iFixit Looks Inside Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Apple’s new MacBook Pro with retina display is only two days old, but iFixit has already managed to get ahold of one and strip it down to its screws. What they found inside was impressive — unless you plan to ever try to upgrade the laptop yourself.

The MacBook Pro with retina display is .71-inches thick, doesn’t include an optical drive, and forgoes traditional spinning hard drives for solid state storage. It’s also held together with custom pentalobe screws, just like the iPhone, which means most users won’t be able to get inside since the proper screwdriver is hard to come by.

iFixit's look inside the MacBook Pro with Retina DisplayiFixit’s look inside the MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Assuming you do get inside yours, the battery is glued in place, the flash storage is on a custom card, and the display is permanently fixed in its housing. The bottom line: third-party SSD upgrades will be coming, but the faint of heart should let a professional handle the installation, and you won’t be upgrading the RAM since it’s soldered to the motherboard.

Apple managed to pack an amazing amount of technology into the new MacBook Pro, but at the same time took away the ability for users to upgrade the laptop after purchase thanks to its MacBook Air-style custom components. Photos of the complete teardown process are available at the iFixit website.

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Comments

ctopher

Thanks for including their picture. It seems this post and others like it have overwhelmed ifixit’s site and its down!

I’ll have to check it out when I wake up in the middle of the night, from a nightmare about not having the latest Mac!

geoduck

I followed TMO’s coverage of the Keynote.I loved the MacBook Pro updates. That day I decided though that I should go with the old version. It cost less for the same performance and I could get much bigger hard drives. Even could replace the DVD with a second drive or both with an SSD if I wanted sometime down the road.

Then yesterday I had convinced myself to go with the top 15” Retina version. The display was better, I would be at the head of the technology curve. Yes it was expensive but overall I figured it was the better option. As Landau said yesterday This is just the start of the next generation.

Today I looked through the iFixit tear down. Non upgradeable RAM (soldered to the MB). Proprietary hard drive so that might never be upgradeable either. The battery is also not user replaceable. In fact it’s glued in place so it might just not be replaceable at all. Sorry but batteries fail. I just replaced one in my current MacBook. RAM requirements change, I’ve upgraded both of our Current MacBooks. I’m not sure I want to drop $3000 for something that’s as user repairable as an iPhone.

So now I’m back to thinking the “old” style MacBook Pro with the upgraded display might be the way to go after all. Sure it’s not as sharp as the Retina one but my eyes ain’t getting any younger so I won’t likely be running at max anyway resolution. It’s the reason I’m going to a 15” from the 13” MacBook I have now. And it’s cheaper.

Damn, they are making this hard.

ilikeimac

The non-replaceable RAM really tempered my enthusiasm. The rest of the changes I was prepared for, but that surprised me. I’m also disappointed that Apple’s SSD cards keep changing from model to model; are they doomed to come in as many shapes and sizes as RAM?

webjprgm

Soldering the RAM in is Apple’s ploy to make me buy RAM from them.  I always just get the low RAM config and buy RAM from someone else because Apple overcharges on CTO options.  Now if you don’t buy the max RAM MacBookPro (retina) then you’ll be wishing you had in a couple years when it’s time to upgrade your RAM.

Yeah, geoduck hit it right on.  The display is awesome and lust-worthy, but there’s no upgradability.

I also note that without a DVD drive I couldn’t use this as a portable DVD player on vacations, unless I also carry around that external drive.  Since I’m not getting a new laptop this year anyway, I’ll wait until next year to decide whether the DVD drive matters to me.

webjprgm

You know, it would be interesting if Apple made their custom components swappable.  I assume it’s all glued and soldered and custom because it needs to fit in a much smaller space.  They couldn’t use standard replaceable parts.  Since nothing’s replaceable, the pentalobe screws just discourage users from poking around inside where they couldn’t do anything but break stuff anyway.  But could Apple innovate some new way of mounting / connecting batteries, drives, and RAM that would let them be small AND replaceable?

Lancashire-Witch

I suspect I may have the same problem with the MBP retina display that I have with the 27 inch iMac—Yep, there’s a lot on the screen; but it’s all too small, except for photos and movies.

Refurbed MBPs (retina) are gonna be interesting. There’s not much that can replaced in them, if anything.

Tom

Perhaps this entire article is just sour grapes?  I am told that Apple authorized service providers will certainly be able to service these computers.  The fact that some kid in a garage, or ifixit (unauthorized) cannot repair these computers is irrelevant—I would not want them working on my equipment in any case.
Apple trains their service people; they invest a great deal in their operations (I know one)—they are the professionals that should be working on these ever more sophisticated machines; not some pimply-faced kid.

Get real and stop with the FUD!

Pashtun Wally

I’m hearing A LOT of foolishness on this point.

Those “disposable” laptops will be captured by Apple techs, analysed to within an in of their lives, refurbished (returned to new spec)...and swapped out for faulty laptops that will then be captured….

So it makes sense from a QC p.o.v….it also makes sense from the user’s angle:  my ‘06 MBP has had the logic board replaced twice;  if I’d been handed replacement machines it would have been even faster and less problematic to get me back ‘on the road’.

As for the urge some have for playing Geppetto w/ their computers:  upgradeability is over-rated unless you’re a hobbyist, not a user.  Yes, I’ve ALWAYS maxed out RAM;  there’s never any real reason not to (‘cept momentary cash-flow);  I’ve pulled apart my MBP to put in a larger HD - and broke back in to remove it before a trip to the Genius Bar.  It never saved me *that* much money, but I enjoyed being able to do it.  Most users DO NOT DO THAT - and they don’t care whether they’re able to or not.

Not being able to break into my computer & stir its guts is - frankly - not a problem.  Acting like Apple is somehow ‘depriving you of your rights’ is only a problem if you expect people to listen to you and take you seriously.

geoduck

You make some good points however for me I have a couple of quibbles

Those ?disposable? laptops will be captured by Apple techs, analysed to within an in of their lives, refurbished (returned to new spec)...and swapped out for faulty laptops that will then be captured

That’s cool if you live near an Apple Store. Personally I don’t and don’t want to plan to have to ship my MBP somewhere for simple repairs.

my ?06 MBP has had the logic board replaced twice;  if I?d been handed replacement machines it would have been even faster and less problematic to get me back ?on the road?

So who’s talking about motherboards? I just want to be able3 to keep my own system current and functional without either being down a week or more or paying for a $150 trip to the nearest Apple Store.

As for the urge some have for playing Geppetto w/ their computers:  upgradeability is over-rated unless you?re a hobbyist, not a user.

For the most part you’re right. Most people never crack the case. OTOH most users either live close to a conveniently placed Apple Store or replace their computers every three to four years. I’ve gotten four out of my current MacBook and expect my wife to get another four out of it. The MacBook I’m buying shortly I expect to last me six to eight years. I have no way of knowing what I will require of it. I want options. Replacing a battery on my laptop should be as easy as replacing the one in my car. Sure Apple will put 16Gb on my laptop. Six years ago I was running one and figured the four I got in my current MacBook would be plenty. Who knows how much I’ll need or what I’ll want to do with my MacBook in six years.

Not being able to break into my computer & stir its guts is - frankly - not a problem.  Acting like Apple is somehow ?depriving you of your rights? is only a problem if you expect people to listen to you and take you seriously.

That’s a little harsh. I only claimed to speak for myself. YMMV. If you’re someone that’s happy with never cracking the case that’s fine. Personally I feel that being able to fix simple things is essential. I can change my own tires, replace my battery, and do the air filter on my car. Most people don’t. If I got a car that prevented me from doing that I would not be happy either. To me this isn’t “Playing Gepetto”, this is an essential part of keeping your system in top working order.
But as I said YMMV. If you’re happy with a system that runs great but will never change and can never be changed once it leaves the factory then more power to you.

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