MacBook Pro 13" Retina Display Late 2012 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

Apple just expanded their Retina family. The newest bundle of joy: a 13'' MacBook Pro with Retina display. It's small, it's sleek, and all those pixels are pretty darn snazzy. What goes best with a new gadget? Yep, you guessed it: kittens.* So, for this teardown, we brought in the big guns.

Can't get enough teardowns…or kittens? Follow us on Twitter, or check us out on ye olde Facebook to keep up with all the latest iFixit news.

*No kittens were harmed in the making of this teardown.

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Edit Step 1 MacBook Pro 13" Retina Display Late 2012 Teardown  ¶ 

  • The 13" MacBook Pro has received the Retina display treatment! Let's see what it's packing.

    • 13.3" 2560x1600 pixel (227 ppi) Retina display

    • 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 processor

    • 128 or 256 GB flash storage

    • 8 GB DDR3L onboard RAM

    • Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, and HDMI I/O

    • Intel HD Graphics 4000

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • We normally charge top dollar for pictures of kittens, but today you can have these wallpapers for the low, low price of $free. They're the right resolution (aka 2560 x 1600) for your 13" MBP con Retina Display.

  • Devices from bottom to top:

    • 13" MacBook Pro Early 2011

    • 13" MacBook Pro Retina Late 2012

    • 21-Day-Old Kitten Late 2012

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • This Retina MacBook Pro has the model number A1425. Does that model number look unfamiliar to you? Us too!

    • Another new MacBook Pro Model number?! We haven't been this excited since the last time Apple gave out a new model number to Big Brother Retina.

  • Enough with the completely redesigned outside…let's get inside!

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • We open it up to find…

    • …a grumpy face?

  • It's a familiar face, though it seems to be missing some teeth. There is definitely a battery design change, specifically the migration of two battery cells off of the trackpad. We will examine this more later, but it appears that the trackpad will be a little easier to replace this time around.

  • Grumpy kitten glares back at the grumpy-faced MacBook Pro Retina, likely reminiscing on Retina displays past.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • As always, we start by disconnecting the battery, a simple task that requires no more than releasing a conn—wait, what is this?

  • Instead of the good ol' run-of-the-mill battery connector that we've seen in most other Apple laptops, the battery is connected using several screws that hold a connector board in place.

  • This little PCB serves only as a bridge between the battery control board and the logic board.

    • …weird?

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • At first we thought we found some kitten fuzz, but it turns out that Apple glued in a small piece of steel-wool-like metal on top of two of the speaker screws.

  • Why, you ask?

  • We don't know, but we have some hypotheses:

    • Grounding?

    • Noise reduction?

    • Tamper-evident seals?

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • The most striking layout change resulting from the shrink from a 15" to 13" form factor is the rearranged battery cells. This allowed Apple's designers to cleverly tuck the SSD away underneath the trackpad assembly.

  • The empty space next to the SSD is very un-Apple. It's not like them to leave big air gaps in their newest, sleekest designs.

  • Our first thought was that a standard 2.5" laptop drive might fit in this space, and it almost looks like this little nook was designed with that in mind.

    • Our 9.5mm Crucial SSD didn't allow the bottom cover to be closed, but just by a smidge. We'll see if a 7 mm or 5 mm super-slim hard drive could be incorporated into the space.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Let's take a closer look at the 256 GB SSD that came in our MacBook Pro.

  • It's a Samsung MZ-DPC2560/0A2 unit, rated at 3.3 volts and 2.39 amps. The serial number reads S0X5NYAC703706.

    • Samsung S4LJ204X01-Y040

    • Samsung K4T2G31QF-MCF7

    • Samsung K9FGY8UA7A-HCKO 32 GB NAND flash (8 x 32 GB = 256 GB)

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Out comes the AirPort card. The card is now placed outboard from the right fan, and is the exact same model as found in the 15" MBPr (model number BCM94331CSAX).

  • The AirPort card may be the same as our last Retina teardown, but do you know what's different about this teardown?

    • Kittens, that's what.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • ♫ It's gettin' hot in herre (so hot), so take off all your heat sinks. ♫

  • All one of them, that is! The heat sink has been slightly scaled down to fit the smaller 13" Retina display, but the design looks very similar to its predecessor, including the two rubber heat sink covers.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • These fans are great. More specifically, their asymmetrical blade spacing is great at breaking up annoying air patterns that symmetrically-spaced fan blades might generate. This provides users with quieter fans.

    • They are probably pretty good at cooling the computer down, too.

  • While these fans are pretty cool, they can't be removed without first taking out the heat sink, which means you'll have to bust out your Arctic Silver in order to perform the job properly.

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • And just like that, out comes the logic board.

  • Front side of the logic board:

    • Intel Core i5-3210M 2.5 GHz processor (Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz)

    • Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM (8x4 Gb front and back for a total of 64 Gb or 8 GB)

    • Intel BD82QS77 platform controller hub

    • Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Here's a look at the flipside:

    • Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH microcontroller with integrated ARM core

    • Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM

    • SMSC USB2512B USB 2.0 Hub Controller

    • Cypress Semiconductor CY8C24794-24L programmable SoC

    • Maxim MAX15119 Apple-specific IMVP7 CPU/GPU power controller

    • Cirrus Audio 4206BCNZ audio controller

    • Texas Instruments TPS 51980

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Apple has been on a roll with new I/O connectors lately. We first saw MagSafe 2 in the MacBook Air and Retina models released this summer, and now their mobile devices have ditched the 30-pin dock connector in favor of the Lightning connector.

  • It's only a matter of time until Apple decides to replace the MagSafe 2 connector with the Kitten connector.

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • Okay, deep breath. We are going to attempt to remove the battery.

    • Six cells stand between us and the upper case.

  • Despite what happened last time, we are determined to get the battery out.

  • This time we're excited to find two of the six cells in a metal tray held in with screws and no adhesive. Barely started and already 1/3 done!

  • Things slow down when we get to the outer cells and start slowly spudgering under the edges. Listening for the snap crackle & pop of breaking adhesive, we cautiously push forward until all six cells are free.

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • It was a slow and tedious process, but we removed the battery—sans puncture.

  • The task took us roughly 15 minutes to complete, without the use of a heat gun. All we needed was a Torx screwdriver and three spudgers.

  • In contrast, it took us three attempts to successfully remove the 15" Retina's battery without puncturing it, and the third attempt took over half an hour to perform.

    • Yet, EPEAT lab investigators reported the time required for the MacBook Pro 15" Retina battery removal was under 2.5 minutes, cited that the operation could be conducted “easily and safely,” and gave the laptop its Gold rating.

    • We certainly disagreed with that notion, given it was the least repairable computer we've ever encountered.

  • The 13" Retina battery is a step in the right direction towards recyclability and repairability, but it's still a far cry from the no-adhesive MacBook Pro batteries of yesteryear.

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

  • The trackpad board contains several connectors and two prominent ICs:

    • Silicon Storage Technology SST25VF020 2 Mbit SPI Serial Flash

      • Up until now, we haven't noticed the inclusion of flash memory on the trackpad. We don't know why a trackpad would require flash memory. However it seems that it was also included in the MacBook Pro 15" Retina display trackpad.

    • Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controller (as found in the iPhone 5.)

  • What a funky looking trackpad set screw. This standoff screw is much bigger than those found in previous generations, and is held in with threadlocker.

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • We are so excited to see the trackpad come out, and you should be too!

  • Just five screws keep the trackpad in place. You can actually replace it if it breaks, which is pretty much impossible on the 15" model—it's covered by the battery.

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Edit Step 20  ¶ 

  • The Retina display comes out after removing a few Torx screws.

  • We did not attempt to separate the display from the glass, seeing as how the whole enchilada is fused together. But if you are curious, take a look at our Retina display teardown for the full rundown.

  • After all is said and done, the only thing that remains is the upper case.

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Edit Step 21  ¶ 

  • MacBook Pro 13" Retina Display Repairability: 2 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

  • There appears to be enough space to fit a regular 5 mm or 7 mm 2.5" laptop drive, but a custom cable will need to be developed.

  • The battery is still glued into the laptop's top case, but it's slightly less difficult to remove compared to the 15" model.

  • Proprietary pentalobe screws prevent you from gaining access to anything inside.

  • The RAM is surface-mount soldered to the logic board, so no upgrade is possible. It will forever have 8 GB of RAM.

  • The display assembly is almost impossible to take apart. If anything ever fails inside the display, you'll need to replace the display as a whole.

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Edit Step 22  ¶ 

Required Tools

TR8 Torx Security Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Spudger

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$4.95 · 50+ In stock

Phillips #00 Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Recommended Tools

Universal Drive Adapter

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iFixit Lock Pick Set

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Inspection Scope

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Frictionless Ratchet

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Portable Anti-Static Mat

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Popular Device Products

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Comments Comments are onturn off

I think I'd rather have the kitten than the new Macbook!

garnell, · Reply

Who wouldn't?

PrizedPixul,

Was hoping there would have been at least one view of the front of the screen, to see if that 75% claimed reduction in reflections holds true.

icerabbit je, · Reply

Yeah! I would love to know if you can upgrade the SSD. I just ordered mine and if I can't upgrade later on then I think I'll be returning it so could you guys respond as fast as possible? Thank you.

Alex Lee, · Reply

Non-upgradeability, non-repairability, and OSX Lion are why I bought the last of the non-Retina MBPs instead.

At least the SSD comes out, though, even if it's nonstandard. So issues with data under NDAs can be worked around if it has to go in for "repair" (replacement looks more likely). Soldered memory is really annoying (especially on the 13" where they only offer 8G) but there's a weight and size argument for that. Glued battery, though, is just deliberate obsolescence.

That said, I wonder, have iFixit tried hot wire for un-gluing the cells? Seems to me that a thing similar to what one would use for carving styrofoam, i.e. a nichrome hotwire, might be just the thing for that, so long as it can be slipped in behind the cells?

CarlW, · Reply

I find it hard to believe that there is any need to use adhesive for the battery. The battery has enough space to have screw mounts.

Jackintosh11, · Reply

It would be great to know if this SSD upgrade is possible after the purchase.

Paulo da Silva Bicudo, · Reply

If you're looking to put it back together, after removing the back panel, watch out for the screws. They all look the same size at a glance, but the two by the vent that are usually longer are a bit shorter than the rest. If you put one of the longer ones in by the vent it will stick out just a little bit. Here's a pic!

Albert Filice, · Reply

ermmm the last "and again" anchor link is to nexus one ;) i see what you did there

Ngek, · Reply

By putting the little spring tabs on an interposer board like that, Apple reduces the potential that damage to the spring tabs will require replacement of the entire battery harness or the logic board. Damaged spring tabs means just replacing a $0.30 interposer.

Scott Morrison, · Reply

" Damaged spring tabs means just replacing a $0.30 interposer."

$0.30 to Apple. $49+ to you and I, apparently. It'd actually be cheaper to get a PCB prototyping company to make one.

CarlW,

Being able to upgrade the SSD to a 7mm standard one would be more than awesome, of course! Please try it out asap :)

petterwolff, · Reply

I second that!

Kuda Ruzane,

Yes, agree with Petterwolf and need to know soon! I can live with 128 gigs, but not for too long.

Actually, I am unclear about whether step 8 (getting the drive out) requires step 5, 6, and 7 (i.e. Do all those other screws need to be taken out to get to the actual drive parts?

PaulR, · Reply

Yes and no—those screws are necessary for disconnecting the battery, which we like to do as a first step to protect the device and ourselves, but it is not physically required. If you're okay with leaving the battery connected, then the SSD can be the very first thing out once you open the case.

Andrew Optimus Goldberg,

Wouldn't that empty space allow for larger size SSDs?

whitemac, · Reply

To me, this does look like a S-ATA Connector. Am I right?

bananaphone, · Reply

Any other components on the I/O board except WiFi module? The I/O board is for USB, HDMI and SD card. In the 15" model, there is Broadom chip and Parade chip on the I/O board.

JJ Wu, · Reply

Wouldn't you want to *put on* heatsinks, if it were, indeed, getting hot in here?

Tom Gabriele, · Reply

Any idea why they went with brushed aluminum fan covers? I know Steve Jobs had that whole 'the inside must be as beautiful as the outside' thing, but the 15" just uses plastic, and this must add significant expense. (They're not even taking advantage of it for marketing, all of the internals images on their site are of the 15")

Keaton Tech, · Reply

FYI, the battery is a part of the upper case and it should't be removed. That's why it's glued down.

Mark, · Reply

Flash memory is likely for the trackpad calibration data

Tom Chai, · Reply

the screw is the trackpad adjustment screw

Tom Chai, · Reply

Thats why I still prefer the non-retina version, if I had a chance to buy a new laptop

Honam1021, · Reply

I would like huge picture meta data of the kitten as well please

thank you

awesome addition to the review i was laughing

for ipad 4 i would like a hamster

thanks again :D

-gabriel

Gabriel Fritz, · Reply

WHY KITTENS SO CUTE!

Please put some more kittens in your guides

Spencer, · Reply

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