iFixit 16-inch MacBook Pro teardown reveals a more repairable design

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Repair-focused group iFixit has completed its teardown of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, discovering a number of tweaks to the internals and some changes that could make it easier to fix.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


Initial teardowns of the new MacBook Pro model revealed a number of changes to the logic board, thermal design, speaker systems, and I/O. On Friday, iFixit published a full video with their complete teardown, including the site's signature repairability score.

Many of the new components are now attached via adhesive pull tabs rather than glue, iFixit found. The battery, for example, is now much easier to replace because of the pull tabs and a new design that doesn't require removal of the logic board.





Along with the batteries, the logic board is also easier to remove with adhesive pull tabs.

The USB-C and MagSafe ports, as well as the headphone jack, on the new MacBook Pros also continue to be modular, though the HDMI port and SD card reader are soldered to the logic board.

As far as other changes, Apple has increased the size of the new fans, allowing the system to blow more air for cooling, and has increased the size of exhaust holes in the speaker unit to accommodate the bumped-up thermal design.

There are still some challenging components to replace, such as the display. According to iFixit, there's no third-party ability to replace the display without losing True Tone functionality. The same goes for the Touch ID sensor.

All in all, iFixit gave the new 2021 MacBook Pro models a repairability score of four out of 10, which is a notable improvement over the previous 16-inch MacBook Pro's score of one out of 10.

As of writing, the full teardown is only available in video form. However, when the fully updated teardown guide is available, it will be available from the at iFixit website.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,611member
    Definitely good news! They don’t say whether the keyboard is more easily replaceable - that was another huge fail in the previous design. Batteries are another item that should be designed for replacement. Gluing them in and/or making them inaccessible makes no sense. It’s good to see the Apple engineers are making improvements in their designs. 

    The more I hear about the new MBPs, the more I like them.
    TRAGmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    Is this first time Apple uses the LPDDR5 SDRAM Memory?
  • Reply 3 of 12
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,025member
    A very good and fair teardown.  I had to put my 2019 MBP through a repair shop diagnostic a couple months ago because it wouldn't charge.  Turns out it was just a loose battery connection, which I could haver fixed myself, but it didn't even occur to me to try given Apple's reputation for non-repairability.  If anything goes wrong with my new MBP I might be a bit less tentative in opening in up.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,911member
    MplsP said:
    Definitely good news! They don’t say whether the keyboard is more easily replaceable - that was another huge fail in the previous design. Batteries are another item that should be designed for replacement. Gluing them in and/or making them inaccessible makes no sense. It’s good to see the Apple engineers are making improvements in their designs. 

    The more I hear about the new MBPs, the more I like them.
    Did you watch their video? The batteries are removed using the adhesive pull tabs and if you go slow, they work perfectly. Even the middle batteries are accessible by easily unscrewing a bunch of bolts to remove the trackpad, which is very easy to remove (major improvement). iFixit only gives it a 4 because they feel everything should be removable and replaceable. I don't agree with that. I like memory and storage being part of the SOC, especially when you see benchmarks. Adding all the extra sockets for both is unnecessary and takes up a lot of room. 

    Historically, batteries are the biggest thing I've had to replace on laptops followed by HDDs. I haven't had to replace an SSD yet even the original 3G and 6G versions. Increasing storage size is the only reason I can see to need to replace existing storage so I'm getting enough to last, using external storage for things I don't change often. The M1 is so fast using unified memory and storage and I don't think using externally connected RAM and SSD would be as fast. I also think the SOC will have fewer issues usually caused by sockets.
    mwhitewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,611member
    rob53 said:
    MplsP said:
    Definitely good news! They don’t say whether the keyboard is more easily replaceable - that was another huge fail in the previous design. Batteries are another item that should be designed for replacement. Gluing them in and/or making them inaccessible makes no sense. It’s good to see the Apple engineers are making improvements in their designs. 

    The more I hear about the new MBPs, the more I like them.
    Did you watch their video? The batteries are removed using the adhesive pull tabs and if you go slow, they work perfectly. Even the middle batteries are accessible by easily unscrewing a bunch of bolts to remove the trackpad, which is very easy to remove (major improvement). iFixit only gives it a 4 because they feel everything should be removable and replaceable. I don't agree with that. I like memory and storage being part of the SOC, especially when you see benchmarks. Adding all the extra sockets for both is unnecessary and takes up a lot of room. 

    Historically, batteries are the biggest thing I've had to replace on laptops followed by HDDs. I haven't had to replace an SSD yet even the original 3G and 6G versions. Increasing storage size is the only reason I can see to need to replace existing storage so I'm getting enough to last, using external storage for things I don't change often. The M1 is so fast using unified memory and storage and I don't think using externally connected RAM and SSD would be as fast. I also think the SOC will have fewer issues usually caused by sockets.
    Yes, I was referring to the batteries in the previous generation MBPs that were glued in. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I think the pull tab design is far superior - it secures the batteries  without being permanent. (And it makes a nice squeaking sound when you remove it!)

    It would be nice if the SSD were replacable as well, but unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m not sure if it would even be possible to replace or upgrade memory the unified memory architecture.
    edited October 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 12
    XedXed Posts: 1,432member
    crowley said:
    A very good and fair teardown.  I had to put my 2019 MBP through a repair shop diagnostic a couple months ago because it wouldn't charge.  Turns out it was just a loose battery connection, which I could haver fixed myself, but it didn't even occur to me to try given Apple's reputation for non-repairability.  If anything goes wrong with my new MBP I might be a bit less tentative in opening in up.
    Your example shows how socketed items are more likely to fail.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    XedXed Posts: 1,432member
    Is this first time Apple uses the LPDDR5 SDRAM Memory?
    I think it’s the first time it has been used in a consumer device.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,025member
    Xed said:
    crowley said:
    A very good and fair teardown.  I had to put my 2019 MBP through a repair shop diagnostic a couple months ago because it wouldn't charge.  Turns out it was just a loose battery connection, which I could haver fixed myself, but it didn't even occur to me to try given Apple's reputation for non-repairability.  If anything goes wrong with my new MBP I might be a bit less tentative in opening in up.
    Your example shows how socketed items are more likely to fail.
    I don’t think anyone disputes that. But nevertheless I don’t want Apple to hard bind the battery connection.  And I’m still very happy about the adhesive pulls instead of the glue that they’ve used previously (screws would be even better). 

    Small trade offs in reliability for much easier repairability are good trade offs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Xed said:
    Is this first time Apple uses the LPDDR5 SDRAM Memory?
    I think it’s the first time it has been used in a consumer device.
    Thanks. DDR5 DRAMs are faster and not cheap. https://www.techspot.com/amp/news/91972-ddr5-memory-kits-reach-400-most-have-sold.html  2021 MBPs are truly state of the art competing device. They are well worth the money. 
    edited October 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,614member
    rob53 said:
    MplsP said:
    Definitely good news! They don’t say whether the keyboard is more easily replaceable - that was another huge fail in the previous design. Batteries are another item that should be designed for replacement. Gluing them in and/or making them inaccessible makes no sense. It’s good to see the Apple engineers are making improvements in their designs. 

    The more I hear about the new MBPs, the more I like them.
    Did you watch their video? The batteries are removed using the adhesive pull tabs and if you go slow, they work perfectly. Even the middle batteries are accessible by easily unscrewing a bunch of bolts to remove the trackpad, which is very easy to remove (major improvement). iFixit only gives it a 4 because they feel everything should be removable and replaceable. I don't agree with that. I like memory and storage being part of the SOC, especially when you see benchmarks. Adding all the extra sockets for both is unnecessary and takes up a lot of room. 

    Historically, batteries are the biggest thing I've had to replace on laptops followed by HDDs. I haven't had to replace an SSD yet even the original 3G and 6G versions. Increasing storage size is the only reason I can see to need to replace existing storage so I'm getting enough to last, using external storage for things I don't change often. The M1 is so fast using unified memory and storage and I don't think using externally connected RAM and SSD would be as fast. I also think the SOC will have fewer issues usually caused by sockets.
    I disagree with you on memory and storage. They should be user replaceable like they used to be.  In my 2008 MBP, I think I upgraded the memory once and the storage three times.   You shouldn’t have to buy a new machine or be forced to use external storage when one runs out of space or need a new machine because upgraded apps have larger memory demands. 

    Apple prides itself on being a “green” company, but it’s not very environmentally friendly when one has to replace a computer because of storage or memory.   (Yes, I realize they can be passed along to someone with lower demands.)  

    My current MBP needs the battery replaced and Apple quoted $450 to do it. That’s completely ridiculous. 

    I’ve been to a bunch of electronics recycling events recently and while there’s probably 10x as many PCs as Macs, there’s plenty of Macs piled up as well.  I have a hard time believing that non replaceable storage, memory and battery is because of design demands and not so people are forced to buy new Macs. 
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 12
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,611member
    zoetmb said:
    rob53 said:
    MplsP said:
    Definitely good news! They don’t say whether the keyboard is more easily replaceable - that was another huge fail in the previous design. Batteries are another item that should be designed for replacement. Gluing them in and/or making them inaccessible makes no sense. It’s good to see the Apple engineers are making improvements in their designs. 

    The more I hear about the new MBPs, the more I like them.
    Did you watch their video? The batteries are removed using the adhesive pull tabs and if you go slow, they work perfectly. Even the middle batteries are accessible by easily unscrewing a bunch of bolts to remove the trackpad, which is very easy to remove (major improvement). iFixit only gives it a 4 because they feel everything should be removable and replaceable. I don't agree with that. I like memory and storage being part of the SOC, especially when you see benchmarks. Adding all the extra sockets for both is unnecessary and takes up a lot of room. 

    Historically, batteries are the biggest thing I've had to replace on laptops followed by HDDs. I haven't had to replace an SSD yet even the original 3G and 6G versions. Increasing storage size is the only reason I can see to need to replace existing storage so I'm getting enough to last, using external storage for things I don't change often. The M1 is so fast using unified memory and storage and I don't think using externally connected RAM and SSD would be as fast. I also think the SOC will have fewer issues usually caused by sockets.
    I disagree with you on memory and storage. They should be user replaceable like they used to be.  In my 2008 MBP, I think I upgraded the memory once and the storage three times.   You shouldn’t have to buy a new machine or be forced to use external storage when one runs out of space or need a new machine because upgraded apps have larger memory demands.  
    Is user-upgradable memory even feasible with the unified memory design? I was under the impression it wasn’t, but I can’t say as I know for sure.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,165member
    Xed said:
    crowley said:
    A very good and fair teardown.  I had to put my 2019 MBP through a repair shop diagnostic a couple months ago because it wouldn't charge.  Turns out it was just a loose battery connection, which I could haver fixed myself, but it didn't even occur to me to try given Apple's reputation for non-repairability.  If anything goes wrong with my new MBP I might be a bit less tentative in opening in up.
    Your example shows how socketed items are more likely to fail.
    I don't consider a loose connector a fail point. 

    A broken solder point is definitely a fail though. 

    In over 25 years of using computer devices I can only remember one case where re-seating a dimm module might have fixed an issue. 

    Poor thermal design, swelling or defective batteries, non-cleanable vents, storage failures and above all failed graphics cards (no doubt as a result of the thermals).

    Personally I'd much rather have a modular, socketed design. 

    If there is an issue, a diagnostic should be able to narrow down a problem area, and if a simple check of a connector is all that's required it's a huge win.

    Especially in the case of most recent Apple laptops that have had designs that required one failed component see the (expensive) replacement of unrelated components.

    These new designs are a tiny step in the right direction but, like iFixit says, mounting the battery on a frame for example would be a great design change. 
    MplsP
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