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2016 MacBook just as impossible to repair as last year’s, iFixIt teardown shows

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The 2016 MacBook is nearly impossible to repair. That’s according to iFixIt, whose teardown of Apple’s latest laptop resulted in a repairability rating for the device of one (out of ten) — as low as it gets.

One year after relaunching the Macbook line as a super light laptop, Apple is now selling an updated version with the latest processor and more battery life. The 2016 MacBook iFixIt teardown offers a photo tour through the internals of this laptop, complete with a guide identifying all of the major parts.

The team struggled to identify many visual differences between the 2016 MacBook and its predecessor, noting that the only way to identify which model you have is by a number on the case. The battery layout, logic board, and case are all going to look familiar to anyone who checked out last year’s tear-downs, which makes sense considering this is a minor update.

There are at least a few things anyone trying to fix a laptop can be happy about. A number of tri-wing screws, which made repair difficult on last year’s model, have now been replaced with standard Philips screws. That aside, however, this laptop is designed to keep people out. IfixIt’s list of built-in obstacles includes the following:

  • Many internal screws seem to be filled with a substance that disintegrates after being prodded with a screwdriver, suggesting Apple wants to know when people try to get inside their computers, possibly to enforce warranty terms.
  • The RAM and flash memory are soldered onto the motherboard, as was also true last year, making upgrades nearly impossible.
  • The retina display is impossible to replace piece-by-piece, meaning it will be expensive to fix if broken.
  • The batteries are glued to the case.

Also worth noting for anyone hoping to repair one of these laptops: the USB-C hardware is completely different from last year, meaning shops will need to stock different versions.

While the battery layout and size is identical to last year’s model, the battery does offer four percent more capacity this time around. This is probably due to better battery chemistry.

Overall, the teardown reveals what we’ve expected all along: this is a minor upgrade, not an overhaul or re-thinking of Apple’s lightest laptop. And it’s no easier to fix than last year.

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Justin Pot
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