MacBook Pro Retina display teardown shows off 'engineering marvel'

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
A disassembly of the new MacBook Pro's Retina display has revealed Apple's impressive design for the high-resolution screen, featuring a glass-free front that allows the screen to be thinner than its predecessor.

The 15-inch Retina display on the new MacBook Pro was carefully taken apart by repair company iFixit, which declared the screen an "engineering marvel." In a unique change, the LCD screen is essentially the entire display assembly.

"Rather than sandwich an LCD panel between a back case and a piece of glass in front, Apple used the aluminum case itself as the frame for the LCD panel and used the LCD as the front glass," the solutions provider explained.

In this approach, Apple was able to pack in five times as many pixels into the new Retina display, all while making the screen a fraction of a millimeter thicker. Apple has also said the new screen reduces glare by 75 percent by removing the front glass.

As it did in its teardown of the full Retina display MacBook Pro computer, iFixit lamented that the Retina display itself is not suitable for repair by third-party companies such as itself.

Retina 1


"If anything in the display assembly breaks, you'll need to replace the whole thing," they said. "It will be more expensive than just replacing the LCD inside a regular MacBook Pro, but it will also make the choice (of whether to replace just LCD or entire display assembly) very easy."

Retina 2


The teardown also found that display hinges inside the MacBook Pro Retina display have cables routed through them, without any way of removing the cables. In previous MacBook Pro models, the cables were routed underneath cable retainers.

Retina 3


The new 720p high-definition FaceTime camera was also found to connect to the MacBook Pro with a Vimicro VC0358 USB camera interface integrated circuit. And a strip of 48 LED backlights at the bottom of the display illuminate the screen.

The teardown also discovered a laser-engraved internal use code etched onto the bottom of the screen for Apple's internal use.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77


    that second image made me cringe. poor, poor display. :( 


    this type of cruelty should be outlawed.

  • Reply 2 of 77
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,264member


    The tone of this article is much more positive than the apparent opinion of the guy running that teardown at iFix-it, Kyle Wiens. He had this to say about it to Wired:


     


    "The Retina MacBook is the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart: Unlike the previous model, the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case, requiring customers to mail their laptop to Apple every so often for a $200 replacement. The design may well be comprised of “highly recyclable aluminum and glass” — but my friends in the electronics recycling industry tell me they have no way of recycling aluminum that has glass glued to it like Apple did with both this machine and the recent iPad.


     


    The design pattern has serious consequences not only for consumers and the environment, but also for the tech industry as a whole."


     


    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/opinion-apple-retina-displa/

  • Reply 3 of 77

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    The tone of this article is much more positive than the apparent opinion of the guy running that teardown at iFix-it, Kyle Wiens. He had this to say about it to Wired:


     


    "The Retina MacBook is the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart: Unlike the previous model, the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case, requiring customers to mail their laptop to Apple every so often for a $200 replacement. The design may well be comprised of “highly recyclable aluminum and glass” — but my friends in the electronics recycling industry tell me they have no way of recycling aluminum that has glass glued to it like Apple did with both this machine and the recent iPad.


     


    The design pattern has serious consequences not only for consumers and the environment, but also for the tech industry as a whole."


     


    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/opinion-apple-retina-displa/



     


    Sounds like the recycling industry needs some innovation of its own.


    Like discovering a glue-softening formula to separate glass from metal, as opposed to complaining that it can't figure it out. Does Apple have to do everything around here?

  • Reply 4 of 77
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,139member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    The tone of this article is much more positive than the apparent opinion of the guy running that teardown at iFix-it, Kyle Wiens. He had this to say about it to Wired:

    <span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">"The Retina MacBook is the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart: Unlike the previous model, the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case, requiring customers to mail their laptop to Apple every so often for a </span>
    <a href="http://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro/service/battery/" style="font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;margin:0px;padding:0px;color:rgb(0,124,165);" target="_blank">$200 replacement</a>
    <span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">. The design may well be comprised of “</span>
    <a href="http://www.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/MacBookPro_Retina_Product_Environmental_Report_June2012.pdf" style="font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;margin:0px;padding:0px;color:rgb(0,124,165);" target="_blank">highly recyclable aluminum and glass</a>
    <span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">” — but my friends in the electronics recycling industry tell me they have no way of recycling aluminum that has glass glued to it like Apple did with both this machine and the recent iPad.</span>


    <p style="margin-top:20px;margin-bottom:20px;color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">The design pattern has serious consequences not only for consumers and the environment, but also for the tech industry as a whole."</p>


    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/opinion-apple-retina-displa/

    That is not surprising IMHO. iFixit is is the same position as all those garages that were making a living fixing car engines back in the days when you could open the hood and recognize things. I recall the comments back then when the German manufacturers started sealing everything in under smooth black covers and many previously mechanical components became electronic and computer controlled.

    In fact the first thing that occurred to me when AI showed the inside of the new MacBook Pro was it reminded me of looking under the hood of our Lexus or Mercedes heck even my Jeep. I used to adjust my air / fuel mixture and change the spark plugs myself twenty years ago. Now I take it to the dealership for a diagnostic. I never embarked on a 3000 mile drive without a bunch of spare parts then. Now I don't give it a thought. I don't miss the old days where cars are concerned to be honest, the reliability now is off the charts compared to then and Apple MacBook Pros are the computer equivalent of a BMW engine in this regard.

    iFixit will need to adapt or stick with writing about PCs until they are no more in their current incarnation. Or perhaps I should simply say 'are no more'.
  • Reply 5 of 77

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    The tone of this article is much more positive than the apparent opinion of the guy running that teardown at iFix-it, Kyle Wiens. He had this to say about it to Wired:


     



    The cynic in me says that this is a guy who funds most of his projects from the revenue generated selling the tools to the DIYers who want to fix their iHardware themselves.


    His revenue stream has dried up - and is likely to get worse.



    Non upgradable RAM? CTO with 16GB up front. You cant go beyond 16GB, and - while expensive - its not a deal breaker.


    Non replaceable screen? Cracked screens are a risk - but only time will tell if this is a genuine problem on the redesigned model(s). For most screen repairs it wasnt the LCD that was damaged, but the front glass. No front glass means ... more LCD damage or a fragile component removed from the scenario?


    Nonremovable battery? This one concerns me a little. I am on my third MB battery since I bought my Early 08 MB ... but then again, those battery packs were known to have issues. 


    Recycling? OK, as part of a total lifecycle that is a concern but not now. That "glass" is an LCD. It is not LCD per se. You dont throw bare LCD panels out with your beer bottles for recycling. Metal recycling - even for electronics is a high temp smelting process where the metals liquify at different temps and get filtered (low tech analogy) off. If he means reuse, thats a different story, but recycling? Thats a furphy.



    I am anxiously awaiting my MBP:NG (MBPR?) ... 

  • Reply 6 of 77
    katastroffkatastroff Posts: 103member


    does this make it more susceptible to "finger-poking" damage?

  • Reply 7 of 77
    maltzmaltz Posts: 127member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    That is not surprising IMHO. iFixit is is the same position as all those garages that were making a living fixing car engines back in the days when you could open the hood and recognize things. I recall the comments back then when the German manufacturers started sealing everything in under smooth black covers and many previously mechanical components became electronic and computer controlled.

    In fact the first thing that occurred to me when AI showed the inside of the new MacBook Pro was it reminded me of looking under the hood of our Lexus or Mercedes heck even my Jeep. I used to adjust my air / fuel mixture and change the spark plugs myself twenty years ago. Now I take it to the dealership for a diagnostic. I never embarked on a 3000 mile drive without a bunch of spare parts then. Now I don't give it a thought. I don't miss the old days where cars are concerned to be honest, the reliability now is off the charts compared to then and Apple MacBook Pros are the computer equivalent of a BMW engine in this regard.

    iFixit will need to adapt or stick with writing about PCs until they are no more in their current incarnation. Or perhaps I should simply say 'are no more'.


     


     


    But those changes in cars made them last longer and run more efficiently and reliably.  But soldering RAM to the motherboard, making up their own SATA interface, and gluing the battery to the case does none of those things.  All it does it allow them to make it marginally smaller and drives repair costs through the roof.  Personally, I'd rather have a machine that's slightly thicker and maybe even slightly heavier that I can upgrade and don't have to pay Apple prices for RAM.

  • Reply 8 of 77
    l3it3rl3it3r Posts: 1member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maltz View Post


     


     


    But those changes in cars made them last longer and run more efficiently and reliably.  But soldering RAM to the motherboard, making up their own SATA interface, and gluing the battery to the case does none of those things.  All it does it allow them to make it marginally smaller and drives repair costs through the roof.  Personally, I'd rather have a machine that's slightly thicker and maybe even slightly heavier that I can upgrade and don't have to pay Apple prices for RAM.



    Luckily for you, they still offer the 'regular' MacBook Pro.

  • Reply 9 of 77
    junkyard dawgjunkyard dawg Posts: 2,801member


    The car analogy is flawed, we don't know the reliability of this new rMBP.  Additionally, the advances in cars were made explicitly for reliability and or performance, while many changes in the rMBP are made to cheapen production, limit upgradability, and make it thinner.  Thinner laptops are all well and good, but there is a huge market segment that cares more about expandability than an extra 2 mm of thinness, and Apple fails to meet our needs.


     


    Isn't it funny that as Americans get fatter, their laptops get thinner?  

  • Reply 10 of 77
    tulliustullius Posts: 34member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tokenuser View Post




    I am anxiously awaiting my MBP:NG (MBPR?) ... 



     


    The most common abbreviation so far is rMBP, or RMBP.  

  • Reply 11 of 77
    applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member


    Few people these days, or ever really, ever even upgraded their machines, or fix it themselves.


     


    Sour grapes, iFixit.

  • Reply 12 of 77
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tokenuser View Post


    The cynic in me says that this is a guy who funds most of his projects from the revenue generated selling the tools to the DIYers who want to fix their iHardware themselves.


    His revenue stream has dried up - and is likely to get worse.



     


    Bingo. The biggest thing that brings to the boys to his yard are those tools and the instructions. These guys are losing both on this laptop and if it is the wave of the future they are doing away like the dinosaurs and Apple will be the meteor/virus/whatever it was. Because these days, where Apple goes, everyone else follows eventually. 


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maltz View Post


    But those changes in cars made them last longer and run more efficiently and reliably.  But soldering RAM to the motherboard, making up their own SATA interface, and gluing the battery to the case does none of those things.  



     


    this is a machine that is a week old so unless you want to tell us you are some kind of computer engineering genius savant and that's how you know what you are saying is true then time will tell. 

  • Reply 13 of 77
    applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Junkyard Dawg View Post


    The car analogy is flawed, we don't know the reliability of this new rMBP.  Additionally, the advances in cars were made explicitly for reliability and or performance, while many changes in the rMBP are made to cheapen production, limit upgradability, and make it thinner.  Thinner laptops are all well and good, but there is a huge market segment that cares more about expandability than an extra 2 mm of thinness, and Apple fails to meet our needs.


     


    Isn't it funny that as Americans get fatter, their laptops get thinner?  



    Huge = Less than 5%


     


    Not huge.


     


    Like the 'enormous' number of people using Google+. Who are mostly just people who comment on tech blogs.

  • Reply 14 of 77
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    Here is the problem when you allow third party enhancements. If the product is covered by AppleCare or not, when someone has a problem, they call Apple. So, if the problem is faulty RAM or a Faulty drive, then the phone call to Apple is useless because they can't help the customer, yet it costs Apple money. The other issue is that in order for Apple to make these things thin, light and cost effective, they have to design it this way. Ultimately, third party service people should not be touching these things. They aren't factory trained and neither is the user base. If you buy the MacBookPro Retina, but the AppleCare Warranty support, make sure it has the max RAM and SSD you can afford or will most likely use and enjoy it. A maxed out model should last the typical user a good 3+ years. Yes, I know it is always interesting to pull things apart and put them back together and it is always an ego boost if you can add third party enhancements, but the reality is you probably don't need anything more than this, if you do, you should probably have a desktop.


    I thnk iFixit rated this a 1/10 because they can't really sell you anything.
  • Reply 15 of 77
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Junkyard Dawg View Post

    Thinner laptops are all well and good, but there is a huge market segment that cares more about expandability than an extra 2 mm of thinness, and Apple fails to meet our needs.


     


    You start off saying that we don't know the reliability of this machine. 


     


    Then you say that Apple has failed those that care about reliability with this machine. 


     


    sounds to me like the only thing that can be called a fail at this point is your logic 

  • Reply 16 of 77
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    The tone of this article is much more positive than the apparent opinion of the guy running that teardown at iFix-it, Kyle Wiens. He had this to say about it to Wired:

    <span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">"The Retina MacBook is the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart: Unlike the previous model, the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case, requiring customers to mail their laptop to Apple every so often for a </span>
    <a href="http://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro/service/battery/" style="font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;margin:0px;padding:0px;color:rgb(0,124,165);" target="_blank">$200 replacement</a>
    <span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">. The design may well be comprised of “</span>
    <a href="http://www.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/MacBookPro_Retina_Product_Environmental_Report_June2012.pdf" style="font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;margin:0px;padding:0px;color:rgb(0,124,165);" target="_blank">highly recyclable aluminum and glass</a>
    <span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">” — but my friends in the electronics recycling industry tell me they have no way of recycling aluminum that has glass glued to it like Apple did with both this machine and the recent iPad.</span>


    <p style="margin-top:20px;margin-bottom:20px;color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:20px;">The design pattern has serious consequences not only for consumers and the environment, but also for the tech industry as a whole."</p>

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/opinion-apple-retina-displa/

    Yeah, poor repair company will eventually lose their revenue stream.

    I'll take reliability over repairability any day. Better to build a system reliable enough that repairs aren't needed often than to build a crappy system that DIYers can fix like those that you obviously prefer.

    maltz wrote: »

    But those changes in cars made them last longer and run more efficiently and reliably.  But soldering RAM to the motherboard, making up their own SATA interface, and gluing the battery to the case does none of those things.  All it does it allow them to make it marginally smaller and drives repair costs through the roof.  Personally, I'd rather have a machine that's slightly thicker and maybe even slightly heavier that I can upgrade and don't have to pay Apple prices for RAM.

    Nonsense. Soldered RAM will be considerably more reliable than socketed RAM. First, there are probably half as many solder connections. Then you have the inherent unreliability of a DIMM socket which can work lose over time or during shipping. And, of course, many problems with DIY RAM upgrades were the use of crappy RAM which led to intermittent problems. A soldered RAM system, while not upgradeable and less flexible for the consumer offers significant advantage.

    Gluing batteries to the case? Less components to come loose during shipping. Less chance of assembly error. Less chance of DIYers messing it up and ruining their system (there was a case not too long ago where a battery screw was misplaced and damaged a battery, causing a fire).

    And Apple prices for RAM? You're living in the past. If you buy the older MBP with 8 GB and want to upgrade to 16, most places are charging around $160 for two 8 GB SO-DIMMs. And even then, you have to worry about whether the RAM is as good as Apple RAM. Apple charges $200 - which isn't out of line at all considering that you get a full factory warranty and don't have to muck about inside your computer.

    Of course, if you don't like it, you're free to buy the older MBP or someone else's laptop.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Junkyard Dawg View Post


    The car analogy is flawed, we don't know the reliability of this new rMBP.  Additionally, the advances in cars were made explicitly for reliability and or performance, while many changes in the rMBP are made to cheapen production, limit upgradability, and make it thinner.  Thinner laptops are all well and good, but there is a huge market segment that cares more about expandability than an extra 2 mm of thinness, and Apple fails to meet our needs.


     


    Isn't it funny that as Americans get fatter, their laptops get thinner?  



     


    Funnier, is guys like you. their head gets bigger, their brains get smaller.

  • Reply 18 of 77
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,331member
    It's lot that complicated. Crush the screen and glass breaks and is removed from the aluminum. They also use a lot of heat to clean the materials which probably would handle the glue dilemma.
  • Reply 19 of 77

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    The tone of this article is much more positive than the apparent opinion of the guy running that teardown at iFix-it, Kyle Wiens. He had this to say about it to Wired:


     


    "The Retina MacBook is the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart: Unlike the previous model, the display is fused to the glass, which means replacing the LCD requires buying an expensive display assembly. The RAM is now soldered to the logic board — making future memory upgrades impossible. And the battery is glued to the case, requiring customers to mail their laptop to Apple every so often for a $200 replacement. The design may well be comprised of “highly recyclable aluminum and glass” — but my friends in the electronics recycling industry tell me they have no way of recycling aluminum that has glass glued to it like Apple did with both this machine and the recent iPad.


     


    The design pattern has serious consequences not only for consumers and the environment, but also for the tech industry as a whole."


     


    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/opinion-apple-retina-displa/



     


    You would be angry too if a company that had been your bread and butter basically cut out your profit making ability.  He's not saying it isn't an amazing machine.  He's saying, "I can't profit from this amazing machine." However, the vast majority of buyers for the Mac with Retina display will never need iFixit's services, because Apple is one of the most generous companies when it comes to warranty repairs and AppleCare can keep you covered for a total of 3 years.  Most people are already moving on to a new computer by that time.  After 1000 cycles of that glued in battery it's still going to hold 80%.  Do you have any idea how long it will take to cycle the battery 1000 times?  I'm typing this on a not quite 3-year-old HP and the battery holds 0 charge.  The second I unplug it the thing dies.  If I had the money I'd buy this new Macbook Pro and wouldn't complain at all about the battery being glued in to allow it to be as thin and amazing as it is.

  • Reply 20 of 77
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,264member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    I'll take reliability over repairability any day. Better to build a system reliable enough that repairs aren't needed often than to build a crappy system that DIYers can fix like those that you obviously prefer.


    LOL!!


    Like the previous MacbookPro...


    Do you remember Steve Jobs had this to say regarding Pro users:


    "We don’t think design is just how it looks. We think design is how it works. And we labored a lot on this because our pro customers want accessibility. There’s a lot of great technology inside, but they want access to that technology. To add memory, to add cards, to  add drives. And so we think we’ve got the most incredible access story in the business."

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