As is tradition, repair guide site and parts vendor iFixit tore down the latest Mac to see what’s different inside and to assess its repairability. This time it’s the new, entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which replaced the previous Touch Bar-less low-end MacBook Pro in Apple’s store last week.
Combine that with now-public Geekbench benchmarks of the machine, and we have a clear picture of what the lowest-price MacBook Pro model is all about.
Let’s start with the benchmarks, as dug up by MacRumors: the refreshed low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro managed an average 4,639 Geekbench 4 score in single-core performance and 16,665 in multi-core. Compare that with 4,341 and 9,084, respectively, in the previous bottom-tier 13-inch MacBook Pro, and you’re looking at up to 83% faster performance in the new machine.
No surprises there; the previous one hadn’t really been updated in quite a while. But it doesn’t quite meet Apple’s marketing claim that the new machine is “two times more powerful” than its predecessor.
iFixit’s teardown found that the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro is still distinct from its higher-priced 13-inch sibling, primarily in terms of ports—it has two Thunderbolt 3 ports to the more expensive version’s four. But in other ways, they’re closer together than before, mainly with the inclusion of the Touch Bar and Touch ID and associated hardware changes to accommodate those.
iFixit notes that the new model has a 58.2Wh battery compared to the previous one’s 54.5Wh. Apple promises 10 hours of battery life—the same as before—suggesting that this increase in capacity may be simply to power the Touch Bar and Touch ID without bringing that estimate down.
Apple also reduced the size of a heat pipe in the cooling system and one speaker in order to accommodate hardware for Touch ID. For reasons presumably not related to Touch ID or the Touch Bar, Apple replaced prior models’ modular solid-state drive (SSD) with soldered storage. “One of the last upgradeable components on the MacBook Pro line is totally gone,” iFixit says. On the other hand, a soldered Thunderbolt breakout board has been replaced by something modular.
Finally, iFixit confirmed that Apple did indeed use the latest version of the butterfly keyboard, which the company claims will not fail as often as previous versions—even though it’s still covered by Apple’s repair program for butterfly keyboards.
In the end, though, iFixit gave the newly updated 13-inch MacBook Pro a 2 out of 10 repairability score, citing proprietary screws, a glued-in battery assembly, soldered RAM, and the non-replaceable SSD, all of which make the laptop “hostile to repair.” The only positive point listed for repairability is that “the trackpad can be removed without disturbing the battery.”
None of this should come as a surprise, though—Apple’s design philosophy precludes the kinds of repairs iFixit is focused on facilitating. If you’re looking for a machine you can tinker with, upgrade, or repair yourself, you’re better off looking elsewhere, and this is news to no one.