iFixit teardowns confirm faster SSDs for new Apple MacBook Air, Pro laptops

Benchmarks support Apple's claims the new Samsung drives, also included in the redesigned MacBook, were twice as fast as their predecessors. The updated notebooks remain difficult to repair, however.


Apple Watch aside, the company's big news from its event on Monday was a freshly designed MacBook. As is its way, Apple then casually announced that it has upgraded the other MacBooks (Air and Pro) in its lineup. While reviewers are starting to come to grips with the new-look MacBook, the teardown specialists at iFixit already have their mitts on the 2015 MacBook Air and Pro notebooks to see how they compare to their predecessors.

Since the updates were fairly minor in nature (including new Intel Broadwell processors), there won't be huge differences to the innards of this year's laptops. That still means they will be difficult -- or, in the case of the Retina MacBook Pro, nearly impossible -- to repair. The Air (in both 11-inch and 13-inch flavors) receives a 4 out of 10 (with 10 being the easiest to fix) on iFixit's grading scale, whereas the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display earns a lowly 1 out of 10.

One reason the Air nets a higher score is a more easily removable battery, though as iFixit points out, that might eventually become a relic if future Air models take on the new MacBook design. The MacBook Pro's battery is not only strongly affixed to the chassis, but you must also remove it before you can access the new Force Touch trackpad (which the Air upgrade does not receive). In case you were wondering, the new touchpad make use of the same touch-screen controller -- Broadcom's BCM5976 -- as the iPhone 5s and iPad Air tablets.

If you're more concerned about performance than design or repairability, then the other big upgrade for the legacy MacBooks was new solid-state storage (which the 11-inch Air did not receive). Apple has claimed that the new SSDs can deliver roughly twice the performance of the notebooks' previous drives, which iFixit put to the test. While the Sandisk-based 11-inch Air drives provided 668MB/s read speeds and 315MB/s write speeds, the new Samsung SSDs offered read speeds of 1285.4MB/s and write speeds of 629.9MB/s on the 13-inch 2015 Air, proving the claims fairly accurate.

Of course, more attention will be paid to iFixit's inevitable teardown of the 2015 MacBook, but these breakdowns provide a little more insight on some of the hardware that will also grace the new design. Given the various contortions Apple made to make it as thin as possible without crippling performance or battery life, the biggest question might be whether it will score a 1 out of 10 -- or a perfect zero.