Upgrade Surface Laptop 3 / Pro X to 1TB SSD for ~$220

[2020/07/02: added Samsung and WD 1TB M.2 2230 drives]

Now you can upgrade your Surface Laptop 3 or your Surface Pro X to a 1TB SSD for ~$220! Save yourself over $500 compared to Microsoft’s list price for 1TB models.

The trick is to get your hands on a speedy M.2 NVMe 2230 SSD module. As of March 2020, the recently launched Toshiba Kioxia BG4 is the fastest available SSD in this form factor. While it does not have a DRAM cache on-board like desktop-class SSDs, it implements NVMe v1.2 host memory buffering which results in great performance at its price point. Unfortunately, it is only available in bulk orders to OEMs and is not readily available to consumers.

But…

The Tuff Nano external 1TB drive by Caldigit has this SSD inside and is only $220 as of March 2020 – far less than the ~$700 USD Microsoft charges on its high-end models. Another option is to order the bare drive part number W98K4 (#400-BFVW) from Dell for a few dollars less. Customers in the EU can order from CentralPoint or various firms listed at Geizhals.

Alternate 1TB M.2 2230 models are:

If ~$220 is too much to spend on an upgrade, there are several broadly available 512GB drives for about half the price:

In my opinion, it is not worthwhile upgrading from 128GB -> 256GB given how little you save compared to a 512GB drive. So I haven’t bothered to list 256GB models here.

The process:

Disclaimer: This will likely void the warranty of both the Tuff Nano and your Surface Device.

Once you have confirmed that the new SSD is working, you can install the old SSD from your Surface into the Tuff Nano case and use it as a portable backup drive.

Happy upgrading!

Other laptops with M.2. 2230 NVMe drives:

  • Acer Swift 7 S7-371
  • Dell Inspiron 13 7386 2-in-1
  • Dell Inspiron 14 5490 (also fits 2280)
  • Dell Latitude 13 5300 (also fits 2280)

Know more? Let me know in the comments.

Resources:

Thanks to \u\SmashedTX and \u\Wiidesire for inspiring this article and especially to Neil for the updated photos.

8 thoughts on “Upgrade Surface Laptop 3 / Pro X to 1TB SSD for ~$220

    • Hi are you referring to this update to improve heat resiliency?https://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/drivers/driversdetails?driverid=rv9hd

      If so, these firmware updates only work when the SSD is the primary boot device and attached directly to an M.2 slot AFAIK. I don’t believe they function the same when a USB interface is in between like in the Caldigit.

      And these updates may not function when certain flags are unset on the host controller (determined by the UEFI firmware). IIRC, most Surface devices are not setup to allow these types of updates, so you need to pop the SSD out and put it into a laptop that can run the updates.

      If the heat issue crops up on Surface, MS will likely issue their own firmware update for the models that shipped with BG4. I believe MS updates use a different mechanism than Dell.

      Relevant thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/eqlzgs/toshiba_kioxia_bg4_ssd_firmware_update/

      Like

      • Hi Danchar,

        Excellent post! Just purchased an SPX and hoping to upgrade the to the Kioxia BG4 1TB but a bit weary on the recent firmware update that is being discussed.

        Is it highly recommended to update the firmware on the drive? Have you heard or has anyone experienced any issues using a drive that is not using the updated firmware?

        Appreciate any help.

        Like

        • I wouldn’t worry about it. I believe MS is now using BG4 drives in several 512GB and 1TB models so if this ever becomes an issue on Surface, I expect MS will issue firmware updates too.

          Like

    • Very nice guide and lovely photos! Thanks for sharing!

      I hope you don’t mind, but I’d added a couple of your photos here (with credit) posted inline so as to not use up your bandwidth.

      Liked by 1 person

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