Guest Comment: iFixit
June 15, 2012

MacBook Pro with Retina Display Teardown

The new MacBook Pro with Retina Display is stunning. 0.71" thick, super-fast processor, and 95 watt hours of battery life. It crams 5.1 million pixels—that's one pixel for every resident of Singapore—into a 15.4" screen.

But even though it packs lots of gee-whiz bells and whistles, we were thoroughly disappointed when we ventured inside. This is, to date, the least repairable laptop we've taken apart. Apple has packed all the things we hate into one beautiful little package.

Teardown highlights (if you can call them that):

Just like in the iPhone 4/4S (and the MacBook Air), proprietary Pentalobe screws prevent folks from accessing the machine's internals. That means you need a special screwdriver just to remove the bottom cover.

As in the MacBook Air, the RAM is soldered to the logic board. Max out at 16GB now, or forever hold your peace—you can't upgrade.

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The proprietary SSD isn't upgradeable either (yet), as it is similar but not identical to the one in the Air. It is a separate daughtercard, and we're hopeful we can offer an upgrade in the near future.

The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the chances that it'll break during disassembly. The battery also covers the trackpad cable, which tremendously increases the chance that a user will shear the cable in the battery removal process.

The display assembly is completely fused, and there's no glass protecting it. If anything ever fails inside the display, you will need to replace the entire (extremely expensive) assembly.

( Media Not Available ) All images © iFixit
Repair Score: 1 / 10

Laptops are expensive. It's critical that consumers have the option to repair things that go wrong, as well as upgrade their own hardware to keep it relevant as new technologies roll out. On top of being glued together, the new MacBook Pro is virtually non-upgradeable—making it the first MacBook Pro that will be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology.

Despite its dismal repair score, there's much to be excited about here beyond the Retina display: new ports, an asymmetrical fan, and a Samsung flash memory SSD. Oh, and the screws are replaceable.

Major chips we found on the logic board:
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M GPU
  • Intel Core-i7 3720QM 2.6 GHz processor
  • What appears to be an Intel E208B284 Platform Controller Hub
  • Hynix H5TC2GB3CFR DDR3L SDRAM
  • Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller

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The complete Teardown can be found - as usual - on iFixit's website.
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