Microsoft Surface Pro mSATA SSD Upgrade: Dangerous but Successfulby Anand Lal Shimpi on February 17, 2013 8:29 PM EST
Unlike current ARM or Atom based tablets, Microsoft's Surface Pro integrates a full blown mSATA SSD. My review sample included a 128GB Micron C400, while I've seen reports of users getting Samsung PM830 (OEM SSD 830) based drives. Both of these drive options are great so long as you remember to keep a good amount of space on the drive free (15 - 25% free space is a good rule of thumb). Unfortunately, Microsoft only offers two capacities (64GB and 128GB) despite there being much larger mSATA SSDs available on the market. To make matters worse, supplies have been tight of the 128GB Surface Pro, with 64GB models a little easier to come by.
A few adventurous Surface Pro owners have decided to try to swap out their 64GB mSATA SSDs with larger models. One of our readers (Tim K.) managed to successfully transplant a 240GB Intel SSD 525 in his Surface Pro. The trick is to make sure you clone the original GPT formatted mSATA SSD properly. For this, Tim used Reflect to clone the drive and MiniTool Partition Wizard to expand the data partition to the full capacity of the new SSD.
While he had no issues getting the drive working, his Surface Pro did sustain damage during the upgrade process. As we learned from iFixit's teardown of the tablet, there's a ton of adhesive everywhere and melting/breaking it is the only way to get inside Surface Pro. Unfortunately the cable that drives the touchscreen was pulled up when Tim separated the display from the VaporMg chassis. The tablet works as does the pen, but the display no longer functions as a capacitive touchscreen.
Tim tried to use a conductive pen to restore contact between the cable and the contacts on the back of the display but so far hasn't had any luck (if any MS engineers who worked on Surface Pro are reading this and have any suggestions feel free to comment here or email me). The process of disassembling the Surface Pro isn't easy. It took Tim roughly an hour and a half to get inside. With the knowledge that he now has, Tim believes that he'd be able to get in without damaging the unit but he cautions against anyone else looking to get into Surface Pro. I didn't want to risk tearing apart my Surface Pro review sample, so I'm grateful to Tim for going the distance to prove it works. He's also awesome enough to share photos of the aftermath with us and post a thread in the forums to help other folks brave enough to try this.
John566 over at the tabletpcreview forums managed to get into his Surface Pro safely (it looks like he didn't attempt a complete disassembly, but rather left the cable side of the display in place and just lifted up the other side). He was having issues getting the new SSD (a 256GB Micron C400) recognized however.
Source: AnandTech Forums
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sensiballfeel - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - linkSeems like a good tablet and a cool upgrade.
UpSpin - Monday, February 18, 2013 - linkYeah, really great tablet which is non user-upgradeable and has several drawbacks compared to other tablets like the Ativ Pro.
And cool upgrade which broke the tablet. Was worth it!
Kungpaoshizi - Monday, February 18, 2013 - linkExcuse me sir, but just about every other tablet on the market is non user-upgradeable... I laughed at this because others have always docked Apple's products for the same. But the difference? They use selant on this and that makes it any less repairable than the ipad? pfft.
As far as your comments, I mysefl got a Surface Pro over the weekend, and it's quite refreshing. I too was thinking about upgrading the ssd inside, but with 1TB Passport's around, what's the point?
Did you hear Microshaft stumbled upon new technology? It's called a universal serial bus port, it lets you plug these odd hardware devices in. I just wonder though when Apple will discover this.
nerd1 - Monday, February 18, 2013 - linkIn fact just every other tablet with i5 processors (slate, ativ, ep121, etc) are easily user-upgradable (At least for SSD and modem) . Users put 480GB ssd, 3G or 4G modem etc.
damianrobertjones - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - linkEp121 - Not the easiest upgrade and the tabs break easily (Yep, I've upgraded one)
Samsung 7 slate - Forget it!
W700 - You have to be VERY careful with this one
Samsung Smart pro - Probably the easiest of the bunch.
I've owned two of the tabs above and none of them are 'easy' to upgrade and you invalidate the warranty on ALL OF THEM.
nerd1 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - linkOwned ep121 and slate myself- they only require careful prying to crack open, not a heatgun like surface pro.
damianrobertjones - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - linkYou might find that changing the msata on the Ativ pro will invalidate your warranty.
forextor - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - linkWhy didn't microsoft offer 240Gb Intel SSD in the first place? I am sure there is demand for it even though the price might be a little bit expensive.
GoodBytes - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - linkI am sure there are reasons for this. Such maybe Microsoft thought that more than 1k would be too much.. and money had to go to the digitize pen over larger capacity SSD.
On my laptop I have 120GB SSD and it's plenty. I have Office, VisualStudio, and many other very large programs, and a few games, and still plenty of space for files and music.
Perhaps on the Surface Pro 2, there can be a panel of sorts under the stand (so that's not visible, where you can change the SSD), I think would be a better idea.
scorpian007 - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - linkYou're absolutely right, if there's demand for the 128GB iPad, people will definitely buy a 256GB Surface Pro.