Laptops

Cracking Open the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display teardown

Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a powerful laptop and probably the most portable MacBook Pro ever. But as this Cracking Open gallery shows, it's also nearly impossible to upgrade and a real pain to work on.

For a detailed analysis of the teardown, check out my article and video, Teardown shows Retina MacBook Pro is nearly impossible to upgrade, difficult to work on.

Photo by: Bill Detwiler / TechRepublic
Caption by: Bill Detwiler

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

20 comments
Malfoy911
Malfoy911

Very nice pictures....btw what brand and model is the screwdriver on pic 52??? Thank you.

dnox1978
dnox1978

hmmm so now it's ok with high resolution on laptops my appel users friends has always sad to me you dont need att screen whit that high resolution on an Laptop,, but back to topic, this is a very good leap in my opinion, and if the display can view adobe RGB scale or better, and it's possible to calibrate the screen, it's perfect, and then I can live with its other fault like being near impossible to upgrade =)

nrkmann
nrkmann

What can you do to upgrade a laptop? More memory, larger & faster hard drive, and not much else. No video, sound, additional ports, second hard drive, etc. So I have to be smart with the MBP-RD and order the memory I need to start with. Isn't that what I should be doing?

SHCA
SHCA

It's an Apple. That's their entire business model - Proprietary closed systems. For expandability and maintainability, you want ... um ... oh, yeah, a PC. Duh!

MikeChablis
MikeChablis

why would you want to change it when Steve already knows what you want....what everybody wants. I guess everyone has their preference. Mine is to choose what I want rather than have someone tell me, but for many, having someone make the decision for them is just what they need. The Apple products have always been about twice the price for equal computing and featue power. That's the main reason I never buy them.

digital riverrat
digital riverrat

This is one of the reasons I've never really liked the Apple Computing products. They cost too much to buy and to upgrade. Back in the day, the desktops only had SCSI hard drives. Yes, they were faster and, by and large, of greater capacity, but they were also much more expensive. And they had proprietary memory, which also cost you the other arm plus your first-born. For the same cost I was able to buy and build 2 PCs.

greggwon
greggwon

The vast majority of people who buy Apple products, know the value of the AppleCare program. It allows you to do "your job" while Apple is doing their job of supporting their product. If you don't buy AppleCare for your Apple products, then you really miss out on the chance to just use your stuff to do what you want to get done, and stop spending hours and hours being your own "IT staff" so that you can upgrade or replace stuff that you need to. Warranties are invaluable for portable devices like this. If you can't feel the need to buy AppleCare, then you're probably not going to enjoy anything about why the price difference between PCs and Macs exists. The PC industry is very distant from Apple in true customer relations. If you need help with a product in the PC industry, you are going to pay for it, and the time to a fix, for me anyway, is usually a week, not a day or two as it is with AppleCare.

QnA
QnA

If even PC producers are trying to force consumers to join the 'throw-away society' the future looks bleak indeed. I hope these models will do very badly so others won't follow this ridiculous design. There is no advantage for consumers in glueing everything to the Motherboard. Not only does our environment lose out; simple and cheap things like RAM suddenly cost you 100 Euro to upgrade instead of 20 by doing it yourself.

ArtRepublic
ArtRepublic

Better not forget to take the Applecare program with these new laptops ; ) This is a great product, but my main disappointment about Apple and this new serie of MacBook Pro's the fact that they won't make anymore of the 17" serie (recently announced to retailers in a publishing). Worst news ever for designers.. 15" is just too small.. Apparently the Mac Pro will also soon have the same destiny.. Do they have another secret weapon or is it time to go back to PC? I'm an Apple user since like ever (had also some Asus PC's several years ago, which I loved, until parallel came out), but I truly hate where Apple's going. Their products are beginning to be too much for the average user. Especially, the ipad which is a great product but also probably the worst to work with, really looking forward to Microsoft Surface Tablet!

rhon
rhon

A real pain to work on says the editor? Based on what, based on the fact that there is no ethernet port, but that you need a tiny adapter (if you need it at all). I have used the machine a few weeks now and there is nothing difficult about it. About the upgradability? Who upgrades a notebook nowadays? 99% of the professionals for which the notebook is made throw it out of the window after two years and buy a new one. Bet that Bill Detwiler screws open his Acer everyday.... not so for the rest of us.

dmoore4511
dmoore4511

A lot of computing power for a laptop Best hardware setup I'v seen but if it ever breaks down ware and tare or by those unforeseen things that happen it is very expensive to fix.

DimHelmet
DimHelmet

As many laptops as I have seen with broken power jacks, it would be nice if everyone used a cable like Apple has here to connect the jack to the motherboard. It's funny that the magsafe power port was made so that the power cord could be disconnected easily without breaking the tip or the laptop, but the connector is "easily" replaced.

shivaram.mamindlapalli
shivaram.mamindlapalli

Thanks for the pictures.. It helped allot.. But I I believe, if they are captions - giving a small description on what is what.. It would be more informational. :)

javerwokie
javerwokie

I have never been an apple fan, but I must admit this is one nice bit of kit, will it run windows 8 (only joking) I know you mentioned nearly impossible to upgrade but at the specifications it comes from the factory with I can't see that would ever need to upgrade it.

nrkmann
nrkmann

I have owned Apple computers since the Apple II and have four running computers as I type this. If I had only paid $100 per year per computer I would be out several thousand dollars. To date I have spent less than $500 in repairs (two power supplies for a Duo Dock and a Power Book) and have saved enough to replace all four for less than Apple Care would have cost. I refuse to be insurance poor for consumer goods.

MikeChablis
MikeChablis

this paid advertisement brough to you by Apple. It's not overpriced Insurance, it's AppleCare. Do you also buy the extended warranty on your washer from Sears at 30% of the cost of the washer? The minimum wage salesman will looooove you. I remember the first iPods with the faulty battery and the future shop saleman suggesting I was crazy for not dropping $80 for a battery warranty because it was sure to fail within a year. Nice.

mshewchuk
mshewchuk

A well made notebook lasts a long time. I buy Lenovo. Apple has excellent quality and support. So does Lenovo. Difference is upgrading the ram and hard disk are laid out for the end user. With ever falling prices I increased the power and usability of my laptop with a new 9 cell battery, extra 8 gigs of ram and a 240 gig solid state drive. At the time of buying my laptop, a few years ago, the costs of these items were out of reach. Now without forking out big bucks for someone else to upgrade these elements under the hood, I did it myself with off the shelf items. I have thus inexpensively greatly boosted the performance and battery life to match a new unit. The bright anti-glare screen lets me design outdoors on a park bench with several hours of juice.

AaronBradford
AaronBradford

I should imagine the 'work on' is referring to physically opening and working on the machine, not the user experience.

nick
nick

I agree - upgrading laptops is very limited and difficult in any case - especially as they get older. However having said that, I was able to upgrade my 5 year old MBP 17" with a 500 GB 7500 RPM HDD (from the original 160 GB 5400 RPM) and an extra GB of RAM (from the original 2 GB, 3GB was the max you could go with this model) - which increased its lifespan by another 18 months - and its still going strong. I am now waiting on the delivery of my replacement - MBP Retina - 2.6Ghz, 16 GB RAM 500 GB SSD. I figure that this configuration should last me at least 4 years. But if it doesn't, I'll have to purchase a new machine sooner than I normally would.

i8thecat4
i8thecat4

Applecare is the only extended warranty that I will buy on any electronic devices (and I do many any, including appliances and TVs)... All other extended warranties are worthless but Applecare is worth every penny and then some... There is a reason Apple's support has won every satisfaction survey by a landslide margin for the past decade+ and still going. If you ever have to use them, it is a great experience, if not, then the piece of mind is well worth it.