Upgradable tablets may not be easy, but HP proves they’re not extinct

Upgradable tablets may not be easy, but HP proves they’re not extinct

Last year, HP sent us the Elite x2 1012 G1—the first tablet to earn a perfect 10 on our repairability scale. Now, HP has followed up their repair friendly tablet with the Elite x2 1012 G2. Tearing down tech may be our forte, but we’re always wary of new tablets on our teardown table: high-performance hardware in a small package seems to be a recipe for trouble. Thankfully, this tablet has a good pedigree and a free online repair manual to boot—so naturally, we’re excited to get started.

The opening procedure is identical to the previous model, involving a T5 Torx screwdriver, suction cup, and minimal stress. The display cables are once again long enough to offer some assurance during the opening procedure, making the process painless.

Popping the screen off reveals a similar layout to last year’s model, with a few key differences. Right off the bat, we see that HP has added a separate thermal management assembly that was not present in their previous model—comprising a fan, copper tape, and a beefy heatsink bolted to the motherboard. Upon closer inspection, we can also see that the mother- and I/O boards have been consolidated into a single system board—that will need to be replaced in full if your power jack or USB ports stop working.

Similar to last year’s model, the G2 has an easily-removable battery, SSD (this year’s model featured a faster, NVMe SSD), and WLAN card, as well as a new discrete WWAN card to handle connecting to LTE networks. Extricating the motherboard is a little tricky at first, but having access to a repair manual makes the process easy. Once the motherboard is out, only a few components remain—speakers, antennas, and the bevy of cameras and sensors at the upper edge of the device. Unfortunately, we also encountered a healthy dose of copper tape holding these parts in place. This malleable adhesive is a pain to remove, replace, and increases the time and costs associated with repair.

Despite that rough ending, this really is a highly-serviceable tablet. Anyone with the right (standard) screwdriver and a suction cup should be able to easily perform battery or screen replacements. The only moving part—the hinge—can be swapped out without even opening the tablet. Despite these positives, we have to account for the addition of copper tape and shifting ports—high stress parts—from a daughterboard to the main system board. These changes make repairs more difficult and more expensive, so the 2017 revision of the HP Elite x2 1012 slides down from a perfect 10/10 to a 9/10 on our repairability scale. Even with this one-point demerit, however, the G2 still stacks up highly for repairability compared to other tablets on the market and therefore earns our stamp of approval.

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