Teardown confirms both 13″ and 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros have non-removable SSDs

By , Nov 18, 2016

15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar iFixit teardown 001

iFixit on Friday published its teardown analysis of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (model number A1707), just two days after taking a peek under the hood of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Comparing the two Touch Bar-equipped notebooks to the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar, which iFixit also disassembled, the repair site has confirmed that only the baseline 13-incher with a standard row of function keys has a removable SSD.

Like on the 13-incher, this machine’s processor, RAM and flash memory are soldered to the logic board, meaning that the SSD is impossible to remove or upgrade.

Curiously enough, iFixit has discovered a hidden connector inside the machine that leads “nowhere,” speculating it could be for SSD data rescue in case of hardware failure.

“Based on our previous teardown, we’re speculating Apple included an access port for the integrated SSD,” explains iFixit. “Not a bad idea when it’s impossible to physically salvage your data out of a damaged machine.”

15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar iFixit teardown 002

And:

We’d still rather see a removable/upgradeable SSD, particularly in a machine targeted at pros—but this way if your logic board bites the dust, there might at least be a chance of recovering your data with Apple’s help. Keep making those backups though.

The same connector was found in the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Other notable findings from the teardown analysis:

  • The trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is twice the size of its predecessor and it’s so large that Apple had to throw in an extra Broadcom touch controller integrated circuitry to handle all of that extra touchable glass.
  • Like its 13-inch variant, the 15-inch notebook’s speaker grille holes are mostly for symmetric styling and don’t go all the way through. While medium to high frequencies are indeed pushed through the grille holes from a tweeter located underneath, low-bass sounds are directed through the long air intake vents under the left and right sides and reflected on the surface of the desk.
  • Apple’s reengineered thermal architecture includes fans with redesigned blades. On the 15-incher, the blades are “marginally larger” than their counterparts from the 13-inch Touch Bar model, measuring in at 46.6 mm compared to 42.3 mm.
  • The battery has a different six-cell battery layout versus one in the 13-incher.

Here’s the notebook’s trackpad compared to the iPad mini.

15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar iFixit teardown 003

And here’s a closeup of the Apple-designed T1 chip that handles Touch ID/Apple Pay/webcam security an drives the Touch Bar, as seen on the notebook’s mustache-shaped logic board overlaid on top of Apple’s promotional graphics.

15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar iFixit teardown 004

It’s basically the same spot that Apple’s marketing materials claim the T1 chip is. To iFixit, that came as something of a surprise considering there’s three similar chips peppered over the rest of the logic board.

In addition to both the 13 and 15-inch Touch Bar-outfitted machines not having a removable SSD, they also have non-upgradeable RAM and have their battery “solidly glued down”, which greatly inhibits repairs and recycling.

iFixit gave both the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro a 1/10 on its repairability scale.

Source: iFixit

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  • Alex Wilson

    Just another push away from the apple infrastructure. They soldered the RAM on the MacMini, which was bad enough. But now they are doing it to Hard Drives too? Ugh… windows here I… not yet.

    • 5723alex .

      The $3000+ Surface Book i7 has also soldered RAM… According to iFixit the Surface has repairability of 1/10.

      • Alex Wilson

        That’s nice, wasn’t one I’d consider either.

    • Better get used to it. Notebooks are getting ever thinner and something has to give. REpairaibility isn’t high on Apple’s list of priorities and it’s now the end of the line for upgradable MacBooks.

      • Alex Wilson

        I get that, and on a Laptop I can some what see it, but not on something like the MacMini. I fear this is Apple’s way to force you to upgrade your hardware.

  • John Smith

    I think this is the next era of Apple’s controlling attitude, they’ve always been like this. The Apple computers started very customizable, until the Macintosh came along. By the time Steve was fired (or even when he was there) customization was removed entirely. During the time Jobs was gone, hardware became *very* customizable. By the time he came back, it was restricted heavily, until later in the 2000s when Apple started focusing on the professionals again.

    Now we’re in that era where everything is controlled again, it might last maximum five years. The Apple Watch having no connection to computers, no hardware modification (especially iPhones, where battery used to be easy to swap out), and I’m assuming their Mac Pro lineup will also be sub-par in terms of professionalism and customization. Then once sales start to go down, they’ll pull the same old “Apple is back on track” campaign and begin to wow everyone like they used to.

    I very well believe this is entirely intentional. As soon as USB-C takes off worldwide, and Apple’s solidified their base, they’ll bring back all the customization along with a whole lot of new stuff. It’s a business thing, and it works.

  • john snow

    I have macbook pro mid 2014 and before now i though my mac is non-uprgradable