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.
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 very, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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