Microsoft will make you buy a pricier Surface Laptop 3 to get more storage

(Image credit: Future)

When Microsoft announced that the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X will come a removable SSDs (a first for any Surface device) many of us hoped that this would mean that you could swap out the SSD for one with a larger capacity – but it appears that won’t be the case.

While we knew that Microsoft has warned that the hard drives of those devices are “not user removable,” and are “only removable by skilled technician following Microsoft provided instructions,” PC World has discovered that – for the moment, at least – you won’t be able to take a Surface Laptop 3 into a Microsoft Store and get the drive upgraded to something larger.

This will disappoint anyone who was hoping to buy a cheaper Surface Laptop 3 and then add a larger drive later. 

As PC World points out, the difference between a Surface Laptop 3 with 256GB storage and one with a 512GB SSD is a huge $400 (around £310, AU$600), which is a frankly ridiculous price for 256GB of extra storage. Buying a new 512GB SSD would be far more affordable – but it seems like Microsoft doesn’t want you to do that.

Replaceable, not upgradable

PC World rang a number of Microsoft Stores to see if it was possible to change the hard drive in a cheaper Surface Laptop 3 for a larger drive – and in all three stores the website rang, it was told that it was not possible.

Apparently, this is because Microsoft is adamant that the SSD is replaceable, not upgradable. It can therefore be swapped out for an identical hard drive (for example if the original breaks) but not for a larger one.

According to PC World, a member of staff at one Microsoft Store “told us, in response to our question of whether Store staff would upgrade the Laptop 3: ‘Basically, the answer is no.’”

Microsoft representatives also confirmed that all repairs to the Surface Laptop 3 will need to be carried out at a Microsoft Store, or a Microsoft authorized repair shop.

The representatives also told PC World that “Microsoft Stores can help with swapping the SSD into a similar device… However, they are unable to do an upgrade at this time.”

The “at this time” is important, as it hints that Microsoft Stores could upgrade the hard drives to larger capacities in the future. The fact that it was italicised in the email sent to PC World gives further weight to this theory.

Until then, it is should still be technically possible to replace the hard drive yourself, but this could void the warranty. However, if this allows you to upgrade the storage of the Surface Laptop 3 without paying Microsoft’s exorbitant prices, some people may think it’s worth the risk.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.