own. Good for you, Surface Pro 3! Time to confirm or deny the only way we know how—it's teardown time.

Alternative names that Microsoft probably considered for the Surface Pro 3:

  • Surface Pro: Return of the King
  • Surface Pro III: The Search for Spock
  • Sufrace Pro: With a Vengeance
  • Surface Pro and the Last Crusade
  • Surface Pro: Rise of the Machines
  • Surface Pro: Revolutions

Surf over to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages to stay up to date, Pro-style.

Edit Step 1 Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Teardown  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Teardown  ¶ 

  • The Surface Pro 3's beauty isn't just skin deep—which is just as well, because we're not stopping until we hit bone. Innards include:

    • 12" ClearType Full HD Plus IPS LCD with a resolution of 2160 x 1440 pixels

    • 4th-generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 (i5 on our model)

    • Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy

    • 64 GB/128 GB storage with 4 GB RAM, or 256 GB/512 GB storage with 8GB RAM

    • 5.0 MP/1080p front and rear-facing cameras

    • Full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader, and Mini DisplayPort

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • The Surface Pro 3 comes bundled with a new version of the Surface Pen, courtesy of N-trig.

    • What happened to the old pen? We like to think it now adorns a Mercedes.

  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Microsoft sticks to the kickstand design so prominent in past revisions of the Surface Pro—with the addition of a 150° angle option, allowing the Surface to lay nearly flat.

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • Users asked for some more about the kickstand—here's our in-depth, hands-on review, with all of the gory details:

    • FLAP FLAP FLAP. It flaps.

  • If you liked this video, don't forget to subscribe.

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • True to its name, this threequel brings its hardware in triplicate:

    • Arrayed across the back, we find the rear-facing camera, accompanied by two additional specks—a status LED and a microphone.

    • And along the edge, another trio, this one for connectivity: a full-size USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, and the charging port.

  • Hiding beneath the kickstand is the microSD card slot, good for up to 128 GB of additional storage.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • A cursory look is all it takes to tell us we're gonna need to bring the heat for a display-first invasion. Out comes the trusty iOpener.

  • These speaker cutouts give us a handy point of access.

  • Picks, away!

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Whoops.

  • Unfortunately, the Pro 3's weak point is just that—a point of weakness.

  • Our teardown engineer carefully heated and pried up the glass at the edge of this device, but the cooling adhesive alone was enough to crack the glass on our photo table.

    • Microsoft went to great lengths to make the Surface Pro 3 super portable, thinning it down from the Pro 2's 0.53" to a mere 0.36" thick—but it seems the thinner glass does not bode well for ruggedness, or repair.

  • We'll just work down here as that crack spreads quicker than an army across Westeros...

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • We stick it to this unruly device—tape, that is—to keep all the pieces together while we pry everything up.

  • Much more heat, and plenty of gentle prying and cutting, and the glue starts to give...

    • We will win against the Kragle and its adhesive friends. We've got a job to do.

  • Defenses breached, we get our first look beneath the Surface's surface. This gooey glue certainly fought hard to keep the Pro 3's innards a secret. Time will tell if this extra security was warranted...

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • While we're storming the castle—er, display, we find something new: a springy metal bracket pinning the display connector in place. It's not the friendliest of chums, but with a little convincing from our spudger, it agrees to let the connector go.

  • At the other end of the cable, another dubious connector with a sliver of a contact board in tow. Because, why not?

    • But really, we theorize that this is a thinner, cheaper connector than something utilizing a physical snap. We first saw this sort of contact on the 13" MacBook Pro Retina.

  • Hugging the back of the display is an N-trig DS-P4196 touch controller, providing the necessary tech to go with the pressure-sensitive Surface Pen.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Safety first! We disconnect the battery before charging forth. This battery connector requires a relatively uncommon T3 Torx bit. Lucky for us, our 54 Bit Driver Kit is never out of reach.

  • Next, we Ring Pop this surficial SSD up off the back case for a closer look.

  • You may be asking yourself, why a Ring Pop? As you well know, except for most natural blue diamonds, which are semiconductors due to substitutional boron impurities replacing carbon atoms, diamonds are a great electrical insulator, having a resistivity of 10^11 to 10^18 Ω·m. So really, we're just being careful.

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • We have reached the battery. This Surface is packing a 42.2 Wh, 7.6 V, lithium ion time bomb.

  • All batteries die, making battery replacement a necessary repair for any device. Before we take a stab at disarming the bomb, we read all the warnings that we plan to ignore, including the very clear instruction that we are not to replace this battery. Well isn't that just swell.

  • At first pry, we notice lots of resistance, leaving us with the feeling there's an off-chance high likelihood we'll destroy this battery during removal—which makes us as nervous as the wicked witch around a bucket of water (that she has to pry open).

  • Time to get our pry on *insert high-brow joke about prions*

Edit Step 12  ¶ 

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • This battery is stuck like a mastodon in a tar pit.

  • The tar-like adhesive makes removing the battery without severe warping nigh impossible.

  • The battery is out, but it looks like it passed through a fun house mirror to get free. We're not so fond of clowns who believe in glued-in batteries.

  • Think we're joking about the cling factor of this adhesive? Think again. This little party trick is what we call a sticky situation.

Edit Step 13  ¶ 

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • We begin excavating, and find that this Surface keeps a few secrets in between its battery cells.

  • This hidden battery board contains a Maxim Integrated MAX17817 battery management IC.

Edit Step 14  ¶ 

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • This device seems to be a never-ending story of dark sticky adhesive.

    • We hope this is the end of Microsoft's silly putty and duck tape obsession.

  • We quickly vanquish the goop and free a slim peripheral board.

  • This thin little board seems to be home to the front facing camera and a few other goodies, including some residual adhesive. Gross.

Edit Step 15  ¶ 

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Working our way towards the motherboard, we encounter some strange magic: a random hex bolt standoff.

  • Accio bolt! Fortunately, we come prepared: with our Pro Tech Toolkit, any hex is quickly lifted.

  • We have to keep working our magic to free the motherboard. Not only is it captive to the case, but it's covered in copper shielding, a counter-curse to outside magic.

Edit Step 16  ¶ 

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • With the mobo out, we caught a whole gaggle of ICs in the middle of a board meeting:

    • Samsung K4E8E304ED-EGCE 8 Gb (1 GB) LPDDR3 RAM (total of 4 * 1 GB = 4 GB) Two front, two back

    • Atmel AT24C16 two-wire serial EEPROM

    • Marvell 88W8897 WLAN + BT4.0 + NFC Combo Chip (with no NFC support on the device)

    • QIC1832-B98B

    • Winbond 25X20CL1G 2M-Bit Serial Flash Memory

    • Winbond 25Q128FVPQ 128M-Bit Serial Flash Memory

Edit Step 17  ¶ 

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • The rest of the cars on the front side of this chip train:

    • Infineon SLB 9665 TT2.0 Security Cryptocontroller for Trusted Platform Modules

    • NXP CBTL06GP213 Six-Channel Multiplexer

    • Realtek RTS5304

    • Atmel UC256L3U 256KB Flash, 32-bit AVR Microcontroller

    • ITE IT8528VG

Edit Step 18  ¶ 

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

  • We found some more chips on the dark side of the meme mobo:

    • The second pair of Samsung K4E8E304ED-EGCE LPDDR3 RAM chips

    • Realtek ALC3264 Audio Codec

    • Winbond 25X40CL1G 4M-bit Serial Flash

Edit Step 19  ¶ 

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • Yo-ho and blow the fan down! Next we plunder the fan/heat sink combination.

  • Taking a closer look at our treasure, we see a cooling system more akin to one found in a laptop than a tablet, with a heat sink that draws into the fan.

  • If you're keeping count, this is exactly one-half the fannage we found in Pros 1 and 2. Both the mobo and cooling system exhibit dramatic redesigns.

Edit Step 20  ¶ 

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Edit Step 20  ¶ 

  • Beneath the heatsink we find...BRAAAAINS! Or in this case the CPU.

  • Microsoft equipped this iteration with a 4th generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor depending on the model.

    • Our model features a dual-core, 1.9 GHz Core i5-4300U with Intel HD Graphics 4400.

  • Tech zombies that we are, we'll have to be content to leave this CPU in place, as it is not coming off the board.

    • Millions of upgrade junkies suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

Edit Step 21  ¶ 

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Edit Step 21  ¶ 

Edit Step 22  ¶ 

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Edit Step 22  ¶ 

  • The everything cable—home to the headphone jack, volume and power buttons, and vibrator.

  • While the myriad of reviews focused on the identity crisis of this laplet and whether or not it could replace your tablet and laptop, Gabe over at Penny Arcade found some of the issues with the hardware. It would seem that if you are drawing with the included Premium pen, you bump into problems with the home button, literally. Perhaps there's a software fix in the offing?

Edit Step 23  ¶ 

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Edit Step 23  ¶ 

  • We're charging (port) through the remains of the back case. We quickly free the microSD and charging port for closer inspection.

  • We're happy to see that Microsoft still provides a microSD slot. While it is not exactly all we hope and dream for in terms of expandable storage, it is a welcome inclusion.

Edit Step 24  ¶ 

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Edit Step 24  ¶ 

  • Next, we come upon a baby rear-facing camera in its natural habitat. This small creature watches its prey, waiting to strike at any moment.

  • Both cameras on this Surface safari are 5.0 MP, a lackluster spec in the current world of mobile device photography. However, we are just fine with that, as we aren't fond of tablet selfies.

  • As the sun sets on another teardown, we're left alone with our thoughts... and the rear case.

Edit Step 25  ¶ 

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Edit Step 25  ¶ 

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Repairability Score: 1 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

    • The SSD can be replaced, but not without first risking damage to the tablet simply by opening it.

    • The battery is not soldered to the motherboard, but very strong adhesive makes removal and replacement a hazardous chore.

    • Non-standard connectors make for tricky display removal.

    • The display assembly consists of a fused glass panel and LCD, and is extremely difficult to remove and replace.

    • Tons of adhesive hold everything in place, including the display and battery.

    • The delicate and arduous opening procedure leaves no room for mistakes: one slip-up, and you'll be out a screen.

Required Tools

Spudger

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Tweezers

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Tweezers

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Tweezers

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T5 Torx Screwdriver

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Recommended Tools

54 Bit Driver Kit

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Pro Tech Screwdriver Set

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Anti-Static Project Tray

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Popular Products

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Comments Comments are onturn off

A easier way to a cracked screen is what we get for complaining about a mountain of torx screws. Thanks N-trig for that thinner glass. Maybe a "Surface-sized" iOpener bag is needed that covers the entire periphery of the screen. Something with a long flat sharp edge (like a plastic ruler) might speed up things.

Paul Bigelow, · Reply

You guys did not inspect the kickstand mechanism?

Fillduck, · Reply

There is no NFC function in surface pro 3...... You may miss this in"step 15"

36northdegree, · Reply

Yeah, I was hopping for a bit more on the kick stand friction hinges... and if I can somehow mod them into a SP2

Vitus Wight, · Reply

Any comments on the grade of thermal paste in use?

!@#$%^ padding? Decent AS5? Puurrrfect PK-3?

Interested in knowing if thermal paste replacement could boost the life and cooling of this unit (after its warranty expires of course)!

Kerry Coleman, · Reply

Did you guys find any special thing about the charging port?

Can it be used as a Thunderbolt?

linhongye, · Reply

It looks like the charging port also is the dock port for when the dock comes out. My guess is it passes USB, Eth, Video Etc over that pins that visible in the port connector but not on the charging cable.

praxum,

So i take it, if u DO decide to open it, and change the SSD, u should buy a new screen just because u wont save the original one anyways.

padslagt, · Reply

I wonder how warranty repair is done on this device. For example if the camera has a smudge, the screen has bleeding or whatever.

My guess is they throw the entire device out and give you a new one, there is no way a repair center can open this thing (without damaging it).

Is it a coincidence that companies with terrible repair scores (Microsoft and Apple) are the same companies with a record of trying to void your warranty for bogus reasons?

kurkosdr, · Reply

It is possible that they have a fixture to heat the whole display ring to make the adhesive come loose all at once for a service facility.

praxum,

I would 'assume' from this teardown that dropping a Surface 3 will almost ensure a cracked screen.

RetiredTechie, · Reply

You are wrong... /watch?v=bxNuxr6mlKE

DMuela,

Have you thought about opening the surface by destroying the inexpensive parts of the casing?

I guess you could cut it open at the edges...

than you would only need some solution to close it afterwards

David Xanatos, · Reply

It looks like there is room for an unspecified peripheral....maybe 4G/LTE?

georgedstarr, · Reply

I think you need a new tool which provides heat and suction over a largish area, so you can lift the display and the batteries, keeping them flat all the time.

harry, · Reply

Could you please add a photo where the LCD panel label marking is visible or simply add the model in the description?

I'm super interested in identifying the panel! Thanks a lot.

Marius Popescu, · Reply

Anyone got any idea where to obtain a replacement screen, or who will do a screen replacement other than Microsoft themselves? I've cracked mine, and all MS are offering is an entirely new device, which I don't want to do.

James, · Reply

Thank you, thank you, thank you... I had a potential customer but said "Sorry" after I saw this. What happened to designing for serviceability? You all are great!!

shoes69, · Reply

Would it be possible to cut a hole (using a template) in the back cover to take out the battery? A new battery kit could then contain a replacement cover with a locking mechanism making future replacements easier.

Thomas Forsberg, · Reply

I am surprised to see such poor design relying on adhesives... Who is the OEM of SP3? Seems likely a poor engineering design..LG Li-ion battery is reliable, but never thought its combination with adhesive tapes due to thermal management issue...will pass SP3 hoping to see better build for SP4.

Jack, · Reply

youdon'tfixit, that's how you should call this incompetents

diocan, · Reply

Hi!

Could you please tell me if the Glass with SCREEN are glued together without airspace between?

Is it easy to replace just the glass ?

Nikolas Poulios, · Reply

Does Surface Pro 3 have the UHS-II physical interface with two rows of contacts? I looked the teardown of the older surface pro, and it did NOT have it. Can we get a photo of the inside of the SD card reader for the Surfqce Pro 3, please?

reikred, · Reply

Does Surface Pro 3 have the UHS-II physical interface with two rows of contacts? I looked at the teardown of the older surface pro, and it did NOT have it (see comment section). It would be easy to determine if there was a photo of the inside of the SD card reader for the Surface Pro 3, too.

reikred, · Reply

this whole website is completely biased and it is unbelievable. I hope that you guys can strive to make better reviews in the future that aren't half as biased

-caleb

Caleb Albertson, · Reply

Any chance you could heat the adhesive to determine what temperature is needed for it to release? It sounds severe but heating the entire unit to that temperature may be tolerable to it while making removal of the display and battery much easier. A service center could have a straightforward "opener" with such temperature controlled plates and suction to make it quick and easy...

jimhorn, · Reply

We've just had to remove two screens. One was in good shape, but the SSD had failed so we needed it out to recover the data. After heating the screen for a loooong time, the thing still cracked almost instantly, it's almost as if there's a stress point on the bottom of the speaker opening (which is also the easiest place to pry). The other one had been dropped, the corner had complete fractured and the chassis bent, so it's trash, we just wanted to use it to see if the SSD failure was motherboard or the actual SSD. Microsoft agreed to replace the failed unit (not without a fight though!). Very bad design for an enterprise product.

petewhite, · Reply

My son's Surface 3 screen cracked and I sent to Microsoft repair centre for warranty. The unit was returned back to me back telling us that not a warranty case. I contacted Microsoft support asking if they could repair it, they told me to send it back again after accepting (purchasing) and out-of-warranty replacement unit. The service agent was very helpful and gave me all the support I could ask for, but I asked him why didn't the support team at MS offer me some options before shipping the broken back to me? I didn't get any answer except that he will escalate it to the right person(s). Now we had to send the broken unit back to the same repair centre (I live in Finland and the MS repair centre is in Germany). My son is using it for his schoolwork; this extra back-and-forth shipment will take extra two weeks. I had to pay €366 for a replacement unit, which is almost 50% of the retail price. What options did I have? None. The unit cannot be repaired!

trondneergaard, · Reply

Thanks for this review. I am not going to buy the pro3 now. What would be a similar alternative that is easier to repair?

ajpearceukfiltered3, · Reply

parsing very difficult(((

VISION463, · Reply

Did the crack occur as a result of the pick being inserted and the glass cooling too quickly, or was it strictly a result of the thermal expansion of the screen cooling? i.e. if I had someone standing there with a heat gun till I`d gotten the screen loose or some such...

variable, · Reply

The crack appeared spontaneously after the prying picture in step 5, so we're assuming it was a result of the adhesive cooling and pulling the screen down against the lodged-in pick. Keeping heat on the device the entire time would probably have prevented it, but it was certainly markedly more difficult to pull off an intact screen than it was with the previous surface pro.

Andrew Optimus Goldberg,

What happens when the heatsink gets a years worth of dust buildup? How will the user clean it?

inuyasha6332, · Reply

The user cleans it by cleaning their wallet on a new Surface Pro 4.

Charles Goodwin,

I honestly think that there are serious durability concerns with the screen. My Surface Pro 3 toppled forward from the default standing position after a very minor knock onto the type cover. No excessive force was applied. No drops. The screen fractured around the microphone hole next to the camera with the crack then spreading out over the whole screen.

Up until that point I loved the device, but now I question it's durability as a laptop replacement. :( Now I just had to wait three weeks until the device is available in my country and pay $300 USD to get it fixed :(

Alex, · Reply

What display panel is the SP3 using?

cruxiaervance, · Reply

SP3 is fragile .. dropped today from 3 feet on concrete .. I have never seen a bigger crack and screen came apart in pieces !! SP3 is way more fragile than any other tablet on the market.. !

Silver Silver, · Reply

im wondering why it doesn't make more sense to place the heat on the metal edges of the casing rather than the glass screen so that it will expand away from the glass as the adhesive melts(like running a glued tight jelly jar under hot water)

tiarafalk, · Reply

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