iFixit, a group that sells electronics repair tools and rates devices for repairability, published a detailed teardown of Apple’s new Mac Pro. Despite a couple of minor complaints, the folks at iFixit gave the device high marks. In an unusual tune for Apple products, they called the Mac Pro “beautiful, amazingly well put together, and a masterclass in repairability.”
Whereas a modern Mac usually takes specialized tools and a lot of careful effort to open up, iFixit was able to get inside the Mac Pro by simply using the twist handle at the top—no proprietary screws or adhesive were in place. Additionally, removing the case hard-cuts power to the machine for safe operation.
Both the CPU and RAM, as well as PCIe cards, can be accessed and replaced as easily as could be done on most other desktop PCs. However, the SSD is a different story. It has a modular SSD, but it’s “bound to the T2 chip, meaning user-replacements are a no-go.” You can add more storage in other places, but you can’t really replace the built-in drive.
No special tools are required for replacing the RAM. Access to the CPU is similar to other desktop tower PCs; you’ll find it in a standard socket after you unscrew and remove its heatsink, and you can remove it and replace it if needed.
As a side note, iFixit tried grating cheese on the surface in reference to many jokes about the Mac Pro’s appearance, but unsurprisingly found that it could not efficiently be used for that purpose.
iFixit complimented the build quality over all, and noted a handful of conveniences in the design that make it clear that the machine was designed to be opened up and serviced. Whereas they often give Macs scores like 1 out of 10 for repairability, they gave the Mac Pro 9 out of 10, knocking it only for the lack of a replaceable SSD and difficulty and expense of finding new parts.
Apple’s Mac Pro is built specifically for use in professional environments like video-editing bays, 3D-modeling studios, and the like. It’s priced to be competitive with high-end workstations from specialized companies like Boxx or from dedicated arms of bigger PC OEMs. It’s also largely manufactured in the United States instead of in China or India, further raising the price.
The narrow targeting of the Mac Pro makes sense for Apple’s current strategy with the Mac, but there is still a dedicated niche of Mac users who want this level of serviceability in a more consumer-oriented (and consumer-priced) desktop. Unfortunately, that’s still not yet to be, but any version of a user-serviceable Mac tower in 2019 is nevertheless interesting.
Listing image by iFixit