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MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals 'Quality Concerns'

By - Source: iFixit | B 90 comments

The iFixit folks have been extremely busy this week. On Wednesday, they tore apart the Motorola Atrix, while yesterday saw them perform their tricks on a Samsung Galaxy S 4G. Today, however, the repair site has turned its attention to a bigger project: the 15-inch MacBook Pro.



With the redesigned MacBook Pros now available for purchase online, it’s important that prospective buyers know exactly what’s changed. Of course, the presence of Thunderbolt is something that cannot be overlooked in this teardown, and iFixit says the port’s controller IC is quite prominent on the logic board, representing the fourth largest chip on the board after the CPU, GPU, and logic board controller.

iFixit also reports that despite Apple lowering the battery life estimation to 7 hours, the new MBP contains the same  77.5 watt-hour battery as the earlier model. Whether this is Apple being more realistic with their battery testing, or simply accounting for the new quad-core i7 being a little more power-hungry than its predecessor remains to be seen.

Other highlights (and lowlights) include upgraded RAM (to the same type that exists in last year’s iMacs), a Broadcom wireless card with four antennas instead of three, and a distinct lack of Pentalobe screws inside or outside (the lower case is secured by Phillips #00 screws, while the battery is secured by Tri-Wing screws). However, it wasn’t all roses for the iFixit crew as the screwdriver-wielding gadget freaks expressed a certain concern about Apple’s quality control.

“We found a stripped screw holding the subwoofer enclosure in place, and an unlocked ZIF socket connecting the IR sensor,” they said. “They're not huge issues, but they're not fitting for an $1800 machine.”

Not only that, but apparently someone on the assembly line was a little liberal with the old thermal paste, too.



“We uncovered gobs of thermal paste on the CPU and GPU when we removed the main heat sink. The excess paste may cause overheating issues down the road, but only time will tell.”

For more on the teardown (and the full gallery), check out iFixit’s full report.

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    N.Broekhuijsen , February 26, 2011 6:24 PM
    My sinister hatred for all of Apple left me really happily enjoying reading this article!!
  • 10 Hide
    PudgyChicken , February 26, 2011 6:54 PM
    I love it when you show somebody a $600 laptop with Ubuntu on it and they're amazed that it's just as fast as their $1600 MacBook. Seriously, this POS only costs $1800 because of the brand. Apple= extortion.
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    Frag Mortuus , February 26, 2011 6:14 PM
    Ive been saying this for a while now, but, i fear Apple is going to slowly start lowering their quality standards in order to maximize their profits.

    This instance isnt one that they would benefit from, however they may start cutting corners with lower grade components in order to make more money off of each unit sold.

    Also, I think they are going to flood the market with too many products.
  • 1 Hide
    Hellbound , February 26, 2011 6:15 PM
    Apple quality slipping?
  • 8 Hide
    jprahman , February 26, 2011 6:15 PM
    Wow, overpriced, overhyped hardware that has quality issues. Never saw that coming.
  • 7 Hide
    jprahman , February 26, 2011 6:21 PM
    Frag, you realize that Apple has some of the largest cash reserves of any company on the planet, and yet like you said they are starting to skimp on the components to make more money. They also don't have their products produced by a company here in the US or somewhere else where the workers are treated better, and I don't want to hear about it being too expensive, with the prices Apple charges they can more than afford doing so.

    It's funny that so many Apple fans rip on Microsoft for being greedy and corporate, Apple is no better if not worse.
  • 2 Hide
    christop , February 26, 2011 6:21 PM
    I am sure they use Asian kids for labor..
  • 11 Hide
    N.Broekhuijsen , February 26, 2011 6:24 PM
    My sinister hatred for all of Apple left me really happily enjoying reading this article!!
  • 2 Hide
    mister g , February 26, 2011 6:54 PM
    For me I think that mistakes happen, you can bet if Apple sent iFixit the unit there wouldn't have been these issues. However since they acquired one from the general pool it makes this a little disturbing (though all the haters would probably start cheering when failures start to show up a lot more in the coming months if what the previous posters are correct). Still I'm thinking that the stress Apple is putting on Foxconn for new iEverything is starting to show.
  • 10 Hide
    PudgyChicken , February 26, 2011 6:54 PM
    I love it when you show somebody a $600 laptop with Ubuntu on it and they're amazed that it's just as fast as their $1600 MacBook. Seriously, this POS only costs $1800 because of the brand. Apple= extortion.
  • 3 Hide
    rubix_1011 , February 26, 2011 7:19 PM
    Here is my take on paying for pretty vs. performance:

    You pay for performance on a laptop

    You pay for pretty on your date
  • 2 Hide
    reprotected , February 26, 2011 7:25 PM
    I think your getting more than how much they give you: more thermal paste, unlocking the ZIF socket, heck, the more the better! (sarcasm)
  • 2 Hide
    alextheblue , February 26, 2011 7:35 PM
    That sir, is not thermal paste. Well, not the kind you're used to seeing, anyway. Some Foxconn worker got a little too excited over being able to be a part of the new MBP.
  • 1 Hide
    leafblower29 , February 26, 2011 7:37 PM
    Why am I not surprised?
  • 0 Hide
    frostyfireball , February 26, 2011 7:37 PM
    Why would they put that much thermal paste anyway, it costs more and it negatively affects cooling. Plus if it has some metal base to it the board could short circuit down the road. They are getting lazy in that aspect.
    That said I am impressed with how well designed the interior of the MBP is. Everything is fit in such a tight and organized manner that no other manufacturer seems to be able to replicate. ipad vs Xoom is another example, the ipad is much better designed inside allowing for a battery that takes up a larger percentage of the inside, thus allowing for the exceptional battery endurance.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2011 7:41 PM
    It's all apples fault. They've become so over-bloated and power hungry. I've never really cared for Macs, but ever since the iPad, Apple has slowly gone down hill. At least when it comes to windows you can avoid the crappy oems. But in Apple's case they are THE oem for macs. If they put out a crappy product, the consumer is just supposed to eat it, or even choke on it.
  • 2 Hide
    fyend , February 26, 2011 7:45 PM
    frostyfireballThat said I am impressed with how well designed the interior of the MBP is. Everything is fit in such a tight and organized manner that no other manufacturer seems to be able to replicate.


    ... or choose not to replicate due to not wanting to burn their customers' laps. Have you ever tried to use a Macbook Pro on your lap? They get insanely hot on top and bottom to the point of being unusable unless you wear an oven mit and asbestos pants.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2011 7:58 PM
    Well unfortunately, mine overheated just as stated..i was running 2 programs..utorrent for mac and safari surfing...I was using 15 inch 2.3 GHZ model..when it froze on me...keyboard..mouse froze and I couldnt do anything but reboot..interesting note..the fans kicked in immediately after the freeze...and then i felt the bottom of the unit and it felt burning hot....not good....means that some will overheat...I decided i am going to wait until..they fix this problem and returned machine to apple for full refund....I was appalled and this article now makes sense as to what happened to me.....
  • -5 Hide
    sinsear , February 26, 2011 7:58 PM
    FyendHave you ever tried to use a Macbook Pro on your lap? They get insanely hot on top and bottom to the point of being unusable unless you wear an oven mit and asbestos pants.

    Yes, actually, I use it on my lap all the time; in fact, it's on my lap all day during classes. And so do many of my classmates. I'll go ahead and ask the campus medical center how many lap burns they have seen from Macbook Pros.

    Perhaps you should actually use a Macbook Pro before making ridiculous comments like these.
  • 1 Hide
    molo9000 , February 26, 2011 8:00 PM
    I think it's pretty clear that the reduced battery life is down to Apple using a new measuring system.
    They also reduced the battery life estimate for the basic MacBook even though the hardware is exactly the same as before.
    (7-8hour battery life is pretty realistic for web surfing at low-medium brightness)

    Apple should really be careful when cutting costs. A few cents saved on manufacturing and quality control could be enough to kill Apple's reputation of delivering high quality goods. Even my last gen MacBook Pro has some slight light-bleed on the lower edge of the screen. Not enough to make me return it (u only notice it slightly when the screen is black), but it's still there.
    But these days even some of the really expensive Lenovo Thinkpads feel cheap...


    I don't subscribe to the whole "Apple is overpriced" ranting. The newest MacBook Pro generation is a disappointment and I will no longer recommend them to friends, but u can't actually get laptops this sexy and well designed from other manufacturers for less money.
  • 1 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , February 26, 2011 8:21 PM
    I share the same quality concerns. I've owned 3 Macbook Pros, and each of them I've torn apart the day after the standard warranty expired to reapply the thermal paste. All three of them had too much thermal paste applied. One had SO much thermal paste I'm surprised that my laptop never overheated.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my Macbook Pros. Great laptops, great design, and good software. but Apple needs to get their act together and start doing some quality checks at the assembly plants.

    Although I should note that I've seen similar assembly issues with Dell and HP laptops. Come to think of it, the only laptop that I haven't found any glaring issues was Lenovo's/IBM's Thinkpad line.
  • 3 Hide
    lradunovic77 , February 26, 2011 8:25 PM
    What you see is just PC being put together. There is nothing special about Apple Laptops and Desktops. It is just PC with their useles OS.
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