Compact design continues to be at odds with maintenance and repairability.
iFixit’s pictures, as ever, give a great look at the insides of the two machines. The Laptop has no external screws at all; to get into the system, iFixit had to peel off the glued-down fabric keyboard surround, an operation that obviously can’t be undone, producing a machine that offers essentially no serviceability whatsoever. With the keyboard surround removed, the system reveals its internals, with components taped, soldered, or otherwise permanently affixed in place. Given how destructive one has to be to open the machine in the first place, perhaps that’s not a big deal.
The Surface Pro teardown shows that while the work Microsoft has done to the Surface Pro on the outside is very incremental (it’s a honed version of the Surface Pro 4), the interior work has been more substantial. The batteries are bigger (45Wh, compared to 38.2Wh in the Pro 4), and a giant spidery heatsink distributes the processor’s heat across the back of the entire machine. This beefed-up passive cooling is how Microsoft has managed to make the Core i5 version of the Pro fanless; the Pro 4 had a fanless version, too, but that required the use of a low-power Y-series processor.
While the Surface Pro lines have never been especially friendly toward end-user and third-party repairing and servicing, prior models did make it possible to (theoretically, at least) replace one component: the SSD. In the Pro 4, the SSD uses a standard M.2 connector, so if you were suitably adventurous, you could swap it out for a larger capacity. In the 2017 Pro, the storage is now soldered onto the motherboard.