Retina MacBook Pro torn down, shows little upgradeability

Retina MacBook Pro torn down, shows little upgradeability

The Retina display-packing MacBook Pro that was announced at WWDC has been meticulously disassembled, as you might expect, everything is glued or soldered in place, including RAM, battery packs, and the display. While that might not make for a laptop that's particularly well-suited for repair or upgrades, it does make for a svelte package. The iFixit guys have a few thoughts on their experience taking the new MacBook Pro apart:

  • 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.
  • 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.

It's clear that Apple's laptop design is following closely in line with their tablet strategy: make it small at all costs, even if it means using proprietary parts and keeping tinkerers out. While that might not be great news for folks like Ally, it's hard to argue with the results. The new MacBook Pro looks like a beast of a machine, and odds are if you're a fan of Apple hardware, you don't mind being locked out of certain things. Of course, the pricetag is another story altogether...

Source: iFixit

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

Retina MacBook Pro torn down, shows little upgradeability


I wonder if its possible to upgrade the last MBPRO 15" to the new display
highly doubtful and would probably KILL the battery life, but I bet it doesnt stop someone from trying

I worry about the battery being glued in. I've had to replace the battery in my old Macbook Pro due to the battery swelling and interfering with the trackpad. Seems like that would be a much more expensive problem now.

Re: "Of course, the pricetag is another story altogether..."
It certainly is. But it will eventually come down in price. The original 13" MacBook air sprang forth as a $2000+ "executive laptop." And now, 4.5 years later, it starts at the same price as an iMac. $1199.
No, the MacBook Pro (with Retina screen) probably won't ever drop to $1199. But yes, it's very likely that it will get cheaper over time.

Looks like a flop, Mac has bent over backwards with this one to lock in instant obsolescence. It may only be compelling for a mater of months. It's only a mater of time when large SSD hard dives and monitors with the same pixel density as Retina display hit the market at a much lower price point.

honestly after much thought i there are more negatives then positives for me. I already use windows so it's not a big deal. But the price is high, i've got nothing thunderbolt, hard to upgrade drive or memory, low amounts of storage at a high price, sadly it's not just an upgraded 13inch at the same price. That's what i expected but this is just a massive price hike and i didn't see a 13 inch model. I'll look to the more affordable products, possibly the vizio, and i may try and run osx in virtualbox.