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Surface Laptop teardowns have historically been a painful business—but with the Surface Laptop 3, Microsoft hinted that something is very different. Is it a good idea to try this again? We say put away your tools and let the professionals try this one first. Oh wait, that’s us.

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And check out our 13.5” Alcantara Laptop 3 teardown video!

Deze demontage is geen reparatiehandleiding. Om je Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15" te repareren, gebruik onze reparatiehandleidingen.

  1. Before we begin, let's look at some Surface-level specs: 15" PixelSense Display with 2256 × 1504 resolution (201 ppi)
    • Before we begin, let's look at some Surface-level specs:

    • 15" PixelSense Display with 2256 × 1504 resolution (201 ppi)

    • AMD Ryzen 5 3580U mobile processor with Radeon Vega 9 graphics

    • 8 GB of DDR4 RAM

    • 256 GB removable SSD storage

    • 720p front-facing camera with Windows Hello sign-in

    • USB-C, USB-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and Surface Connect port

    • Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.0

  2. So far, the Surface Laptop 3 is looking pretty familiar, but we've been salivating about the changes under this façade since the keynote. Speaking of façades, this one retains the stylized, monochrome Windows logo of prior Surface Products. Rumor has it that colorful logos are making a comeback, so maybe Microsoft will   join the party? And speaking of monochrome, check out this amazing X-ray (thanks to Creative Electron). We get a preview of all the usual laptop bits, plus some unusual dark bars around the perimeter. Are those magnets?
    • So far, the Surface Laptop 3 is looking pretty familiar, but we've been salivating about the changes under this façade since the keynote.

    • Speaking of façades, this one retains the stylized, monochrome Windows logo of prior Surface Products. Rumor has it that colorful logos are making a comeback, so maybe Microsoft will join the party?

    • And speaking of monochrome, check out this amazing X-ray (thanks to Creative Electron). We get a preview of all the usual laptop bits, plus some unusual dark bars around the perimeter. Are those magnets?

    • Underneath, along with vents and the standard regulatory markings, we find a new model number: 1873.

  3. The all-new 15" Surface Laptop towers over its 13.5" sibling. It may be bigger, stronger, and come with a custom Ryzen processor, but the 13.5" model has one thing the 15" line lacks: a nice cozy bed for your palms. Compared with the 15" 2019 MacBook Pro, some more contrasts show up: The Surface Laptop is a little thicker, with a more wedge-like profile. Both have USB ports, but the Surface trades one USB-C for a USB-A. And as in every Surface Laptop, we find the lone proprietary Surface Connect port around the other side, which can deliver both power and high-speed data.
    • The all-new 15" Surface Laptop towers over its 13.5" sibling. It may be bigger, stronger, and come with a custom Ryzen processor, but the 13.5" model has one thing the 15" line lacks: a nice cozy bed for your palms.

    • Compared with the 15" 2019 MacBook Pro, some more contrasts show up: The Surface Laptop is a little thicker, with a more wedge-like profile. Both have USB ports, but the Surface trades one USB-C for a USB-A.

    • And as in every Surface Laptop, we find the lone proprietary Surface Connect port around the other side, which can deliver both power and high-speed data.

    • Convenient, worry-free magnetic charging ports used to be an Apple thing, but now Microsoft carries that torch.

    MacBook Pro 15 has 4 USB ports, not 2

    Igor Puzhai - Antwoord

    • Our expectations are low as we pry off the bottom feet. Last time we attempted this, it was the start of a painful, destructive jour—

    • Wait, what's this? A screw??

    • A Torx Plus screw hides under each bottom foot—not the most common screw head in the world, but nothing our Mako kit can't handle with a little finesse.

    • With the four Torx Plus screws removed, we take a stab with our opening tool at the seam between the upper and lower case, and ... it comes right apart! With nary a speck of unsightly glue in sight!

    • Grab your ESD-safe tweezers and pinch us hard—we must be dreaming.

    • Once the shock wore off, we also tried popping open a 13.5" Alcantara-covered Surface Laptop. Same results!

    Hi what’s the size of this screw

    zhouzixiang0213 - Antwoord

  4. Just like that, the whole top cover assembly lifts away! This is a magical moment. We sigh in relief and put away the knife we had on hand to cut this thing open. As a bonus, the cover is tethered by a single flex cable with plenty of slack ... and the connector at the end is secured with a magnet instead of those fussy clip-on brackets that we always ruin. Very slick. With the top case flipped over, behold ... magnets. Magnets! No wonder Panos was able to yank this thing off so easily on stage.
    • Just like that, the whole top cover assembly lifts away! This is a magical moment. We sigh in relief and put away the knife we had on hand to cut this thing open.

    • As a bonus, the cover is tethered by a single flex cable with plenty of slack ... and the connector at the end is secured with a magnet instead of those fussy clip-on brackets that we always ruin. Very slick.

    • With the top case flipped over, behold ... magnets. Magnets! No wonder Panos was able to yank this thing off so easily on stage.

    • He did say to not try that at home. Good thing we're at work!

    • The battery connector doesn't look accessible, which is a recurring theme with Surface devices. However, we find what may be a tiny battery icon on the main board near the top cover connector socket. Perhaps jumping these two pins would safely de-energize the board?

    • Teardown update: Turns out the mysterious battery icon has an accompanying status indicator LED! It seems to light up when the board is energized. Jumping the battery icon pins doesn't turn out the lights, but removing the SSD does ...

    • Perhaps SSD removal is a secret kill switch, to mitigate the absence of an easily disconnect-able battery?

  5. First thing we spot with that magnet-y top cover assembly out of the way: the removable SSD. If we hadn't already seen this in Microsoft's keynote presentation, we'd probably be passed out in our chairs by now. A single Torx Plus screw secures this M.2 2230 SSD, making swaps, upgrades, and user privacy management a reality for the mass—oh wait, it's “not user removable.” Of the two speaker siblings, only one is allowed to leave freely. The other remains trapped under the heat sink for now.
    • First thing we spot with that magnet-y top cover assembly out of the way: the removable SSD. If we hadn't already seen this in Microsoft's keynote presentation, we'd probably be passed out in our chairs by now.

    • A single Torx Plus screw secures this M.2 2230 SSD, making swaps, upgrades, and user privacy management a reality for the mass—oh wait, it's “not user removable.”

    • Of the two speaker siblings, only one is allowed to leave freely. The other remains trapped under the heat sink for now.

    • Are we only just now noticing that these speakers fire directly through the keyboard, with no special exterior ports or grilles? The keyboard is the grille.

    • Despite the requisite stubborn shields, this disassembly seems almost too easy—the heat sink assembly is already freed and so far nothing is irreparably damaged.

    I’m surprised you don’t mention the brand and model of the SSD being used. Since this M.2 2230 format isn’t as widespread as other M.2 sizes, it’s quite restricted what you can get. At this moment I only see a Toshiba TLC (BG3 series) and I would like to compare this to what’s inside the Surface Laptop 3.

    addvariety - Antwoord

    Well the spec page is a little confusing regarding the replacement of the SSD drive at the top of the spec page it says:

    Removable solid-state drive (SSD)6 options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

    Footnote 6 says:

    6] Hard drive is not user removable. Hard drive is only removable by skilled technician following Microsoft provided instructions.

    :)

    Reginald Hirsch - Antwoord

    Probably so someone doesn’t replace the SSD and then wonder why Windows won’t boot and they no longer have any of their data. By having it done by “a skilled technician following Microsoft provided instructions”, Microsoft can ensure that everything is cloned to the new drive correctly.

    sebbs - Antwoord

  6. We skipped ahead a little, but you can actually remove this display as soon as the device is open. Four flex cables wrap over the hinge and tuck into the back of the frame, where they're covered by some prickly metal shields. Prying up and wiggling out the shields without damaging the cables is somewhat of a nail-biter. These cables aren't modular, so if you cut one, you'll be pulling a MacBook Pro and replacing the entire display.
    • We skipped ahead a little, but you can actually remove this display as soon as the device is open.

    • Four flex cables wrap over the hinge and tuck into the back of the frame, where they're covered by some prickly metal shields. Prying up and wiggling out the shields without damaging the cables is somewhat of a nail-biter.

    • These cables aren't modular, so if you cut one, you'll be pulling a MacBook Pro and replacing the entire display.

    • With the shields aside, and a few more screws dispatched, the display lifts away easily.

    • We're close to freeing the motherboard at this point, but we're slowed down by screws hidden underneath more shields.

  7. This teardown is moving fast, so let's remember to stop and smell the chips: Microsoft Surface Edition AMD Ryzen 5 3580U processor SKhynix H5AN8G6NCJR eight 8 Gb DDR4 SDRAM—sadly still soldered and not upgradable—for 8 GB total
    • This teardown is moving fast, so let's remember to stop and smell the chips:

    • Microsoft Surface Edition AMD Ryzen 5 3580U processor

    • SKhynix H5AN8G6NCJR eight 8 Gb DDR4 SDRAM—sadly still soldered and not upgradable—for 8 GB total

    • NXP LPC54S001J microcontroller

    • Macronix MX25U1635E serial NOR flash memory

    • Winbond 25Q128JW 128 Mb serial flash memory

    • Microsoft X904169 display driver IC's and X904163 display driver IC

    • Qualcomm QCA6174A Wi-Fi/Bluetooth SoC

  8. We're having so much fun that this board gets a bonus round! Plus, a look at the (comparatively featureless) backside: Texas Instruments TUSB1044 USB Type-C 10 Gbps Linear Redriver
    • We're having so much fun that this board gets a bonus round! Plus, a look at the (comparatively featureless) backside:

    • Texas Instruments TUSB1044 USB Type-C 10 Gbps Linear Redriver

    • Texas Instruments TPS65987D USB Type-C and USB PD controller

    • Texas Instruments BQ25713 battery charge controller

    • Texas Instruments TS3A27518E 6-channel multiplexer

    The ICs highlighted in purple, dark blue and light blue are not listed. Would you update?

    steve - Antwoord

    • Despite the other radical redesigns, the Surface Laptop 3's battery looks relatively unchanged—same pinned-under-the-board connector, same miserable removal process.

    • A whole lotta solvent, prying, and patience later, we have lift-off. No stretch-release adhesive here—this tape is tough and really wants to stick around.

    • Spec-wise, the battery comes in at 45.8 Wh—in both the 15" and 13.5" models. In fact, it's the exact same battery.

    • This is slightly more than the original Surface Laptop (45.2 Wh) and the Surface Pro 6 (45 Wh). For those of you who measure everything in Apples, it's less than in the 15" MacBook Pro (83.6 Wh).

  9. What's left? We pop some more screws and two shields, and the trackpad lifts free from that floating magnetic top cover. Barnacled to the trackpad, we find some familiar silicon: an NXP/Freescale MK22FN512 Kinetis MCU and Synaptics S9101B touch controller. Alas, we were hoping to avoid rivets this time, but we're still stuck with a keyboard assembly that's riveted to the cover.
    • What's left? We pop some more screws and two shields, and the trackpad lifts free from that floating magnetic top cover.

    • Barnacled to the trackpad, we find some familiar silicon: an NXP/Freescale MK22FN512 Kinetis MCU and Synaptics S9101B touch controller.

    • Alas, we were hoping to avoid rivets this time, but we're still stuck with a keyboard assembly that's riveted to the cover.

    • That said, with the trackpad out, a keyboard + top cover replacement could be a reasonable repair. And it's about 1.5 zillion times easier than in any current MacBook Pro.

    • The final bits in the rear case include the still-modular headphone jack—which you can squeak out from under the main board if you're careful.

    • Of minor note: the Surface Connect cable harness looks a bit more put together this time, clothed in handsome black tape instead of a rainbow of wire insulation. It's somethin'!

  10. This concludes one very surprising Surface Laptop teardown.
    • This concludes one very surprising Surface Laptop teardown.

    • Based on its superficial similarity to past Surface Laptop designs, we would have expected something completely non-serviceable. Instead, the 3rd-generation Surface Laptop has swerved confidently into a better, more repairable direction.

    • Microsoft pulled this off without making the laptop one iota thicker or clunkier, defying all the naysayers who claim repairable designs can't be sleek and attractive.

    • While this iteration is still far from perfect, if Microsoft continues in this direction, the future of their laptop line is bright. There are some very clever design-for-repairability touches in this machine.

    • Let's give it a score.

  11. Laatste gedachten
    • The opening procedure is straightforward, with a clever design that represents a dramatic improvement over its predecessors.
    • The M.2 SSD is fully modular and easy to access.
    • Torx Plus screws call for relatively rare drivers, but our standard Torx drivers worked in a pinch.
    • Display access is well-prioritized, but must be replaced as an (expensive) complete unit—subcomponents aren't modular.
    • While many components are modular, intricate layered construction makes them difficult to service.
    • The firmly glued-down battery will be very difficult to service when it inevitably goes kaput.
    Repareerbaarheidsscore
    5
    Repareerbaarheid 5 op 10
    (10 is gemakkelijkst te repareren)

Seems like they had the space to work with in there to make this use higher wattage parts. As it stands, it’s effectively a 15W ultrabook tier APU in a 15” housing, with the main (and possibly only) benefit for the larger size being the larger screen itself, instead of something like the XPS 15 or MBP 15 etc that use the larger size for higher TDP chips.

tipoo - Antwoord

I wonder if it’s easy to find ssd in 2230 form factor in market. I can’t even find it in my country. Also, does it support NVMe protocol?

Rino Adi Pratama - Antwoord

I couldn’t find any on Newegg.com or Amazon.com. Google shopping turned up a few; but most if not all look like OEM parts. Anandtech’s predicting m.2 2230 and a new sdcard sized form factor (intended to compete against soldiered eMMC) are going to be common in next generation compact laptops; but right now it looks like it’s going to be slim pickings.

Dan Neely -

It is not too hard (easy) to find the 2230 ssd:

-OEM: WD SN520, Toshiba BG3, SK Hynix BC501, all are 2230

-Toshiba RC100 2242, WD SN500 2280 -> just cut the ssd. The board is longer than 30mm but contains nothing.

Duy Thai -

Honestly, this thing is absolutely disgusting in its waste of internal volume. So many missed opportunities. They could have *at least* done what Apple does with available space and filled it up with speakers.

Suchir Kavi - Antwoord

Or, have a standard port for a standard size mSATA SSD or a shortened m.2 drive. Or a mSATA WLAN card.

Where’s the antenna or the WLAN card here? no?

But at the very, very, least you have a modular SSD and swappable keyboard and touchpad and screen. These are stuff most users are going to worry about.

Xavier Jiang -

Interesting points raised. Microsoft can and I believe will do better as they focus on improved internal design.

That said, I am a fan of this writer’s style.

I’ll be back!

jinfutai_x - Antwoord

The author lists the Torx Plus screws as a negative, but I don’t think so. I don’t think you want the majority of people to be digging around in today’s fragile laptop interiors. The tolerances are so tight in these thin and light designs that inviting every average Joe into the case would be a disaster. The screws should present a minor obstacle for the non-technical minded, preventing numerous broken laptops by people with no business poking around in something they can’t handle.

Todd Northrop - Antwoord

Do you mean 8 1GB ram chips, as opposed to 8 8GB chips? That'd be a lot of RAM. Judging by the spec sheet for the RAM I'd assume that's a typo?

Izzie B - Antwoord

The devil is in the details—we listed them as eight 8 Gb (giga-bit) chips, which equates to eight 1 GB (giga-byte) chips.

Arthur Shi -

The Microsoft Tech specs page now lists the storage as below:

“Removable solid-state drive (SSD)6 options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB “

lukeslakemail - Antwoord

Would it not be pretty easy for MS to swap the tape they use to something similar to Apple and the iPhone batteries where you get the little tags at the end, uncover those and pull and the battery would pop out, would certainly make things easier…

Trig0r - Antwoord

Something that would deduct from the score should be highlighted; the red text threw me off!

Cameron - Antwoord

I upgraded the SSD card today in my (second) 15” laptop 3. I got a WD SN520 256GB off ebay.

The first laptop had a completely stripped screw (from the factory). Luckily this was under one of the rear feet. These are really easy to just push off using an opening pick without damage. And they stick back on fine. It was also the first foot I took off! So I returned it and ordered a new one.

The front feet are tricky as they are embedded into a small cavity and held in place with hooks. The only way to get those off was using the spudger to get down under the foot and release one of the hooks. The foot then pops out. So these took a bit more of a beating and I had to glue part of the top back on one of them. Having done it once, I think if I had to do it again I’d make a cleaner job as I now know what to expect. But the front feet have clipped back on fine (they need to be teased back by pushing the remaining hook using the spudger).

Matty - Antwoord

@nnnndth : are those gonna work? the ssd here looks different! only one nose, not 2!

Arian Lebedinec - Antwoord

Look different but work fine.

Matty -

I honestly don't get all the praise on this machine.

Sure, it's much much better than the previous Laptop 2, but at the the end of the day how is it better than a MacBook apart from the replaceable SSD?

The RAM and the Wifi chip are soldered, the battery is glued, the display cables are not modular but integrated in the display and a keyboard replacement requires a full top plate swap (just like a MacBook) and probably the only possible way to get one is Microsoft itself.

Basically it's a Mac with a modular SSD and that's it, laptops like the XPS 15 or the X1 Extreme are still a whole different level of modularity.

Lorenzo - Antwoord

If the ribbon cable connecting the keyboard to the rest of the laptop disconnects is that a problem? Like, when I try to put it back the keyboard is dead. (It’s not the magnetic end. It’s the part that goes into the keyboard). Either that or I just haven’t put it in the right place.

Jaden Pankratz - Antwoord

Voeg opmerking toe

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