Apple is selling two new computers that it’s calling MacBook Pros: one model without the new Touch Bar and one model with a Touch Bar. But according to a teardown of the Touch Bar model by iFixit, the differences don’t stop there. The Touch Bar has an entirely different motherboard, cooling system, and internal layout. Unfortunately some of those changes make it even more difficult to repair than its cousin.
The Touch Bar MacBook Pro has a much larger cooling system than the non-Touch Bar model—it uses two fans instead of one, and the symmetrical and vaguely mustache-shaped logic board wraps around both of them. The odd layout (plus the need to make additional room for extra chips like the Apple T1 and the second Thunderbolt 3 controller) leaves less room for other things, and as a result Apple has soldered the SSD to the motherboard in the Touch Bar MacBook Pros, much as it has in the 12-inch MacBook.
iFixit also found a smaller (albeit still firmly glued-in) battery—something we already knew about from the spec sheet—as well as something odd about the speakers.
The speakers don’t actually line up with the speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard, and in fact in the Touch Bar MacBook Pro those grilles are entirely cosmetic. Sound is actually routed through the laptop’s air vents.
Update: iFixit has updated its teardown with some new information—while some of the holes in the speaker grilles do appear to be cosmetic, others are used for the laptop’s tweeters. Most sound is routed through the laptop’s air vents as previously reported.
Because the SSD and all of the other major system components are soldered to the logic board, and because the Touch Bar is so difficult to remove and replace, the Touch Bar MacBook Pro gets a 1 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale, lower than the 2 out of 10 it gave to the $1,499 model. Its glued-in battery and difficult-to-replace display don’t help. And as in iDevices, the Touch ID button and the T1 are paired at the factory, so if you replace the button itself or the logic board yourself, the Touch ID sensor will stop working.
iFixit’s only positive comments are that the trackpad is fairly easy to replace without taking the rest of the system apart and that the physical USB-C ports are on small daughterboards that can be swapped out without replacing the rest of the logic board, though you will need to remove the logic board to get at them.
Listing image by iFixit