Forget about repairing or upgrading your Microsoft Surface Laptop

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,327   +535
Staff member

When the techs at iFixit decided to tear down a Microsoft Surface Laptop, they expected it to be a “repair nightmare,” but it turned out to be much worse. In their opinion “it’s a glue-filled monstrosity” that is neither repairable nor upgradable. It cannot be taken apart without destroying it and is essentially a disposable computer if something goes wrong in an out-of-warranty situation.

From outward appearances, the Surface looks quite similar to a MacBook Air. It has a slim form factor and has similar ports with a couple of differences. However, appearances are where the similarities end. Where a MacBook Air could be taken apart, it seemed that the Surface was designed never to be opened, let alone disassembled.

For starters, there are no screws to be found holding the device together. Therefore they decided to start prying it apart. It seemed promising as they began popping off clips and removing adhesive, but they soon discovered that what they thought were clips were actually “weak ultrasonic spot welds.” It was at that point that they knew they were not going to be able to reassemble it.

"This laptop is not meant to be opened or repaired; you can’t get inside without inflicting a lot of damage."

None of the components were easy removals either. The keyboard, which arguably should have been the easiest thing to remove was hindered by the connector being underneath some shielding on the motherboard. The trackpad was a bit easier, held in with screws and adhesive tape.

The battery was virtually impossible to remove without taking most of the computer apart. So essentially most of the teardown was done while connected to a live battery, not the safest way to take apart an electronic device. If the battery were ever to fail, the only way to replace it would be to disassemble everything, including the motherboard, and that is assuming that you had some way to get the thing back together again.

“The Surface Laptop is not a laptop,” says iFixit. “There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it.”

If all that was not proof enough that Microsoft intends the Surface to be a disposable computer, a closer look at the motherboard revealed that the CPU, RAM, and the SSD are all soldered to the motherboard.

If you are one that shells out for a new laptop every few years, then the Surface might be just fine for you. However, if you want something that has room to grow and can be useful beyond its battery’s lifespan, you might consider looking into other options. iFixit gave the Surface Laptop a repairability score of 0/10.

Permalink to story.

 

petert

Posts: 365   +166
Was not fixable before - I sent it two times for various issues under warranty to their centre and replaced it every time, no question asked.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,365   +1,626
I think PART of the non repair aspect might be because of a non removable battery.
Someone gets inside one, starts pulling and poking at the non removable battery,
it could short out and catch fire. Those batteries don't like being poked.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,281
I would hazard a guess that over 90% of laptop purchasers never even consider "opening up" their laptop to either repair or upgrade it...

I highly doubt this would even make a dent in sales...
May I remind you that about 90% of ALL computer purchasers don't know the 1st thing about them so upgradeability and repairability doesn't even come to mind when making a purchase decision, and you're probably right, it won't have the slightest impact on sales.
Companies tend to purchase these things for their staff and after a reasonable usability period, they're written off and dumped in the e-waste container... with all the stored data still intact.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,327   +535
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
it won't have the slightest impact on sales.
Yeah, the dip in sales will likely not be felt, but I'm rather bummed. I was thinking about getting my daughter one for school. Not anymore. For me, it's a deal breaker. More RAM is the first thing I do once the laptop is a few years old. And storage drives need to be easily accessible. Storage devices in this household are either repurposed, wiped or destroyed before going to the recycler.
 

StrikerRocket

Posts: 37   +11
This is why, though I find this a neat piece of equipment, I'll never buy it.
Added to the fact that environmentally, this is the worst scenario possible!
Every piece of equipment should be made repairable, but that's just a dream...
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 6,930   +5,214
Aside from all the obvious x-wife references, it sounds very much in line with the Microsoft philosophy of disposable units .... heck, just want until they start making self driving vehicles!
 

Steffen Jobbs

Posts: 14   +1
Times change. Get used to it. Manufacturers want to make products more compact and lighter and I think most consumers are all for it. The easiest way to do it is to glue the product together, solder the components and forgo repairability. There's probably not much that can go wrong with a product like that. I never understand why products get downgraded for lack of repairability when they're not really meant to be repaired. Everyone hated Apple for first doing this but I think it will be pretty much of a continuing trend. As a user, try to take good care of the product and try to hold onto it until the warranty expires. Then if it fails, it's time to get a new product. What's so terrible about this strategy when tech changes so rapidly. This Surface Laptop seems to be a pretty nice product and I wouldn't downgrade for lack of repairability just because years ago laptop computers could be repaired. Product manufacturing is changing. Good or bad, that's just the way it is.

Sure, iFixit hates the trend because it's taking away their jobs of fixing things. I get it from their perspective.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,047   +4,849
All of you "Tech-Spurts" have brought this on your self:

You're too snotty to carry an "obsolete bulky laptop", (which could be easily repaired).

You have no resistance to M$' propaganda which is telling you , "you're not really "with it" unless you own the latest Surface Pro".

You don't give a crap how you spend your money, as long as you have "the latest and greatest".

To sum these three points up, one might say you're, lazy, stupid, gullible, and snobbish.

Moving on, it's really a pity that our acceptance of what we consider, "disposable goods" is rapidly approaching almost automobile level pricing.

The Surface tablet is riding on the coattails of today's mobile phone tentative longevity profile, which is also a basically disposable product. It's a device which you expect to crack the glass, or to be too banged up and too slow by current at the end of a couple years, that you wouldn't even consider repairing it. It would be time for a new one.

Surface doubles that smart phone ante and more, on the high end of its price range.

And remember M$ told you you wanted a thinner, lighter product, and you agreed. Man up bucko, you made you bed, now sleep in it.
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,047   +4,849
Times change. Get used to it. Manufacturers want to make products more compact and lighter and I think most consumers are all for it. The easiest way to do it is to glue the product together, solder the components and forgo repairability. There's probably not much that can go wrong with a product like that. I never understand why products get downgraded for lack of repairability when they're not really meant to be repaired. Everyone hated Apple for first doing this but I think it will be pretty much of a continuing trend. As a user, try to take good care of the product and try to hold onto it until the warranty expires. Then if it fails, it's time to get a new product. What's so terrible about this strategy when tech changes so rapidly. This Surface Laptop seems to be a pretty nice product and I wouldn't downgrade for lack of repairability just because years ago laptop computers could be repaired. Product manufacturing is changing. Good or bad, that's just the way it is.

Sure, iFixit hates the trend because it's taking away their jobs of fixing things. I get it from their perspective.
Welcome to Techspot. I personally want you to know I won't, er rather will try not to, hold your "special needs" status against you.
 

lazer

Posts: 315   +81
Although I would say Micro$lop has never been out to do much more than help themselves to our money at our expense, this type of a disposable unit is in keeping with M$'s policy of them first and screw the customer.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,090   +2,011
Although I would say Micro$lop has never been out to do much more than help themselves to our money at our expense, this type of a disposable unit is in keeping with M$'s policy of them first and screw the customer.
While I'm not going to argue MS' greed or evil nature.... to be fair, they are far from the only company doing this.... and they're not even the first...
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,047   +4,849
While I'm not going to argue MS' greed or evil nature.... to be fair, they are far from the only company doing this.... and they're not even the first...
Considering the price point we're dealing with, when purchasing a Surface, (what shall we call it, "lap-tablet"?), M$ has managed to bring "disposable electronics", to a new and scary level. At least IMHO, it should scare purchasers away.

But reasonably speaking, the typical Surface customer appears to be, too lazy, too style conscious, is armed with more money than brains, and is too physically weak (?), to lug around a device which could possibly be repaired or upgraded with standard PnP protocols.

It was Apple (?) that started this with soldered in SSDs drives, making it an imperative to buy more storage capacity than you think you'll ever need, (at Apple's extravagant prices), at the time of initial purchase.

Customers raved over the thinness and light weight, which then provided the impetus for manufacturers to shrink the devices even further. After all, you can't have "this year's model", thicker and bulkier than last year's, now can you?

The moral of the story is, manufacturers are "giving the public what they've managed to convince the public it wants", the only way they know how, as a suppository.