Physical Features of a Microsoft Surface Unit

A Microsoft Surface unit is a table-like form that is easy for users to interact with from any side. This topic describes the physical features of a Microsoft Surface unit.


Microsoft Surface units with the black acrylic panels have the following dimensions.

A Surface unit with labeled dimensions

Hardware Components

A Microsoft Surface unit includes the following hardware components:

  • Vision System and Display

  • Tabletop

  • Panels and Kick Plates

  • AC/Main Rocker Switch and On/Standby Button

Vision System and Display

Every Microsoft Surface unit includes a 5-camera vision system with OSTAR® infrared direct illumination. The vision system uses infrared cameras to sense objects, hand gestures, and touch on the screen and then it processes that input.

Microsoft Surface applications respond to the input, and then the Microsoft Surface unit projects the resulting display on the 30-inch screen by using the following display:

  • Type: 30" XGA DLP projector

  • ATI X1650 graphics card with 256 MB memory

  • Resolution: 1028 x 768


The tabletop of a Microsoft Surface unit includes the 30-inch screen where the unit displays applications and where users interact with them, and it includes a clear, acrylic area around the screen. The tabletop has the following parameters:

  • Maximum standing weight on the tabletop: 180 pounds (lbs)

  • Maximum pressure on the tabletop: 50 pounds per square inch (psi)

Panels and Kick Plates

All sides of a Microsoft Surface unit are covered by panels. Some units have black, acrylic panels and others show plain, metal panels. Below the black, acrylic panels on the long sides of a Microsoft Surface unit, kick plates attach to the bottom of the long sides to cover up the bottom of the unit (and the power cord if it runs along the long sides).

You can remove only one side of a Surface unit. Under this removable panel, you can access the I/O connections. For more information, see Removing the End Panel to Expose the I/O Connections.

AC/Main Rocker Switch and On/Standby Button

There are two types of power buttons on a Microsoft Surface unit:

  • The AC/Main rocker switch turns on a section of the motherboard and the system control module (SCM).

  • The On/Standby button turns on the computer and the cameras inside the Microsoft Surface unit.

Do not use the AC/Main rocker switch to turn a Microsoft Surface unit on and off; only use the On/Standby button for this. Even when the computer portion of a Microsoft Surface unit is turned off, a section of the motherboard and the SCM are always running.

The AC/Main rocker switch is located below the Microsoft Surface frame in the bottom-left corner of one end of the Microsoft Surface unit. The switch is located next to the receptacle where the power cord plugs into the Microsoft Surface unit. (This end is the opposite end of the unit from where the I/O connections are located.)

The AC/Main rocker switch next to a kick plate
  1. AC/Main rocker switch

  2. AC power connector

  3. Kick plates

During normal operation, the AC/Main rocker switch should always be turned on.

The AC/Main rocker switch in the on position
  • | is On

  • 0 is Off

The On/Standby button is located at the opposite end of the Microsoft Surface unit, next to the I/O connections.

Computer Components

The computer within a Microsoft Surface unit includes similar components to a personal computer and includes locations where you connect to the computer.


The computer within a Surface unit has the following pieces:

  • Processor: 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and an ASUS motherboard

  • RAM: 2 GB of dual-channel DDR memory

  • Hard disk drive: 250 GB SATA hard disk drive

I/O Connections

All input and output (I/O) connections on a Microsoft Surface unit are located in one area on one of the short ends of the unit. This area is exposed on a developer unit and covered by an acrylic panel on a commercial unit. (For more information about the types of Microsoft Surface units, see Microsoft Surface Products Overview.)

You can use the I/O connections for such things as attaching an external monitor, connecting a keyboard and mouse, connecting the Surface unit to a network, loading content on the computer, and so on. For example, on a commercial unit, you might use the I/O connections to load applications and content. Or, a running Surface unit might use the Ethernet port to connect to a network, use the stereo jacks for external speakers, and use the USB connections for external peripherals.

The Microsoft Surface unit includes the following I/O connections and other features:

The I/O connections on a Surface unit
  1. Single-pin stereo headphone jacks (2)

  2. Two USB ports with the I/O fully exposed

  3. 5-pin SCM firmware update port (do not use)

  4. SCM status indicator lights. (For more information about what these lights mean, see Troubleshooting Surface Hardware Issues.)

  5. Four USB 2.0 ports

  6. Component video (RGB out)

  7. Component audio, with the following output:

    • Type: Stereo flat panel built-in speakers

    • Compliant standards: Stereo

  8. Ethernet port (Gigabit Ethernet card [10/100/1000]) that complies with the following network protocols and standards:

    • Network adapter: Intel Gb LAN

    • Wireless LAN connectivity supported: Yes

    • Data link Protocol: IEEE802.11a, IEEE802.11b, IEEE802.11g, Bluetooth 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet

    • Network Standards: IEEE802.11a, IEEE802.11b, IEEE802.11g, Bluetooth 2.0

  9. External monitor port (VGA out)

  10. Conduits (channels) for routing cables

  11. On/Standby power button

  12. Air exhaust vent (one on each end)

The Microsoft Surface unit also includes support for WiFi and Bluetooth.

For more information about how to use the I/O connections, see the following articles:

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