Commentary: Soldered SSD in Touch Bar MBP Brings Potential Issues, Disappointment

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Late last month, we discovered that the SSD module in the “entry-level” Late 2016 13” MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar is removable.

Now that we’ve been able to get our hands on the new MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar for a teardown, we can officially verify the reports that other great Mac enthusiasts have already determined – the Solid State Drive is soldered to the motherboard of these models.

And it appears that the only real reason to have the bottom removable at all is likely so Apple can replace the battery easily. Other than that, they could seal the entire unit much like an iPad or iPhone.

We’re actually not very surprised by the news, but if the Touch Bar models had an upgradeable SSD card it increases the likelihood of future upgrades. And while we don’t exist solely to upgrade the internals of a Mac, it’s certainly fun to help the Mac community with those upgrades. There is massive power and incredible speed coming out of those USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, and plenty of external drives and docks can help expand the capabilities of these latest MacBook Pros.

Related commentary: Apple Should Renew Focus on Mac Users, Pros

So, we officially recommend that users buy the maximum amount of memory for the latest MacBook Pro models. We also highly recommend determining what your needs are and equipping your MacBook Pro with a drive capacity that will give you enough room to do what you need to do. The sweet spot size for many years was 512GB but that has shifted to 1TB. So getting at least one of those two options is again, highly recommended.

Disappointment for the User Experience
Where some disappointment lies is actually for the user. We consider ourselves among these users, but we also know our customers and their needs, and the soldered SSD does present some issues for them in regards to drive management and drive failure.

Drive Failure
With the drive physically on the motherboard, if it should fail and you’re beyond the warranty/AppleCare period, any repair would likely cost as much as a new machine, or be quotevery, very expensive. If a drive were to fail on the second year of usage, telling the customer they need to buy a new computer would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth – especially if that computer was a $3,000 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Machine Migration
With the previous generation if something went wrong with the computer or you were migrating to a new machine, you could simply take the drive out and put it in a new Mac. Regular users may not do this very often, but IT staff members regularly do.

Data Security
Removing and physically shredding a drive for security reasons is common practice. With the drive attached to the computer motherboard, the choice would need to be made to shred the computer or find an alternative.

Expense
Apple computers really hold their value on the used market, so even if they’re more expensive up front, people can usually recoup some of their investment when they sell the machine after two to four years of use. With the non-replaceable drives, the life of the drive may indeed lessen expected lifespan of the Mac. Mac enthusiasts really keep their Macs for 4-6 years and beyond, as long as they support the latest macOS version. Macs have generally been built to last.

Flash/SSD Price Drops
The prices for flash/SSD is likely to get more affordable over the years, so in three years, people may not want a 256GB equipped Mac at all, thus reducing the usefulness and future used market price for the Mac you buy today.

Memory
Of course, we’d love to see Apple provide the option for 32GB of memory or more, as there are pro users who would sacrifice battery life for more memory. Future 32GB and 64GB options are something we would look forward to Apple offering, as pro users who would use these for desktop usage more than mobile would greatly benefit.

In the end, these new MacBook Pro models are super fast, with their display connectivity options rivaling that of even the Mac Pro. These laptops are very capable of being used for both desktop and laptop duty. The new MacBook Pro models are something to be excited about, but now with the SSD non-replaceable, we enthusiasts need to take more factors into account as we upgrade to these new Macs.

Check out our image gallery below for unboxing/teardown photos of the new Late 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar 13″ and 15″ models.

Need more connectivity?
If you have a new Late 2016 MacBook Pro and need an immediate solution, our OWC USB-C Dock is in high demand and available for order now at MacSales.com. Our new Thunderbolt 3 Dock is also available for pre-order now. And be sure to check out more of our USB-C gear (including USB Type-A to Type-C adapters) at: eshop.macsales.com/search/usb-c

Stay tuned to the Rocket Yard for more Apple news and Tech Tips and visit MacSales.com for the best upgrades for your Mac.


LEAVE A COMMENT


  • Unless someone finds a way replace the shouldered in SSDs on these touch bar Macbook Pros, buying second hand units for these units dose not look appealing at all. I’m guessing the second hand prices of these things might not hold so well.




    • It’s already been happening and I personally tie some of the declines Apple has already seen in Mac sales to this overall direction… not because of the initial buyer… but what happens when regular buyers of new generations slow because they are seeing a reduced value on the used market for what they have now and go to sell. We’ve already seen it in relative values of Retina and Air systems compared to same time period vs. prior MacBook and MacBook Pro (2012 and prior revs).

      Couldn’t agree with you more and been noting that.. this is self fulfilling path imho. Tim Cook (so far as I can tell) sees 100% iOS Apple world in the future and I think any segment declines are seen as a market trend and not an Apple induced change causing the unit reductions or, even at flat, lack of what growth had been the norm for the Mac computer segment in the overall market.

      Either that – or it’s by plan and they know full well… but my impression is they want a faster buy/replacement cycle on Macs – which is unrealistic at this pricing level… and perhaps, as suggested by someone to me, is a leasing program that replacing normal buying entirely.

      I don’t know – but it’s disappointing to have PCs you can keep relevant and a $4200 Mac that is done when any part of it is done… or is probably very expensive to repair given the mass integration. Until we see repair costs, it isn’t something can judge. I am trying to hold out hope that Apple will have a new pricing structure for this and even have a direct storage upgrade program. We will see. My apologies for the long, rambling reply. :)




  • I have been using Apple computers from the very beginning (the only model I did not buy was Lisa) and will most probably continue doing so as long as it makes some sense. I have always bought the best processor and video configuration offered by Apple and added maximum RAM and hard drive or SSD from OWC (thanks Shane). It seems that it will no longer be possible.
    Apple is no longer head and shoulders above their competitors. Rather than increasing the greed factor to make more profit, they will serve themselves and users far better by improving their products. OS and ease of use advantage is not infinite!




  • I hope all the commenters on this article are also sending their comments to http://www.apple.com/feedback/macbookpro.html.

    Unless Apple wants to get out of the computer business altogether, they need to hear from us. These are all carefully reasoned, non-emotional (though the frustration comes through) responses to Apple’s frankly negative attitude toward their customers. Vote with your pocketbooks, too. I recently waited for the new MacBook Pro. When I found out I could never upgrade it, I bought an older, used MacBook Pro instead. Quite possibly (probably) the last Apple product of any kind that I will buy. Are you listening, Apple?




    • Thanks for the kind words to all here, MacHeretic, but I do wonder where Apple ever gets feedback that it genuinely, with curiosity, listens to. We hear that we’re supposed to email to some address every so often , but there is no real sense that anyone actually reads or (much less) acts on these. All you ever get is some boilerplate reply saying “We care, but don’t have time for a human to contact you and say so.” Perhaps I’m making this up, but my sense is that if Apple really cared about our opinions, they certainly have the resources and even the systems already in place to collect them.

      Notice how after every call to Apple or AppleCare, you get the survey which is there to mostly grade the person you spoke with? Why don’t we get those after every purchase, or as part of Apple’s frequent marketing emails to remind us (for example) that Black Friday is approaching and we all should delight that margins, for one day, will drop from 40% to 35%? ;-)

      If our opinion mattered it would be part of Apple’s corporate culture. But it’s not.

      It’s right there in the Book of Jobs, chapter 2, verse 3: “We built [the Mac] for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research.” 

      That’s the direct word of Jobs and there were many others that followed it.

      So, for better or for worse, Apple doesn’t really listen to feeback unless things are quite “catching-on-fire” dire. And I don’t see that changing without a major shift in leadership. And, as many others probably feel here too, I’m not sure that it should change so radically to the point where they design around public opinion. All reasonable ideas sit on spectrum. It feels that without Jobs around, the pendulum is just too far out to the “total secrecy/we know best” part of the graph. While I wouldn’t want it to swing to the opposite side of “naked Wikileaks transparency/you know best,” I think you can’t have it both ways.

      You either need a visionary to lead who can actually see the future, or you at least take the pulse of the people buying thousands of dollars worth of product and make sure they’re happy.

      I’ve worked a professional in Apple ecosystem for over 20 years. It scares me a little to say that! But if there is one thing I know about Apple is that hubris is likely its most dangerous foe.

      When everything is humming and folks are happy, it tends to feed on and self-validate itself. But when things slow, and major decisions are being made that clearly have more to do with profits than innovation, hubris will not tell you what you need to hear.

      Only curiosity and humility can do that.




  • Apple MacBook Pro (late 2016) with RAID 0 inside? That is the best way to lose data (more than 2x probability increase): if any SSD or the controller fails, all is lost.




    • While this thinking is true when looking at one hard drive vs. two hard drives – that is because you have mechanical factors that have failure probability. While any hard drive can fail, having two hard drives is a major multiplier in the probability that you will have a drive failure. A Solid State Array doesn’t have the mechanical failure point and as a module – whether it’s raided or not – you’re failure probability is really tied more to the amount of components/flash and cells. Whether it’s a single controller or two controllers supporting the same 1TB of total flash, the failure probability changes only slightly with respect the nature of a solid state, non-mechanical design. The basis of probability for failure is very different and as linear vs. traditional spinning platter hard drives.

      I’d not be concerned with this aspect. Sure – if a controller fails, the array is done. But controller failure is exceptionally low – lower than the probability of a NAND cell failure. Excluding write wear consumption of NAND life, the probability of general failure on a solid state component is very low vs. the probabilities on the mechanical aspects of a hard drive.




      • Thanks, Larry for the comprehensive reply. In any case, buyers should know what they are buying and Apple should disclose if it is RAID 0 (as with MacBook).

        I think that both MacBook and MacBook Pro have RAID 0, since as far as I know, only Samsung has non-RAID 0 SSD with such speed. Apple uses SanDisk and Toshiba SSD on MacBook and MacBook Pro.

        Curiously, SanDisk does not disclosed that SanDisk Extreme 900 portable SSD has RAID 0 inside. Yet, Google shows that it has RAID 0. That is not good. Customers should have information as said.




  • I’m not going back to windows even with the soldered on stuff. Some of the design issues Apple is working with is reliability and environmental. Soldered on items are generally more reliable connection. By reducing weight, size, and amount of materials you are helping the environment. Every pound counts when you are flying. One or two devices don’t count for much except to the person carrying it, however fly a plane full and it will really count. Anybody know what the meantime before failure is on the drives?

    “What’s Inside,” Utube channel dropped one of these MBP 1,000ft with FaceTime camera running. Display was unusable but they were able to attach a external display and retrieve the video.




    • Every pound counts too when you’re airing devices. If Apple was truly driving towards environmental responsibility, we’d be waiting for our goods to traverse the sea vs the millions of direct, air shipments Apple does from the other side of the world direct to door. And that’s assuming it’s not possible/practical to local manufacture. Further, if the useful life of these systems is reduced by 10%, 20%, 30% vs. what Apple shipped 5 years ago – i’d argue that any energy exertion reduced by the weight reduction is far outweighed by the earlier disposal/recycling of the unit between energy to recover and to replace these units at a higher rate. Lucky for it surviving a 1000 foot drop… and hey – I think the new systems are really amazing… and that makes it all the more frustrating knowing the dead end they ultimately are by design. Apple should not be selling these with less than 512GB of nand IMHo… and in fairness to Apple – maybe they would have started with 512GB if not for the severe NAND shortage and current cost bump related there to.




      • Problem with shipping by sea is consumers want their device now. Plus any add in any software changes.

        Has the lifetime of the unit changed? Apple or another supplier could set up a robotic hard drive changer. With target disk mode and lifetime of the SSD does it matter?




        • The useful lifetime is impacted when a system that has factory capabilities beyond it’s original configuration is locked to a lower level configuration that forces total replacement vs. service upgrade. MacBook Airs with 2GB of memory have significantly diminished resell, which affects budget for replacing, because 2GB of memory is virtually unworkable with the OS and apps today – whereas if you could upgrade to 8GB, original factory max, the machine would have significantly more value than just the cost of what that upgrade even originally cost. You are correct- and i’ve mentioned it before – If Apple does offer some program to upgrade/replace flash, etc… a lot of the concerns are reduced. It’s not a hard drive, it’s soldered to the board though – and it’s not the easiest R&R process to replace on what is a very complex, multi-layer, component dense circuit board. This could have been a socketed module for the flash drive… And, well – they also could have left the iMacs serviceable without having to literally cut the screen off to replace a hard drive. I would be pleasantly surprised, shocked if Apple actually is going to roll out some service/upgrade program vs. intent rather to drive people to buy more often – which is going to be a hard sell, imho, given the high expense.




      • Wow, Larry. You are really rocking this thread with a lot of careful consideration! Nice additions to an already fairly thorough article.

        The only other point I think is worth mentioning is that it’s time that Apple, rather than us, stand behind “their” machines with a 3-year warranty INCLUDED in the existing purchase price. If all of these glued and soldered design changes are actually increasing reliability, then they should stand behind them. If they want to sell AppleCare, then sell it for years 4,5 and 6, right?

        They’ve got the money to do this and in the UK there are laws that support SIX years of warranty at no extra cost to the consumer! The EU has similar laws for shorter periods of time, but they’re all getting better warranties by default than Americans are.

        All cars sold in the U.S. are required to have 4-5 year warranties, what’s a 3-year warranty on a laptop going to run you? Nothing if you make a laptop that can last 4-8 years. Right? And the AppleCare support team is not going to get overwhelmed with calls their not already getting.

        Apple could use the PR these days and with the tens of billions piling up in CASH, they can certainly afford it.

        FREE AppleCare with every purchase.

        It’s a win-win with only minor profit losses and a huge PR and marketing upside.




        • Thanks.. and – well, you got my vote. The way these are designed and at the pro level – soldered and glued tight, they should simply be 3 year standard warranty.Totally agree. At this price level, design type, 3yr for sure.. and again, in the current state of things – I can’t repeat enough, if you buy one of these systems – buying AppleCare is a must imho. i think these are great machines for a lot of folks and makes the lack of serviceability/planned obsolescence even more frustrating.




          • Thanks for the wonderful discussion. I wonder how hard (nearly impossible?) is it to remove a soldered-in SSD? Electronic devices have been soldered and de-soldered since, well, forever. What is so special about the way our Mac Book Pro is manufactured that makes this a huge problem? Am I just being naive because I’m a true newbie to the Mac laptop world (2 weeks so far!)




        • Umm….cars sold in the USA do not have to provide ANY warranty under any law except for the smog related stuff, in which case its usually 80,000 miles with no time limit, and safety stuff such as seat belts. Most car manufactures provide 3-4 yr, 36-50,000 warranties, but not because they are required by law.




  • I so wish this wasn’t true. I am not a power user, but I have always upgraded the hard drives, and ram, and replaced the optical drive (back in the day), so I do know how to extend the life of an agin mac. But, if this is the route (disposable computers) Apple is taking, then I’ll be more than glad (well, maybe not so extactic) to jump to the other side, and build my own, or buy a nice laptop from Dell, or Lenovo, or somewhere else.
    Fortunately, I have a “newish” mbp (mid ’14) that I purchased ealier this year that, at least, I can upgrade the flash ssd when the time comes. I hope this won’t be my last mbp, but if this is the path Apple takes, then I’ll have to move on.
    It’s always a healthy thing to learn something new (or, relearn) as in the case of an OS.




  • It will be a very very long time before I “downgrade” from my 17″ MacBook Pro!!!!!!!!!!!!




    • Same here-bought one 2011 early 17″ MacBook Pro-then bought another one late 2011 -can’t understand the 13 inch or even 12 inch craze – I actually get a lot of work done on my MacBooks…




    • Agree. Typing on my 17″ MBP right now and will use it until it dies. HD & memory have been maxed and it has taken a beating. The biggest issue is the fact that she runs hot (and loud) which I have learned to live with. The wife has a 13″ Air and while it’s faster and brighter, I would choose the 17″ every time.

      Just imagine what Apple could squeeze into a 17″ now. I would have bought a new one 3 years ago if they offered it and I would think every “Pro” user who works with any kind of video, photography or design would jump at a 17″ option.




  • I’m running an early 2013, 15″ MacBook Pro and I use all the ports on it for various tasks. When I saw the new MBP’s with their gimmicky touchbar thingies and only USB-C ports, I was immediately turned off by these units. So, I found a BNIB, never opened 2015 MBP with the specs and ports I wanted and bought one on the spot. My 2013 unit will, hopefully, last a while but, when it finally gives up the ghost, I’ll be all set for the foreseeable future. After that, who knows…if Apple keeps up their current trend of making their products less accessible or upgradeable…might have to switch over to Linux. There are a number of companies that specialize in affordable laptops running various flavors of Linux out there.




  • Apple’s business model has focused on building computing appliances, with a vision to maximize the cash flow from each product by forcing choices on consumers to adopt the maxed out (most expensive) model, thus capturing the future revenues from upgrades that are currently captured by third parties.
    Unfortunately the planned obsolescence is a very common marketing tool to force consumer adoption of newer models regardless of environmental or financial impact. Given that Apple is recognized by consumers as a responsible company, in private it feels achieving greater shareholder value is more compelling.




    • Succinctly written, Pablo. The only thing I’d add is that this is not “your Father’s” Apple anymore. Apple used to take some pride in announcing how their machines were NOT obsoleted by OS upgrades and even teased the WinTel oligarchy for not being able to do the same.

      Planned obsolesce is old to the industry, but relatively new to Apple. The corporate philosophy was more about releasing new products that were so compelling that even though your 5 or 6 year old Mac was still doing the job just fine, you would upgrade because the hardware improvements were just so attractive.

      Yes, Apple has always loved money and charging historically, insanely high prices for upgrades and parts, BUT designing nearly or completely non-upgradeable, non-repairable machines is still a relatively new phenomenon since the success of the iPhone and it’s revenue stream seduced those who draw those plans.

      I also agree that shareholder value seems to have taken precedence over everything, certainly the sense of value we felt we were getting for these extremely expensive Macs.

      Somebody misread the Gospel according to Jobs and Gretzky.

      Apple is now skating to where the BUCK will be. :-\




      • Totally agree, even though I am a shareholder. If I were in need of a new computer I would look at refurb slightly older Macs to avoid the latest “upgrades”.

        In the meantime, my 17″ MBP, 2008 15″ MBP and 2013 Air will do.




  • Yes, very sad. I am super happy with my MacProBook 2012 and they could have just upgraded that technically inside. The only thing I really miss is a Forward Delete Key and the ability to adjust the screen brightness in the toolbar like it used to be possible. IF they want to make their computers throw away items they should also have throw away prices. But I do not like the damage to the environment all this obsolesence is doing. I have only ever had Macs and been very happy with them, but this could be the end of the Apple road even for me. Apple, WHY are you not listening to your users?? It seems the vision has gone with Steve or is being consumed by the new doughnut building (?), so stop tinkering and at least provide solid products at affordable prices. The way things are going you seem bent on destroying the company.




    • Don’t think bent on destroying the Mac unit… but certainly they are taking into the appliance direction that the iPads and iPhones already would be defined as… and ultimately that does destroy the Mac for how at least the Pro Users, Creative content producers, etc expect the Mac to be. IMHO.




  • I do not think this means ‘doom’ for Apple. Anyone who follows their corporate earnings reports knows they are doing better than most other computing companies that make hardware.
    However, the majority of their margins are in the mobile ecosystem. Both hardware and apps.
    If I were pessimistic I’d say they are aggressively shrinking the form factor of the Mac and discouraging upgrades because their roadmap will converge mobile and desktop.
    Makes me wonder, this may work very well for consumers and hobbyist content creation. But for engineers and professional content creation, we may well be forced over to Linux and Windows.




    • Couldn’t agree more and truth is Apple began pushing certain user types off Mac and with growing force starting about 5 years ago. I still worry about mass market survival with respect to how a consumer will deal with a $3000 Mac being obsolete or even dead/unusable after a couple years with only option being to buy new. PC users seem more used to a 2-3 year replacement cycle average, but that’s due to a different quality of system and longevity there in + talking $400-1200 where this cycle occurs. $3000 is a lot to spend on a computer that is a dead end and costly/impractical to service should a component fail. I believe Mac users expect 4-6 years from their hardware and these new Macs may compromise this while being the priciest Macbook Pros from Apple ever.




  • It seems that Apple is following the road to doom. First it’s soldered in Ram and now this.
    I don’t know about anybody else but I can’t afford the best equipped MBP. I run Photoshop on my machine so I need maxed out ram and a big hard drive. I pay lots for my MBP and when I can afford it I buy more ram and then a little later buy a bigger hard drive. I can’t afford to pay an outrageous upgrade price. But alas if the stock value remains high and the shareholders are happy then they won’t be getting rid of Tim Cook anytime soon. Maybe us Macbook users should ditch our Iphones too.
    As a sidenote I am noticing that the Mac is falling out of favor with the Starbucks student crowd. I guess Apple didn’t realize they need their computers for more than just email. Used to be crowded with Mac users. Now I hardly see anybody with one.




    • I don’t know if they are on the road to doom – but they do seem to be dooming the Mac to an unfortunate conclusion. I think it is ludicrous to make these an all or nothing. As a customer – knowing this computer is done when the flash wears out, that’s horrible – And that’s never minding that there is no way to upgrade to more flash. Maybe Apple will offer an upgrade program…. that would really make me and a lot of others happier on this assuming it was reasonable.

      Apple has long gotten a premium price due to overall higher quality and LONGEVITY. The longevity is severely compromised when it’s a one part fails, the whole thing is cooked. Unreal. And to pay that kind of cash with nearly a zero serviceability – wow.

      One thing for sure – I’d not buy one of these without AppleCare warranty extension. Given the whole computer becomes junk with nearly any point of failure on a completely soldered/integrated piece with no other parts for the most part. Damn.

      What really stinks is that over the past 5 years I’ve seen the Pro community go from being a significant, if ignored, evangelical force for Apple to now mostly be heard complaining and grudging using Apple gear. Apple as a platform is either still the best for many applications or they have a work flow investment there in.. but mostly that Apple is a better platform – but they are on it until the other options catch up more where cost is lower, upgradeability isn’t an issue, and performance is often higher and even much higher. The Mac Pro is again over 3 years old tech with no refresh. And don’t get me started on the Mac Pro – the pro community wanted a Silver Tower with Thunderbolt – not a the iCan.

      We will see what happens – but I believe Apple is self-fulfilling. Tim Cook has been quoted in January saying he that most folks buying laptops today ought to be on an iPad – the way they are changing their systems going to have less people buying Macs – doesn’t mean those people will be buying Apple iPads to replace them (even if they do buy an iPad) – and it’s self fulfilling then as Apple’s laptop and desktops decline.

      Doomed I don’t believe Apple is by any means… but not entirely different to how they abandoned their Apple II users back in the late 80s, the same seems to be the future for the Mac – at least as we know/knew it.

      Better solution – sell a platform open version of MacOS for $499 – no support, but open for users to legally use on hardware of their choosing. Doubles the MacOS market share practically overnight and makes everyone much happier. :)




      • Hi Larry,

        I appreciate you joining in here with comments. Much obliged.

        I wrote a longer reply to Jay’s comment below, so hopefully you’ll have read that and I’ll try keep this shorter. ;-)

        I agree with a lot of what you’re saying here. AND I appreciate that OWC has always had to be a moving target for Apple’s sudden and unannounced “innovations.” In this case, it will most certainly impact your sales of Apple’s proprietary SSDs. You’re one of the only places in the world where you can get those and OWC has always been our friend in the 3rd party realm of all things Apple. You’ve been our advocate against the monolithic Apple and it’s unquestionable, incredible rise to power that we barely dreamed about in the 90’s when its future looked so grim. So thank you for that.

        You’re right about longevity. Our experience was that most MacBook Pros could have a 7-9 year lifetime if well cared for and upgraded accordingly. In watching Apple change their design over the years as the iPhone began to power the company’s profits, it seems perfectly clear that actions speak louder than words.

        Apple has finally produced the fully NON-upgradeable, probably unrepairable laptop that we may not even be able to do data recovery on. [we’ll have to see what that the service cord does, but even then, independent Mac specialists will not be given hardware from Apple to use them]

        The product cycle on the iPhone is 2-3 years and it’s giving Apple nearly 70% of its profits. If Apple can turn the Mac into a 3-4 year cycle, train all their users to expect half the longevity they’ve been getting up until now, they can easily double Mac profit margins. You don’t need Calculus to figure this out.

        Yeah, Apple may release another trash can MacPro, but it still feels like they don’t really care for the Pro community anymore. Maybe they’ll license the OS for them and allow the building of Hackintoshes, but who knows? The previous design for the MacPro (I hate calling them “cheese graters”) was so perfect that it was heartbreaking to see it go.

        Maybe the best thing that could happen to Apple would be a huge drop in the value of its stock so that they could all feel hungry and creative again. It’s just not looking very good right now. The wildly successful story of moving from a niche player to number one on the Dow may have killed Apple’s creativity.

        It’s a little bit like the current political climate in America today. I have no idea where things are headed, but it doesn’t look like the direction that I’d like it to go.

        Peace out.

        Mick




  • I can’t tell from photos but it looks like the Tbolt3/USB-C ports are fastened to the MLB as sub-boards. If so, this would be logical (and cheaper repair) if ports were broken by connector.
    But the soldered-on SSD is just stupid and greedy: it forces expensive purchase or cattlechutes you to next model. Hope your data is ALWAYS backed up!




  • This is another sad moment in Apple’s product line where they are clearly going for designed obsolescence. Glue, solder, no upgradeable RAM, and now they have, for economic reasons (i.e. simple “greed”), soldered the hard drive in place. There is no technological reason to so this. None. So now, when your hard drives fail, you’ll have to go out and buy a brand new computer. Or pay two thirds of the cost of buying one to have the logic board replaced.

    Very sad, Apple.

    You’re turning the Mac into an iOS device and gradually sealing it completely so no one can get into YOUR machine. Just because we pay a premium to own them, they’re still not our machines, of course. Silly Mac users.

    Tim Cook has no vision. We need a CEO with a vision who will keep our Macs from piling up in toxic computer equipment waste dumps.

    These disposable MacBook Pros are just so sad…




    • One great reason not to purchase one of these MBP with non-removable drives involves what happens when the laptop is damaged but the drive is not. How would you ever get the data off? I’m use to pulling the drive and placing it in an external case. Won’t happen with these…




      • Excellent point, Garvin.

        It seems as if Apple wants to control ALL of the pieces. Now you’ll be forced to have them do Data Recovery as well?

        The Mac is the greatest PC of all time and I never want to be forced to leave the platform, but apparently being the richest company in the history of the planet is still not enough for Apple. Number 1 on the Dow is not enough for Apple. Greed nearly killed the company once and now there is no 3rd Coming of Steve Jobs that can rescue it again.

        I could be wrong, but it still seems to come back the loss of vision. Without a clear vision of the importance of the Mac in the future, profit becomes the vision. Apple will lose this game if they destroy the ecosystem which supports their highly profitable iDevices.

        Tim, don’t do it. Stop it. Stop turning our Macs into completely sealed, completely non-repairable, non-upgradeable, 4th year, disposable electronic heap denizens.

        This is not okay and there is ZERO reason other than profit and corporate culture gone awry for a disposable Mac.

        Profit is not a substitute for vision. If anything, they pull design in opposite directions.




    • MickG, I agree with everything you’ve said except that the hardware designers had a very good reason for soldering everything onto the MLB: Jonny Ive. He values thinness more than repairability. This is actually a very nice computer (while it lasts) and after 1 day I can say it is the best Mac I’ve ever had (while it lasts). It replaces a MacBook Air that I got 6 years ago today. That Mac was the handwriting on the wall for me. 4GB memory, non-upgradeable. I did upgrade the SSD twice, and finally the SSD socket got flakey and the Mac has become useless. That took six years to happen. I can only hope that this 13″ MBP lasts as long.




      • Jay, I struggle with Jonny Ive. I think he has lost his vision.

        While I appreciate that Jonny’s trying to make things aesthetically appealing, I think his obsession with thinness is just out of control and lacks real vision. He’s the guy who brought us glued together super thin iMacs that are ten times harder to repair and reassemble because of why? There is zero technological reason for this since they are desktop machines that do not need to be “light” or thin. It’s thin for the sake of thin at the expense of a better machine.

        No, I really think whatever sci-fi series Jonny has been reading about design in the future must have ended badly. He’s like a rogue WestWorld host that just skips and repeats the same phrase again and again.

        I honestly do not believe that the real reason for soldering the HD to the logic board is because of design considerations, even though that is surely the Apple Party line. No, I think there is too much profit motive involved now to keep chirping about design. I believe it is not an “unintended/accidental benefit” that this also creates another major point of (literally) designed obsolescence. It also gives Apple more and more control over “their” machines. This is part of Apple’s corporate culture that we end users don’t really “own” our Macs as much as lease them until they die. That’s why they put pentalobe screws and bizarre tri-point Y screws in there. There is an attitude that it’s THEIR machine. You cannot go into your own machine to look, repair or upgrade anything anymore.

        When form supersedes function, you have to have a long chat with the design team and remind them they are not catwalk fashion designers. These are work tools. Let the runway models obsess about “thin.”

        If Jonny “re-invented” the hammer, would it still be functional? It would be super thin, the most expensive on the market and “the best hammer we’ve ever created. A revolutionary device never before seen on the face of the Earth.” But when the handle failed after 3 years, just out of the extended warranty you would be forced to buy, you’d have to toss it.

        And honestly, I think Ive needs to smile a laugh a bit more. His super serious, trippy, I’m-an-English-Designer vibe is getting old. He’s a billionaire now and his place in history is assured. He should stop taking himself so seriously and start training and apprentice or three.

        The other issue here, and a serious corporate cultural problem for Apple is it’s obsessive desire for secrecy even when it comes to talking roadmaps and vision. If they were more the consumer centered, warm and fuzzy and hip multinational corporation they like to think they are, they would be listening to us. But that’s not the Jobsian way, right? He said many times publicly that people don’t know what they want until we tell them and put it in their hands. Jobs was right a goodly amount of the time, but not always. Still, he’s gone. Maybe the system worked because the head designer, the visionary, the gatekeeper Stevo held it all together.

        But now he’s gone and Apple has yet to replace the vision that died with him.




        • And again – couldn’t agree more. And two call outs –

          The current iMacs really aren’t thinner than the prior gen – except on the 4 sides. In the middle they still reach the same width. It’s an optical thing – and gosh, geez – this is so fantastic that they look thin from the side cause we love looking at the edge of our computer all day?!?! From the front – they look IDENTICAL. You can’t easily even tell a 2011 from a 2012+ apart unless you look at it from the top or side.

          On the Roadmap bit – it’s huge issue indeed. A reason I’ve been told that corporate adoption isn’t as high as it could be is due to lack of that road map. Corporate sites want to plan for the support of a platform and when they don’t know when a commonality is going to be changed / how long it’s going to be available for – this doesn’t fit their process for mass deployment site management. I had never considered that aspect until a lengthy discussion with this feedback. While Apple did have a 4 year life nearly on the prior gen design – a large corporate site couldn’t even count on the power adapters, and other interfaces to be standard for a year. Count on a deployment/work flow support plan that would have a life as they can’t assume and Apple doesn’t tell.

          As for the soldering – On the lower end model there was more reason to need to solder, imho, and it’s socketed… it’s unbelievable to lock down these 15″ models to what you got is all you get for the kind of money these cost. Apple is genius at design – making these actually something that could have been upgraded was well within their capability to say the least… and I don’t care if they make it 100% Apple Only no way to engineer around it – Apple – GIVE PEOPLE A FLASH DRIVE CAPACITY UPGRADE PATH. They would absolutely sell more systems with this feature AND they’d have a faster upgrade turn cycle of more being sold in future due to them not being a DEAD END on the capacity side. As a FACT – the resale value of Macs has been declining as upgradeability has been removed. while I believe 1TB and 2TB models will probably resell well (course that will also be impacted by what flash costs in 2-3 years in new systems, likely a lot lower, but regardless), respectively 512GB and definitely 256GB equipped models are going to be be far more factored… and they will also drop faster with age since the flash itself has a finite life and if goes, that’s pretty much it.

          now – maybe Apple will announce some kinds of reasonable upgrade/servicing programs as we get to the 1yr mark where warranties expire, etc… But still – I’d not buy one of these soldered Macbook Pro models without AppleCare. That at least guarantees value for 3 years – and that warranty transfers if you sell it to someone else too.

          Apple is executing a vision… like it or not. But like it or not, customers have a choice too Apple. Unfortunately, as long as Apple is growing – they may not even recognize the additional marketshare they’ve lost vs. believe that their vision must be right cause it’s selling X units, etc.




        • Wow! Great minds think alike. ;-) Here’s cult of Mac with some similar concerns about Uncle Jonny.

          http://www.cultofmac.com/454370/is-jony-ives-book-designed-by-apple-in-california-a-giant-ego-trip/




        • If anyone is familiar with Bang & Olufsen consumer electronics – where the aesthetics of the hi-fi and TV components are super Danish modern, then Apple is heading in that direction. Style before longevity, external jaw dropper with a lack of depth. And it is depth we Pro users, laboratory, university techs, programmers, graphics and musical creative demand from an Apple product. The Beatles music was made so original due to the rough-edge access into the recording studio hardware to experiment with. That’s a musical creativity that today is impossible to reproduce on a Pro-Tools platform in every audio studio cubical. It doesn’t have much creative longevity. This is where the mass-market appliance negates what Apple stood for. It needs a re-birth!