Inside the Microsoft Surface Book: Interesting design ideas and a repair nightmare

The iFixit team tear into Microsoft's new Surface Book to see what makes it tick.

The iFixit teardown of Microsoft's Surface Book - the laptop that replaces the tablet that replaced your laptop - reveals some very interesting design and engineering ideas.

First off, the motherboard is fitted upside down, with the chips and connectors at the bottom. This has been done to accommodate the display, but it also means that getting to anything on the board means having to rip pretty much everything out of the chassis. That means a lot of extra hassles for anyone who likes to fix their own gear.

Surface Book teardown
iFixit

Then there's that nifty 'muscle wire lock" latch that holds the display to the keyboard. It's a really clever design that works by having electricity run through the wire, which heats it up and causes it to contract. This, in turn, pulls the black pulley inward, against the spring, lifting the lower arm of the linkage. But clever also means more stuff to go wrong.

Surface Book teardown
iFixit

On the battery front, the Surface Book holds a lot of power. The base holds a 51Wh power pack, while the display has a separate 18Wh power pack for when it's running as a tablet. That's a lot of power, but less than the 74.9Wh that's found in the MacBook Air.

Surface Book teardown
iFixit

The biggest let-down is on the repairability front. The Surface Book scores a 1 (where 10 is easy to repair). Opening it is difficult, getting to anything means having to deal with gobs of adhesive, the display is a single fused unit (so any damage means replacing the whole lot), the processor and RAM are soldered to the motherboard (no sneaky upgrades for you), and almost every repair will mean having to remove the motherboard.

Put that another way, repairing a Surface Book will be a nightmare (but what kind of weirdo repairs anything these days? Ahem...).

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