or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Teardown of Retina MacBook Pro finds soldered RAM, proprietary SSD
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Teardown of Retina MacBook Pro finds soldered RAM, proprietary SSD

post #1 of 193
Thread Starter 
Apple's new Retina display MacBook Pro has been taken apart and examined from the inside, revealing that the RAM is soldered onto the logic board and cannot be upgraded, and that the proprietary solid-state drive memory was supplied by Samsung.

The details come from iFixit's extensive teardown of the next-generation MacBook Pro, which the site published on Wednesday, just two days after the new notebook was announced. The solutions provider took particular issue with the design of the new MacBook Pro with respect to repairability, giving it a lowest possible score of 1 out of 10.

"Even though it packs lots of gee-whiz bells and whistles, we were thoroughly disappointed when we ventured inside," they said. "This is, to date, the least repairable laptop we've taken apart. Apple has packed all of the things we hate into one beautiful little package."

Among the issues iFixit has with the Retina display MacBook Pro is the fact that the battery is no longer screwed into the machine, and has instead been glued into place. This increases the chances that it will break during disassembly, and makes it particularly hard to fix the trackpad, as its cable goes under the battery.

In addition, the display assembly is completely fused, and there is no glass protecting it. Any failure with the new Retina display would likely need a full replacement.

Teardown


And the exterior of the MacBook Pro is sealed with proprietary pentalobe screws that will prevent users from cracking it open.

As with the MacBook Air, the RAM on the new MacBook Pro is soldered onto the logic board, which means that it cannot be upgraded after it is purchased. The next-generation MacBook Pro comes with up to 16 gigabytes of RAM.

Teardown


The model disassembled also featured 512 gigabytes of Samsung flash memory. The proprietary solid-state drive found in the new MacBook Pro was called "similar but not identical to the one in the air," featuring a separate daughter card that the site hopes will be upgradeable in the near future.

Teardown


Also discovered inside the new notebook was aBroadcom BCM4331 single-chip 802.11n dual-band wireless and a BCM20702 single-chip Bluetooth 4.0 HCI solution with Bluetooth Low Energy support.

An asymmetrical fan found inside the MacBook Pro spreads the noise produced over multiple frequencies, making it less noticeable. But iFixit said attention given to the fan by members of the press is "a testament to Apple's marketing department," more than anything else.

Teardown


The central processor and graphics processor heat sink feature an exhaust air vent assembly that pushes the air through a restriction before it gets to the outermost vents. This additional pressure drop accelerates air and pushes it out of the computer faster.
post #2 of 193

When I predicted here that the next MacBook Pro would have RAM soldered directly onto the motherboard, no one believed me.  This means lower cost, higher reliability, better performance, and a more compact design.  All manufacturers will follow Apple's lead on this.

Mac user since August 1983.
Reply
Mac user since August 1983.
Reply
post #3 of 193

Alas this is the price to pay to get something as svelte as the new Macbook Pro. In my mind it is well worth it. Just remember to get Apple Care!

post #4 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

When I predicted here that the next MacBook Pro would have RAM soldered directly onto the motherboard, no one believed me.  This means lower cost, higher reliability, better performance, and a more compact design.  All manufacturers will follow Apple's lead on this.

Cost : Why would it be lower ? Support/replacement is more expensive

Reliability : Maybe, because you won't have badly seated ram, but wat happens when at QC you find a bad memory chip....

Performance : No difference between soldered/non-soldered

Compact design : The only plausible reasong in my opinion.

post #5 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

When I predicted here that the next MacBook Pro would have RAM soldered directly onto the motherboard, no one believed me.  This means lower cost, higher reliability, better performance, and a more compact design.  All manufacturers will follow Apple's lead on this.

Ultimately, it comes down to how many people actually bother with upgrading their RAM. If the number is small enough, soldered RAM isn't a problem. If a significant number of people want to upgrade their RAM, there could be some backlash.

However, given the modest price for the upgrade to 16 GB, I would simply get the higher RAM from the start and it should be sufficient for most people for the life of the computer. Heck, I'm currently still stuck at 3 GB and lots of people are using even less.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #6 of 193

I must say this is the most snarky teardown (pun unintended) of a Mac by iFixit. I sympathise with the repair providers but at the end of the day, if you're repairing Macs, I think your jobs are pretty safe. I understand it's a trade-off between the cash flow of repairing Macs and the high level of skill involved... But at the same time when the iPhone first came out repairers were going nuts, now even joe blow across the street has a little iPhone repair shop. Long-time Mac repairers are pretty amazing anyway, the guy in my previous company could lay an iBook (not MacBook, mind you, iBook is pretty crazy) on a chair and totally rip it apart and put it back in several minutes. Unfortunately in my previous company he had to do most of the work because the other technicians were pretty lost, especially if they were new to Mac.

 

For an end-user, just get the AppleCare 3 year and be done with it. You want super-customisable stuff? Get a MacBook Pro and tweak to your heart's content. I'll take the Retina MBP anyday. If 8GB isn't enough in 3 years time for most tasks, I'll eat my shoe. In any case if all goes well in the next few years my next Mac will be a 13" MacBook Air or maybe 13" MacBook Pro Retina.

post #7 of 193

Now our professional laptop is no longer user upgradable; definitely a smart move by Apple.  This is a bit disturbing, but as the previous commenter mentioned, it is well worth it to get the very thin profile accompanying the excellent specs.  Another excuse to just sell and buy a new one instead of upgrading I guess. 
 

post #8 of 193

I was really disappointed in the Soldered Ram, until I realized it came with 8 GB and that the 16 upgrade was $200.

 

Apple at least realized the need to be 'a little' more competitive on the Ram since they were locking it away.

post #9 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

When I predicted here that the next MacBook Pro would have RAM soldered directly onto the motherboard, no one believed me.  This means lower cost, higher reliability, better performance, and a more compact design.  All manufacturers will follow Apple's lead on this.

 

Yep. The brackets and such add bulk. 

 

The real issue for this kind of build is that folks can't just go in and mess around putting in their own ram, drives etc. And for many geeks (and sites that exist to tell users how to do things themselves) that's the most sinful move of all. If they can't jerk around inside then the computer its instantly crap. Pricing on this makes it basically a pro machine and those folks have little issue with whether the whole board with all the RAM etc gets replaced so long as the machine works. Pros even get Apple Care so that big ass part doesn't cost them $1000 to replace out of warranty after 2 years. 

 

I'm more interested in a nice slim and light Retina iMac of at least 27 inches (if they had a 40 inch I'd go for it). But this laptop is a bit tempting. If I got it I'd want to max it out to the top of everything and keep it for like 4-5 years. If they turned around and released a new Retina Cinema Display that had a larger size, hdmi etc I would be very tempted. 

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply
post #10 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by podlasek View Post

Apple at least realized the need to be 'a little' more competitive on the Ram since they were locking it away.

 

Or simply the price of RAM is such that they could drop the pricing. 

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply
post #11 of 193
It is how it is..no amount of complaints can change how Apple engineered this thing.

Three words: BUY APPLE CARE
post #12 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Cost : Why would it be lower ? Support/replacement is more expensive

Reliability : Maybe, because you won't have badly seated ram, but wat happens when at QC you find a bad memory chip....

Performance : No difference between soldered/non-soldered

Compact design : The only plausible reasong in my opinion.

because instead of paying someone to stick RAM in there and having a supply line for RAM you let your motherboard maker take care of it

 

unless you're one of the people who is going to keep this for years and years and treasure it, it's a non issue for most users

post #13 of 193

Ouch, soldered ram.  I much prefer the 4 slots/32GB in my asus bricktop.

post #14 of 193

It's wonderful how much pride Apple takes in making the inside look as beautiful as the outside. Even though 99.9999% of people will never see what's under the hood, Apple still puts a lot of effort into the design. I know this is something Steve Jobs cared passionately about. I hope Apple honors him by continuing this tradition. I fear this will go away as it's one easy unnoticeable way to cut costs and improve margins. 

post #15 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

 

Or simply the price of RAM is such that they could drop the pricing. 

 

I put 32GB of DDR3 in my laptop for less than the cost of the 16GB upgrade for the RMBP.  If you want to look at 8gb as a "gift from apple due to lower prices", well then, enjoy the blinders.

post #16 of 193

Its certainly in line with the direction Apple wants to take all their products.  Control the OS experience and now the further control of the hardware experience.  It is certainly becoming more of an "appliance".  In no way is it a bad experience, but its definitely a little disappointing to some, like myself.  I own multiple Mac products and consider them great machines.  Without exception I have performed ram and hard drive upgrades around the 3rd year to give each box a speed bump and extend its life.  Too date this has been a pretty successful experience, especially with SSD's coming to market.  This appears to no longer be possible, though who knows what Apple may offer as a service down the road.  What it does do is sway most people, like me, to future proof my purchase upfront through Apple, instead of a third party 3 years down the road.  Smart business move by Apple I imagine...  Who knows what 3 years down the road will look like??  Obviously the market is changing, with Apple setting the direction and "tinkering" seems to be in the rear view mirror ;-).  Hopefully they leave the door open with the Mac Pro's...but I doubt it.

post #17 of 193

Clearly, pentalobe screws don't "prevent" users from getting inside the thing.  They can only deter.
 

post #18 of 193

Hey everybody was complaining about being portable.  Well we got it.  Think of the new MacBook Pro like a iPad you really can't upgrade a iPad unless you buy another one.  The only question is how long does a solid state hard drive last until you have to replace it.  

post #19 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

When I predicted here that the next MacBook Pro would have RAM soldered directly onto the motherboard, no one believed me.  This means lower cost, higher reliability, better performance, and a more compact design.  All manufacturers will follow Apple's lead on this.

Also, it might also impact the thickness of the device.  Just make sure you get AppleCare which is worth every penny.

post #20 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultimato View Post

Alas this is the price to pay to get something as svelte as the new Macbook Pro. In my mind it is well worth it. Just remember to get Apple Care!

And to do a BTO build with maximum memory.   I mean 8G should be enough for MOST average users, but if you doing ANY content creation or possibly gaming (audio, video, graphics, gaming) 16G IS the way to go.  

post #21 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Cost : Why would it be lower ? Support/replacement is more expensive

Reliability : Maybe, because you won't have badly seated ram, but wat happens when at QC you find a bad memory chip....

Performance : No difference between soldered/non-soldered

Compact design : The only plausible reasong in my opinion.

Reliability also happens if people installed Third Party RAM after they buy the product since Third Party RAM can be flaky depending on the supplier.  For laptops, it's best to never have to dive in and replace things for users to do it.

post #22 of 193

EWWWWWWWWW

 

SAMSUNG PARTS???!!!

 

NOT GONNA BUY!!!

post #23 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neo42 View Post

Ouch, soldered ram.  I much prefer the 4 slots/32GB in my asus bricktop.

As the Soup Nazi might say.  "No Retina Display for YOU!    NEXT"

post #24 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Ultimately, it comes down to how many people actually bother with upgrading their RAM. If the number is small enough, soldered RAM isn't a problem. If a significant number of people want to upgrade their RAM, there could be some backlash.
However, given the modest price for the upgrade to 16 GB, I would simply get the higher RAM from the start and it should be sufficient for most people for the life of the computer. Heck, I'm currently still stuck at 3 GB and lots of people are using even less.

I agree with you, It's really the HD video and high end photoshop users that needs the big memories. We crave it it like a drug addict! I suddenly had a flash back to my Mac II fx and lovingly looking at the 8 MB of RAM (when most folks thought 512K or 1MB was rocking) and thinking OMG I'll never need more that this! / smile

The SSD is my main concern. I was really hoping Apple would come up with dual drives in the flagship model. An HD and an SSD with easy access to upgrade the HD to SSD when prices fall. The bench mark on my early 2010 MBP i7 is pathetic next to current models so I want to upgrade but my user folder is over 750 GIGS so I need a TB at least in drive space! Yes i have the ability to off load stuff to externals but that would be a pain. Even now I have to put up with a slow drive as no 7200 RPM 2.5 TB drives existed when I upgraded it, not even sure they exist now. So 1TB of SSD is out of the question at present and that's not going to be affordable for a year or two I suspect. I could modify a 2012 MBP by removing the optical and adding SSD but no Retina that way. No easy answer other than returning to a next gen Mac Pro, oh that means waiting till 2013... . /sigh

I guess I will start off loading 50% that user folder today ...
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
post #25 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepy3 View Post

EWWWWWWWWW

 

SAMSUNG PARTS???!!!

 

NOT GONNA BUY!!!

sorry, they were all out of parts made from unicorn eyelashes

post #26 of 193

Moral of the story: Get AppleCare if you're going to keep the laptop beyond the one year warranty period. You can wait until the year is almost up to purchase AppleCare. There isn't any real benefit to buying it when you buy the Mac.

 
 
post #27 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

Reliability also happens if people installed Third Party RAM after they buy the product since Third Party RAM can be flaky depending on the supplier.  For laptops, it's best to never have to dive in and replace things for users to do it.

Yes the avoidance of cheap, flaky third part RAM is probably a compelling motive for this move. I can imagine a lot of Apple support energy is wasted on that.
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
post #28 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by davesmall View Post

Moral of the story: Get AppleCare if you're going to keep the laptop beyond the one year warranty period. You can wait until the year is almost up to purchase AppleCare. There isn't any real benefit to buying it when you buy the Mac.



 


 




Not sure about this ... but even if you waited till the last day of the 1 year coverage wouldn't the three years of the extended be dated from date of purchase still?
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
post #29 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Cost : Why would it be lower ? Support/replacement is more expensive

Look at the arrangement of the RAM chips. They're not all in groups of four, next to each other. There's a cost to engineer the logic board to have space for the connector and RAM in a specific place that is user accessible.

post #30 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

As the Soup Nazi might say.  "No Retina Display for YOU!    NEXT"

 

While I'd love to have one for the cool factor, I am having trouble understanding the practicality of retina display on a notebook.  Right now i'm sitting about 32" from a 17" 1920x1080 display and there's no way to see individual pixels.  It makes a little more sense for a phone or a tablet (since you hold those much closer to your eyes), not so much otherwise.  

post #31 of 193

Glad I went for the 16Gb option. Debated 8Gb until I saw the (comparitively to previous costs) cheaper upgrade option and went for it without knowing it was soldered on. Had I ordered the 8Gb and then found about the soldering I'd definitely have cancelled & reordered 16.

 

I chose not to bother with SSD premium as I'd rather spend the £400 difference on Thunderbolt options (the seagate adapter rocks!) When it boils down to it, the difference between 512Gb & 768Gb is a couple of decent CF memory cards capacity only so I simply won't be storing huge amounts of data locally, only a "working set".

post #32 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

And to do a BTO build with maximum memory.   I mean 8G should be enough for MOST average users, but if you doing ANY content creation or possibly gaming (audio, video, graphics, gaming) 16G IS the way to go.  

 

maybe Mountain Lion has more memory requirements as the entire line got memory bumps......

post #33 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by pjapk View Post

Glad I went for the 16Gb option. Debated 8Gb until I saw the (comparitively to previous costs) cheaper upgrade option and went for it without knowing it was soldered on. Had I ordered the 8Gb and then found about the soldering I'd definitely have cancelled & reordered 16.

 

I chose not to bother with SSD premium as I'd rather spend the £400 difference on Thunderbolt options (the seagate adapter rocks!) When it boils down to it, the difference between 512Gb & 768Gb is a couple of decent CF memory cards capacity only so I simply won't be storing huge amounts of data locally, only a "working set".

 

actually, on an SSD, more Gb is better for perfomance reasons too.....

post #34 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by pjapk View Post

Glad I went for the 16Gb option. Debated 8Gb until I saw the (comparitively to previous costs) cheaper upgrade option and went for it without knowing it was soldered on. Had I ordered the 8Gb and then found about the soldering I'd definitely have cancelled & reordered 16.

I chose not to bother with SSD premium as I'd rather spend the £400 difference on Thunderbolt options (the seagate adapter rocks!) When it boils down to it, the difference between 512Gb & 768Gb is a couple of decent CF memory cards capacity only so I simply won't be storing huge amounts of data locally, only a "working set".

My first thought was Apple should make it very, very clear it's not upgradable for the very reason you mention.
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
post #35 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neo42 View Post

I put 32GB of DDR3 in my laptop for less than the cost of the 16GB upgrade for the RMBP.  If you want to look at 8gb as a "gift from apple due to lower prices", well then, enjoy the blinders.

The same RAM type and performance?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #36 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by s4mb4 View Post

actually, on an SSD, more Gb is better for perfomance reasons too.....

I'll have to go back and check but I assume the SSD is replaceable in the future as higher capacities arrive and priced fall?
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
post #37 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Cost : Why would it be lower ? Support/replacement is more expensive

Reliability : Maybe, because you won't have badly seated ram, but wat happens when at QC you find a bad memory chip....

Performance : No difference between soldered/non-soldered

Compact design : The only plausible reasong in my opinion.

Cost: At least 2 less parts in the entire assemble (the connector and the daughter board)

Reliability: One less over all connection prone to work loose.

Performance: I don't get that one either.

Compact Design: a given

post #38 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neo42 View Post

I put 32GB of DDR3 in my laptop for less than the cost of the 16GB upgrade for the RMBP.  If you want to look at 8gb as a "gift from apple due to lower prices", well then, enjoy the blinders.

I'd agree as long as you get top quality product, however It's not like there is such a choice with the new MBP though. BTW am I right that only the latest MBPs can take the 32? I think I read that 2010 models can't which is what I have.
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
post #39 of 193
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


I'll have to go back and check but I assume the SSD is replaceable in the future as higher capacities arrive and priced fall?

i dont see that option in the pics above....

post #40 of 193

I have a 2009 MacBook Pro and even though the RAM is easily upgradeable, I'm still using just 2GB after all these years.  I don't find it a problem at all running Snow Leopard and the applications I use.  I believe that in order for Apple to make this new MacBook Pro as thin as it is, there is going to be a tradeoff of component accessability and as long as I know it beforehand, I'll buy a model with more RAM and hope I can get four years comfortable use out of it.  I'm not mourning the loss of upgradeable RAM at all but then again I'm not a power user.  I don't know if I'm the typical user or not but I don't think most consumers will bother to upgrade RAM at all.  I make sure I always get AppleCare so I'm also not concerned about user-friendly replacement parts.  Soldered RAM will not stop me from buying an Apple MacBook Pro.
 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Current Mac Hardware
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Teardown of Retina MacBook Pro finds soldered RAM, proprietary SSD