Teardown shows 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016) is as hard to repair as its smaller siblings

November 23, 2016


Apple’s 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro models, both with and without Touch Bar, are both incredibly thin and light and thus basically designed to be very difficult to break down to perform repairs. Machines like these contribute to the notion of “throwaway” machines that are recycled rather than repaired when issues arise.

It turns out that the larger sibling, the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, is also an incredibly tightly designed and built machine that not only has no user-serviceable parts inside, but likely has few Apple-serviceable parts as well. When it’s all torn down, the 15-inch MacBook Pro earns the same 1-out-of-10 repairability score as its smaller Touch Bar sibling, according to iFixit.

The larger machine’s teardown could mostly be summarized by simply pointing to the smaller version and saying, “It’s just like that.” They’re essentially twins inside, with very minimal differences to note beyond a different battery layout. One major difference is an extra touchpad controller to manage the larger touchpad offered on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Just like the 13-inch model, this one also sports two cooling fans, and they’re larger at 46.6 mm versus 42.3 mm. The six-cell battery is 76 watt-hours, meaning it should help offset the larger screen compared to the much smaller 49.2 watt-hour battery in the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The chassis uses the same pentalobe screws requiring special equipment to open up, and everything is glued in and soldered down, and highly integrated. From the perspective of cramming as much technology into as minimal a space as possible, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is a remarkable machine. From the perspective of opening it up and performing repairs, it’s not quite so impressive.

Once again, the 15-inch machine’s SSD is soldered to the motherboard, meaning there’s no upgradeable storage option available. That leaves the 13-inch model without Touch Bar as the only storage-upgradeable option in the 2016 MacBook Pro lineup.

Ultimately, the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro is a machine that you’ll want to purchase as fully stocked as you can afford, because you’ll be stuck with it until you decide to move on. If it needs to be fixed, there’s a good chance you’ll simply be handed a new unit unless Apple has some teardown chops that the iFixit staff does not.

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