iFixit Tears Down the 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Gives the laptop an embarrassing 2 out of 10 repairability score

By on October 25th, 2012 13:55 GMT

A new teardown from repair shop iFixit reveals that Apple has no problem sacrificing repairability for the sake of design, and perhaps automated assembly of its popular computers. The latest analysis from iFixit looks at the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Upon unscrewing the chassis, the techies found a small piece of steel-wool-like metal on top of two of the speaker screws, issuing three hypotheses: grounding; noise reduction; and tamper-evident seals. No one really knows why the material was included, though.

Moving forward, iFixit notes a striking layout change – the rearranged battery cells. There’s six of them, and it’s the result of shrinking down the form factor from 15 inches to 13 inches, says the company.

“This allowed Apple's designers to cleverly tuck the SSD away underneath the trackpad assembly,” iFixit adds.

A very un-Apple-like move, there’s an empty space next to the SSD, iFixit notes. “It's not like them to leave big air gaps in their newest, sleekest designs.”

The 256 GB SSD that comes in the MacBook Pro is a Samsung MZ-DPC2560/0A2 unit, rated at 3.3 volts and 2.39 amps, according to the teardown.

The AirPort card is now placed outboard from the right fan. iFixit says it is the same model as the one found in the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

In the cooling department, “The heat sink has been slightly scaled down to fit the smaller 13" Retina display, but the design looks very similar to its predecessor, including the two rubber heat sink covers,” according to the tinkerers.

Finally, the chips are listed (below).

Intel Core i5-3210M 2.5 GHz processor (Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz)

Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM (8x4 Gb front and back for a total of 64 Gb or 8 GB)

Intel BD82QS77 platform controller hub

Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller

Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH microcontroller with integrated ARM core

Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM

SMSC USB2512B USB 2.0 Hub Controller

Cypress Semiconductor CY8C24794-24L programmable SoC

Maxim MAX15119 Apple-specific IMVP7 CPU/GPU power controller

Cirrus Audio 4206BCNZ audio controller

Texas Instruments TPS 51980

iFixit says the battery housed inside the laptop’s aluminum chassis is “a step in the right direction towards recyclability and repairability, but it's still a far cry from the no-adhesive MacBook Pro batteries of yesteryear.”

Since the RAM is surface-mount soldered to the logic board, users cannot upgrade the memory – “It will forever have 8 GB of RAM,” says iFixit.

Finally, “The display assembly is almost impossible to take apart. If anything ever fails inside the display, you'll need to replace the display as a whole,” iFixit reports.

Thus the MacBook Pro 13" with Retina Display gets a repairability score of just 2 out of 10 (with 10 being the easiest to repair).

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