Retina MacBook Pro Slated In Teardown

A teardown specialist has given the Retina display MacBook Pro the worse possible score, branding it virtually unfixable

Repair site iFixit has heavily criticised Apple’s next-generation MacBook with Retina display, branding the thin, light, but seriously pricey machine as “virtually nonupgradeable.”

Not exactly what a person shelling out $2,799 (£1,808) for a laptop wants to hear.

Least Repairable

Tearing down the next-generation MacBook, on the heels of a teardown of Apple’s updated MacBook Air, the iFixit team found the iPad-meets-MacBook-like wonder to be the least repairable laptop they have ever taken apart.

“Apple has packed all the things we hate into one beautiful little package,” iFixit’s Kyle Wiens wrote in a 13 June blog post.

On a 10-point scale, with 10 being the most repairable, iFixit gave the next-gen MacBook Pro a repairability score of 1.

“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,” wrote Wiens. “On top of being glued together, the new MacBook Pro is virtually nonupgradeable – making it the first MacBook Pro that will be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology.”

Not making things easy on the repair front, the iFixit team found:

  • Apple used the proprietary pentalobe screws that it developed to keep owners of its devices from opening them up. iFixit sells screwdrivers, as well as whole toolkits, for getting inside and making repairs or upgrades (in most cases).
  • The laptop’s RAM is soldered to the logic board. Max out at 16GB, iFixit advises; there’ll be no upgrading.
  • The solid-state drive (SSD) isn’t upgradeable, though the team has hopes that in the future they’ll be able to offer a fix for this.
  • Apple glues, rather than screws, the lithium-polymer battery into the case, which increases the chances of the battery breaking during a disassembly.
  • The glued-in battery covers the trackpad cable, “tremendously” increasing one’s chances of shearing it while removing the battery.
  • The display assembly is fused, with no glass to protect it. Apple figured out how to do without the glass to make the laptop lighter. “If anything fails inside the display, you will need to replace the entire (extremely expensive) assembly,” notes Wiens.

Good Points

Still, the team was exited about the Retina display – Wiens calls it “stunning” – the two Thunderbolt and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) ports and the Samsung flash memory SSD.

Other good stuff: The team discovered a Broadcom AirPort card different from the one in the upgraded MacBook Air. They also found the widely cited asymmetrical fan to be more a testament to Apple’s marketing department than anything else.

A number of Apple fans are apparently undeterred by the price of such a nonupgradeable or fixable machine. While, when introducing the next-generation MacBook during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote 11 June, Apple’s Phil Schiller said it would start shipping immediately, by 12 June, the 15-inch models had been flagged on the Apple site as shipping in “2-3 weeks.” As of 13 June, the shipping window reads “3-4 weeks.”

Schiller also said the next-generation MacBook Pros are a breakthrough in engineering and the “most beautiful computer we have ever made.”

This may help to convince plenty of people that they’re worth paying, and waiting, for.

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