Retina MacBook 2017 Teardown
By Blake Klein • Difficulty: Moderate
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.

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Retina MacBook 2017 Teardown
  • 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
Step 2
  • 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!
Step 3
  • 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
Step 4
  • 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.
Step 5
  • 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)
Step 6
  • 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
Step 7
  • 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.
Step 8
Final Thoughts
  • Retina Macbook 2016 Repairability Score: 1 out of 10 (10 is the easiest to repair)
  • 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.
  • While it's no more repairable than the last two years' editions, it does benefit from sharing a lot of the same parts and repair procedures as the other Retina MacBooks.