Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Razer Core V2 Radeon Pro W5700 Side

Surface Laptop Studio Upgrades: eGPU + NVMe SSD

External GPU, Site News 18 Comments

For the longest time, Microsoft had opted to exclude Thunderbolt connectivity from its Surface hardware lineup. I came close to purchasing a 28″ Surface Studio two years ago but the lack of Thunderbolt 3 was a deal breaker. Today’s release of the Surface Laptop Studio (SLS) and Surface Pro 8 (SP8) is significant. With Thunderbolt 4 support, they can now access Thunderbolt eGPU enclosures and a vast amount of other high bandwidth peripherals.

Microsoft SLS + Razer Core V2 + Radeon Pro W5700 eGPU

eGPU + Surface Laptop Studio

As soon as I unboxed my base model [i5-11300H, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD] I connected it to my Razer Core v2 + Radeon Pro W5700 eGPU. This was plug-and-play without any user interactions. Windows 11 automatically initiated the PCIe connection over Thunderbolt 3/4 and installed the Radeon drivers for W5700. Also worth noting is Power Delivery (PD) through the very same Thunderbolt cable. The Razer Core V2 provides 65W PD which matches the SLS perfectly (same amount as Microsoft power adapter).

HWiNFO64 PCI Express Root Port

Hwinfo64 Battery 65W Power Delivery over Thunderbolt

Surface Laptop Studio NVMe M.2 SSD Upgrade

Next upgrade was the internal solid state drive. Microsoft doesn’t make it easy to remove the bottom case. There is no visible screw anywhere, but in total there were 9x Torx T3 screws and a silver plastic strip of adhesive that make it challenging to remove cleanly. Below were the steps I took to access the NVMe M.2 socket on the SLS:

1. Two rubber strips cover 7x T3 screws (3x by the hinge area and 4x by the trackpad area). Once the rubber strips are out of the way, you can remove the T3 screws.

Microsoft SLS 2230 NVMe M.2 2230 to 2280 SSD Upgrade

Bottom Case Removal – Torx T3 Screw

2. A C-shaped silver plastic strip covers the “awning” underside. Start peeling this strip at the edge of either hinge then stop when a T3 screw is visible. Repeat this same process on the other side.

C-shaped plastic strip

T3 Screw on the side

3. There’s another tape section right below the trackpad. Lay the SLS at a 90-degree angle on its display and use a guitar pick (or something thin enough) to separate this section. The bottom case should be mostly free, only attached to the motherboard through the battery ribbon cable. Slowly guide the bottom case away from the top case and make sure the battery ribbon cable is not stretched.

Trackpad area tape

Battery ribbon cable on bottom case

4. Disconnect the battery by wiggling on the PULL tab. The NVMe drive is now accessible for upgrade.

SLS Battery PULL label

Microsoft SLS M.2 Socket

One unfortunate news is the lack of PCIe 4.0 support for this NVMe M.2 socket. I was hoping to use an ADT-Link R43SG 4.0 which doubles the bandwidth of version 3.0 and nearly triples that of Thunderbolt 3/4 (22Gbps). All is not lost though because the Intel 11th generation H35-CPU has integrated Thunderbolt controller which performs very well in my other eGPU builds.

HWiNFO64 System Summary

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Mar Tee

hello – very excited to hear your experience w/ Surface Studio + eGPU w/ gaming.
I have a Ultrawide 1440p monitor and a 1080TI.

Once you start using your setup, I would love to hear more details about how the laptop works for gaming. Primary concerns are: overheating & CPU throttling.

jefniro

Hi @itsage very happy for your new setup! It looks amazing!! It could be a new beginning for Microsoft products with Thunderbolt technology.
 
As I know if you add your Nvme SSD you broke the warranty… if confirmed this is very sad! 😐 
 
Waiting for 2022 for mine….eheheh

karm

Do you happen to still have the ASUS XG Station Pro? That’s the enclosure I have and I’m curious if that would work in this manner (my experience with the MBP was hotplug it during spinny wheel on Windows 10 boot).

karm

oh geez, I’m sold. Thanks for the information.

Yeah, I imagine at some point could swap enclosures to one with PD. Really wish there were a XG Station Pro 2 with it because I like how clean the thing looks.

Boltoway

@itsage, @cnon297,
It is a shame that Microsoft would consider voiding your warranty for opening and / or upgrading your device. I remember contacting Razer, Dell and Lenovo before ordering a laptop a while back and got confirmation emails from both Dell and Lenovo stating that so long as I don’t damage the device, opening and adding an SSD will NOT void my warranty. Razer basically never answered and opted for the “we don’t advise users to open their devices” response. 
 

cnon297

Thanks @itsage!  Your new SLS is an impressive, innovative design!  I agree about needing Thunderbolt with earlier surface models!  
Sorry to read the SSD upgrade messes with your warranty.  But at the same time, WOW!  Upgradeable, repairable storage!  Someone ought to send Apple a photo to show them how it’s done!

cnon297

@Boltoway, @itsage, I agree.  My comment was influenced by the recent out-of-warranty failure of the soldered-in SSD in my ’18 Mac mini.  It’s challenging to choke back my disgust at those types of design decisions.  So when I saw the photos of @itsage upgrading his new Surface Laptop Studio SSD, I guess I was overly-positive.  Not only is his new SLS an innovative design, it can be repaired and upgraded!  As for the SLS warranty policy, I hope it changes for the better soon.  If not voluntarily, then by public pressure, “right-to-repair” legislation or some other means.

cnon297

@jefniro, Wow!  That’s a 1st!  You wouldn’t expect the investors to take such a pro-consumer, pro-environment position that’s likely to reduce their bottom line.  Thanks for the link!
@itsage, “I’m gradually buying competing products to Apple’s lineup.”  I’m not far behind.  It’s hard to let go of 20 years in the eco-system.  Of course it helps that recent macOS updates torpedoed half my library.  And there’s my barely used 1080Ti thanks to Apple’s temper tantrum (why not sue Nvidia instead of screwing your customers).  One thing is certain, my next computer will NOT be running macOS!
Fighting  

Strako

That seems impressive, nice setup.
Really curious about some gaming benchmarks but I expect it to be pretty good.
I am sad that the SLS is not coming to my region before 2022 🙁 I can’t even preoder one sadly enough.

Strako

@itsage, Thank you.

Would you say the i7-1185G7 (Surface Pro 8) would be equally competent or to a lesser extend? It’s really rough for me right now to wait for next year until I can get a SLS.

 

Ningauble77

Posted by: @Strako @itsage, Thank you. Would you say the i7-1185G7 (Surface Pro 8) would be equally competent or to a lesser extend? It’s really rough for me right now to wait for next year until I can get a SLS.   There is a video on youtube comparing egpu performance between the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdFRxglCD0k://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdFRxglCD0k Overall looks like performance is very similar.  I can verify benchmarks for the 35W SLS are a tiny bit faster than my Razer Blade Stealth running at 28w on a i7-1165g7 (tho the razer runs at a max of… Read more »

jefniro

Very interesting… so my eGPU with the the AMD RX 5700XT is almost useless!