Surface Pro 2: It's TOOL-PROOF and ultimately destined for LANDFILL

Dozens of screws and a 'tar pit' of glue spell 'keep out'


Teardown We knew that Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 tablets wouldn't stray too far from the original Surface Pro design - but according to the tool-and-part masters at iFixit, the new tablets are virtually identical to the old ones – meaning they're just as difficult to repair.

Surface Pro 2 with docking station

The Surface Pro 2 looks a lot like the original Surface Pro, and it's built the same, too

iFixit's teardown of the new slate reveals that its guts are full of thick, tacky glue and more than 90 screws, just like its predecessor. And just like the first Surface Pro, it earns a Reparability Score of 1 out of 10 – which, as iFixit observed last time around, is the lowest score ever received by any fondleslab.

In fact, a lot of the Surface Pro 2 internals looks familiar. The new motherboard is virtually the same as the old one, except that it's now a shade of bluish-green and some of the components have been sourced from new suppliers.

Opening the Surface Pro 2

If you can pry it open without destroying it, you'll find familiar components inside (click to enlarge)

The biggest change, naturally, is that the new Surface Pro is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor based on the Haswell microarchitecture, instead of the original Surface Pro's Ivy Bridge chip. But it's a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, just like the old one, so you're not likely to see much performance improvement.

Surface Pro 2 motherboard, with CPU

The Intel Core i5-4200U CPU (boxed in red) is one of the few significant upgrades (click to enlarge)

Any gains in battery life are going to be mostly down to the Haswell design, because the Surface Pro 2 uses the exact same LG "Escalade" 42 watt-hour battery as the original Surface Pro, rated for 7.4 volts and 5676mAh.

It's a nice battery, as iFixit noted in its teardown of the first Surface Pro. But it didn't exactly give that slab what you'd call a stellar battery life, and early reports suggest the Surface Pro 2 performs only marginally better.

Microsoft is clearly still expecting a fair amount of heat from the new processor, too, because the Surface Pro 2 includes what iFixit describes as a "notebook-worthy" copper heat sink and the same twin miniature fans as the earlier-generation Surface Pro, although the fans are designed to run less frequently in this model to save power.

Surface Pro 2's SK Hynix SSD

The Surface Pro 2's SSD by SK Hynix is rated for much faster write speeds than the earlier generation

Other components are slightly different from those used in the original Surface Pro, but only slightly. Microsoft has swapped out the Surface Pro's Micron SSD for a 128GB SK Hynix HFS128G3AMNB. Like the earlier drive, it's a 6Gbps SATA number, but while its rated read performance is similar to the Micron drive's at 505MB/sec, its write performance is much better at 470MB/sec, rather than the Micron drive's 95MB/sec.

Redmond has also gone with SK Hynix as its RAM supplier this time around, where the first-generation Surface Pro used Micron for that, too. The Surface Pro 2 uses four H9CCNNN8JTML 1GB DDR2 chips to get its 4GB total memory, as opposed to the eight chips that went into the Surface Pro.

Still, other pieces are unchanged. The Surface Pro 2 uses the same three Atmel MXT154E touchscreen controllers as the Surface Pro, for example, plus the same Realtek ALC3230 audio chip and the same Marvell Avastar 88W8797 integrated Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM radio controller.

Surface Pro 2 motherboard, with RAM

Compare the motherboard to the Surface Pro's and you'll see there's not much change (click to enlarge)

But the biggest similarity between the Surface Pro 2 and the original Surface Pro is a disappointing one, in that all of these components are still painfully difficult to get to. The display is, as iFixit put it, "trapped like a baby diplodocus in a treacherous tar pit of black adhesive," and the battery is also glued to the case, not to mention all of those pesky screws.

This means that while it's technically possible to swap out the SSD and the battery, as was the case with the Surface Pro, you can't even get at these components without an arduous opening procedure that involves a heat gun and a very steady hand.

"One slip-up," iFixit's repair gurus explain, "and you'll likely shear one of the four ribbon cables in the edge of the display."

Surface Pro 2 teardown

You've made it this far – now get out your glue gun and put it back together (click to enlarge)

It was for this reason that the original Surface Pro received an even lower Reparability Score than the 2 that iFixit gave to Apple's fourth-generation iPad, and while we have yet to see how the new iPad Air fares on the same scale, the Surface Pro 2 scores just as low as its predecessor.

The result is a tablet that is practically unrepairable and is therefore, in essence, disposable. The Reg has criticized Microsoft before for adding to the pile of discarded tech in the world's landfills, and we're disappointed to report that the Surface Pro 2 does nothing to slow this trend. ®


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