iFixit tears the 2013 Mac Pro asunder, finds an actually repairable Mac

iFixit tears the 2013 Mac Pro asunder, finds an actually repairable Mac - American Technology News

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The Mac Pro, exploded by iFixit.

Apple rarely gets much love from iFixit. The same things that make the company’s products thin and alluring to consumers also makes them incredibly difficult for end users to repair. Whether it’s a battery glued into its case, CPUs and RAM that have been soldered to the motherboard, or proprietary connectors on everything, it’s been a long time since a Mac, iPhone, or iPad received anything but faint praise from iFixit.

That changed today when iFixit tore the new Mac Pro apart. It isn’t the first outlet to break the computer down, but its teardown is accompanied by the high-resolution pictures and detailed notes that we’ve come to expect. What they found is a computer that, despite its more integrated nature and fair number of proprietary parts, is actually pretty easy to repair and upgrade (for a Mac).

Enlarge / The RAM and SSD are both dead simple to replace.

The RAM is the easiest component to remove and replace, since it only requires you to slide the case’s cover off. This can be done with the push of a button, rather than special screwdrivers and suction cups (as is often the case with MacBooks and iMacs). As we’ve mentioned before, these are standard 1866MHz ECC DDR3 DIMMs, and it should be trivial to purchase and upgrade your own RAM down the line. Replacing the SSD is also simple—although the connector is proprietary, the drive is held in place by a single Torx screw. The PCI Express SSD is apparently very similar to the PCIe drives found in the 2013 MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro.

It’s not difficult to remove the FirePro GPUs from the case, either, since they’re each held in by four screws and a clamp. They’ve each got a proprietary PCI Express connector that connects to a daughterboard at the bottom of the computer—that daughterboard also connects to the main logic board where the CPU socket and RAM slots reside and to the rear panel where the ports are kept. Since the GPUs can be removed, it should theoretically be possible to upgrade them later on, though that would rely on the willingness of Apple (or third parties) to make new GPUs that will fit into the Mac Pro’s case, can be cooled by the system’s single fan, and will connect to the daughterboard. One of the GPUs also has the SSD slot on the back of it, further complicating matters.

Enlarge / A daughterboard at the bottom of the case ties all of the separate components together.

As we pointed out last week, the Mac Pro’s logic board uses a standard socketed CPU, and unlike previous Mac Pros, the CPU uses a standard Intel heat spreader. Switching your CPU out for a better one in the future should be relatively simple, though as several of you pointed out, you’ll likely be limited to faster Ivy Bridge Xeons, since the Haswell-E CPUs are expected to use a different CPU socket. In short, you’ll be able to upgrade to a CPU with more cores later if you’d like, but you won’t be able to switch architectures.

Enlarge / A clearer shot of the Mac Pro’s LGA 2011 CPU socket.

The last piece of the puzzle (aside from the fanless, 450W power supply) is what iFixit calls the “port board,” probably because it has all the Mac Pro’s ports on it. All of the controllers that aren’t integrated into the main chipset are also integrated into this board: among others, you’ve got three Intel DSL5520 Thunderbolt 2.0 controllers (one to each pair of Thunderbolt ports), a Broadcom gigabit Ethernet controller, a Cirrus audio codec also found in the latest Retina MacBook Pro, and a four-port USB 3.0 controller from Fresco Logic (the first time Apple has used a USB 3.0 controller that wasn’t integrated into one of Intel’s chipsets).

In the end, the Mac Pro gets a rare eight out of ten on iFixit’s repairability scale, with points removed for lack of internal storage expansion and proprietary connectors. If you find yourself needing to repair or upgrade a Mac Pro out of warranty, it’s nice to see that the new machine doesn’t sacrifice its repairability as well as its internal expandability.

Ars Technica » Gear & Gadgets



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