MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Late 2008 and Early 2009 Upper Case Replacement

The ins and outs of replacing your upper case.

Sections

Edit Step 1 Access Door  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Access Door  ¶ 

  • With the case closed, place the Unibody top-side down on a flat surface.

  • Depress the grooved side of the access door release latch enough to grab the free end. Lift the release latch until it is vertical.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • The access door should now be raised enough to lift it up and out of the Unibody.

Edit Step 3 Battery  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3 Battery  ¶ 

  • Be sure the access door release latch is vertical before proceeding.

  • Grab the translucent plastic tab and pull the battery up and out of the Unibody.

  • If the latch is depressed it will lock the battery in place.

Edit Step 4 Lower Case  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4 Lower Case  ¶ 

  • Remove the following eight screws securing the lower case to the chassis:

    • One 5.4 mm Phillips screw.

    • Three 14 mm Phillips screws.

    • Four 3.5 mm Phillips screws.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Using both hands, lift and remove the lower case off the upper case.

Edit Step 6 Mid Wall  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6 Mid Wall  ¶ 

  • Remove the following 5 screws securing the mid wall to the upper case:

    • Three 10.5 mm Phillips screws.

    • Two 3.7 mm Phillips screws.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Lift the mid wall out of the upper case.

Edit Step 8 Logic Board  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8 Logic Board  ¶ 

  • Remove the following six screws securing both the right fan and the left fan to the logic board:

    • Four 3.5 mm Phillips screws.

    • Two 3.2 mm Phillips screws.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Use the tip of a spudger to lift the right fan connector straight up from its socket on the logic board.

    • Be sure to only pry up on the connector itself not on the socket or you may damage the machine.

    • It is useful to twist the spudger axially from beneath the fan cable wires to release the connector.

  • Remove the right fan from the case.

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Use the tip of a spudger to lift the left fan connector straight up from its socket on the logic board.

    • Be sure to only pry up on the connector itself not on the socket or you may damage the machine.

    • It is useful to twist the spudger axially from beneath the fan cable wires to release the connector.

  • Remove the left fan from the case.

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Remove any adhesive from the camera cable connector.

  • Disconnect the camera cable by pulling the male end out of its socket, parallel to the logic board, do not lift it upwards.

Edit Step 12  ¶ 

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • Use a spudger to carefully pry the optical drive connector straight up off its socket on the logic board.

Edit Step 13  ¶ 

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • If necessary, peel off the foam bumper covering the subwoofer connector.

  • Using the flat end of a spudger, pry the subwoofer connector straight up off its socket on the logic board.

  • Be very careful. This connection is delicate, the socket can be easily broken off the logic board.

Edit Step 14  ¶ 

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the silver-colored hard drive cable connector straight up out of its socket on the logic board.

Edit Step 15  ¶ 

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Use a spudger to pry the trackpad connector straight up out of its socket on the logic board.

Edit Step 16  ¶ 

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • Using the tip of a spudger, flip up the IR/sleep LED ribbon cable retaining flap.

  • Pull the IR/sleep LED ribbon cable straight out of its socket.

Edit Step 17  ¶ 

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • Use a spudger to pry the battery indicator light connector straight up out of its socket on the logic board.

  • Pry up under the cable wires to avoid pulling the socket itself off of the logic board.

Edit Step 18  ¶ 

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

  • Using the tip of a spudger, flip up the keyboard ribbon cable retaining flap.

  • Pull the keyboard ribbon cable straight out of its socket.

  • During reassembly, make sure to fully insert the keyboard ribbon cable back into the ZIF socket.

Edit Step 19  ¶ 

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • Using the tip of a spudger, flip up the express card cage ribbon cable retaining flap.

  • Pull the express card cage ribbon cable straight out of its socket.

Edit Step 20  ¶ 

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Edit Step 20  ¶ 

  • Using the flat end of a spudger, pry the microphone cable connector straight up out of its socket on the logic board.

  • Pry up under the cable wires to avoid pulling the socket itself off of the logic board.

Edit Step 21  ¶ 

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Edit Step 21  ¶ 

  • Grab the plastic pull tab secured to the display data cable lock and rotate it toward the DC-in side of the computer.

  • Pull the display data cable connector straight away from its socket.

  • When disconnecting the display data cable, do not pull on the black tab secured to the cable lock. We recommend wiggling the cable while applying tension to slowly "walk" the connector out of its socket.

  • Make sure the display data cable is placed correctly in its socket during reassembly. Failure to do so will result in a partially visible display or no display image at all.

Edit Step 22  ¶ 

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Edit Step 22  ¶ 

  • Locate the keyboard backlight ribbon cable (near the left fan space).

  • Using the tip of a spudger, flip up the keyboard backlight ribbon cable retaining flap.

  • Pull the keyboard backlight ribbon cable straight out of its socket.

Edit Step 23  ¶ 

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Edit Step 23  ¶ 

  • Remove seven 3.2 mm Phillips screws securing the logic board to the upper case.

  • Do not remove the logic board yet! There are connectors attached to the underside of the logic board that must first be disconnected.

Edit Step 24  ¶ 

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Edit Step 24  ¶ 

  • Remove two 7 mm Phillips screws securing the DC-in board to the upper case.

  • Note: This step is not completely necessary, but it will make it easier to disconnect the cable that is connected to the DC-in board.

Edit Step 25  ¶ 

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Edit Step 25  ¶ 

  • Remove two 3.5 mm Phillips screws securing the bottom case clip to the upper case.

  • Lift the bottom case clip out of the upper case.

  • Some MacBook Pro Unibodies do not have a bottom case clip and do not require this step.

Edit Step 26  ¶ 

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Edit Step 26  ¶ 

  • Carefully lift the logic board assembly from the left side and work it out of the upper case, minding the port side that may get caught during removal.

  • Do not entirely remove the logic board yet!

  • Ensure that the logic board is free from all connections to the upper case (except the battery connector) before proceeding.

  • During reassembly, ensure all connectors and cables are not placed underneath the logic board. Some of the ribbon cables are very thin and fragile.

Edit Step 27  ¶ 

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Edit Step 27  ¶ 

  • Lift the logic board enough to grab the battery connector and pull it straight away from its socket on the logic board.

  • Lift the logic board assembly out of the upper case.

Edit Step 28 Battery Connector  ¶ 

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Edit Step 28 Battery Connector  ¶ 

  • Remove three 2 mm Phillips screws securing the battery connector cover to the upper case.

Edit Step 29  ¶ 

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Edit Step 29  ¶ 

  • The battery connector cover is held onto the upper case by a strong adhesive. Use a spudger to loosen the adhesive around the edges of the battery connector.

  • Lift the battery connector cover out of the upper case.

Edit Step 30  ¶ 

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Edit Step 30  ¶ 

  • Peel the battery connector cable off the adhesive securing it to the upper case.

  • De-route the battery connector cable through the gap in the upper case and remove it from the computer.

Edit Step 31 Upper Case  ¶ 

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Edit Step 31 Upper Case  ¶ 

  • Remove the following screws securing the ExpressCard Cage to the upper case:

    • Two 4 mm Phillips screws.

    • Two 1.9 mm Phillips screws.

  • Lift the the ExpressCard Cage out of the upper case.

Edit Step 32  ¶ 

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Edit Step 32  ¶ 

  • Remove the single Phillips screw securing the hard drive bracket to the upper case.

  • This screw is captive to the hard drive bracket.

Edit Step 33  ¶ 

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Edit Step 33  ¶ 

  • Lift the hard drive by its pull tab enough to grab and remove the retaining bracket.

  • Lift the hard drive out of the upper case, minding the cable attaching it to the computer.

Edit Step 34  ¶ 

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Edit Step 34  ¶ 

  • Remove the hard drive from its cable by pulling the cable connector straight away from the drive.

Edit Step 35  ¶ 

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Edit Step 35  ¶ 

  • Remove the following three Phillips screws securing the optical drive to the upper case:

    • One 3.5 mm Phillips screw.

    • Two 2.5 mm Phillips screws.

  • Lift the optical drive from its right edge and pull it out of the computer.

Edit Step 36  ¶ 

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Edit Step 36  ¶ 

  • Remove the following four screws securing the subwoofer and right speaker to the upper case:

    • Two 3.2 mm Phillips screws.

    • One 2.6 mm Phillips screw.

    • One 5.0 mm Phillips screw.

  • Lift the subwoofer and right speaker assembly out of the upper case.

Edit Step 37  ¶ 

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Edit Step 37  ¶ 

  • Peel the hard drive cable from the adhesive securing it to the upper case, and maneuver the plastic retaining block out of the upper case.

Edit Step 38  ¶ 

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Edit Step 38  ¶ 

  • Remove two 8 mm Phillips screws securing the camera cable bracket to the upper case.

  • The rightmost screw may remain captive in the camera cable.

  • Seperate the camera cable bracket from the camera cable and remove it from the computer.

Edit Step 39  ¶ 

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Edit Step 39  ¶ 

  • Remove the 7 mm Phillips screw from the LVDS cable bracket.

  • This screw may remain captive in the LVDS cable.

  • Lift the LVDS cable bracket out of the upper case.

Edit Step 40  ¶ 

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Edit Step 40  ¶ 

  • Remove two outer 6 mm T6 Torx screws securing each side of the display to the upper case (4 screws total).

  • We intentionally have you leave one screw in each hinge to aid in the following steps.

Edit Step 41  ¶ 

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Edit Step 41  ¶ 

  • Open your MacBook Pro so the display is perpendicular to the upper case.

  • Place your opened MacBook Pro on a table as pictured.

  • While holding the display and upper case together with your other hand, remove the 6 mm Torx screw from the lower display bracket.

Edit Step 42  ¶ 

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Edit Step 42  ¶ 

  • Be sure to hold the display and upper case together with your other hand. Failure to do so may cause the freed display/upper case to fall, potentially damaging each component.

  • Remove the last remaining 6 mm Torx screw securing the display to the upper case.

Edit Step 43  ¶ 

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Edit Step 43  ¶ 

  • Grab the upper case with your right hand and rotate it slightly toward the top of the display so the upper display bracket clears the edge of the upper case.

  • Rotate the display slightly away from the upper case.

  • Lift the display away from the upper case, minding any brackets or cables that may get caught.

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

For more information, check out the MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Late 2008 and Early 2009 device page.

Required Tools

Spudger

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$9.95 · 50+ In stock

Phillips #00 Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

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Comments Comments are onturn off

This requires a Torx T6 (Step 39) that is not included in the "Required Tools" list.

dan, · Reply

Thanks Dan. The T6 Torx screwdriver is now part of the required tools list.

Walter Galan,

The A1286 has no Access Door.!!

I actually can see no sign of the battery!...

aguib, · Reply

Quote from aguib:

The A1286 has no Access Door.!!

I actually can see no sign of the battery!...

I assume you have the newer model, with the built-in battery. It's still removable with tools, but these are the wrong instructions for that model.

lgc90, · Reply

when will there be a guide for the other unibody macbook pro. that does not have an access door?

irishking, · Reply

Is there a manual to show, how disasembly the display, i mean, after step 5, to check the display between lcd and aluminiun back case?

Max

Max, · Reply

On other guides you state the height of the HD that can be supported, e.g. http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/Insta... , I have read ( but have not confirmed ) that the uni-body MacBook Pro can be fitted with the 750GB and 1TB 12mm drive from Western Digital.

Can you confirm this?

Many thanks in advance.

ahothabeth, · Reply

Quote from SHerwood Ball:

My display and aluminum casing has separated.

I don't know if it just snaps back together or does it need to be glued.

I dropped mine on the carpeted stairs and the display still works.

I'm hoping I can just snap it back together and that no plastic pieces or teeth of the snapping

portion have been broken........

SHerwood Ball, · Reply

When you say "left fan" is this "left when looking at the logic board after turning the computer over and looking it up opening it up" or "left when sitting at the computer keyboard and typing on it"?

thvv, · Reply

We always use left and right in reference to the computer when you're using it.

Andrew Optimus Goldberg,

Directions were great and the worn dc in board was replaced. The hardest part of the procedure is disconnecting the data display cable. A better description of step 21 is to slide the connector parallel to the circuit board towards the outside corner. Reconnecting correctly took several tries.

I used the tip of the spudger to nudge the corners a little at a time to seat the connector.

The ribbon connector for the keyboard has to be inserted all the way before seating the retaining cap. It took me three tries . First try power button did not work second try numbers keys did not work.

Thanks for the directions ...could not have done it with out them!!!

landryd, · Reply

Hi, My name is Jess I need help asap I accidentally dropped my macbook Pro and i cant find the silver screw for the top left back side, Does any one know if I can replace it with an eye glass screw?? If you can help at all Please e-mail me at Chambliss_jess@yahoo.com thx please help me my bf is going off... ;(

Jess, · Reply

The fixit PH00 is the wrong screw driver for this entire job. It did not fit in the screws, it was too pointy and caused screws to be rounded off.

mattrittgers, · Reply

About midway along each edge is a snap. To release each snap, gently slide the flat edge of a Spudger under the lower case, then lift the lower case away.

jonathansturges, · Reply

I have an late 08 macbook pro and replaced my cd drive with a hd caddy and hard drive put in it. everything works but my wifi is saying no hardware installed. Bluetooth and camera working just the wifi isn't. Everything was working just find before i did this but now i cant get my wifi back on. I checked the cable looks to be inserted properly any one else had this happen or have any solutions ?

myjellio, · Reply

Pry under the side where the wires connect.

colleenthompson, · Reply

There's a little shiny piece of plastic holding this item in place to keep it from sliding out of it's slot. It's glued on and if you don't take it off first, you'll likely bend the connector so that it won't work anymore. Ruined a motherboard because this step was missing.

maccentric, · Reply

What this guy said - REMOVE the shiny plastic block first. Also the "straight away" means sliding outwards TOWARDS THE OPTICAL BAY - *NOT* upwards.

Damien, · Reply

Hi, thanks for this tutorial: it solved my problem.

But unfortunately I have broken the IR/sleep LED ribbon cable socket on motherboard (cable is ok, socket crumbled): computer works fine but now it doesn't go on standby anymore. Is there a way to fix the cable on motherboard (for example with Kapton tape) or is there a software to manage computer standby?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Mary

mary, · Reply

I ran into trouble when re-installing the keyboard cable. I got everything put back together, plugged it in, and pressed Power... and nothing happened. I took everything apart again, reseated the heat sink and everything, put it back together... and the Power button didn't respond.

The MagSafe light came on, and the battery charge lights came on. But it wouldn't power up.

Finally I figured out that the keyboard cable is really tricky to get in correctly. If you can slide it out with the retaining clip locked (applying very little pressure), then the cable isn't actually in correctly. I had to really fiddle with it, and maybe slide it in one side first, to see that it actually needed to slide in another 1/8th inch or so beyond what felt like "in" the first few times I did it.

Once I'd secured that cable, my MacBook turned on again without a problem. So far, after just replacing the Thermal Paste (I didn't actually install a new heat sink), the computer is running 20°F cooler than it has in years. Thanks!

simolinic, · Reply

I agree. The instructions should place emphasis on seeing how deep this ribbon is. Most ribbons are pretty easy to slot back in. This one is not (maybe because of the colour). The IR/sleep is a b... too!

Jerome, · Reply

Hi Jerome. Thank you for your feedback. I agree with you and simolinic. There should be a reminder bullet that warns people about the depth of the ribbon cable. Thanks for adding that. Much appreciated.

Walter Galan,

On reassembly, check carefully that none of the fiddly little cables are trapped under the logic board. I had to back up and liberate the subwoofer connector. It takes some careful jiggling to get the sockets seated in the port holes.

colleenthompson, · Reply

The two screws closest to the optical drive have smaller heads. (May not be critical.)

Marty Swartz, · Reply

My clip is oriented 180 degrees (flipped) from this picture.

colleenthompson, · Reply

The bottom case clip is screwed to a black plastic bracket that's glued onto the upper case. My replacement upper case did not come with this bracket. I had to carefully pry it off the old upper case, taking care not to break it, and glue it to the new upper case before replacing the logic board.

colleenthompson, · Reply

I have a 2.66ghz 15inch Unibody Macbook Pro (A1286) and this step was not necessary.

Andrew Mostajo, · Reply

Quote from Andrew Mostajo:

I have a 2.66ghz 15inch Unibody Macbook Pro (A1286) and this step (24) was not necessary.

Andrew Mostajo, · Reply

Apropos to the last tip in this step, the replacement unibody I purchased omitted the receiving end of this clip, but it was in my original. As it only captures (but does not secure) a small metal tab on the bottom cover, I skipped transferring it.

Brett Deriso, · Reply

This whole procedure - removing the battery connector - is NOT NECESSARY! This battery connector is included on the Apple supplied replacement part. DO NOT go through the excessive effort to remove this part if you're getting an Apple part - you'll only end up giving them back an incomplete core part. Boo.

Matt Falcon, · Reply

When I took this apart, I was concerned about getting it back together again! I was relieve to see that the replacement upper case came with its own preinstalled battery connector cable and cover.

colleenthompson, · Reply

Hi Colleen, thanks for this detailed tutorial. I'm trying to put my MacBook Pro together after a major liquid spill, I have done a stupid mistake by removing the trackpad screws, now I can't find/recognize them, could you please point these out? what length/size should they be?

maxheater, · Reply

Maxheater, sorry, i don't know, having only worked on one of these. Maybe there's a trackpad tutorial with the info.

colleenthompson, · Reply

Quote from colleenthompson:

Maxheater, sorry, i don't know, having only worked on one of these. Maybe there's a trackpad tutorial with the info.

hi again, I managed to recognize them at last! thankfully :D they're so unique and not what i thought... now i got it back together (the whole lappy) and the screen represents weird yellowish dynamic line shades!! only on certain points, the problem is in a certain degree of grey, it shows as a flicker or a yellowish shade.... have u been through this before?

maxheater, · Reply

This whole procedure - removing the battery connector - is NOT NECESSARY! This battery connector is included on the Apple supplied replacement part. DO NOT go through the excessive effort to remove this part if you're getting an Apple part - you'll only end up giving them back an incomplete core part. Boo.

Matt Falcon, · Reply

... And unstick the "camera cable" (I'd imagine it includes more than just the camera!) from the optical drive first.

Matt Falcon, · Reply

See the bracket that the right side of the optical drive is screwed to? My replacement upper case did not come with that, so I had to remove it from the bad case and move it to the new one. The instructions leave that out.

colleenthompson, · Reply

This middle bar that screws the optical drive down is NOT included on the Apple supplied replacement part, and SHOULD be removed prior to sending back the old part for a core. Much to my dismay.

Matt Falcon, · Reply

My replacement upper case came with its own preinstalled, preglued hard drive cable.

colleenthompson, · Reply

Same, the Apple supplied replacement part includes a preinstalled, preglued hard drive cable. DO NOT remove this if you're using an Apple part! Just some unnecessary effort in an otherwise perfect guide. :)

Matt Falcon, · Reply

This is a great step by step tutorial. Thanks!

Andrew Mostajo, · Reply

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