Microsoft's Surface devices have an awful track record for serviceability, which means doing repairs or upgrading components is nigh impossible. That is, until now. iFixit's teardown of the Surface Laptop 3 concluded that both the 13-inch and 15-inch models are much easier to repair than their predecessors.
At the big Surface launch event earlier this month, Microsoft touted how easy it is to take apart the Surface Laptop 3. We grew skeptical when the company later stressed that Surface owners shouldn't do it themselves. Fortunately, those fears have been allayed.
While you can't replace every component in the Surface Laptop 3, those you can service are much easier to get to than in previous versions.
"Based on its superficial similarity to past Surface Laptop designs, we would have expected something completely non-serviceable," iFixit notes. "Instead, the 3rd-generation Surface Laptop has swerved confidently into a better, more repairable direction."
The improvements Microsoft made to serviceability were noticed early on when iFixit easily removed the feet of the Surface Laptop 3 using a Torx Plus screw, not some proprietary part. From there, iFixit was able to separate the entire deck from the base of the laptop by simply prying it up. This was much easier to do on the Surface Laptop 3 because the cover is attached with magnets and a single flex cable. Replacing the SSD was as easy as advertised --- just remove a single Torx Plus screw and slide it out. Several other components are also modular but more difficult to access. The most difficult component to replace is still the battery, which is tightly glued-down onto the machine.
In the end, iFixit gave the Surface Laptop 3 a repairability score of 5 out of 10. That might not sound great, but it's a huge improvement over the Surface Laptop 2's 0/10 rating.
Unfortunately, no matter how repairable it is, you still shouldn't open the Surface Laptop 3 yourself. Microsoft warns against manually servicing the laptop, and says that it can only be done by a "skilled technician" (or you risk voiding the warranty). Worst yet, Microsoft's employees won't upgrade parts for you, so there is no way for you to replace the Surface Laptop 3's expensive, slow hard drive.
As impressed as we are with the improvements to the Surface Laptop 3's repairability, we can't help but feel that Microsoft's restrictive policies undo the good work.