13-inch MacBook Pro teardown reveals "unimaginative" SD Card slot

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A dissection of Apple's first 13-inch MacBook Pro shows the company may have run out of real estate to create a slot that would completely conceal SD cards but also points to certain do-it-yourself upgrades being near-trivial jobs for prospective owners.



The undisputed teardown experts at iFixit have just completed their step-by-step illustrated disassembly of the latest member of the MacBook Pro family, in which they note that the system's new SD card slot "is rather unimaginative" given that "half the card hangs out of the side of the computer."



"Apple couldn't free up enough space for a slot that would make the card completely captive," representatives for upgrade solutions provider told AppleInsider.



As with the MacBook Air and 17-inch MacBook Pro, removing the battery is simple enough that it can be done quickly, likely to allowing technicians to swap out batteries at Apple retail stores in a matter of minutes. All that's needed is a small Phillips screwdriver to open the case and a tri-wing screwdriver to remove the battery.



It's also noted that the mid wall dividing the MacBook Pro is now attached to the top case, unlike in previous models where it was was held in by four Phillips screws. iFixit believes this may be a move on Apple's part to help out its do-it-yourself customers.



"Aside from a couple of visual cues found outside, a casual user would not be able to discern if this was a [unibody] MacBook or MacBook Pro," the firm added. "Most screw layouts and brackets are identical to the old [unibody] MacBook."



Also discovered was a slightly heavier battery at 360 grams (compared to 302 g for the old one). However, it offers 60 Watt-hours of power, compared to the lighter battery's 45 W-h. And given that its connectors, size, and shape are different from the battery in the 13-inch unibody MacBook, the new battery isn't interchangeable with last year's models.















Meanwhile, those users looking for beefier storage options will find that the system's 2.5-inch hard drive is easy to remove and is again only held in place with screws. RAM is still located in readily-accessible slots.



Those determined to replace other components have a slightly more advanced challenge ahead of them, but -- with the exception of more obviously complex tasks like pulling the logic board -- are still comparatively straightforward. The optical drive, system fan and subwoofer all require little to be moved clear.















As such, Apple's design changes may thwart some on-the-spot upgrades but appears to strike a balance between restricted designs like the MacBook Air or pre-unibody MacBook Pro and the particularly easy access afforded by plastic MacBooks and first-run unibody computers.



For more photos and detailed disassembly instructions, check out iFixit's complete two-page guide.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 97
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    "half the card hangs out of the side of the computer."



    Like if it disappeared inside, how are we supposed to get it out?



    A menu based eject button? A tiny pinhole for paperclip ejection? I much rather remove it manually thank you.



    (edit: I've changed my position to a spring loaded flush mounted SD port, see later post)



    Quote:

    A new SD card format was released at CES this year called SD Extended Capacity (SDXC) which uses Microsoft’s exFAT file system. Apple does not support exFAT although it remains to be seen if it can recognize SDXC cards bearing FAT32 or other supported formats.



    per MacWorld.



    http://www.macworld.com/article/1410...dcard_mbp.html



    The new SDXC has capacity up to 2TB (repeat 2TB) per card and much faster speeds. Don't know if the new Mac SD slot can handle it or not or the exFAT format if it's required or not.



    Supposely one can format a SD card and install OS X on it.



    Should be very interesting for laptop owners to be able to have a clone of their boot drive on a SD card for emergencies or archiving purposes.
  • Reply 2 of 97
    godriflegodrifle Posts: 266member
    Who cares if the SD card hangs out. I actually *think* I prefer that for speed of use. I'm just glad it's there. Oh, and did it crack anyone else up that only Apple could garner so much positive attention for finally including technology that's been standardized in the rest of the notebook world for years?



    Is it bootable? *That* would be killer!
  • Reply 3 of 97
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    I can't believe this is an issue. I've waited 8 years for an SD card slot- WHO CARES! The SD card slot in itself is fantastic! Thank you , thank you Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 97
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by godrifle View Post


    Who cares if the SD card hangs out. I actually *think* I prefer that for speed of use. I'm just glad it's there. Oh, and did it crack anyone else up that only Apple could garner so much positive attention for finally including technology that's been standardized in the rest of the notebook world for years?



    Is it bootable? *That* would be killer!



    Yes it's bootable. Apple posted a tech note on it. All you have to do is reformat with HFS+ and use Disk Utility to set the GUID. Voila. Bootable drive that's what a quarter of an ounce?
  • Reply 5 of 97
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 550member
    Apple pulls the ExpressCard/34 slot and replaces it with a crippled SD card slot!?!?!?!?!!?!?!



    It wouldn't be so painful a deletion had you been able to leave the SD card in the slot when you put the thing to sleep and back into your bag to travel.



    I can leave the ExpressCard/34 SD card reader INSIDE my MacBook Pro and still stick the thing into my pack and travel. I could certainly live with a $10 SD card reader for a supposedly PROFESSIONAL Macintosh!



    How about an eSATA slot instead? Now, THAT's PROFESSIONAL!



    MANY times I wonder about Apple's designers! Or their handlers...

    They go 98% of the way and screw up logical details!

  • Reply 6 of 97
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post




    How about an Fibre Channel instead? Now, THAT's PROFESSIONAL!



    There ...that sounds better.
  • Reply 7 of 97
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 550member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    There ...that sounds better.



    Agreed!
  • Reply 8 of 97
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by godrifle View Post


    ...Oh, and did it crack anyone else up that only Apple could garner so much positive attention for finally including technology that's been standardized in the rest of the notebook world for years?



    Based upon this new SDXC information, I think Apple is trying to get real friendly with San Disk for a very good reason.



    Right now the SD card is accessed through 9 pins on one side. Only 9 pins.



    But what if that ability was multiplied to cover every square milimeter on both sides of the card and installed on a logicboard?



    The access speed would be greatly multiplied, perhaps even as fast or faster than a SSD or a hard drive. As you know, RAID 0 gives tremendous data speed as the stream is broken up among different drives, this could be applied to the SDXC.



    Now given Apple's trend towards thinness...no more battery depleting hard drive or superdrive needed.



    All Apple laptops could be MacBook Airs, 2TB standard, 4TB optional.



    Weeeee!!
  • Reply 9 of 97
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post


    Agreed!



    Yeah we're both deaming on that one eh?



    I don't know why Apple doesn't like eSATA. It was the first thing that I thought about when

    they canned ExpressCard.



    FW800 is nice but there are so many SATA arrays it's becoming problematic to get fast external storage. Now if we have 10g ethernet on the motherboard that'd be another story but right now we're limited to 100MBps throughtput on a Pro machine for an external array. SCARY
  • Reply 10 of 97
    mitchelljdmitchelljd Posts: 156member
    It is sad that apple keeps chipping away at very functional things in their computers, Apple ought to have BOTH a Expresscard slot and a SD card slot. this is getting sad. Apple just keeps skimping on hardware and expects most people to live on the good software OS.
  • Reply 11 of 97
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post


    It is sad that apple keeps chipping away at very functional things in their computers, Apple ought to have BOTH a Expresscard slot and a SD card slot. this is getting sad. Apple just keeps skimping on hardware and expects most people to live on the good software OS.



    It appears that Apple has always viewed computers as not a collection of components but as an appliance. Sometimes it works to their favor and sometimes it doesn't.



    We're at that point againt where technology inside is faster than the external interfaces can handle and they become architects of limitation.



    We'll have to see how the market plays out. Will we see FW3200 as well as USB 3.0?
  • Reply 12 of 97
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by godrifle View Post


    Who cares if the SD card hangs out. I actually *think* I prefer that for speed of use. I'm just glad it's there. Oh, and did it crack anyone else up that only Apple could garner so much positive attention for finally including technology that's been standardized in the rest of the notebook world for years?



    Is it bootable? *That* would be killer!



    How do you get your memory card out of your camera? Isn't it pretty much flush under the cover? On mine, you simply push in the card and a spring then pushes it back out. And my card only sticks out about 1/16".



    If all you do is put in your card, copy off your photos, and take your card back out, I'd agree it's not a big deal. But what if you use it as a flash drive? On my old PowerBook with it's PC Card slot, I had a Compact Flash adaptor permanently inserted. It was flush with the side of the PowerBook, so leaving it there all the time wasn't an issue. And when a Compact Flash card was inserted, it too was flush with the side of the PB. And a Compact Flash to SD adaptor let me use SD cards, too.



    I even used Time Machine to make backups to a CF card of my Documents folder while I was traveling so I'd have a backup if my hard drive failed. With the high capacity of SDHC cards, this would be viable target for Time Machine if all you were backing up was your User folder. But if the card is sticking out that far, you wouldn't want to leave it inserted long term.
  • Reply 13 of 97
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by godrifle View Post


    Who cares if the SD card hangs out. I actually *think* I prefer that for speed of use. I'm just glad it's there. Oh, and did it crack anyone else up that only Apple could garner so much positive attention for finally including technology that's been standardized in the rest of the notebook world for years?



    Is it bootable? *That* would be killer!



    they are saying that yes, with the use of certain types of cards (I forget which is which) you can create a bootable SD card 'drive'
  • Reply 14 of 97
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post


    It is sad that apple keeps chipping away at very functional things in their computers, Apple ought to have BOTH a Expresscard slot and a SD card slot. this is getting sad. Apple just keeps skimping on hardware and expects most people to live on the good software OS.



    All you need is an ExpressCard slot and a $20 adaptor and you'd be able to use any memory card commonly used except CF (too wide to fit with ExpressCard slot Apple used, it would fit if they had used the larger format). And it would even sit flush with the laptop so you could just keep it there.
  • Reply 15 of 97
    irelandireland Posts: 17,587member
    Half the card hangs out? GMAB! Who cares. The big news here is now you don't have to put up with SSS (shitty screen syndrome), we get FW800 (yay!) and you should have pretty good battery life. woot!!! All in all, great news for new Apple lappy wannabe owners.
  • Reply 16 of 97
    ksecksec Posts: 1,560member
    Actually, am i dont the only one who are not in the " Who cares " and " i dont like it " camp.



    This is much better. I hate Getting SD card out of card reader. Now it is much easier.
  • Reply 17 of 97
    irelandireland Posts: 17,587member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ksec View Post


    Actually, am i dont the only one who are not in the " Who cares " and " i dont like it " camp.



    This is much better. I hate Getting SD card out of card reader. Now it is much easier.



    LOL. See, it's a good thang! = )
  • Reply 18 of 97
    guinnessguinness Posts: 473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    "half the card hangs out of the side of the computer."



    Like if it disappeared inside, how are we supposed to get it out?



    A menu based eject button? A tiny pinhole for paperclip ejection? I much rather remove it manually thank you.



    Have you ever used a camera with an SD slot or PC laptop? It would sit flush with the case, and you press it in to pop it out, as it's spring-loaded. On my laptop or netbook, I usually just leave the SD card in there, but with this type of slot, you have to take it out every time.



    Unless Apple just absolutely needed that last couple mm of space inside the case, they could've easily gone with a spring-loaded SD slot. At least Apple did make the effort to put an SD slot there, but the implementation seems clunky.
  • Reply 19 of 97
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    I think it's pretty interesting that the unibody laptops, which originally inspired dread of sealed, completely user unserviceable vaults, are actually easier to work on than any Apple laptop I can think of.



    Sure, you have to remove some little phillips head screws instead of popping a hatch, but once you do that the entire thing is laid out before you-- a complete tear-down is never more than a loosened fastener or unplugged socket away.



    I can do any upgrades I might have in mind at one go, while I'm in there, with plenty of elbow room.



    And the simplicity of the battery swap-out makes fears that your laptop would be in the shop for days on end when it was time for a replacement look pretty unfounded. Many people won't have any trouble doing it themselves, and for the techno-adverse it should be a while you wait thing.
  • Reply 20 of 97
    really, the idea of having the SD card hang out is a bad thing? i have several microSDs all with their own SD adapter and a white macbook. The only way to connect them right now is to take out the microSD from the adapter, put it into the USB microSD reader I have and then put it into the USB port...I imagine a dedicated SD reader would have a lot less "overhang" than my current method. oh and plus it frees up a USB port which is always important on a laptop.
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