Teardown finds Microsoft Surface RT tough to get into, with modular options inside


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Microsoft's Surface RT may be handicapped with the new RT version of Windows 8, but should it break, is it more likely to wind up in a repair shop or a landfill?

As is its custom whenever a new mobile product hits the market, repair site iFixit has delved into the guts of the Surface RT, taking a look at the parts and repairability of Microsoft's tablet. The basic gist of iFixit's findings? Surface RT is difficult to enter, but once inside, you'll find a number of approachable repair opportunities.

Do not cross

As with Apple's iPad, the Surface RT takes some time and skills to break into, making it painfully obvious that getting into the device is not encouraged. The tough-to-remove camera cover hides seven crucial Torx screws on top of another ten placed throughout the device.

After removing the screws you'll have the break the "Surface" tamper-evident seal to get inside. Bye, bye warranty!

Removing the camera cover

Modular love

Luckily the 7.4 V, 31.5 Wh battery is much easier to remove than the one powering the iPad. It's lightly glued down but with the help of the trusty spudgerand a couple minutes of patience, it's out.

If your speakers die out, you'll be happy to know those are modular, too. Just a little more prying and they come right out, leaving the Surface soundless.

Other odds and ends are easy to remove, such as the Surface's headphone jack and volume buttons that share the same ribbon cable. The front- and rear-facing cameras are easy to remove, but only after the motherboard is taken out to reveal the plastic bezel that pins them down.

Removing the cameras

Screen fusion

When a tablet needs repairs, chances are it's the screen. In the Surface's case, iFixit notes that the LCD and the glass plane are fused together, making separate repairs of the parts impossible. That drives up the cost.

Even if you do want to go ahead with the screen replacement, it will require a heat gun and a saint's patience to get to it. Long story short: don't break the screen.

Using guitar picks to separate the screen from the VaporMG frame

The takeaway

The Microsoft Surface RT may take after Fort Knox by being a pain to break into it. But once inside, iFixit found plenty of removable and replaceable modular parts. However, that stops as soon as you reach the LCD and glass pane screen. The fused components will need to be replaced for a hefty price if you aren't careful with your tablet.

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At a Glance
  • Surface RT is packed with productivity potential, and finds a certain measure of success in reinventing the tablet form factor. But its hardware isn't perfect, and its Windows RT operating system lacks flexibility and app support.


    • Inspired industrial design; nifty kickstand and keyboard options
    • Fun, fluid, powerful touch gestures
    • Delivers legit Microsoft Office support--on a tablet, no less!


    • Display isn't world-class
    • Windows RT is the hobbled alternative to Windows 8
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