Apple Retina Macbook 2016 teardown reveals interchangeable spares except the heat sink and USB-C board

Apple recently introduced an update to the 12-inch Retina MacBook – and it’s pretty much identical to their 2015 model, says ifixit report. Except for the pretty pink color, because Apple’s new mantra seems to be go rose gold or go home!

With an identical form factor, we’re crossing our fingers that parts will be interchangeable across the line like we saw in the iPhone SE and 5S. Let’s get right to the teardown and find out, shall we?

Almost everything is interchangeable except the heat sink and USB-C board. We also found that the case screws, cables, audio board, display, and speakers were all the same and swappable.

The battery, although a different model, shares the same connection and is also interchangeable. Which means we already have guides wonderfully documented for most repairs.

Retina MacBook

Just like the 2015 MacBook of yesteryear, this Macbook scored the same lousy 1/10 on our repairability scale. The processor, RAM, and flash storage are still soldered to the logic board and the battery assembly is stubbornly glued to the lower case.

Retina Macbook 2016 teardown highlights

This MacBook comes with an additional hour of battery life. We’re tempted to attribute this boost to increased efficiency from the sixth-generation Intel Core M processors and a small bump in battery capacity, surpassing the 2015 MacBook with 41.41 Wh at 7.56 V – over a 4% increase. This increased capacity seemingly comes without changing the form factor of the battery! How’d they do that? Perhaps improved battery chemistry, or more likely, black magic.

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The USB-C hardware changed from the 2015 model. It looks like they moved some silicon from the USB-C connector cable onto the USB-C board, and permanently affixed the cable to the board to make the components a single unit.

There’s been lots of hoopla about increased SSD speed, which we suspect is due to a new iteration of Apple’s in-house, TSMC-fabricated SSD controller.

On the 2015 Retina MacBook, the controller was layered beneath the SK Hynix H9TKNNN4GDMRRR-NGM LPDDR2-SDRAM. But on the 2016 MacBook, it’s sitting by its lonesome with a slightly new model number: 338S00066 vs. 338S00055.

Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and again as a Microsoft MVP in Surface under Windows and Devices in January 2024. He worked as a Chief Technical Editor with ASPAlliance and was part of ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at