Retina MacBook Pro 13 teardown reveals new battery; HDD conspiracy theory

Retina MacBook Pro 13 teardown reveals new battery; HDD conspiracy theory

Summary: iFixIt has torn down the rMBP13 and displayed the parts in their naked glory on its website. In addition to having soldered RAM and a new battery configuration, Apple moved the SSD under the trackpad into a space almost large enough to fit a 2.5-inch drive. Hmmm...

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
Retina MacBook Pro 13 teardown reveals new battery; HDD conspiracy theory - Jason O'Grady

iFixIt has completed its teardown (now with kittens!) of Apple's latest notebook - the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display. (That's a mouthful, so after its first mention, I'm going to refer to it as the rMBP13, ok?)

The rMBP13 was announced yesterday in a new-hardware-bonanza and is my current object of desire. I'm replacing my trusty MacBook Air 13 with one because of the better display and, as I noted yesterdayApple shaved a full pound off the previous MBP13. At a svelte 3.57 pounds, the Retina model is only one half pound heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air. More on that in a future post.

The teardown reveals that the rMBP13 has soldered RAM and a new battery configuration. Perhaps the most intriguing change is that Apple moved the SSD to a location under the trackpad that's (suspiciously) large enough to hold a standard 2.5-inch HDD/SSD. Well, almost.

According to iFixIt:

Our first thought was that a standard 2.5" laptop drive might fit in this space, and it almost looks like this little nook was designed with that in mind. Our 9.5mm Crucial SSD didn't allow the bottom cover to be closed, but just by a smidge. We'll see if a 7 mm or 5 mm super-slim hard drive could be incorporated into the space.

Retina MacBook Pro 13 teardown reveals HDD conspiracy theory - Jason O'Grady

Most importantly, the OWC Aura Pro SSD works in the new 13-inch rMBP. This is a big deal because OWC only charges $580 for its 480GB SSD upgrade, whereas Apple charges $800 to upgrade to the 512GB SSD -- $200 more -- and you don't get to keep the old 128GB blade. 

Retina MacBook Pro 13 SSD upgrades are pricey - Jason O'Grady

I recommend purchasing Apple's stock 125GB configuration and getting the 480GB SSD upgrade separately from OWC, which is what I did. I also ordered the CTO 2.9GHz i7 configuration, but hey, that's me.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • So the MacBook Air failed for you

    "I'm replacing my trusty MacBook Air 13 with one"

    How sad that you are replacing it so soon. That didn't even last 3 years.

    Hey Jason, just for fun, can you give us a list of Apple hardware that you've purchased in the last 5 years? For example, did you purchase the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5? Did you purchase a Mac Mini, an iMac, and a Mac Pro in the last 5 years? How many different Apple laptops have you purchased in the last 5 years?

    It will be interesting to see just how many Apple products one needs to buy in order to stay satisfied.
    • yeah

      Over and over I am told that Macs last longer so there is no need to upgrade every few years. Seems like they are like any other computer after all
  • Will you be installing the OWC SSD modules yourself?

    Just curious about that DIY upgrade procedure. I'm looking at doing the same thing you are after the holidays when Uncle Sam returns some of my disposable income.
    • I added an SSD to my new laptop last year

      I bought a laptop that came with an HDD but decided I wanted to install my OS on an SDD for greater speed. Here was my DIY process:
      1. Unscrew 1 big screw to remove bottom panel of laptop.
      2. Move the HDD from bay 1 to bay 2.
      3. Put SSD into bay 1.
      4. Replace bottom panel of laptop.

      Took about 5 minutes. The results are fantastic.

      It was very easy. I too want to see how this compares to the process on an Apple product. So yes Jason, please respond to kenosha's request.
      • Your process is comparable to the "upgradeability" of my 2009 MacBook

        I'm thinking about doing that same procedure myself or purchase the MacBook Pro. Each option has it's advantages and disadvantages.

        Like I responded to an earlier post to you, Todd, on a different blog, I'm still debating which way I'm going to go. The upgraded MacBook option would sure save me a lot of disposable income. Grin.
        • Good luck with your decision

          "The upgraded MacBook option would sure save me a lot of disposable income. Grin."

          Good for you. I hope you'll have enough left over to buy yourself a fancy new Microsoft Surface RT.
          • Actually, I was thinking along similar lines.

            I watched the Microsoft live video feed today and was most impressed. My dominant impression was: A Sleeping Giant has finally Awoken.

            Personally, Todd, I have read several online early reviews that indicate Word and Excel might be occasionally "lagging" or have an occasional delayed typing input behavior.

            I'm sort of thinking the new Atom chips might perform better than the ARM model used in the Surface RT. (However, the Surface RT hardware was, IMO, the best looking tablet hardware on display today.)

            At any rate, thanks for the decision encouragement. If I do upgrade the MacBook, I will definitely install Win 8 Pro on it in a virtual machine. (Your comments to the contrary. Grin.)
          • You are a good man kenosha

            Damn it, no matter how hard I try to tease you, you take it all in stride.

            Kudos kenosha. You are actually a GOOD Apple fan because you are quite clearly very confident in the choices you have made. Contrast that with others here who get frantic the instant someone suggests that there might have been alternatives, you know there are alternatives and aren't threatened by them. Good for you.

            You do understand, though, that I am a scorpion and I must continually try to goad you into losing your cool. I know I will fail and I'm comfortable with that.
          • re: You are a good man kenosha

            > I am a scorpion

            Not the word I'd use. :-/
            none none
          • So your a Scorpion, eh? That would explain a few things. Grin.

            Actually, I prefer to be just a bit different so I'll say that, according to the Chinese Zodiac, I'm a Snake. (Actually, until I researched this a few moments ago on the internet, I'm actually a Water Snake - apparently they have sub Snake categories?!)

            As you know, the Chinese Zodiak goes by 12 year cycles rather than 12 month cycles. Regarding the traditional 12 month Zodiak, I have more in common with Ferdinand the Bull rather than I do a Snake. But Snakes are cool. I'm not complaining.

            You might be interested in knowing that a Water Snake is - Influential, motivated, insightful, and highly intellectual (No kidding!) We Water Snakes apparently work well with others and enjoy being recognized and rewarded - all the while revealing our true feelings only to those closest to us. (Hmm)

            The Wise and Humble Chinese sages go on to say that the Snake symbolizes such character traits as intelligence, gracefulness and materialism. (This is starting to sound better all the time. Grin) Snakes are extremely analytical and we don't jump into situations. We are effective at getting the things we want, even it it means we have to scheme, wait or plot along the way.

            You might have guessed by all my Apple gadgets that Snakes are very materialistic creatures, preferring to surround ourselves with the finest that life has to offer. (Ha) We do that in order to seek the peace we need in order to thrive. (Amazing and True)

            BTW, I did a MS Bing search on the words Chinese Zodiak and my birth year. Who knew I would soon understand how my life had been shaped all these past years. Very Big Grin.
  • Jason, could you also respond to matthew_maurice?

    "I recommend purchasing Apple's stock 125GB configuration and getting the 480GB SSD upgrade separately from OWC, which is what I did"

    On another thread, matthew_maurice wrote the following:
    "The vast majority of all computer users never upgrade a thing inside their computers, and I'm sure the it's even higher amongst Mac owners. Apple knows their market, and with 25 straight quarters of Mac sales growth the larger doesn't seem to mind too much either."

    Something doesn't add up here. You are clearly not in Apple's market and neither is anyone who follows your advice. You would clearly be better off buying something other than a Mac so that you can upgrade the hard drive and the RAM.
    • Oh Toddy!

      According to your logic, no one should ever buy a Surface since it can't be upgraded. You're clearly conflicted between your employer (MS) and your secret love for all things Apple. It shows with your addition of virility horns on Mr. Jobs. A scorpion you are not, more like a Dung Beetle . . .

      The rMBP13 appears to be a very capable machine and I don't see any harm in one choosing to save a few $$$ in this Obamanation of an economy.
      • "Obamanation"?

        What does it have to do with picking a laptop against another?
  • apple

    game of smidges

    much vaunted design prowess that snares us in fractions of inches...

    She comes like fullest moon on happy night,
    Taper of waist with shape of magic might.
    She hath an eye whose glances quell mankind,
    And ruby on her cheeks reflects his light.
    Enveils her hips the blackness of her hair-
    Beware of curls that bite with viper bite!
    Her sides are silken-soft, that while the heart
    Mere rock behind that surface 'scapes our sight.
    From the fringed curtains of her eyne she shoots
    Shafts that at furthest range on mark alight.
  • Upgrade?

    So let me get this are spending almost 2,000$ to buy a computer that you will then immediately spend another 600$ just to get the hard drive space you want. All to upgrade a computer that you probably have only had a couple of years and probably don't REALLY need to upgrade. Ok, just checking if your style of thinking was one of those that apple is loving right now since you are blindly upgrading before you probably need to and buying a computer that isn't really upgradeable. Sounds reasonable.

    This soldering ram and gluing battery crap is pretty disturbing to me as a somewhat computer savvy user who enjoys using a computer to the max, especially after dropping 2k on it. I am using a 2009 MacBook Pro that I still love using. I have had to replace the hard drive when the stock one failed and have upgraded the ram when the newer OS's demanded more. Where are people going to be when time comes to upgrade the ram, etc in a few years? Spend another 2-3k for another computer when all you really need is to double your ram? I love how apple products work smoothly, integrate well and have no problem spending the money when needed for a better product but come on. Apple is taking us backwards with these new machines for the sake of making a "skinnier/lighter" laptop/iMac. I really wish people would actually use their money to demand choice instead of buying whatever they are told is "better". It's pretty frustrating. It's not like an iPad where you know you are paying 700$ for a year or two at the top before you either settle or upgrade. It's sad to see people treating 2 or 3k as a cheap purchase. Use your money to demand more. I love apple products but hate sheep.
  • This is bad...

    I don't know anyone that will buy these laptops if they cannot upgrade the most basic parts and I'm not a fan of any battery situation that you cannot replace yourself.
    • No upgrade required

      I've been using Macs for over 8 years to do development (C, Java and now Obj-C). In those 8+ years I've never had to upgrade a Mac. I just picked the options I thought I needed and used the computers to the fullest. I still do that to this day. No need for upgrades.
  • For an opposite view...

    ...I am actually planning on *downgrading* from the 15 inch Retina (Apple really should have had both of these machines sorted before releasing one and then the other the way they did, but that's another discussion) to the 13 inch base config. I came from an 11 inch air, but really wanted the display, so the 13 inch will split the difference between the obnoxiously large 15.4 inch machine and the Air I used to have. In fact, Macworld's recent review of the 13 shows it to actually have a SMALLER foot-print than the 13 inch Air. Other than a half pound of extra weight and a slightly thicker profile, this machine is damn near an Air already. It certainly makes swallowing the non-upgradability a little easier.

    Even at the 1899 I paid for my 15 inch base config, the 13 inch will still represent a 400.00 savings with the edu discount on the Apple online store (less tax in my area ordering online, also). So there you go, not everyone is necessarily spending more. For me it's about finding a machine that is a good fit, not just the latest and greatest. The 11 inch Air was the best single computer I have ever owned, and the 13 inch will hopefully be as good.
  • Apple SSD price

    Apple SSD Prices 13 inch Retina MMBP

    Presumably when you buy the lowest grade new 13-inch retina laptop for $1699 some of those dollars pay for the included 128GB SSD.

    Apple will sell the retina laptop with a 256GB SSD for $300 extra, total price $1999.
    For $800 a 500GB SSD equips the 13-inch powerhouse bringing the total price to $2499.

    Another way to see why these are so profitable for Apple is to look at what the cost is for the additional SSD GB's above the 128GB SSD Apple includes in the base $1699 price.

    128GB (Total 256GB): $300/128GB= $2.34/GB

    384GB (Total 512GB): $800/$384=$2.08/GB

    Seems like a pretty big premium even for Apple on a price per Gigabyte basis!!