Retina MacBook 2016 Teardown
By Evan Noronha • Difficulty: Moderate
Introduction

A year after release, Apple just announced its first update to the 12" MacBook with Retina Display. It's sort of a baby update, so we decided to match it with a baby teardown. Besides a faster processor and zippier flash memory, what changed? There's only one way to know: crack it open and spill its secrets. Join us for a mini-teardown of the Retina MacBook 2016.

For a no-holds-barred disassembly of the initial Retina MacBook release, check out our Retina MacBook 2015 teardown.

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Step 1
  • With the MacBook jumping on the Rose Gold bandwagon, who knows what's lurking inside? Here's the lowdown so far:
  • 12-inch 2304 × 1440 (226 ppi) IPS Retina Display
  • 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (configurable up to 1.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core m7)
  • 8 GB of 1866 MHz LPDDR3 RAM
  • 256 or 512 GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Intel HD Graphics 515
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Single USB-C port and 3.5 mm headphone jack
Step 2
  • If it weren't for the rose gold finish, we'd be hard-pressed to distinguish between this year's Retina MacBook, and the one of yesteryear.
  • The exteriors look identical, from the Pentalobe screws in the lower case all the way down to the model number—A1534.
  • The only telltale sign that something's different is the updated EMC number: 2991 compared to last year's 2746.
Step 3
  • Popping the hood on this MacBook gives us an indication that the rose gold beauty is much more than skin deep.
  • Before delving any deeper into this beauty, we take a quick look at the chips powering the trackpad:
  • Broadcom BCM5976 Touchscreen Controller
  • STMicroelectronics 32F103 ARM Cortex-M3 Microcontroller
  • International Rectifier IRFH3702 Single N-Channel HEXFET Power MOSFET
Step 4
  • What's that? The pesky tri-wing screw we saw last year grew another, um, wing—now it's a regular ol' repair-friendly Phillips.
  • If you weren't put off by the Pentalobes on the lower case, then a tri-wing probably won't slow you down much—but hey, we'll take what we can get!
  • Thankfully, all the other internal screws remain standard Phillips and Torx screws.
  • However, another surprise awaits at the hinge screws, whose Torx heads are filled with some sort of substance that disintegrates when you insert a screwdriver. Are you sealing our MacBook with tamper-evident screws, Apple?
Step 5
  • And at the other end of the MacBook, it seems the USB-C hardware has also changed. The cable is now perma-fixed to the USB board, condensing the two components into a single unit.
  • ...Also, the silicon is new and moved from the cable itself to the USB board. Here's a comparison of the new USB-C hardware (top) with that of the 2015 Retina MacBook (bottom).
  • Parade Technologies PS8741A (likely an iteration of the PS8740 USB Type-C Redriving Switch)
  • This new USB and cable arrangement is one thing that's not compatible with previous Retina MacBooks.
Step 6
  • The battery's form factor seems 100% identical to the multi-lobed cell we found in the 2015 Macbook.
  • And yet somehow, Apple managed to squeeze in a 4% capacity increase from the 7.55 V, 39.71 Wh battery in last year's model. Apple claims this new 7.56 V, 41.41 Wh Li-ion power source should provide up to 11 hours of iTunes movie playback.
  • We're guessing this capacity increase is owed to improved battery chemistry (though it's also possible that Apple's engineers have shaved away just enough material from the lower case to allow for a thicker battery).
  • Unfortunately, they did not squeeze in any of those nifty adhesive pull tabs we've seen in Apple's iDevices.
  • Regardless, our tests indicate this beefier battery is compatible with last year's MacBook. Nice!
Step 7
  • Logic Board! What chips is this MacBook serving up?
  • Intel SR2EN Intel Core m3-6Y30 Processor (4M Cache, up to 2.20 GHz)
  • Toshiba TH58TFT0DFKLAVF 128 GB MLC NAND Flash (+ 128 GB on the reverse side for a total of 256 GB)
  • Micron MT41K256M16LY-107 4Gb DDR3L SDRAM
  • Universal Scientific Industrial 339S0250 Wi-Fi Module
  • Broadcom BCM15700A2 (as seen in several other MacBook models)
  • National Semiconductor 48B1-11
  • F4432ACPE-GD-F (with SSD controller presumably layered underneath)
Step 8
  • But wait, there's even more chips on the back:
  • Toshiba TH58TFT0DFKLAVF 128 GB MLC NAND Flash
  • Samsung K3QF4F4 4 GB LPDDR3 RAM (x2, for a total of 8 GB)
  • Apple 338S00066
  • Texas Instruments/Stellaris LM4FS1EH SMC Controller (Replacement codename for TM4EA231)
  • SMSC 1704-2 Temperature Sensor
  • Texas Instruments SN650839, TPS51980A, and CD3215B01
  • Intersil 95828
Step 9
  • Retina Macbook 2016 Repairability Score: 1 out of 10 (10 is the easiest to repair)
  • Those pesky tri-wing screws are gone, replaced with lovely standard Phillips screws—but tamper-evident hinge screws make you feel like a hoodlum for repairing your own machine.
  • The processor, RAM, and flash memory are still soldered to the logic board.
  • The battery assembly remains entirely, and very solidly, glued into the lower case.
  • The Retina display is still a fused unit with no separate, protective glass. If the display needs replacing, it'll cost a pretty penny.
  • While it's no more repairable than last year's edition, it does benefit from sharing a lot of the same parts and repair procedures.