Want to upgrade that 'Retina' MacBook Pro? Tough luck

iFixit have given the new MacBook Pro a reparability score of 1 out of ten, calling it "virtually non-upgradeable".
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Did you rush out and order a brand new 'Retina' display MacBook Pro immediately following their unveiling at the WWDC 2012? If you did then you'd better have loaded your purchase up with all the RAM and storage you'll need, because you're not going to be able to add any more once you get it.

The folks at iFixit have managed to get their hands on a new 'retina' display MacBook Pro and took it apart to see what makes it tick. What they found doesn't bode well for anyone planning to attempt a repair or upgrade on their new MacBook Pro.

According to Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, the new MacBook Pro is "the least repairable laptop we've taken apart". In fact, it seems that Apple has gone to great lengths to not only make the new MacBook Pro almost impossible to upgrade, but also a major challenge to even get into it in the first place.

First, the notebook is held together with proprietary Pentalobe screws, just like the iPhone 4/4S. This means that you need a special screwdriver just to remove the bottom cover. But even if you get your hands on a proprietary screwdriver and get the bottom cover off, your pain is only just beginning.


Think you'll be able to upgrade the RAM in your MacBook Pro? Think again. The RAM is soldered directly to the logic board just as it is on the MacBook Air. Whatever you order when you buy the MacBook is what it will have forever. As Wiens says "max out at 16GB now, or forever hold your peace - you can't upgrade."


While you've got the bottom cover off you might be thinking about upgrading the storage. Sorry, but you're out of luck there too, I'm afraid, because the proprietary SSD isn't upgradeable either, at present. It is similar but not identical to the one in the MacBook Air and comes on its own separate daughtercard. It's likely that there will be third-part upgrades parts available in the future, but for now you don't have any options available to you.

Even replacing the battery won't be easy. The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the chances that it'll break during disassembly. A broken battery is not only expensive, it can potentially expose you to nasty chemicals, not to mention being a fire hazard. The battery also covers the trackpad cable, which tremendously increases the chance that attempting to remove the battery will shear the cable in the process.


Oh, and while you're at it, try not to damage or break that 'retina' display screen. The entire display assembly is completely fused together, and there's no glass protecting it. If anything ever fails inside the display, you will need to replace the entire assembly. That will not be cheap.

Overall, iFixit have given the new MacBook Pro a repairability score of 1 out of ten, calling it "virtually non-upgradeable" and labeling it "the first MacBook Pro that will be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology."

It's not all bad news though. "Despite its dismal repair score," writes Wiens, "there's much to be excited about here beyond the Retina display: New ports, an asymmetrical fan, and a Samsung flash memory SSD. Oh, and the screws are replaceable".

Image credits: iFixit.


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