MacBook Pro, Minus Retina Display, Far More Repairable: iFixit

While Apple's MacBook with Retina display is nearly impossible to fix or upgrade, earning a 1 out of 10 repair score from iFixit, the upgraded "regular" MacBook Pro earned a more respectable 7 out of 10.

Apple€™s new MacBook Pro with Retina display may have grabbed the spotlight, following its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) debut, but it€™s the updated, regular ol€™ MacBook Pro that deserves some attention, repair site iFixit has announced, following a teardown of the latter.

While the MacBook Pro with Retina display (referred to as the MacBook Pro WRD from here on, for purposes of brevity and clarity) received an embarrassingly low iFixit repairability score of just 1 out of 10, the 15-inch MacBook Pro received a very respectable 7 out of 10.

Still, one question is bugging the iFixit team, Miro Djuric, its chief information architect, wrote in a June 20 blog post. €œCould Apple make a super-sleek laptop like the MacBook Pro with Retina display and still preserve the repairability of the machine? The answer€”and we hope you agree€”is yes.

Tearing down the MacBook Pro WRD, the team found it €œvirtually nonupgradeable.€

€œApple has packed all the things we hate into one beautiful little package,€ iFixit€™s Kyle Wiends wrote in a June 13 blog post. He added, €œLaptops 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.€

Richard Gaywood, writing for TUAW, pushed the idea, explaining:

"The MacBook Pro with Retina display isn€™t just harder for you to fix; it€™s harder for anyone to fix, including independent specialists you may be used to using. Sure, you can always pop into an Apple Store €¦ unless you can€™t. Some people live hours and hours away from their nearest store; some people live in countries where there are no official stores at all, just a handful of authorized service centers."

Indeed, the implication that in a year or two one should be left with no options but to toss an outdated, nonupgradeable machine onto the trash heap and move on to the next device€”and indeed, someone with $2,200 to plunk down is likely not going to suffer old technology, in 18 months€™ time€”is irresponsible.

So there€™s much to celebrate in the refreshed MacBook Pro, then.

Its back panel features regular screws, instead of Apple€™s proprietary, pentalobe screws. Its LCD, while not cheap to replace, were it cracked, can be replaced on its own. By contrast, were the LCD to crack on a MacBook Pro WRD, the entire assembly would have to go, at an even greater cost.

iFixit notably also discovered that the battery is exactly the same on the refreshed MacBook Pro as on last year€™s model; that its Serial ATA drive is almost three times as thick as the solid-state drive (SSD) in the MacBook Pro WRD; that the optical drive is held in place with standard Phillips screws, creating the option to replace it with an SSD enclosure for a storage boost; and the €œboring old fans,€ not asymmetrical versions as on the MacBook Pro WRD, can be removed easily enough to clean out electronics-damaging dust bunnies.

DIYers can also sigh with relief, iFixit wrote. €œWhile you can only configure your MacBook Pro with up to 8GB of RAM from Apple, you can install up to 16GB yourself with no issues.€

In all, the team found the RAM, fans, hard drive and optical drive to be easy to access, noted that €œsignificant amounts of thermal paste may be a pain in later repairs,€ but called the MacBook Pro €œnothing to scoff at.€

They added, €œIt€™s way more repairable and upgradeable than its sleeker-looking sibling.€

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