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August 4, 2018

Surface Go has one of the lowest manual repair scores on the planet

by John_A

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

If you purchase Microsoft’s new Surface Go thinking you will be able to manually repair the device if something happens, think again. The iFixit website, which thrives on tearing apart devices and scoring their reparability, gives the Surface Go an extremely low 1 out of 10 rating. Simply put, you’re not going to repair this device without going postal.

If you’re not familiar with the Surface Go, it’s Microsoft’s latest tablet/detachable with a starting price of $400. It sports a 10-inch PixelSense screen with a decent 1,800 x 1,200 resolution powered by an Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor, integrated graphics, up to 8GB of system memory, and Windows 10 in S Mode.

As for ports and networking, the Surface Go includes one USB-C port, a Micro SD card reader, a headphone jack, a Surface Connect port and a Surface Type Cover port. You also get a front-facing camera that supports facial recognition (Windows Hello), another 5MP front-facing camera and an 8MP rear-facing camera. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.1 and Wireless AC.

Now imagine trying to tear into all that to fix a specific component. The device itself is only 0.33 inches thick and requires heat to loosen the adhesive around the screen to pull it off the main body. iFixit uses the $13 iOpener kit that includes a heating pad, suction cups, and various other tools to pry the screen off the main Surface enclosure.

“To our great surprise, the Surface Go has an immediately disconnectable battery!” the report states after the site fully removes the screen. “With no need to fully remove the motherboard, repairability is looking up. Or is it?”

If you were looking to extend the Surface Go’s life by replacing a faulty battery, two giant pads of adhesive will be a massive roadblock. They are apparently hard to remove even when using the site’s $20 adhesive remover kit and plastic cards. iFixit notes that the battery is rather small in regard to longevity at 26.12WHr versus the similarly sized 32.9WHr battery packed into the iPad 6.

Meanwhile, actually removing the motherboard requires pulling out “seemingly endless layers” of shields, tape, and hidden screws. But in order to get to the actual components, you still need to remove additional shielding and fabric stickers. Underneath the surface you will see the Pentium processor, two memory chips, Qualcomm’s Wireless AC / Bluetooth chip, and more.

Despite all the hardware crammed into the 0.33-inch thick enclosure, there are no fans or heat pipes to keep the chips cool. Instead, the Surface Go removes heat using a thin copper shield and thermal paste. It’s a radically different design than the thick copper “tentacles” used to dissipate heat in the latest Surface Pro.

The bottom line with this teardown is that if you encounter a hardware problem with the Surface Go, making repairs is no simple feat outside Microsoft’s own facilities. Repairs will likely be “unnecessarily expensive” unless you have lots of patience, tolerance for extremely small parts and possibly a few stiff drinks on hand to dull the mental pain.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Surface Go vs. Surface Pro
  • The Surface Go tablet unofficially leaks online
  • Microsoft’s Surface Mobile Mouse is the ideal companion for your Surface Go
  • Microsoft Surface Go review
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop review

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