I picked up a self powered usb 3.0 hub for about $16, an Ethernet adapter for $10 (Which does get 100mbit, I tested it directly connecting it to a bridged connection and got 12 megabytes/s, not comparable to 1gbit but not necessary for my use cases really)
The small DVI connector adapters for the Surface Pro I already had. (For an HD6990)
Basically I was able to just take the USB stuff and plug it into the 4 port hub and take the green audio cable and connect it to the Surface headphone jack. Bam, full PC. I also connected up a 1TB USB 2.0 drive I have that plugs into the wall.
Now, here’s the problems I had. Constant disconnects. This is a power saving feature and it probably couldn’t tell it was a hub. I changed the power saving settings to not allow it, however it was still happening.
So the solution? Change to high performance mode and go to device manager –> universal serial bus controller –> usb root hub –> properties –> power management and deselect “allow computer to turn off this device to save power” for all of the usb root hub options available.
Doing this improved things drastically, however I still got disconnects. To resolve this I changed to “High Performance mode”
I don’t see any options, but it might be limiting the power draw somehow from the USB ports in the other modes, I have no idea really, but I get disconnects every half hour or so if I’m not in “high performance”. Doesn’t make much sense to me but that fixed it.
My guess is, since the keyboard, mouse, and hard drive can’t really be using much the Ethernet adapter must be using too much for the power saving modes.
Prior to doing this, I tried connecting only a keyboard and it would go off and on nonstop. I’ve been using it setup like this with all 4 ports in use for about 2 hours – but I will update if I still have problems. As it is, I have a full desktop experience plus somewhat of a “dual monitor setup with the pro sitting next to the external monitor.
I still haven’t bought the external battery for it yet, but I did get the needed cable from China the other day. (I considered soldering it together myself but when I looked at the cost – it would actually cost me more to do it myself than to get it shipped from china, and I received it in only 10 days anyway, which is pretty fast for china…)
Surface Pro dock costs $200 and is somewhat hard to get. My setup cost me $26 and works fine, and is multi-use because obviously I could use a portable usb 3.0 hub on the go.
Here’s my running tally for surface pro desktop/tablet/laptop expenses.
$499 Surface Pro
$16 4 port USB 3.0 Hub
$10 10/100 USB 2.0 Ethernet Adapter
$14 Power Adapter Cable for 26,000 mah Battery Pack
$40 Touch Cover
$85 Battery pack – (in the future, maybe)
$60 USB 3.0 Portable Drive
Total: $724 Not too shabby, about 4 – 4.5lbs to carry, up to 12 hrs of battery life (with 26,000 mah battery) Wacom digitizer, and can be used as a desktop, laptop and tablet. I am kind of smitten with this thing at this point, it really is about as flexible as it can get for a portable device – and seems to fill a lot of roles for me that I was using other stuff for. Of course it’ll never replace my tower for processor/gpu intensive things but I think it’ll serve me really well in college. Aside from that, it costs about the same as less than 1 years worth of books if you bought them new. (I didn’t – I tried to buy used off amazon/ebay or wherever when possible, still ended up with a $230 bill on books this semester.. grr…)