iFixit Releases Repair Guides for Retina MacBook Pro

iFixit Retina MacBook Pro Repair Guidevia iFixit

One of the first to get their hands inside the new Retina MacBook Pro, venerable repair and parts site iFixit announced the release Wednesday of their repair guide for the tightly integrated machine.

Consisting of 15 installation guides, two teardown walkthroughs, and one maintenance guide, iFixit has gone to great lengths to ensure that ambitious owners can at least perform some under the hood tasks on “the least repairable laptop ever.”

iFixit is quick to point out that, unlike many previous Apple computers, at-home repairs to the Retina MacBook Pro should only be undertaken by the most skilled and experienced users.

Fair warning: working on the laptop is no easy task, even with a full set of guides. Barely a month ago, we called the MacBook Pro with Retina display “the least repairable laptop we’ve taken apart.” It’s clear that Apple did not design this computer for the sake of repair-conscious customers.

Even users experienced in computer repair should be cautious; replacing common parts is now a complicated and potentially dangerous task:

Although many components can be replaced with screwdrivers and elbow grease, some repairs are simply infeasible. For example, there is almost no way to replace the trackpad without first removing the battery. While it’s possible to remove the battery, chances are high that it will be punctured in the process. Puncturing Lithium-polymer batteries releases noxious fumes and can cause fires. Likewise, removing the LCD glass from the aluminum frame will almost certainly break the glass. So components residing under the LCD — such as the FaceTime camera — will have to be replaced with the entire assembly.

In the end, iFixit is a company that depends on users and do-it-yourselfers having the desire and ability to perform repairs on their own hardware. It is therefore not surprising to hear that the site finds “Apple’s design direction…disturbing.”

If limited, or zero, repairability and upgradability is the cost for packing so much power and capability into a small space, will consumers gladly make the sacrifice? Or will Apple, a few years down the road, be facing angry mobs of customers with $500 battery replacement charges?