Verdict Is In: MacBook Pro with Retina Display Really Sucks (at Being Repairable)

© iFixit

Okay, so the MacBook Pro with Retina Display doesn't suck if you are interested in owning a pretty sweet piece of machinery. But if you have any interest in being able to repair your computers yourself, if you subscribe to the Maker motto of "If you can't open it, you don't own it," or if you have any feelings of support for designing products that can be upgraded and modified by its user, then the MacBook Pro with Retina Display does indeed completely suck.

We love awesome computers here at TreeHugger. Our livelihood depends upon reliable, loyal laptops happily humming away. But we also love knowing that if said laptop breaks, we can fix it. We like knowing that companies who design and build laptops are thinking of the long term, and not building for disposability. With as huge an environmental footprint as a laptop has when it arrives at your door, these things have to be easy to repair, even if it's just the simple ability to replace the battery or hard drive, or upgrade the RAM.

After iFixit got a hold of the new MacBook Pro, they're not so stoked. After carefully breaking down the laptop piece by piece, they conclude:


MacBook Pro with Retina Display 15" Mid 2012 Repairability Score: 1 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

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 proprietary SSD isn't upgradeable either (yet), as it is similar but not identical to the one in the Air. It is a separate daughtercard, and we’re hopeful we can offer an upgrade in the near future.

The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the chances that it'll break during disassembly. The battery also covers the trackpad cable, which tremendously increases the chance that the user will shear the cable in the battery removal process.

The display assembly is completely fused, and there’s no glass protecting it. If anything ever fails inside the display, you will need to replace the entire extremely expensive assembly.

Two words, Apple: Not. Cool.

Wired writes, "The brand new MacBook Pro with Retina Display manages to pack a 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 processor, a massive battery, and a souped up 15.4-inch Retina display into a slender .71-inch thick frame. Unfortunately, when packing all those parts inside, Apple used a lot of glue and other techniques, like numerous pentalobe screws, that make upgrades and repairs virtually impossible... The 2011 MacBook Pro — last year’s model — scored a very reasonable 7 out of 10 iFixit repairability score. This year’s MacBook Pro with Retina Display gets iFixit’s lowest score: a 1 out of 10. So, if indeed you do splurge, you’ll want to consider your future computing needs. And maybe store it in a museum-quality vault when it’s not being used."

Apple, if you're looking to score points in environmental awareness and progress, this is not the way to do it. You just took some seriously leaps backwards all in an effort to compete with ultrabooks. It's telling of the real direction of the company, and that's extremely disappointing. Tim Cook, you're slipping up already.

Tags: Apple Inc | Designers | Gadgets