We’ve read many differing opinions about the Retina MacBook Pro that Apple introduced recently. Most people say it’s totally worth it, other repair companies say that it’s a huge step backwards. We have to chime in because we think that everyone is missing the point.
John Gruber (an Apple enthusiast) says that only third party repair companies are being vocal because they’ll lose business — we think it’s reaches further than that. Anyone who knows anything about the cost of fixing a computer is worried. It’s pretty… but anyone considering the retina MBP as their next machine should really consider these next points.
Display Assemblies are costly
The new retina MBP isn’t a good choice for budget-conscious people who may be a little clumsy. We help countless customers who drop their laptops — a broken screen is a common affair. Currently, all of our screen repair options are less than $400. The new MacBook Pro (Retina) will certainly double that… if not more.
Here’s the difference:
We have to replace the whole display assembly — not just the glass/LCD – because it doesn’t have a separate LCD panel. Apple built it directly into the display clamshell. With that said, we’ll have to pay much more for the part. Doing some quick price checks, Apple charges $500 to $700 for the non-retina 15-inch display assembly. If you factor in the added expense for the cool, new hardware, you could expect to pay $700 to $900 (or more) just for the new display assembly. That doubles the repair cost without adding any labor charges to the repair.
Logic Boards and RAM
With the RAM soldered directly to the logic board, we cannot replace bad RAM or help you upgrade. From a repair prospective, this is terrible. A logic board is extremely expensive compared to RAM. We checked out prices on the board from the new 13-inch MacBook Air. A new logic board will easily cost $500 plus labor to install it. We don’t have firm prices for the retina MBP logic board, but we expect it to be more expensive due to the newer, more powerful components necessary to run the high-res display. The RAM in any upgradeable Mac would cost less than $100. That’s a ridiculous difference in price just to achieve a slimmer design.
SSDs and Flash Memory
We admit that solid-state drives are expensive: some more so than others are. We love OWC (macsales.com) solid-state drives because they out-perform all of Apple’s stock options and are much, much cheaper. With the new, proprietary connector on Apple’s retina MBP, we’ll be paying a lot more out of pocket for replacement SSDs — somewhere around $1000. We hope to see someone like OWC manufacture compatible SSD blades, but there currently isn’t anything close on the market.
AppleCare, Depot Repair or Swap Options
We’re praying for cheaper options. The following repair alternatives won’t benefit our company, but it may convince us that this isn’t horrible for everyone. Without alternatives, the retina MBP is something we couldn’t recommend to anyone without plenty of money to blow.
AppleCare is a necessary evil for every Mac. Yes, it adds more cost up front… but in this case, you definitely don’t want to be stuck without a warranty at 13 months. Getting the added warranty will protect you from everything but accidental damage. Since every component on this machine is extremely expensive, it will absolutely save you money in the future.
We’re hoping that Apple will offer a competitive Depot Repair option to keep the end user’s costs down. As long as there hasn’t been any damage to the machine, Apple allows customers to request a Depot Repair for pennies on the dollar compared to individual part replacement. No matter what’s wrong with your laptop, Apple will repair the MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro for $350 or less. We’re hoping they extend this to the retina MBP… but we expect it to be more expensive.
Apple swaps iPads, iPhones and iPods at this point… could there be a swap option for a retina MBP? Our jaws would drop to the floor if this came true but speculation abounds. It could be more economical to have Apple swap a damaged device than it would be to repair it. We have no idea what prices would look like, nor do we really see this happening. However, Apple has surprised us in the past.
Are you ready for the added cost of retina?
If replacing your computer every year is something you can work into your budget, then the retina MBP looks like a great machine. If, however, you are like the majority of our customers and you’d like to get three to five years out of a new Mac… we can’t recommend this machine in good conscience. The cost of repair skyrockets for every part in this machine.
Don’t be like Gruber and find yourself shepherded into the world of expensive repairs. Think for yourself and look at your budget. The retina MBP is not a budget-friendly Mac.