updated 10:59 am EDT, Wed June 13, 2012
Firm tears down 2012 MacBooks
Repair outfit iFixit has conducted teardowns of two of Apple's new MacBook models -- including, notably, the Retina version of the MacBook Pro, which it complains is the "least repairable laptop" it has ever taken apart. The system uses special pentalobe screws for instance, which like the iPhone 4, 4S, and MacBook Air, require a screwdriver most people won't have. The RAM is soldered to the logic board, as in the Air, preventing people from either upgrading or replacing memory.
The computer's SSD normally can't be upgraded either, although iFixit says it does hope to offer an upgrade for the part, which exists as a separate daughtercard. A more serious concern is the notebook's battery, since it is glued into the case rather than screwed, making it more prone to breaking during disassembly. The battery moreover covers the trackpad cable, which could potentially lead people to accidentally disable the trackpad during a repair.
The display assembly is "completely fused," according to iFixit, without any glass protecting it. The company warns that if anything goes wrong with the display, the entire assembly will need to be replaced at a very high pricetag. The notebook as a whole is described as "virtually non-upgradeable -- making it the first MacBook Pro that will be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology." iFixit is however enthusiastic about some other aspects of the computer's design, such as its new ports, asymmetrical fan, and a Samsung SSD.
With the new MacBook Air, Apple has reportedly switched the flash controller to a Toshiba-marked design based on a SandForce SATA III controller chip. People should, therefore, be able to upgrade the SSD once third-party parts hit the market.
Other changes in the Air are minimal, although Apple is said to have made some minor adjustments to keep power consumption stable despite faster processors, such as moving from 1.5V SDRAM to 1.35V memory from Hynix. The system is also given a 4/10 repairability score, which may be poor, but is still better than the MacBook Pro's 1/10.