Teardown of MacBook Pro with Retina Display reveals soldered RAM, glued-in battery

“This is it: The Chosen One of MacBook Pros. While other MBPs were gifted only the standard annual updates, this particular model was bestowed with a Retina display, a thinner profile, two Thunderbolt ports, a full sized HDMI port, and less annoying cooling fans. Apple claims that this is the ‘best computer Apple has ever made,'” Fixit reports.

“Apple may have already spilled the beans when it comes to what the inside of this MacBook Pro looks like, but we aren’t convinced,” Fixit reports. “Join us today as we set out to see what is so significant about this special MacBook Pro.”

What is it that’s got everyone in the tech world buzzing?
• 15.4″ LED-backlit Retina display with IPS with a resolution of 2880 x 1800 at 220ppi [over 5 million pixels!]
• Intel Ivy Bridge Core-i7 processor with Turbo Boost and Intel HD Graphics 4000
• 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM
• NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1 GB of GDDR5 VRAM

“The new display assembly design left no room for the usual ‘MacBook Pro’ logo on the slim bezel,” Fixit reports. “There’s plenty of room for the logo on the bottom of the computer, though. If no one believes that your computer is a real MacBook Pro, just pick it up and flip it over… The resolution of this display really is incredible. There’s no doubt that the cost to manufacture the Retina display is a big reason for the new MacBook Pro’s $2200 (starting) price tag.”

Fixit reports, “Proprietary pentalobe screws prevent you from gaining access to anything inside. As in the MacBook Air, the RAM is soldered to the logic board. Max out at 16GB now, or forever hold your peace—you can’t upgrade… The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case”

Much more, and all of the excellent photos, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That is a beautiful machine, inside and out, but max out that RAM, people! It’s too bad we’ll have to pay Apple’s RAM prices. More bad news for third-party, better-priced Mac RAM dealers as Apple follows Steve Jobs’ vision of sealed, non-user-serviceable, absolutely gorgeous, high-performance machines.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” and “Judge Bork” for the heads up.]

56 Comments

    1. GLUED IN… like IPAD – eh.
      This is the typical half ass Asian way
      on a production line.

      Yeah it is faster… and people usually don’t open and service Apple products because Apple makes superior products – LOL.

      What is sad is this is ACCEPTABLE by Apple.
      What the customer doesn’t know is fine.
      Like the retina screens costing 1000 more?
      Apple buy these for 120 bucks – you are buying a laptop without a cd drive and less ports then ever.
      And paying a premium because APPLE is greedy now.

      No reason why MacBookAir 13 and 15 inch do not have the RETINA screens… The entire line up should all have this. And there would be no need for a new NEXT generation laptop… JUST make it PRO.

      Sorry I am not interested in this From Apple.

      OSX, IOS and SIRI are all that remains in of interest.
      Apple design is far too slow… Jony Ives did not engineer this NEW laptop and did not make drastic changes to the design… THINNER ok… the rest is engineering.

      Boo… same as iPad new… real achievement was RETINA screen and Battery consumption omg gee wow. What happened to it JUST works. And insanely NEW products… no way this was MIND BLOWING.

      WE saw the Maps coming.
      We see Siri must IMPROVE its beta.
      We are the lemmings… we laugh at siri jokes?
      I did it was so MACINTOSH hello world – tradition simple and clever… but come on… SPORTS – Siri now learns sports grrrrrr

      Apple OSX and ISO hurray… cheers on that.
      The show was good. But far from MIND BLOWING Cook.
      The year is half over… better wow us more then THAT.

      The stock boys also LEMMINGS… so bad.
      Samsung is doing just fine… and Android is still alive.
      APPLE stand by your words and show the world action.
      A new Laptop pro next generation sold out in first day… right.

      IO S6 wonderful about time. OSX 10.8 going great.
      Price points perfect to power the people. But ofc the hardware will limit us to upgrade forcing people to buy new if they wish to remain Apple loyalists…

      SO do not talk about FRAGMENTATION… apple will do that same

      1. ARE you ON drugs?

        WAS this written…BY a MONKEY?

        “Like the retina screens costing 1000 more?”

        Please compare the prices of similar MBP models – the difference in price is $400 (2.3 GHz) and $600 (2.6 GHz), though there are other variables, like the Retina MBP having more flash and SSD vs HD.

        or, in terms you might be able to comprehend:

        THE price difference ARE not $1000!

      2. What a rant…..

        Now figuring it out is another thing… I hope it made you feel better, and at least you are aware of what you tried to say… Or are you?

        What I really tried to figure out is, what this really has to do with the topic…

  1. Im all for internal batteries (love my year-old MBP), but glued in?

    These batteries better be miles ahead of the ones I had to replace in my old white MacBook.

  2. ” It’s too bad we’ll have to pay Apple’s RAM prices. More bad news for third-party, better-priced Mac RAM dealers as Apple follows Steve Jobs’ vision of sealed, non-user-serviceable, absolutely gorgeous, high-performance machines.”

    And this is good for the user, why? What would Mac Daily News say if Dell tried this approach?

    1. They’d say Dell was copying Apple, of course! Dell can’t seem to make tough design choices like these.

      Personally, I don’t like it. When my MBP fried recently, I was able to pull the HD and slap it in an enclosure that day. This new MBP would have left me high and dry.

      1. It’s true. Same issue with the Airs (and iPhones & iPad for that matter). Apple basically just hands you a brand new machine. No opportunity for swapping drives.

        Time machine has gone from a tool protecting you from a Hard Drive failure, to a tool protecting you from any hardware issue.

          1. Time machine is a godsend. Fully supported on all macs. I see no reason not to use it!

            There are two types of people: those who back up, and those who lose data.

      2. It has no HARD DRIVE. Not the one that would fail on you anyway. It has FLASH hard drive. NOT likely to fail. Or should I say “as likely to fail as any other solid state part” that you couldn’t easily replace on ANY computer.

        1. Flash drives wear out. You can only write to the same memory cell a finite number of times. True, these drives have “spare” memory cells and use wear leveling to those cells and others in order to minimize this effect, but it exists. I haven’t done the math on this system, but I’d guess that the *average* user will get 7+ years before noticing any loss of drive space due to wear out. However, a truly heavy drive user might only get 3-4 years before noticing some impact. (Note: this is NOT the same as the drive *failing*.)

          But then again, someone might say that a truly heavy user of the drive will replace their MacBook Pro within 3-4 years.

          Oh, and Paul, a SSD is still a hard drive (it certainly does not have a “soft drive”), it just does not have spinning media.

          1. “An SLC SSD being re-written at maximum speed won’t hit it’s rewrite limit for about 30 years.”

            And the new design of better chip fans have now shown a Lifetime.

            The System would be obsolete before the Storage Memory would show any effects of Deterioration.

            1. That’s design of chip fabs or Fabraction process is much better now then ever.

              Love the autocorrect fearure changing fabs to fans …..

              Fans… Not

          2. Oh, and Shadowself, read that I actually classified the FLASH as a HD. Not a soft drive……whatever that is. Just try reading again, you’ll see what I mean. Bravo for pointing out that it does not have spinning media…….what pert of “solid state” did you fail to understand in my comment?

      3. Your really said Dell didn’t you….. OMG

        DELL and innovative design are a oxymoron … Dell can’t even copy correctly without screwing it up.

        Your are correct saying Dell can’t make design choices.. Allot of proof in that!

        That was a good laugh though.

    2. I haven’t heard MDN make fun of another manufacturer for integrating batteries. Or fixing RAM onto the motherboard either for that matter.

      I’m curious what there expectations are for these batteries. If they expect them to last past 2-3 years what’s the plan to replace glued in batteries?

  3. That is a shame about the RAM. I will need to think whether I really want to spend another $200.
    My current MBP has 4GB of ram and is 3+ years old. I run Parallels all the time which I’m sure slows it down a bit.
    The question is will the extra RAM keep the machine “snappier” for longer as the software and OS get more hungry for memory in the next few years.
    I had accepted that I was willing to pay $2200 for an MBP with retina display. Now am I willing to pay $2400?
    Any advice?

    1. Get the Extra ram and future proof yourself. If you’re buying a high end machine, max it out and run it as long as you can, then resell it, and buy a more up-to-date mac.

      1. Agreed. At OtherWorld Computing, the difference in price between and 8GB set of 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM and a 16GB set is about $110, which then requires installation.

        So, Apple by % is significantly higher, but that is really only $90. Not the usual premium that Apple charges for RAM, in my experience.

        Not an ideal situation, but if you want more flexibility, there is always the regular MBP. I think this has more to do with not having an easy way to allow access to RAM (based on how little space there is available) as anything else. Almost all Apple laptops for the past 10 yrs have had user replaceable RAM.

        1. it’s simply that the clips that hold RAM sticks in place take up a good bit of space themselves. And that space is needed for other things once you slim down the machine….

          People don’t complain that they can’t add ram to their phones… All technology is moving in this direction.

    1. It is an extreme machine! No prisoners. When it comes to saving space all compromises are gone. So, soldered RAM and NO “fixtures” to snap them into.

      Also, its friggin 8GB to start…..that’s not insignificant for anyone who is a pretend “PRO”. This is for PRO’s….if you are a real pro you can afford 200 extra.

    2. The truth of the matter is ram is a commodity, and fluctuating prices reflect this. Sure ram always looks cheaper eleswhere when you get your Mac, but what did that same ram cost 6 months to a year prior when apple was sourcing it for assembly?

      Plus, how many macs have you seen ship with faulty ram? In 15 years of Mac support, I cannot recall 1. I can clearly recall sourcing “cheap” ram for upgrades and finding as much as 10% bad.

      1. People are complaining that you get screwed $100 to max out the ram. It seems only a few years ago that you would get screwed by $500 or more by Apple to max out the ram. Seems to me $100 is not so bad, you save hassle and you avoid warranty problems.

        Plus we are virtually at the point where ram is irrelevant for 99.999% of consumers. Even for me as quite a power user, 8gb seems a lot. 16gb will be tons. I have to wonder if I will care any more at 32gb. In a couple of years, would I really need to upgrade from 32 to 64gb? I can’t imagine it.

    1. I paid $2600 for an iBook once.

      These prices seem cheap for a machine that could be your primary creative workstation for 3 or more years, then get handed down to a suit for a couple more, and then make a student very happy for a couple more after that).

  4. Quote from the article

    If anything ever fails inside the display, you will need to replace the entire extremely expensive assembly.

    Sounds like you BETTER buy AppleCare.

  5. The more I read about this thing, the more uneasy I get. I love my iPad 3, and my old laptop that I’m super-ready to replace, but this thing ain’t quite the new laptop I was looking for. I was very afraid that they were going to make a leap-to-far like this.

  6. I rarely have added RAM to my Apple portables, though sometimes before I sell them to someone else I do. So that sucks a bit.

    One thought I have, though, is whether or not you can disconnect the battery even if you can’t remove it easily. I’ve had a couple of times servicing MacBooks that a full power cycle was necessary . . .

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