A closer look: iFixit pulls apart the new MacBook Pro Retina display

19 Jun 2012

Fanboys are salivating at the thought of the new MacBook Pro’s 15-inch Retina display, packing more definition than a HD TV. But what does it take to create this stunning display? IT repairs website iFixit pulled one apart to find out.

Agreeing with Apple’s claims that the MacBook Pro Retina display is the most stunning to ever grace the lid of a notebook computer, the team at iFixit was curious to find out about the engineering behind such a high-quality display.

What lies beneath

Typically Apple, the new Retina display is pared-down simplicity as Apple has sacrificed a back casing and front glass cover, instead just placing the LCD panel in the aluminium casing with no additional coverage.

Underneath the top layer, iFixit found a series layers consisting of diffuser and prism films and a stationary polarising sheet. These manipulate light coming from the strip of 48 LEDs at the bottom of the assembly before it reaches the user’s eye.

MacBook Retina display teardown

Difficult to repair

With no front glass, there’s no issue of glare, but with the LCD being the main component of the entire display, if an unlucky user should have an accident, the entire computer would have to be replaced as iFixit claims there’s no way to replace just the display.

Another obstacle for replacement is the cables, which are routed through the display hinges instead of underneath cable retainers, as was done previously. The camera cable is routed along the outside edge of the display assembly, which would also be difficult and costly to replace. However, these space-saving tweaks do help make the laptop lighter.

MacBook Retina display teardown

Having already torn apart the MacBook Pro, the team at iFixit found the components difficult to access, earning it the site’s lowest repairability score ever with 1 out of 10 points. The fragile Retina display was damaged under close examination, and it seems the make-up of this component further enforces the idea that this is one laptop that you would really wouldn’t want to break!

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.