back to article Microsoft exposes glue-free guts of the Surface Laptop Studio

Microsoft has reminded us once again of a time when enthusiasts could get into the guts of their hardware with a teardown of its Surface Laptop Studio, all in the name of repairability. Youtube Video In a video uploaded to the company's Microsoft Surface YouTube channel, Colin Ravenscroft (senior DFX engineer), took viewers …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Ravenscroft did not reassemble the device once stripped,"

    The old Haynes manual rule applies. Reassembly is the opposite of disassembly. <Waves hand vigorously>

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      There is now no reason why the engine should not start.

    2. quxinot

      >The old Haynes manual rule applies. Reassembly is the opposite of disassembly.

      Yes, but you swear in different places.

    3. Casca

      If any screws is left after assembly they get tossed!

      1. VBF
        Happy

        Or marked as "spares kit"

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There was also their favourite step "..remove xxxx" - which often proved to have hidden complications.

      eg my Series "A" Range Rover step - "remove back seat". Without mentioning you have to slide it forwards to disengage a metal tab underneath it. Fortunately it could be knocked back into shape after lifting the seat with some brute force. Even the correct slide action required brute force to disengage it.

      1. Jason Bloomberg

        There was also their favourite step "..remove xxxx" - which often proved to have hidden complications.

        I was once facing the need to repair something I thought would be simple enough until the relevant section opened with "first, remove the engine".

        Thankfully contortion, sliced and bruised arms, a whole lot of swearing, and an inordinate amount of time spent, including on building Heath-Robinson contraptions, proved it not to be an absolute necessity.

        More than half the bolts I removed never got refitted but it was fine until rust finally did her in.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        It's a model of manual writing that has been much emulated. I think every set of instructions I've ever needed to use has had at least one section where there is a key detail that isn't shown in the diagram and/or mentioned. Often it's the orientation of a key part that only reveals itself to be the wrong way round when the assembly is almost completed. (Unless it's IKEA furniture, In which case there will be several of these.)

        1. BGatez

          Typical of so called "service manuals"

    5. Red Or Zed

      My Haynes manual story is getting to the reassembly part and finding a note "You would have noted the orientation of this part on removal."

      No, I did not, because you did not mention in the disassembly part that this was critical. One way round stops the motorbike from starting, the other is fine.

      Thanks Haynes!

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        I'm sure they did it to teach people to RTFM *before* starting the job. It certainly encouraged me!

      2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

        I had a Chilton manual for my 1996 Toyota Corolla that was outstanding! Disassembly steps and assembly steps in clear language and WITH PICTURES!

        Unfortunately you cannot buy them anymore, you can only rent them (subscription).

  2. TonyJ

    "...Sacrificing replaceable memory in pursuit of ever-thinner devices has never been a good thing for this writer..."

    I agree. It is also not beyond the realms of engineers to design a slot on the edge of a PCB that would allow e.g. RAM or SSD to plug in therefore not raising the profile of the board. It's lazy and it's designed to get puchasers to overprovision when they buy.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Looking at you, Lenovo! Why are you soldering in one slab of RAM and have another socket to be populated by the user?

      The battery seems replacable, the SSD is, as is the WLan-card.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      ...Sacrificing replaceable memory in pursuit of ever-thinner devices has never been a good thing for this writer..."

      Making one dimension very small in relation to the other two leads to easier damage. A sheet of paper is really bendy, but a slab of corrugated cardboard isn't. A stronger box will have thicker sides.

      As that part of society that doesn't wear a bra, I'm not looking for a device that can be stored in one. Right now I'm on the lookout for a rugged phone that can take some abuse. Being self-employed, having a working phone is vitally important.

  3. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Not really surprised

    > Headphone jack? No problem. More RAM? Er, about that...

    Well, there is no money in headphone jack options, but there definitely is in RAM options. You can't allow those suckers to get precious RAM without you adding your mark-up...

    As for the thin laptops, don't get me started. I'm about to buy a new one, and I want/need it chunky, big, with excellent cooling, beefy CPU, an absolute minimum of 32 GB of RAM, and I don't care if it weighs a dead horse, it's for working, not walking.

    1. RichardBarrell

      Re: Not really surprised

      My attitude to really heavy laptops has been that, oh well, carrying it is just bonus exercise. :)

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Not really surprised

        I do carry mine rarely, and when I do it's just from the desk to the car, and from the car to some other desk. Unlike apparently most other people, I never ever took it with me while mountain climbing or trekking. Go figure.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Not really surprised

          "I do carry mine rarely, and when I do it's just from the desk to the car,"

          At that point it might make more sense to have a robust desktop machine(s) and just carry a SSD with your workspace loaded.

          I held off for years getting a laptop so I wouldn't be asked to bring work home (on holiday, weekends, etc). I have one now as it makes sense for the type of work I do, but I still have a couple of much more capable desktop machines to do the heavy lifting.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Not really surprised

            > it might make more sense to have a robust desktop machine(s) and just carry a SSD with your workspace loaded

            That only works if you move from a specific location to some other specific location, like home - work.

            It doesn't work if you go every couple years for a couple weeks to some (or some other) place. You can't really afford to leave everywhere a full desktop machine you only use 1-2 weeks every other year. (They wouldn't like it either, imagine everybody doing this, they'd have to rent a warehouse to store them!...)

            In short, it depends on your work.

        2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

          Re: Not really surprised

          That's why there are wheels on my laptop bag!

      2. trindflo Bronze badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Not really surprised

        I used to just hoist a tower in one arm and walk in the door with it. A little upper body work is good for us.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Not really surprised

      32GB RAM? Sorry, no can do, sir. We do however have these lovely-looking 32GB storage laptops which will last you until at least until Windows next updates.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Not really surprised

        True, but then again I run Linux so 32 GB, while not plenty, would be enough for my uses. 64 GB would be better of course, but that's not always an option.

    3. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Not really surprised

      Are Clevo chassis builds still available from the various custom PC merchants? Those used to exactly meet your requirements.

      1. RichardBarrell

        Re: Not really surprised

        Yes

    4. BGatez

      Re: Not really surprised

      When upgrading my wife's Dell Precision workstation laptop from 16 to 32GB of RAM dell offered me ONE 1GB chip for TWICE the price of TWO 16GB guaranteed chips from a large memory manufacturer.

  4. Scuby

    I misread that as Gluten-Free guts...

    1. Spoobistle
      Coffee/keyboard

      Crumbs

      Well, actually, Gluten is Latin for glue...

      Looking forward to the edible computer - (n)oodles of RAM(en), multi-Platter storage, nice big Dishplay - surely someone must be working on the ultimate recyclable tech?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crumbs

        Possibly a modern update for the variety act of eating glass etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crumbs

        "Looking forward to the edible computer...surely someone must be working on the ultimate recyclable tech?"

        If only we had a major computer company with deep pockets and the name of an edible fruit, it might just be possible. A computer that gets eaten would play right into their "new shiny every 18 months" plan. It's a perfect match.

  5. DailyLlama
    Gimp

    I've used Surface tablets, and much like Macbooks, they're hugely overpriced, and just seem to be fashion accessories, rather than actual computers.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      > I've used Surface tablets, and much like Macbooks, they're hugely overpriced, and just seem to be fashion accessories, rather than actual computers.

      Your grammar is terrible. It isn't "much like" it's "much prefer".

      I've used Surface tablets, and much prefer Macbooks, they're hugely overpriced, and just seem to be fashion accessories, rather than actual computers.

      ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        dude, nobody likes it when you shit in the punchbowl at a party. Doesn't matter how drunk you were...

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          Whoooooooooooooooooossssssssssshhhhhhhh!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Damn. Sorry, sometimes it hard to differentiate humorous sarcasm from Apple-fanboi-ism.

      2. parperback parper

        It's swings and roundabouts.

        The Surface Book's extra battery in the keyboard section and well-ventilated CPU behind the screen are novel, but on the other hand with the Macbook removes the need for a hot water bottle.

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      If you think a MacBook is a fashion accessory and not an actual computer, you've never used one. Current M1Pro MBPs kick the guts out of any Windows laptop out there in terms of sheer performance and getting the job done, and in terms of looks are resolutely utilitarian; absolutely no frills whatsoever so not even close to a 'fashion' anything.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Ooh, does that mean I can now install Steam and run my whole library of Windows games on the M1Pro?

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Yup. Steam, Epic Games, Rockstar Launcher, and the Xbox app will all run. And even through an emulator it'll beat pretty much all Windows laptops that aren't specifically designed for gaming. 2560x1440 through Steam at max settings 60fps pretty much across the board (except Sekiro). The M1Pro chip really IS that powerful.

          https://www.techradar.com/news/we-try-gaming-in-parallels-desktop-again-with-an-m1-pro-macbook

          1. TimMaher Silver badge
            Pint

            EVE Online

            Is also native now.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Did they run any games people actually play, or just really old ones?

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Did they run any games people actually play, or just really old ones?

              https://www.macgamerhq.com/apple-m1/m1-pro-gaming/

              Some AAA titles (2021) running on M1pro and the results.

          3. Cederic Silver badge

            Hmm. I can't get 60FPS at 2560x1440 on some modern games using a Geforce 3080.

            Did they try any recent games? MGS:V is fantastic but it's also 7 years old.

            I notice the linked article also admits that no, I can't install and run Halo Infinite or some other games.

            https://macresearch.org/play-forza-horizon-5-on-mac/ looks like a lot of messing about, assuming it actually works.

            I'll stick with Windows, thanks.

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              @Cederic sure - it depends on the games of course. But then it does on Windows too - games are optimised for a specific video card, and will run amazingly on one (theoretically medium-spec) system yet stutter on another high-performance system.

      2. BGatez

        They're also made like crap. Totally non-repairable. Even apple cared up the wazoo, if something goes south you get a replacement, not a repair. As all memory, RAM and storage is soldered on, anything not saved elsewhere is gone baby gone. As with most of their products forget recycling as disassembling even rough takes too long.

  6. Rich 2

    Thing is the new …errr

    “ Sacrificing replaceable memory in pursuit of ever-thinner devices has never been a good thing for this writer.”

    I have never understood the fixation with making everything so thin. If it’s credit card sized then fine; you may as well make it credit card thin as well so you can keep it in your wallet. But for everything else it’s pointless. Just think how much more battery life your average phone could have if it was just a bit thicker. And how much easier to hold it would be!

    On a laptop, it’s even sillier. Within reason, who gives a monkeys how thick it is? Laptops started off being about 50mm or so thick and nobody complained then. Make it lighter, fine. But so thin it bends? No thanks

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Thing is the new …errr

      Or to put that another way. Thin for what purpose? What is the use case for a thinner laptop?

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Thing is the new …errr

        Fashion statement. Apparently most people buy into the crap because when you look at the laptop selling web sites (I'm currently looking to buy a laptop, a fat one), "slimness" is the first characteristic they mention: Nowadays you don't buy a laptop model because it's capable of running your workload better than the others, but because it's slim. *facepalm*

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Thing is the new …errr

        "What is the use case for a thinner laptop?"

        Advertising. When it's 6 months since the last model update and you have nothing more than more compact guts, you can advertise "26% Thinner" in bold type. I don't want to go back to the old Kaypro and Compaq luggables , but a folding computer as thin as a sheet of paper doesn't improve my life at all. Somewhere in between there is a happy medium. Like others have stated, increased battery life is far more important. The power point in the car shuts off with the ignition so if I have the laptop processing files, I need enough battery to bridge the time I'm shopping or having lunch, in a meeting, etc.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Thing is the new …errr

      15mm is about as thick as will fit into my camera bag's padded side sleeve.

      My Surface Pro tablet has been to six continents in that bag.

      50mm? I'd have to buy a second device that would fit.

    3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Thing is the new …errr

      Size is for show, weight for a pro. I couldn't care less about size within reasonable limits, but as a traveller I do care about weight. I'd prefer to have another couple of cm on the thickness rather than another half kg in weight.

    4. ThomH

      Re: Thing is the new …errr

      The MacBook Pro recently got a bit thicker, and I'll admit that it was sort of weird switching from an older model to the current. But worth it once I started typing.

    5. J. Cook Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Thing is the new …errr

      Indeed: My current travel load for 'lug stuff into the office' consists of a messenger bag with roughly 20 pounds (9KG) of assorted technology, 'quick fix' tools, and distractions crammed into it. another kg of laptop is nothing at that point.

      and that's the laptop bag- if I need to take a tool kit in? I generally break out a hand cart for the tools and the bag to ride on at that point...

  7. DenTheMan

    Trying hard to avoid irrelevancy.

    When the other one can get away with charging 2 grand for oodles and oodles of superglue, why ever not?

  8. AlanSh

    HP's are not too bad

    My Spectre and Envy laptops come apart quite easily - but they also have soldered in memory, which means no upgrades (boo hiss).

    Battery and SSD are both replaceable.

    Alan

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HP's are not too bad

      My Dell E6410 is rugged and pretty easy to take apart. Second-hand ones are cheap enough to cannibalise if necessary. A pity the headphone jack is part of the motherboard though. Still - tiny USB audio dongles are cheap.

      Have a little collection of E6410s. Primed for when the neighbours' fragile shiny ones pack up and they are arguing with a shop about repair/replacement.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: HP's are not too bad

      Been using a HP9470Folio m as main machine until recently & it's lightweight for travel\work.

      It's maxed out on RAM, has a SSD & MSata HDD's (Dual Boot).

  9. DS999 Silver badge

    The battery is by the most likely part to need replacement

    But they make replacing the SSD, fans, audio jack and speakers easy? I've replaced all those things combined a total of zero times in my life, but every laptop I've owned has needed a replacement battery at least once.

    That's Microsoft for you!

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: The battery is by the most likely part to need replacement

      I'm a fan of making the headphone jack an easy replacement. It can be vulnerable. Batteries should always be replaceable by the user with an easy way to send them off for recycling. Small electronics doesn't have the space or budget for a battery management system like an EV so the packs last about 2 years. I really expect to get more use out of a portable device than 2 years. I look at things like Airpods as a monthly rental. The rule of thumb is to divide the price by 24 months for what they will cost on a monthly basis before needing to be binned. I picked up some full sized bluetooth headphones that I can open up and perform a battery replacement. I've been burning myself with a soldering iron since school so it's not a problem for me.

  10. 43300

    How many of these devices will they actually sell though? It looks like an (expensive) solution seeking a use case!

  11. BGatez

    "Thin and light" BS pevasive

    In the latest in bogus, Dell's newewst Precision workstation laptops no longer have an ethernet port cause.... thin and light? WTF? Their newest Anienware gaming laptops still get ethernet ports.

    Dell, along with Lenovo and HP end users must, at least partially disassemble their MOST expensive, presumably advanced laptops designated as WORKSTATIONS, in order to replace or upgrade RAM. Typically at least 2 of 4 slots are buried under the keyboard.

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