Inside the Retina Display

Today we took a closer look at the component that makes the new model MacBook Pro so groundbreaking: the Retina display. Apple claims that the Retina display in the MacBook Pro is the most stunning display to ever grace the lid of a notebook computer.

Honestly, we agree. The Retina display is an engineering marvel. Its LCD is essentially the entire display assembly. Rather than sandwich an LCD panel between a back case and a piece of glass in front, Apple used the aluminum case itself as the frame for the LCD panel and used the LCD as the front glass. They’ve managed to pack five times as many pixels as the last model in a display that’s actually a fraction of a millimeter thinner. And since there’s no front glass, glare is much less of an issue.

But at what cost? The kind that’s green and has dead presidents on it. There’s no way to replace just the LCD, since the entire thing is the LCD; so, users with unfortunate accidents will have to replace the complete assembly. The intricacies of opening the display also mean that if anything else should fail inside, that same assembly will still have to be replaced, or the user will have to make do without the component.

Here is the teardown.

Inside the MacBook Pro Retina Display


  • The Retina display is a hair over 7 mm at its thickest point and just over 3 mm at its thinnest, only a fraction of a millimeter thinner than the regular MacBook Pro.
  • The display hinges have cables routed through them, without any means to remove the cables. So instead of routing cables underneath cable retainers (as in the non-Retina MacBook Pro), you just have to replace the cables and hinges together.
  • The FaceTime HD camera interfaces with the rest of the computer via a Vimicro VC0358 USB camera interface IC.
  • Underneath the top layer we find a series of films and sheets that manipulate light before sending it to the user’s eye.
  • A strip of 48 LEDs at the bottom of the display assembly provides all the light your Retina display needs.
  • The bottom edge of the case has two features that we found pretty neat: a laser engraved internal use code and a nifty arrangement of round indentations.

LED strip on the MacBook Pro Retina Display