Cracking Open the Microsoft Surface ProBill Detwiler cracks open the Microsoft Surface Pro and finds a laptop-like tablet that's extremely difficult to service and repair.
When Microsoft built the Surface Pro, they packed the power of an Ultrabook in the body of a tablet. Unfortunately, they also made the device nearly impossible for an end-user or even an in-house tech to service and repair. I'm Bill Detwiler and this is Cracking Open. From a hard work standpoint, Microsoft Surface Pro is more like an Ultrabook or convertible laptop then a tablet. The 10.6-inch display has a true 16 by 9 aspect ratio and resolution of 1920 by 1080. It has stereo speakers, a micro SD card slot, full sized USB 3 port, a mini display port and two 720p cameras. On the inside, it has a 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5 CPU with HD 4000 graphics, 4 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM and a 42 watt-hour battery. The Surface Pro comes in 64 and 128 GB models and I strongly recommend getting the larger one. In a statement to CNET, Microsoft said that out of the box, the 64 GB Pro only has 23 GB of available storage. Now, given its laptop-like hardware, it's not surprising that the Surface weighs hefty 2 pounds, which is significantly more than other tablets. Unlike the Surface RT, the Pro is well-built and feels sturdy in your hands. Unfortunately, it's also much more difficult to disassemble and service. As with the RT, the first step in cracking open the Surface Pro is removing the kickstand. But unlike the RT, the Pro has no external screws. To get inside this tablet, you'll need to break out the heat gun. Now, a several ribbon cables run along the lower edge will need to start at the panel's upper left corner and work our way around. Removing the front panel is a slow, tedious process but if you rush, you risk damaging the tablet. After disconnecting all its cables, you can set the front panel and LCD assembly aside and begin removing the internal component. Unlike the RT, the Surface Pro is filled with screws and they range in size from Torx T2 to T5. I recommend the catalog and the location of the screws as you remove them. And the first component to come out is the bezel that runs along the tablet's outer edge and houses the front-facing camera. Next, are a pair of metal plate that run along each side. Followed by the headphone jack and volume button assembly. The motherboard and cooling assembly is next but first, we'll need to detach all its cables and remove more screws. With the board out, we can remove the machine's twin fans and cooling assembly as well as the SSD card and the board's metal shields. Now, given the Surface Pro Core i5 CPU, it's not surprising that the main board looks more like that of an Ultrabook rather than a traditional tablet. At this point, our tear down is pretty much complete. Like the Surface RT, the LCD and front glass panel as basically fused together and separating them isn't practical. The battery is held to the back cover with a lot of adhesive and there's nothing under it. So, I'm just going to leave it in place. Likewise, I'm leaving the speakers, keyboard connector, power connector, reared camera and microphone attached to the back cover. They're easy to remove but clearly visible while still in place. After cracking open the consumer targeted Surface RT, I hope that Microsoft would make them more business targeted and nearly twice as expensive Surface Pro easier to disassemble in service, but they didn't. In fact, they took one of the worst tablet design elements. They glued on front panel and mirrored it with one of the worst laptop elements and over abundance of screws. There's no denying that Microsoft is making a bold effort to bridge the gap between tablets and laptops but as Jason Hiner wrote in his Tech Republic review, the Surface Pro doesn't quite standout enough at either function. For more information on the Surface Pro including real world tests and pricing, check out Scott Stein's full CNET review. Now, to see more tear down photos and read my full hardware analysis, go to techrepublic.com/crackingopen. I'm Bill Detwiler, thanks for watching.