Teardowns find Apple's 2017 MacBook & MacBook Pro models virtually unchanged in design

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Apple's new 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro models are essentially unchanged from their predecessors apart from performance boosts, according to teardowns published on Thursday.




The biggest design change, in fact, is that the 12-inch MacBook now uses a second-generation butterfly keyboard like the one in 2016 Pros, repair firm iFixit said. The tweak should make keys more responsive.

iFixit scored both of the test machines a 1 out of 10 on its repairability scale, noting that as before, the CPU, RAM, and flash memory are soldered to the logic board, making user replacements impossible. Batteries, meanwhile, remain glued-down, and the Pro's Touch Bar is said to "add a second screen to damage" without a way of safely removing it.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro.


The situation contrasts with a teardown of this year's new iMacs, which found they were actually easier to upgrade than previous models, if still difficult because of the steps needed to get inside.

Both the 12-inch MacBook and 13/15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro lines now use Intel's Kaby Lake processors, and/or faster AMD Radeon GPUs. Prices start at $1,299 for the basic MacBook, and $1,799 for a 13-inch Touch Bar Pro. A 15-inch Pro is at least $2,399.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    "as before, the CPU, RAM, and flash memory are soldered to the logic board".

    Apple should use standard ports and components, not soldered. And why is the very same make and model of RAM purchased from Apple Store two to three times more expensive than in retailers like Amazon?
  • Reply 2 of 23
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 3,961member
    Why haven't they given it a score of 0? Does it get a 1 because you can actually open it, or does the iFixit's server crash if they try saving a 0?
    pscooter63
  • Reply 3 of 23
    shapetablesshapetables Posts: 201member
    The big advantage of Kabylake will be better battery life and faster graphics when the Mac is not equipped with or not engaging a discrete (Radeon) GPU, but Kabylake is also vital if somehow you're doing 10-bit (as opposed to 8-bit) HEVC compression; otherwise I think it's just a small performance gain (under 300MHz).

    But...besides the faster on-chip graphics in the Kabylake processor, those new top of the line MBPs also come with Radeon 5xx mobile GPUs that are much faster than the previous generation's Radeon 4xx mobile GPUs. While a faster built-in GPU would be great for visually interacting with data or gaming on-the-go, when back at your desk, you would probably want to use a desktop-class GPU anyway (connected via Thunderbolt 3 using one of the new kits) thus negating any real value of the newer models' 5xx mobile GPUs.

    edited June 2017
  • Reply 4 of 23
    cutykamucutykamu Posts: 225member
    Just bought a new MacBook Pro 13" touch bar a month ago and I'm happy that the latest one which launched few days ago is not that much different from mine. 

    Actually quite its happy about it 😃
    king editor the grate
  • Reply 5 of 23
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,029member
    appex said:
    "as before, the CPU, RAM, and flash memory are soldered to the logic board".

    Apple should use standard ports and components, not soldered. And why is the very same make and model of RAM purchased from Apple Store two to three times more expensive than in retailers like Amazon?
    1) Do you have proof of this? I've never seen any soldered RAM for sale on Amazon. I also couldn't tell you the exact make and model of RAM they use, only brands and some specs when they're manufactured onto various boards/sticks.

    2) To understand pricing you need to look at the entire model line. You can't look at a build option and say, "but the cost difference from the vendor is only x so Apple should only charge me x to upgrade." The lowest-end of a product line usually has a lower profit margin than the top end so that a company can create an average profit margin. This isn't shady or even clever. It's standard business. You see this quite prominently with their iPhones which only used storage capacity as their differentiating factor. We know that the cost of doubling (or quadrupling, in some cases) the NAND isn't a flat $100, and we know that other components can be of higher quality.
    mike1StrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 23
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,058member
    appex said:
    "as before, the CPU, RAM, and flash memory are soldered to the logic board".

    Apple should use standard ports and components, not soldered. And why is the very same make and model of RAM purchased from Apple Store two to three times more expensive than in retailers like Amazon?
    The CPU and RAM ARE the "standard components". LPDDR3 is soldered. It doesn't come socketed. Same for the mobile CPUs. 

    They could use standard SSDs, true. But they opted for lower-power, faster storage instead. 
    mike1StrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 23
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,503member
    Thank you Apple for $1299 entry base(non touch strip) model Macbook Pro starting price. Someday, please offer base model 8GBRM/256GB configuration at that price point to millions of highschool/college students and casual users help fight against windows laptops. Other point is when someone buys with upgrades to base model with processor/RAM/storage(soldered so not user replaceable) than out of box price reaches to $2000 but you still get only 2 USB ports. So, Apple please keep the same number of 4 ports on all Macbook Pro. Make sure there is always a non-strip version of Macbook Pro until 2-in-1 touch screen macbook pro offered..
    edited June 2017 xzu
  • Reply 8 of 23
    ...can anyone comment on the heat/fan/noise load of the faster graphics models...? I understand benefits of 'onboard' (soldered) memory include cost efficiency, reliability (connectors) and primarily speed optimization ie. narrower tolerance and 'tuning', although for at least the drive I too would prefer a flexible option...
  • Reply 9 of 23
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,104administrator
    appex said:
    "as before, the CPU, RAM, and flash memory are soldered to the logic board".

    Apple should use standard ports and components, not soldered. And why is the very same make and model of RAM purchased from Apple Store two to three times more expensive than in retailers like Amazon?

    LPDDR3 RAM doesn't come in a socket version, and see also Spheric's points. However, your overall point is that you want "upgradeability." I get that you want this.

    To be fair, there are probably a great deal of AI readers that do. You're welcome to state your opinion, of course, but you should also realize that you're jousting at windmills.

    We aren't Apple's target market anymore! As-is, the MacBook and MacBook Pro suit probably a solid 90% of Apple's audience, and it's probably more.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,104administrator

    ...can anyone comment on the heat/fan/noise load of the faster graphics models...? I understand benefits of 'onboard' (soldered) memory include cost efficiency, reliability (connectors) and primarily speed optimization ie. narrower tolerance and 'tuning', although for at least the drive I too would prefer a flexible option...
    I'm not doing the reviews of the new gear, but I'll inquire.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,058member
    wood1208 said:
    So, Apple please keep the same number of 4 ports on all Macbook Pro. Make sure there is always a non-strip version of Macbook Pro until 2-in-1 touch screen macbook pro offered..
    So…forever?
  • Reply 12 of 23
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,058member
    We aren't Apple's target market anymore! As-is, the MacBook and MacBook Pro suit probably a solid 90% of Apple's audience, and it's probably more.
    Pro solution: Buy fully-specced. 

    The End. 
  • Reply 13 of 23
    Apple guys - how big of an insult would be to have a second USB-C connector on the MacBook?!?!? You just updated the damn machine for the second time, why not address this - it IS a big handicap! The first gen MBA had a single USB - you fixed it pretty much right away. Here we're forced to use an atrocious white brick in order to be able to charge AND have an external drive connection... Not even mentioning the archaic 480p cam. Come on guys, this is really lame - please, take care of it!
    wozwoz
  • Reply 14 of 23
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    spheric said:
    We aren't Apple's target market anymore! As-is, the MacBook and MacBook Pro suit probably a solid 90% of Apple's audience, and it's probably more.
    Pro solution: Buy fully-specced. 

    The End. 
    Though if you are a professional writer, lawyer, engineer, dentist, business owner, etc, and you just need a small and light laptop to do 90% of your business you'd probably be wasting money fully speccing your MacBook or MacBookPro. But yeah, if you need to do lots of processor intensive work (whether you are a pro or not), fully spacing your machine is always a good idea.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,058member
    paxman said:
    spheric said:
    We aren't Apple's target market anymore! As-is, the MacBook and MacBook Pro suit probably a solid 90% of Apple's audience, and it's probably more.
    Pro solution: Buy fully-specced. 

    The End. 
    Though if you are a professional writer, lawyer, engineer, dentist, business owner, etc, and you just need a small and light laptop to do 90% of your business you'd probably be wasting money fully speccing your MacBook or MacBookPro. But yeah, if you need to do lots of processor intensive work (whether you are a pro or not), fully spacing your machine is always a good idea.
    Should have written: "Buy fully-specced for your purpose." 

    I could care less about the graphics card, but I needed 1 TB and whatever maximum RAM I could get. 
  • Reply 16 of 23
    ajminnjajminnj Posts: 35member
    Not really surprised by this.  Apple did not have time to redesign the MacBook Pro again by WWDC.  Hopefully, the change in the iMac means that the 2018 MacBook Pro will truly be a Pro Machine again with expandable RAM and Storage.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,058member
    ajminnj said:
    Not really surprised by this.  Apple did not have time to redesign the MacBook Pro again by WWDC.  Hopefully, the change in the iMac means that the 2018 MacBook Pro will truly be a Pro Machine again with expandable RAM and Storage.
     :D :D :D :D :D :D 

    Good one!
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 18 of 23
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    spheric said:
    paxman said:
    spheric said:
    We aren't Apple's target market anymore! As-is, the MacBook and MacBook Pro suit probably a solid 90% of Apple's audience, and it's probably more.
    Pro solution: Buy fully-specced. 

    The End. 
    Though if you are a professional writer, lawyer, engineer, dentist, business owner, etc, and you just need a small and light laptop to do 90% of your business you'd probably be wasting money fully speccing your MacBook or MacBookPro. But yeah, if you need to do lots of processor intensive work (whether you are a pro or not), fully spacing your machine is always a good idea.
    Should have written: "Buy fully-specced for your purpose." 

    I could care less about the graphics card, but I needed 1 TB and whatever maximum RAM I could get. 
    :) I usually add some Ram but for the last 6 months I have been working on an iMac with only 8gb and I have never found it short. I rarely have less than 15 apps running inc occasionally Photoshop, though I am not a heavy graphics or video editor. I am a pro user in the sense that I use my Macs professionally but not in the way of high processor demands. Increasingly I have found just about any Mac does the job. I used to hanker for speed and specs but I have come to the conclusion that just about any Mac sold in the last 5 years will serve the absolute majority of people (including myself) admirably. I would probably count most people on AI as not fitting into my not very scientifically calculated majority ;)
  • Reply 19 of 23
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member

    Apple guys - how big of an insult would be to have a second USB-C connector on the MacBook?!?!? You just updated the damn machine for the second time, why not address this - it IS a big handicap! The first gen MBA had a single USB - you fixed it pretty much right away. Here we're forced to use an atrocious white brick in order to be able to charge AND have an external drive connection... Not even mentioning the archaic 480p cam. Come on guys, this is really lame - please, take care of it!
    I am actually seriously considering buying a MB instead of a MBP. Though I see your points I am not sure it would matter to me. I would probably get a small usb-c splitter so I could charge and attach a usb-c connected external SSD, but 90% of the time I would use the laptop either completely naked - No, the laptop, not me (though don't entirely exclude the possibility), and the rest of the time plugged into a 24 or 27" monitor / hub. The camera is a non issue for me. I use it probably less than once per year. Facetimimg is always done on the iPhone.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    anomeanome Posts: 1,441member
    It makes sense that everything in a portable device like a laptop, a mobile phone, or a tablet is soldered on. The main concern is portability. You want to make a device that is sturdy and light. Socketing components adds weight, and potential failure points for both the electronic and physical integrity of the device.

    On the other hand, in a "non-portable" device, like an iMac that's going to sit in the same place on a desk for most of its lifetime, you can afford to use socketed components since the typical stress load is lower, so it's much less likely for a component to come loose. Even so, Apple has other factors in consideration when making decisions about building its computers. At the moment, it makes most sense for them to build them the way they are doing it now, it's possible that next year those considerations will be different, and they will make different decisions as a result.
    StrangeDays
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