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No, You Can't Actually Remove the Surface Laptop 3's Removable SSD

Among the many applauses that rang out at Microsoft's Surface event, one of the loudest was when the company revealed that its Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X would offer removable storage. Past Surface devices have been difficult to service, so if a component failed or you wanted to upgrade RAM or storage, you'd either have to take the device in or do some risky DIY.

The prospect of an easily replaceable SSD seemed like a huge score for prospective Surface owners. That was until the folks at Windows Central read the fine print. 

It turns out, Microsoft says that (however easy it may have looked on stage) the SSDs in the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X are "not user-removable" and that you need a "skilled technician" to do so. By "skilled technician" we suspect Microsoft means the folks wearing blue shirts at the Microsoft Store.

Then why would Microsoft tout how easy it is to service its new products? It could be that the products are easy to service but only with special tools that most folks don't have lying around at home. Another theory is that Microsoft doesn't want people opening up their products without voiding the warranty. Or maybe it just isn't that easy.

But then, why even talk about how easy the SSD is to replace if you won't let people do it on their own? We were just as confused when Microsoft talked about making the Surface Laptop 3's keyboard more serviceable --- an obvious dig at Apple --- then immediately stressed that you shouldn't try doing it yourself. 

If you prefer to fix things yourself instead of paying someone else to, then you might want to wait until the new Surface products are released and sites like our sister site, Tom's Hardware, get a chance to break them open and see how repairable they really are. Just recognize that even if they are easy to repair, you might be voiding your warranty by doing so (we've reached out to Microsoft to find out if that's the case). 

Not being able to manually swap out the Surface Laptop 3's SSD is especially frustrating because of how much Microsoft charges for extra storage. A 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3 with a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD costs $1,299. Upgrading to a 512GB SSD will run you another $400. Worse yet, the SSDs Microsoft placed in some of last year's products were sluggish when compared to those in other premium devices. We'll see if the company is using faster components this time around once we get in the new hardware. If not, then the restriction on upgrading your storage hurts that much more. 

We should get the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X in the coming weeks, so expect a full review soon.  

Phillip Tracy is a senior writer at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he reviews laptops and covers the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News and NewBay Media. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, listening to indie music or watching soccer.