Introduction

It has been just over a year since Apple unveiled its first update to the Retina Macbook. A year later we hold the same computer second update. Join us as we teardown the 2017 Retina Macbook to try and determine where exactly Apple thinks differently.

If non-drastic updates are your thing, make sure to check out the 2017 Macbook Pro Touch Bar teardown.

If teardowns of all shapes and sizes are your thing, make sure to catch em' all by following us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Retina MacBook 2017, use our service manual.

We check out the Space Gray specification bump and see what this year's MacBook has to offer: 12-inch 2304 × 1440 (226 ppi) IPS Retina Display
  • We check out the Space Gray specification bump and see what this year's MacBook has to offer:

    • 12-inch 2304 × 1440 (226 ppi) IPS Retina Display

    • 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.0 GHz)

    • 8 GB of 1866 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM

    • 256 GB PCIe-based SSD

    • Intel HD Graphics 615

    • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2

    • A single USB-C port and 3.5 mm headphone jack

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The larger trackpad. The USB 3 port.  The  lone microphone jack. Why does this all feel so familiar? The new MacBook has model number A1534. Oh, so does the 2016 Retina MacBook. Don't forget the 2015 MacBook either. They are all the same... Can we just use last year's teardown and call it a day?
  • The larger trackpad. The USB 3 port. The lone microphone jack. Why does this all feel so familiar?

  • The new MacBook has model number A1534. Oh, so does the 2016 Retina MacBook. Don't forget the 2015 MacBook either. They are all the same...

    • Can we just use last year's teardown and call it a day?

  • Okay, so the EMC number is a fresh 3099. Something must be different. The investigation continues!

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Removing some Pentalobe screws allows us to get a peek at this MacBook's internals. The silicon buried underneath the trackpad doesn't appear to be any different from last year's MacBook. We find three identical IC's:
  • Removing some Pentalobe screws allows us to get a peek at this MacBook's internals.

  • The silicon buried underneath the trackpad doesn't appear to be any different from last year's MacBook. We find three identical IC's:

    • Broadcom BCM5976 Touchscreen Controller

    • STMicroelectronics 32F103 ARM Cortex-M3 Microcontroller

    • International Rectifier IRFH3702 Single N-Channel HEXFET Power MOSFET

only removing screws will not let you pull off the back cover, it’s been somehow locked/ snapped on the side. Any idea to get it opened?

Ron Ma - Reply

Deck the Halls
With tools and Fix Kits
Last year we noted that Apple moved away from its inclusion of a tri-point screw in the MacBook and replaced it with a Phillips screw. Tinkerers and repairers can rejoice! Even though we saw a barrage of tri-point screws in the iPhone 7, we still see the Phillips screw standing strong. Although we were armed with our 64 Bit Driver Kit and prepared for any pesky tri-point screws, it is always a relief to see the repair friendly Phillips screw.
  • Last year we noted that Apple moved away from its inclusion of a tri-point screw in the MacBook and replaced it with a Phillips screw.

  • Tinkerers and repairers can rejoice! Even though we saw a barrage of tri-point screws in the iPhone 7, we still see the Phillips screw standing strong.

  • Although we were armed with our 64 Bit Driver Kit and prepared for any pesky tri-point screws, it is always a relief to see the repair friendly Phillips screw.

  • More of the same is always good when it comes to repair. It is not so good when it comes to permanent, soldered components. To the logic board we go!

  • ...But not before we isolate that battery to safely depower the system. Speaking of which, this year's battery exactly matches last year's 41.41 Wh juice box.

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We finally stumble across some subtle differences in the chipset:
  • We finally stumble across some subtle differences in the chipset:

    • Intel SR346 Intel Core m3-7Y32 Processor (4M Cache, up to 3.00 GHz)

    • Toshiba TH58XGT0JFLLDVK 128 GB NAND Flash (+ 128 GB on the reverse side for a total of 256 GB)

    • SK Hynix H5TC4G63CFR 4Gb DDR3 SDRAM

    • Universal Scientific Industrial 339S0250 Wi-Fi Module

    • Broadcom BCM15700A2 (as seen in several other MacBook models, but this version has a notably different form factor)

    • National Semiconductor 48B1-11

    • SK Hynix H9CKNNN4GTATMR-NTH (with SSD controller presumably layered underneath)

Is that Universal Scientific Industrial "339S0250" Wi-Fi Module or Universal Scientific Industrial "339S0251" ?

JJ Wu - Reply

So what’s the extra half gigabyte of ram for?

Andrew Cassidy - Reply

And for the opposite side:
  • And for the opposite side:

    • Toshiba TH58XGT0JFLLDVK 128 GB NAND Flash (+ 128 GB on the reverse side for a total of 256 GB)

    • Micron 7CB47D9TDZ 4 GB 1866 MHz LPDDR3 RAM (x2, for a total of 8 GB)

    • Apple 338S00227-A0

    • Texas Instruments/Stellaris LM4FS1EH SMC Controller (Replacement codename for TM4EA231)

    • Texas Instruments TMP513A Thermal/Power Management

    • Texas Instruments SN650839, TPS51980A, and CD3215C00

    • Intersil 95828

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Rumor has it that the second gen butterfly mechanism inherited from the Pro makes this MacBook way more usable—so what's inside? Comparing the space gray "new" keyboard to the rose gold MacBook of yesteryear, we can see: The mechanical switch that detects the keystroke is a simpler rounder dome, not the fancy 'x' shape it once was.
  • Rumor has it that the second gen butterfly mechanism inherited from the Pro makes this MacBook way more usable—so what's inside?

  • Comparing the space gray "new" keyboard to the rose gold MacBook of yesteryear, we can see:

    • The mechanical switch that detects the keystroke is a simpler rounder dome, not the fancy 'x' shape it once was.

    • The plastic butterfly mechanism also accommodates the new switch, swapping to a new, slightly thinner frame.

  • While not really a mechanical change, the control and option keys got some new ink. They now mark keyboard shortcuts rather than translating for PC users.

Can we source a 2nd gen keyboard and swap them out in place of the old ones on a 2015 or 2016 Macbook to get the new keyboard without purchasing the 2017 edition?

Ken S. - Reply

Does the keyboard can be removed and put it back again without functional damage? One of my old version MacBook's key is not working, I can't press it down.

Albert Mao - Reply

@Albert Mao

Unfortunately the switch domes get bent with force quite easily. You can try to bend it back but you might have to use glue to get the translucent cover back into its place.

Sven Ollino - Reply

Any source for key board / translucent cover replacements?

Ron Ma - Reply

Minimal changes in the MacBook means minimal steps in the teardown! Make sure to check out the Retina MacBook 2016 and Retina MacBook 2015 to see more of these machines' construction.

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Final Thoughts
  • Apple did not return to tri-point screws, and instead used only Torx and Phillips screws within the computer.
  • The processor, RAM, and flash memory are still soldered to the logic board.
  • A large amount of strong adhesive holds the battery assembly to the lower case .
  • The Retina display is a fused unit with no separate, protective glass. If the display is damaged, it'll be arduous and expensive to repair.
Repairability Score
1
Repairability 1 out of 10
(10 is easiest to repair)

16 Comments

nice je suis justement trés content

mpialudaan - Reply

Seems like that if i can source a logic board from a 2017 model i can stick it inside my 2016 one :) nice

Ilias - Reply

$2000 for anyone who can upgrade my 2017 Macbook to 1TB flash. Genuine offer. I have run out of space in 2012 on my Macbook air and the storage has not increased since for a light and thin Macbook.

Frank Kapotti - Reply

Have you thought about changing the ssd in your MBA?

MacBook Air 13" Mid 2012 Solid-State Drive Replacement

You can buy a Transcend ssd for the MBA on Amazon

robertgolin -

hit up louis rossmann he might do it as a one time thing

Ethan Chow -

Maybe Toshiba sells a SSD of 512GB with the same form factor of TH58XGT0JFLLDVK and I could resolder 2 of them? A web search brought not results. Or perhaps there is a way of "installing" a 512GB micro sd card inside

Frank Kapotti - Reply

No, you can't. Toshiba TH58XGT0JFLLDVK is NAND Flash. The SSD inside Macbook is composed of Apple proprietary SSD controller and NAND Flash chips that are soldered on the main board. You can't replace the NAND Flash chips by Toshiba SSD chips even they have same form factor since the HW interface is different.

JJ Wu -

Couldn't I just resolder large toshiba nand chips? I am experienced with soldering small stuff

Frank Kapotti -

Sorry I'm afraid that you can't do that. A functional SSD requires flash, main controller, cache and a firmware. The last one is a software-level component and nobody but apple knows the way to change that. Once you replaced the NAND flash you may need to re-flash the firmware to make the main controller work with larger capacity. But a 512GB SSD is no higher than the spec of the top model, so you may still have a way to make it work if you can get the firmware from the 512GB model and write it into yours.

Orange Chen -

I don't have a macbook air

Frank Kapotti - Reply

What I'd like to know is how much the parts weigh. In particular, how much of the weight of a Macbook is the case itself?

robert weston - Reply

Why terminal command "sysctl -n machdep.cpu.brand_strig" show m3 1.10GHz and no 1.2GHz?

Al Bundy - Reply

Is it possible to replace the first gen butterfly keyboard with this second gen?

Eim Abey - Reply

Does anybody know if there's a mini PCI-E anywhere? Or does the wireless/Bluetooth capabilities connector that? There's an E GPU adapter which connects to this. Thanks!

Finley Still - Reply

Is it possible to replace the first gen butterfly keyboard (2016 macbook 12”) with this second gen keyboard (2017 macbook 12”)?

macbook user - Reply

What happens if the one USB-C port goes bad — does the whole logic board needs replacing?

MacBook - Reply

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