2016 MacBook teardown: tamper-evident screws, still low score

As expected, Apple unveiled last week a new batch of Retina MacBooks that is visually indistinguishable from last year's model. That is, unless you get a Rose Gold version. Of course, you do get a beefier CPU and more capable battery, but almost everythin else is similar. It turns out, that similarity goes deep down into the MacBook's repairability. iFixit does its obligatory teardown of the device, finding very few good news inside. Well, except perhaps for the fortunate disappearance of Apple's previous tri-wing screws.

You might wonder why the type of screw is even important. That's because you're ability to repair a device is partly dependent on the tools you have. If a device uses a non-standard part, like the tri-wing screw found in the 2015 Retina MacBook, you're going to need a specialized tool for it, which may or may not be in your toolbox. Happily, the 2016 MacBook eschews the tri-wing for more common Pentalobe and Torx screws all over.

That said, it seems that Apple is intent on keeping the balance. Those Torx screws have heads filled with some sort of substance that disintegrates upon contact with a screwdriver. These tamper-evident screws don't exactly hinder you from opening up the MacBook, it could just make you feel like you're doing something really, really bad.

One other subtle but notable difference is the USB C hardware. The cable is now permanently fixed to the USB board. Though it might be a minor change, it does mean that this component is not compatible with last year's MacBook model.

Considering the near identical qualities, it isn't surprising that iFixit grades the 2016 Retina MacBook with a score of 1 out of 10 in the repairability index, one of the lowest scores possible. Despite not being that hard to take apart, thanks to the adoption of more standard screws, it's still going to be tough to repair, as almost all components are soldered on the board. The battery is even solidly glued to the case, making it near impossible to pull out. The new MacBook's one shining attribute? That it also shares the same parts and repair procedures as last year's model.

SOURCE: iFixit