The new Retina MacBook 2015: A tour of what's new inside

There's a lot of new and innovative technology inside Apple's new MacBook, but it's clear that reparability wasn't high on the agenda.

On the outside Apple's new MacBook looks like pretty much any other MacBook, but on the inside there's a lot of new stuff to look at. Well, now that the iFixit team has managed to get their hands on one, we can get a much closer look at what's inside.

First there's the new terraced battery. These cells are custom shaped to fit the specific contours of the enclosure, resulting in 35 percent more battery cell capacity into the wedge-shaped aluminum shell than would have been possible before.

While this is a technological leap forward, it does mean that the batteries are much harder to replace thanks to the huge amounts of adhesive that has been used to hold them in place.

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iFixit

Then there's the new trackpad. Rather than the old, monolithic clunk action, this new one uses strain gauges so you can click anywhere on the trackpad. The new sensors can also detect how hard the user is pressing on the trackpad, a feature called Force Touch. Different actions can be carried out depending on what they are pressing on.

There's also a new haptic force-feedback that sends feedback to the user as they use the trackpad.

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iFixit

Then there's the new all-singing, all-dancing USB-C port, which replaces every other port found on a MacBook - including the MagSafe port. It can do a lot (although some functions require an adapter, which is sold separately):

  • Charging
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps)
  • Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output
  • VGA output using USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter (sold separately)
  • HDMI video output using USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter (sold separately)

By switching to a single port, Apple seems to have cleared more room inside the MacBook for battery cells. In fact, to me, the inside of the new MacBook looks more like a tablet than a notebook computer.

Another downside - apart from the whole having to buy dongles thing - is that if you damage this port, getting it fixed means having to dismantle much of the MacBook.

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iFixit

Here's a list of chips found in the new MacBook. It's a mixed bag of chips from a number of suppliers, but taking the top spot is the Intel Core M processor.

  • Intel SR23G Core M-5Y31 CPU
  • Elpida/Micron FB164A1MA-GD-F 8 GB LPDDR3 Mobile RAM
  • Toshiba TH58TFT0DFKLAVF NB2953 128 GB SLC NAND Flash Memory
  • NXP 11U37 Microcontroller
  • SMSC 1704-2 Temperature Sensor
  • Texas Instruments SN6508
  • SK Hynix H9TKNNN4GDMRRR-NGM 4 Gb (512 MB) LPDDR3-SDRAM
  • Elpida/Micron J4216EFBG-GNL-F DDR3 SDRAM
  • Broadcom BCM15700A2
  • Murata 339S0250 Wi-Fi Module
  • Texas Instruments TLC5951 PWM LED Driver
  • NXP PCAL6416A I/O Expander
  • Broadcom BCM5976 Touchscreen Controller
  • ST Microelectronics 32F103 ARM Cortex-M Based Microcontroller
  • Linear Technology LT3954 LED Converter

Also new is a redesigned mechanism underneath each key, with each key now also getting its own LED for backlighting, and a logic board that's 67 percent smaller than the one found inside the 11-inch MacBook Air.

Which brings us to reparability. It's not good. Not only are there handfuls of proprietary screws and gobs of adhesive to deal with, but there's a lot of delicate ribbon cabling to deal with, not to mention the fact that the connector for the single port the machine has is crammed under the display bracket. And to top it all off, the Retina display is a single unit, so if you break it, the price tag on a replacement is going to make you feel very sad.

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