Surface Pro 4 upgraded with 1TB and new battery

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To share with my fellow geeks/nerds/enthusiasts: I upgraded my Surface Pro 4 with a new battery and larger SSD (replaced the 256GB Toshiba with a 1TB Samsung 970). If anyone’s interested, I could share more info and or photos. The short version: it’s doable with patience (going slow but secure, it took me about 4 hr), the right tooling (i bought a set at ifixit) and a proper instruction (again: ifixit).

Quite happy with the result, this will allow it to be usable for a couple more years.

UPDATED

Thanks for the kind feedback. Here’s a bit more info. Some simple photos can be found at [https://1drv.ms/u/s!AmK5VgGy3ZIzkOpqq_EAiHphA9bF5Q?e=dJIfX8].

The guide over at iFixit [https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+4+Battery+Replacement/60358] is excellent.

If you want to do this, read it completely first.

A couple of points I can add from my experience.

1) The mentioned iopener did not work for me. Instead, I used a plain hairdryer. This has even less risk of melting components, but it takes more time.

2) Every time you take out screws, put them in a separate container, labeled per step. If all the screws in a step are the same, you’re done. If one of them is slightly longer, put it apart and labeled because the length difference (2.3 vs 2.4mm) is not always plain to see to the naked eye. I did not label the containers I used and as a result, lost time during re-assembly.

3) Have a lot of IPA on hand (isopropyl alchohol, not the beer): half a liter or more. You’re going to need it.

4) Remove the tape on the edges after you have taken out the components but before you start removing the battery. If you try this with IPA + scraping it will become very messy and tedious to remove the tape. Instead, heat the tape with a hairdryer while using tweezers to peel off the tape. Fix the tablet frame into place, or this becomes a two-person job. After this, only a modest amount of sweeping with IPA + cotton swab is needed for a clean result.

5) There will be glue residue on the back side of the screen. I was able to get this off with IPA + cotton swab, but 2 warnings here.

– Do not put down a small pool of IPA to dissolve the glue. I did and some of this IPA seeped into the screen, which showed after startup. I was lucky: it dried out without stains, but it could have ruined the screen. Instead, apply small patches of IPA with a cotton swab.

– Do not use too much force when rubbing with the swab and avoid the areas for the cameras altogether. I created a small scratch on the inside window for the IR camera. It did not ruin it, but with the same “enthusiasm”, I could have ruined the webcam window.

6) Removing the battery took a ridiculous amount of IPA and force, as you can see in the photos. Make sure the battery is empty before you start. Mine was empty and now also dead (Jim). I should have used more heat on the backside before removal.

After removal, clean up the black patches with some more IPA and a scraper. They should still feel sticky, so you can easily fix the new battery in place.

7) Regarding the replacement battery: I bought one for 55 euros at an online battery store i trust. You can find them cheaper on ali express of course, but the prices there seem too good to be true.

8) Regarding the replacement SSD: buy one with the chips only on 1 side, otherwise it won’t fit. The 970 EVO I bought is overkill. I bought it, accepting this project could utterly fail but I’d still end up with a good SSD for my pc. The speed bottleneck is the PCI x2 interface on the motherboard. In the photo link are some AS SSD benchmarks of the old and new SSD that show no improvement in terms of speed, except seek time, but I do not know how this will affect performance. Bottom line: you can find cheaper, reliable SSD’s that will suit your needs better.

 

Final thoughts: 

The SSD on the Surface Pro 8 is user replaceable. That’s a step in the right direction. At the same time, it feels like Microsoft did the bare minimum (the abnormal SSD form factor doesn’t help). The battery is already on the back of the device. If Microsoft has the engineering chops to create such an excellent hinge on the Surface, they should be able to come up with a solution for a user replaceable battery. Let’s hope they will. 

If I missed anything, feel free to ask.

Comments (6)

6 responses to “Surface Pro 4 upgraded with 1TB and new battery”

  1. angusmatheson

    Battery replacement is so key. We have a ton of old 2013 MacBook Airs at work. Batteries failed, but with new batteries they still work great. Easy battery replacement really needs to be built in to phones and computer because they is the part that always fails over time.

  2. lwetzel

    Would like to see you details if it is ok with Paul!

  3. gregsedwards

    As the owner of two Surface Pro 4 devices that I still use daily, I'd love to know more. Moreso than the storage, the one thing I wish I could upgrade is the RAM. The battery on these is still decent, and I use them plugged in most of the time, but I agree with others that making the battery hard to replace is akin to built-in obsolescence. Once a mobile device can't hold a charge, you're certainly going to replace it.

    • jeroendegrebber

      Thanks! I am going the update the post with more info. I agree about the RAM, but I can understand why it's soldered to the motherboard on the Surface. Because the motherboard is so small, I don't see any room where you could put normal laptop memory.

  4. alpensturm

    Great news, and thanks for sharing! I find it very sensible and ecologically worthwhile to get more use out of older hardware. I have a nearly 10 year old Lenovo Thinkpad 10 tablet still in daily operation, and it works fine with Windows 10 ?

    • jeroendegrebber

      Similar mindset here. Too much stuff is thrown away, because it is not workable anymore and not repairable for a person with low to average skills. To help reduce e-waste, I'm a volunteer at a Repair Café.