iFixit: Microsoft Surface Pro receives worst tablet repairability score

iFixit: Microsoft Surface Pro receives worst tablet repairability score

Summary: There's no denying that the Surface Pro is a quality piece of hardware, but any repairs are best left to a professional.


Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet is out and the folks from repair firm iFixit have got their hands on one and taken it apart so we can see what makes it tick!

Getting into the Surface Pro presented far more of a challenge than the Surface RT tablet did. Microsoft has used copious quantities of tar-like adhesive to hold the tablet together, a mess which required the iFixit team to use a heat gun and a handful of guitar picks to gain access to the guts of the device.

(Credit: iFixit)


There's no denying that the Surface Pro is a quality piece of hardware.

Once inside the Surface Pro, things don't get much better. Not only is the tablet held together by more than 90 screws—a number which iFixit's Chief Information Architect Miroslav Djuric describes as "a tad crazy"—but the battery is buried behind the motherboard, and held to the case with adhesive.

Adhesive prevents the battery rattling, but it also means that there's a risk of puncturing it during removal.

On the plus side, if you do feel like tackling the adhesive to get into your Surface Pro, the removable solid state drive—which, in the 64GB model turns out to be a Micron RealSSD C400—is user-replaceable.

(Credit: iFixit)

Inside the Surface Pro is a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 4GB of Micron 2LEI2 D9PXV RAM, a Marvell Avastar 88W8797 wireless chipset, and a whole host of other top quality parts. There's no denying that the Surface Pro is a quality piece of hardware.

This is a notebook in the clothing of a tablet.

The tablet is kept going by an LG Escalade 42Wh lithium-ion power pack, rated for 7.4V and 5676mAh, capable of going 5 hours between charges.

A lot of thought has been given to cooling the Surface Pro. Because it has an x86 processor at its heart as opposed to an ARM part powering the Surface RT—needed to power the full Windows 8 Pro operating system—there's a lot more heat to get rid of. The plastic top-rear bezel of the Surface Pro has been engineered to doubles as a vent for all the air being pumped over the heat sink's two radiators that keep the silicon cool.

(Credit: iFixit)

The Surface Pro is a quality piece of hardware, but as with most devices nowadays, you can forget about easy repairs and upgrades. The use of adhesive, along with the dozens of screws and fasteners, means it is a nightmare to get into. As a result of this the iFixit team has awarded the Surface Pro the lowest repairability score it has awarded any tablet—1 out of ten. 

So, the bottom line is that the Surface Pro is an awesome device, but any repairs are best left to a professional.

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Tablets, Windows 8

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Fun

    But then why would anyone?
    • Agreed. They Just buy the newer model Surface if the old one dies

      or get a replacement if it's under warrenty
      William Farrel
      • Microsoft just invented the thousand dollar throw away tablet!

        BTW, I just purchased my Surface Pro 128 GB model at Best Buy today. It was their only 128 GB unit in stock.

        I just have a long memory and remember all the iPad bashes condemning Apple for it's iPad designs. At least Apple didn't glue the battery to the iPad aluminum case.
      • Hypocrisy abounds with you lad

        That and you really couldn't spot sarcasm even if it ran up and slapped you.
    • Good Question, Good Answer

      The authorized service departments. Project forward a couple of years when folks who expected a four year device for that price look into replacing the battery, now getting 33% of its day 0 endurance. Sounds like that would be time-consuming and easy to mess up, so it will necessarily be expensive.
      • Does anyone replace parts in these things anymore?

        Or do they just send out a refurbushed one?
        William Farrel
        • You tell us?

          When Apple does it it's bad. When Microsoft does it, it must be good.

          Still, in both cases no user replaceable parts. Double standard, perhaps?

          By the way, let's hope, no pray (for those who own one) that the thermal paste etc is the highest quality, for I don't want to think what happens when that CPU overheats in the tiny available space and that fans get clogged with all the dirt. Hint: there is a reason Apple makes sure there are no open holes in their tablets.
    • moving parts

      like the fan, have a nasty tendency to break, both fail to function at all or make a lot of noise. Batteries also have a few bad apples. If tens of millions of these will be sold, thousands will be likely to have battery problems after 90 days but before 365 days.
  • From the article: "This is a notebook in the clothing of a tablet."

    No, it's a *netbook* in the clothing of a tablet. Remember that the Surface Pro display size is 10.6 inches.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Screen size is all that matters to you?


      You think screen size is what made a netbook a netbook?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Display size

        The display size is the most visible metric that Microsoft and Intel used to distinguish a netbook from notebooks/laptops. The other two metrics were RAM and CPU.

        And the 10.6-inch display size of the Surface Pro is only marginally larger than the 10.2-inch limitation for netbooks put forth by Microsoft and Intel.

        To summarize, a tiny screen and a tiny physical keyboard, for many, typify what a netbook is.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Nope

        But the common 1.6ghz atom processor did..
        Anthony E
        • Agreed

          To me, netbooks were all about a low-cost, basic device for getting on the 'net to do surfing, email, etc., and I always thought that's where the name came from - it's geared for 'net access, not heavy computing, so it's a netbook.

          I just figured the small screen was more of a side-effect of keeping the cost down rather than a functional design choice.
        • But Surface Pro runs on i5, not atom processor

          so as per your theory it is not netbook then
          Ram U
  • iFixit: Microsoft Surface Pro receives worst tablet repairability score

    Its nice to see whats on the inside but people won't be gutting these for their own repair. If its under warranty then you send it back if its not then you purchase a new one.
    • Loverock-Davidson...just another reason to STAY totally away from anything

      Surface related.........
      Over and Out
    • Really?

      Purchase a new one? So you buy one today and on February 14, 2014 it dies.... you're going to shell out another ~900 USD? Just because the battery won't hold it's charge? After all, the Surface RT and Surface Pro come with a 1 year warranty. Only you can afford that much each year for a tablet. I prefer something at less cost.
      • Buy Microsoft complete, which is equivalent to Apple Care

        and Microsoft repairs it or gets a new one for after Feb. 14, 2014. This lasts for 2 years from the date of purchase.
        Ram U
        • So essentially it's only

          Half the length of Applecare? If you buy the Macbook Air (closest comparable to the surface "pro") Apple care adds two additional years, While Microsoft complete only adds one year?
          Troll Hunter J
          • Both apple and MS surface...

            ...come with a 1 year limited warranty. Both sell a 1 year extension. Not sure where you're getting your info from. There was (is?) some dispute w/ the European Union, as electronic devices are supposed to have implied 2 year warranties. Apple started down that road, and ran into some kind of issue a while back. Not sure if/how it was resolved, but I suspect that MS is not going to fall into the same pit of vipers. Common sense? Well, perhaps legal sense instead?