back to article Apple shares MacBook break-in tips

Apple has published instructions for upgrading hard drives and RAM in its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, and user-friendliness took another step backwards. Before the "unibody" MacBook and MacBook Pros were introduced last October, memory replacement in both was a breeze. The MacBook in particular was an upgrader's delight, with …

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Whatever.

90+% of customers NEVER upgrade.

Those of us who do can afford to take "our precious" to an authorized Mac shop to have it done--and still maintain warranty coverage.

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I see it more as a step forward

Okay, so RAM is slightly more difficult to replace, but how often do you do that? More importantly, swapping out the hard drive is now VASTLY easier.

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Paris Hilton

Which is it?

"Before the "unibody" MacBook and MacBook Pros were introduced last October, memory replacement in both was a breeze..."

"Upgrading your Mac has never been easy. And it just got harder."

Seriously Reg, a little consistency would be good..

/Paris because she knows all about screws

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Only the cheap bastards

Only the cheap bastards buy the lowest end kit at order time then try to upgrade it on their own, probably 80%+ of this market demographic are PC users :-)

There is something I just don't trust about a store opening up a kit after build-out at the factory and then putting it back together... probably all those other electronics related (even non computer) items that have gone into factory service and came back with umpteen broken plastic clips, stripped screws, and marred and damaged cases.

At least get the extended warranty on that if you are going that route, oh wait, cheap bastard thing again...

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Paris Hilton

If its not easy ...

... for you then it begs the question as to whether or not you should be in there in the first place!

It is all about competence. How many really savvy users are there of these tiny devices? Macbooks, iMacs and Mac Mini are not like yer average desktop. They are not designed to be as user serviceable as a PC World special. So why would anyone think that these Macs are in the same frame? Nor, for that matter, are the vast majority of laptops or super compacts out there from other manufacturers. So why single out Apple [yet again!]?

"Upgrading your Mac ...." [Pro] could not be easier, it beats the pants of any of the opposition taking, for example, no more than 3 minutes to slide in a SATA HDD. So theres some balance sadly missing from the article.

Upgrading all of the other Macs, which are built using laptop components, is no more complex than upgrading any other similar device.

But for the average user they should keep their fingers out and leave it to someone who can.

Paris because she always likes a handy man

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To be fair

They will do this for you at an apple store if you are to much of a spoon to take 8 screws out. The serious difficulty of this seems small fair enough for the excellent design (typed on a plastic macbook with the forth chipped keyboard.

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Paris Hilton

Upgrade RAM

Just bought the thing with 4GB in it....

Paris - cos even she could figure that out (and afford it)

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jai
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different screw lengths OMGZnoes!!!

so there are different screw lengths - if you're the sort of person that is going to upgrade your ram/hd yourself, surely it's not beyond your mental capability to work out how to keep them seperate and identified as to which goes where

but if it is, then here's a tip - get a piece of A4 paper, draw a rectangle to represent the underside of the laptop. draw circles on the paper in the approximate places where the screws are - then when you take the screws out, selotape them to the paper in the correct location

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Silver badge

And?

I mean no average user buys a macintosh. Macintoshes are for people who like to deal with binary code. People who can disassemble x86 code they see in a text editor. Those people probably don't mind complicated to open cases.

You average "I just want to _use_ the computer"-user will stick with his Ubuntu on a cheap PC.

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Flame

Too much focus on style and sealed boxes

I love my OS X ... it just works and works and works and is easy on the eyes and the brain. But Apples obsession on slick style over easy upgrades / repairs is pathetic.

I was able to get a good deal on a old mirror door dual-G4 PowerMac on ebay. Installed quiet fans - 2GB RAM and dual 160GB drives. Easy access to everything .... I'll ride this baby into the ground.

Beats the hell out of my 17" G5 flat panel imac .... it barfed its hard drive 3 months after warranty. As an ex-designer I'm sure Apples penchant for style led them to push thermal limits of all components including the hard drive. What a crock of shit.

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iMacs?

"Upgrading your Mac has never been easy."

I'm pretty sure that upgrading an iMac's RAM requires just one screw to be undone to allow you access to the chip(s) directly. I've never seen a PC that is that easy to upgrade the RAM.

(admittedly the rest of the Mac line aren't exactly easy to upgrade though)

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Dull

This is so reporting nothing.

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IT Angle

Are you kidding?

10 Screws? Oh noes! You realise that once you take the ten screws out, the entire bottom panel comes right off, exposing the entire computer, making the RAM and HDD easily accessed and upgraded? How hard is that exactly? What were they expecting?

Before the pre-Unibody MacBook Pros, you had 4 screws to open the memory access panel, and if you wanted to upgrade the hard drive, it took a lot of work as you had to essentially dissassemble the top case - involving removing a total of about 27 screws inside and out, using a credit card to prise open the clips right around the keyboard tray (which never went back together quite the same afterwards), unclipped the mouse/keyboard ribbon cables, untaped some wires over the HDD, unscrewed the HDD cage, unscrewed the drive from the HDD cage, swap the HDD and reverse the process to put it all back together again - ie, not something your average user will want or be able to do.

Compare that with the new MacBook Pros. 10 screws, lift bottom panel off, unscrew HDD from its mounting, replace and reverse the process. Easy peasy.

I thought TheReg was an IT site and they think THAT's hard? Pleeeeeaaaaase.

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Jobs Horns

Simple

Apple over charge for the hardware why would they let you easily upgrade poor hardware with better without paying apple tax.

Most of the users are such zealots or too stupid to realise they are paying over the odds.

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Coat

Must have been talking to Toshiba ...

There's 'prior art' here - a work colleague brought me an old Toshiba Satellite A40 and asked me whether or not it could be upgraded from its current 256Mb(!) RAM because her husband was finding it a bit slow(!!) and the hard disk, a whopping 30Gb, was starting to fill up.

"No problem" says I - hard disk was easily accessible, as was the processor and associated cooling bits. The RAM slots? Nightmare - dismantle the entire machine and *then* pop the keyboard off. Total screw count was upwards of 10, and the resulting assemblage of bits looked like a Chinese (or should that be Japanese?) puzzle but at least Tosh had the good sense to mark on the chassis which type of screw goes where ...

My old G4 iBook was a breeze in comparison.

Mine's the one with a putty knife and screwdrivers in the pocket - the Mac Mini needs a memory upgrade!

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Dead Vulture

Not again

Apple bad!

Google bad!

Wikipedia bad!

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Alert

Turn off for Corporate buyers?

We have long had a policy that hard drives don't go back to the vendor. We take them out before we take it in for any other service. I don't think I've seen an elegant inside of a modern Apple product.

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N

Still looks simple to me

I mean eight screws instead of three? Thats a real challenge! and the battery catch, that must be really tricky...

I think I prefer the new arrangement because the screws in the new MacBook are set vertically as opposed to the horizontally set screws that retain the battery shield strip in the previous one and thus engaged with the screw driver at an angle.

As for those who cant do it them selves, just what is wrong about taking it to a dealer?

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Anonymous Coward

iBook drives

It took me over four hours to change the dead disk in my two months out of warranty iBook G4. Dozens of different screws and metal plates and plastic clip thingies.

I had the impression that they sort of took a hard disk then sort of built a laptop out of leftover bits around it. What a pain. Still use my iBook every day though.

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Actually easier

I actually found the process easier now... With the old (white) MacBook you had to be very careful to align your memory modules correctly while pushing them to their place. Now, once you removed the bottom cover, have full sight of the memory slots and you can see if the modules are aligned correctly before pushing them down.

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Paris Hilton

Wasn't

the advertising saying it's made of a single block of aluminium ? So how can you get in in the first place ?

Paris - I haven've had my caffine hit yet so I'm as intellectual as she is at the moment !!!!

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I've never looked on laptops as upgradeable - Mac or PC or whatever

Well, yes, OK, you can, and I have, but on a "We've made it small and light and power-efficient but that does mean the RAM is now accessed by taking off four panels and going through a wardrobe to a magic kingom where the screws need a different driver and it's like it or lump it on the keyboard feel and screen quality"-laptop - spec it, buy it, forget it.

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Coat

Screw guides

I've taken apart an iBook and PowerBook G4 to fix dead hard drives. macfixit.com have some handy disassembly guides including sheets to tape your screws to so you put them back in the right order :)

Minds the one with the Philips #00 and torx bits in the pocket ....

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Stop

Oh noes! 8 screws?!? The world ends!

Sometimes the anti-Apple ranting in the articles here just gets better of me..

Last time I opened up my Panasonic R3 laptop, it required removal of 20+ screws, few ribbon cables, and some other bits and pieces (wlan antenna cable at least) just to replace the broken hard drive. But, as Panasonic isn't evil, and Apple clearly is, I can see why 8 screws can be the end.

P.S. I managed it! I feel so accomplished! I thwarted evil monopoly (after spending too bloody many quid on the hardware itself, admittedly) and got CHEAP 4gb memory upgrade! :-p Do I get a medal?

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Hard drive is now a user replaceable item

"Upgrading your Mac has never been easy. And it just got harder" Except that if you want to change your hard drive, you're no longer voiding your warranty.

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Jobs Halo

It's all about diminishing returns

How often do you get the benefit of an easily accessible RAM slot over the life of the average laptop? Once? Twice?

How often to you get the benefit of a well-designed case for the machine as a whole, which is durable and look good (i.e. no fugly bulges sticking out here there and everywhere)? Every time you use it.

By my non-calculation, that makes a good case design important, and easy access to something that most people never touch unimportant.

Case closed.

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Jobs Horns

@ Tony Chandler

Most ram is available via 1 screw i find on pc's

my sisters laptop my sony vaio (only cause 1 is missing cause my finace dropped lemonade in it)

toshoba i did the other day was 1 screw

I can understand why people are pissed off about this

im guessig the 10 screws needed is to take the entire backing off to replace the ram i mean like wtf !!

and HDD replacement is just as easy normally on PC nomally 1-2 screws and sometimes a spring release

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Short memories

I remember doing a HD swap on a RevB G3 iMac. That is serious surgery.

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Dead Vulture

Pardon? Lost clicks lately?

"Upgrading your Mac has never been easy."

Did you scrape that bull off your heel after a long walk in the field smokin' hay? And "got harder to upgrade"? This is so ignorant (try changing anything but RAM — which is the only thing 95% of users ever upgrade anyway unless something brakes — on a G4 Powerbook but try not to lose a finger in the process. A couple screws to get to the HDD on ANY notebook is a GODSEND) that I can only classify it as shameless clickbait.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely the real story is the battery?

And that from the pictures (available elsewhere), it looks to be a single easy to replace block with no real reason for being completely inside the case. Which is a shame, because replacing the battery is just about the only thing I would trust myself to do on my 2006 MacBook Pro.

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Go

Still not as bad as the old iBooks/PowerBooks

I peh at your measly 8 screws for new gen. I remembering recovering my friend's hard disk from her old PowerBook 17". 50ish screws later, I finally managed to get in, recover the data off the drive onto my computer, and then put the blasted thing back together.

And it was just as bad in iBook land.

Whilst 8 screws may seem inconvenient (says he who breaks in to his PC laptops with 2 of them) 8 is NOT the end of the world.

I just wish Apple we more consistent when developing products and using the same screws throughout...

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AF
Stop

Yet again, not "new"s

The new Macbooks came out, what, last October/November? The instructions for upgrading them were out at the same time - and you're only mentioning it now? This is is SO not news, using the generally accepted definition of news as being, y'know, NEW information.

Plus, as others have said, it's hardly a shock or scandal - ooooh, eight screws, whoopdie-do. I actually found it quicker to replace the memory in my new unibody MBP than in my previous white MB - the angled access to screws was a nightmare.

It's also curious how you completely fail to mention that it's really only RAM that's affected by this - HDD replacement is now the easiest thing ever - you flip a catch to remove the battery panel, remove ONE (count it) screw and drop in the new HDD. Ok, if the new drive didn't come with the four retaining screws already screwed into the sides you might need to do them as well, but seriously - it's the easiest HDD swap ever.

Now, if you REALLY want to have a pop at MacBook Pros, why not go nuts on the whole "they don't like 4Gb up 'em" side of things - the reason I know how quick and easy it is to replace the RAM in a MBP is 'cos I've had to do it four frickin' times since I got it! I'm not using substandard, or indeed faulty (according to Apple's diagnostics) chips, and I'm not the only one, as a quick squizz at the Apple support forums will reveal.

Reporting stuff that happened four months ago = not news.

Reporting stuff that was pointed out four months ago, and Apple have yet to fix = news.

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Go

@Tim Hogard

Clearly, you've never seen the inside of a Mac Pro, where everything you need access to is neatly laid out and easily removable. Hard drive removal? One hand, two fingers, no screws.

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@ jai -Good Idea. Screw replacement

Sketching the screw locations is a good idea. Some find it even easier to use corrogated cardboard instead of paper- then you can just puch the screws in and not bother with the sellotape.

Also, read a chapter of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance from page 301 onwards - "Gumption" and how not to lose it.

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Anonymous Coward

Harder to upgrade?

As many commenters have pointed out upgrading the hard disk is now massively, massively easier! I think making the RAM slightly more difficult is a small compromise for a machine which is overall far easier to work on.

Clearly the reg have never had to replace a previous gen MacBook Pro hard disk, the comment "Upgrading your Mac has never been easy. And it just got harder." in your article is just plain wrong.

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Jay
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@Only the cheap bastards

Only an idiot would pay the price for extra RAM from Apple when you can usually get it for a half or a third of the price elsewhere.

Last Xmas to order a MacBook with 2GB RAM (upgrade from 1GB standard) was an extra £90! However I maanged to get 2GB from Crucial for around £35.

Likewise when I got my Mac Pro just before Xmas it had the standard spec disk and RAM, and I added bigger disks and more RAM myself for a damn sight less than what Apple would try and fleece me.

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RE: Various

@Simon Ward

Too right! Never worked out why they put the RAM there… and I never liked the old Toshes having the DEL key to the right of the space bar… WTF??

@Adrian

That’s what I thought initially as well – if they had hollowed out a block of aluminium and slid the innards into the cavity I would’ve been well impressed!!

With respect to the dismantling of the Mac, it looks easy enough, as compared to some nightmares I’ve attempted in my time. On a personal note I like to take my laptops apart every few months to unclog the vents and clean the fans and just blow the dust out of the system – it is amazing how much better it runs afterwards in terms of temperatures and hence fan noise, etc. I have an old HP Pavilion zd7000 series that has different components accessible from underneath so you can dismantle the cooling system without opening the entire machine, plus the HDD is in a bay that can be opened externally (4 ickle screws) so I have set up two different drives for it, the original XP one and the other one for whatever I feel like (back to Suse right now) that can be swapped in about a minute… now that really is a sweet old machine…

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Macintoshes are for people who like to deal with binary code

HAHAHAHAHAHA thats proberbly the best joke I´ve read in years. Good one :o)

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@Tim Hogard

Open your eyes & take a look at a Mac Pro, memory & hard disks very accessible with each disk being secured in its own slide in tray by 4 screws on my 2.66 quad.

Memory is on two slide in riser boards each taking 4 sticks of ram.

Upgrade = doddle.

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Jobs Horns

Dell XPS M1530 - Fantasic design

What is all this, other laptops are just as difficult to upgrade! Admittedly I have only owned 2, an Acer Aspire and a Dell XPS M1530, both have been really easy, nice easy to open panels on the underside of the case, simple installation of new ram modules. The Dell has a one screw and slot out hard disk, making it really easy to change, also installed a 3G data card in my Dell with just 4 screws for the cover and 2 to hold the card in place. Oh and it looks rather pretty too!

Apple does not equal best value for money. Apple produce high end premium products that they don’t really want you to upgrade, as they would rather milk you for more cash with an apple upgrade or even better a new computer! Great business if you can do it, not so good if you like to tinker and add as time goes on.

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Epic fail, El Reg

El Reg. As others here have pointed out this is SO not news. It's not even a view balanced viewpoint. Did your writer not get get his soy latte this morning?

As someone who takes Macs apart for a living taking out 8 easy-to-reach screws is a no-brainer. The early iBooks and PowerBooks were a different matter, requiring major disassembly to replace the HD. But even with those you exercise good working practices. Lay it all out on cloth covered, well lit table (so the screws don't bounce off and stay where you put them). Turn to http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/ to find the relevant model and away you go.

I think I can safely say MOST Mac users don't want/need to upgrade their compters. A bit more RAM maybe, but when it comes to changing the HD it's usually because the original has failed.

Does the average Joe expect to change the engine of his car if it fails? No he takes it to a mechanic....

Mind you, I can remember trying to upgrade RAM (or drives!) on the old PowerMac 8500 towers... First tool on the table was a box of Elastoplast (Band-Aid to our US cousins) as you could guarantee cutting something fleshy during the long, tedious process...

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Anonymous Coward

@ AF

Are these Apple memory modules or third party, if they are Apples I would take the whole machine back and get it replaced. If they are OEM modules maybe Apple test the modules to a different spec to the OEM. The diagnostics on the machine/diagnostic CD usually only test for major failures. Its a long time since I did full memory tests on systems but many a time they passed diags but failed on the OS, then I had to use to OS to find the faulty chip.

Hope you get it fixed.

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@Anonymous Coward

"it looks to be a single easy to replace block with no real reason for being completely inside the case"

um... what, you have laptops with batteries that are partially hanging OUTSIDE the case...?

I'm guessing what you meant to say was 'why not have a door to access the battery? well, because then it wouldn't be a 'unibody' with all the benefits that that brings... it would be a flexy-creaking thing, like every other laptop

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Anonymous Coward

IBM did it right...

My old IBM T-40 laptop was extremely easy to take apart. On the bottom of the case was a diagram with pictures of all the screw types used in the case. Each screw had a number. Every hole where there was a screw had the screw number next to it and a picture of what the screw was holding together. So, if you need to remove the keyboard, remove all the screw with a keyboard symbol.

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Boffin

not just apple

the first time i tried to open my old sony vaio laptop to swap hard drives the magic smoke got out & it needed a $2000 trip to the repair centre for a new motherboard (for no apparent reason).

when i finally succeeded in (non-destructively) opening another vaio of a similar model, there were definitely more than 8 screws - probably more like 14 or 15 of vastly different lengths.

so, erm, "big deal". buy the mac laptop that's better suited to your purposes & stop whining.

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I can fathom their angle

But they should at least market one machine in each category which is designed to be easily user serviceable, at least so they don't forget how. They'd likely charge extra for the feature, or better yet charge less for the lack of it.

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Boffin

A laptop designed to be upgraded

While this thread has degenerated in a mild version of the Mac/AntiMac argument, has anyone managed to have a fiddle with the Asus C90 - the gaming laptop that is designed to be upgradeable with desktop components and so on…

I would dearly like to get one but unfortunately have yet to sight them on the eastern shores of the Atlantic…

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Form over function

Its the Apple style mantra that is at fault here not wanting little covers in the base of the laptop like in most other makes, Looking at the pictures for replacing the hard drive on the 17" a small removable cover would have sorted it out no problem same for some of the models

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Alien

What's the beef about?

I replaced my RAM from 1GB to 4GB on my Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 2.66Mhz by removing 3 screws. Piece of Cake!

The HDD is much, much harder requiring the removal of 27-28 screws and lots of unplugging, removing the keyboard etc. When I need a new HDD I will definitely have the Apple Genius' do it for me.

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No biggie

First, few users modify their laptop - ever.

Second, among those who do, not many attempt to do it themselves.

Third, they usually do it once a year.

So what's the big deal?

You might as well complain that cars are built in a way that it makes it very difficult for average users to change the engine themselves...

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