Apple’s 2016 Retina MacBook pulled to bits for your enjoyment.
Apple’s first update to the 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display is a baby update, so we’re matching it with a baby teardown. Beside a faster processor and zippier flash memory, what’s changed? There’s only one way to find out: crack it open.
MAJOR TECH SPECS
• 12-inch 2304x1440 (226ppi) IPS Retina Display • 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (configurable up
to 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core m7)
• 8GB of 1,866MHz LPDDR3 RAM
• 256GB or 512GB PCIe-based flash storage
• Intel HD Graphics 515
• 1802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.0
• Single USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack
• If it weren’t for the rose gold finish, we’d be hard-pressed to distinguish this year’s Retina MacBook from yesteryear’s. The exteriors look identical, from the Pentalobe screws in the lower case, right down to the model number—A1534. • The pesky tri-wing screw we saw last year grew another, um, wing—now it’s a repair-friendly Phillips. Thankfully, all the other internal screws are still Phillips and Torx screws. • At the other end of the MacBook, the USB-C hardware has also changed. The cable is now perma-fixed to the USB board, condensing the two components into a single unit. Also, the silicon is new and has moved from the cable itself to the USB board. This new USB and cable arrangement is one thing that’s not compatible with previous Retina MacBooks. • The battery’s form factor seems identical to the multi-lobed cell in the 2015 MacBook, yet somehow Apple has managed to squeeze in a 4 percent capacity increase from last year’s model. Apple claims the new 7.56V, 41.41Wh Li-ion power source should provide 11 hours of iTunes movie playback. We’re guessing this capacity increase is owed to improved battery chemistry (though it’s also possible that Apple’s engineers have shaved away just enough material from the lower case to allow for a thicker battery). Unfortunately, they did not squeeze in any of those nifty adhesive pull tabs we’ve seen in Apple’s iDevices. Regardless, our tests indicate this beefier battery is compatible with last year’s MacBook. Nice! • Repairability Score: 1 out of 10 (10 is the easiest to repair). Those pesky tri-wing screws are gone, replaced by lovely standard Phillips screws—but tamper-evident hinge screws make you feel like a hoodlum for repairing your own machine. The processor, RAM, and flash memory are still soldered to the logic board. The battery assembly remains entirely, and very solidly, glued to the lower case. The Retina display is still a fused unit with no separate, protective glass. If the display needs replacing, it’ll cost a pretty penny.
Apple sure does piece together some pretty systems.
Your media deserves to be served up by something sleek and sexy like this.
Unsurprisingly, the 2016 Retina MacBook achieves the worst score iFixIt can award. Unfortunately, all the chips are still soldered to the PCB.