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20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit


MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown

Written By: Walter Galan (and 14 other contributors)

Published: February 24, 2011

 Comments:  60  Favorites:  187  Views:  1.1m

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Phillips #00 Screwdriver Spudger

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We got our hands on Apple's newest MacBook Pro 15" on February 24, 2011. This is Apple's rst laptop to sport a quad-core processor, and
also adds a brand-new I/O technology with a Thunderbolt port. Follow us on Twitter to get all the latest updates.

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011, use our service manual. 1/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 1 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown

 We got our hands on Apple's latest Unibody laptop.

This is Apple's rst portable to sport a quad-core
processor: Intel's Core i7.

 This machine includes Thunderbolt, a new I/O

connection that combines PCI Express and
DisplayPort into a single connector.

 Thunderbolt claims to provide 10 Gbps throughput

for both input and output. It appears that both PCI
Express and DisplayPort receive their own 10 Gbps
data channel. That's nice, as you don't want your
display competing with your external hard drive for

 You can chain up to 6 Thunderbolt devices

including up to 2 HD displays. That's not a problem
today as we're not even aware of 6 products that
support Thunderbolt yet. If the connection
becomes widespread, the 6 device limit might be a
problem for some people.

 In comparison, FireWire supports up to 63 devices

in a daisy-chain, while USB does not support daisy-

 One comment

Step 2

 This machine is still model A1286. Apple's been

using that same model number since October 2008.

 Apple still includes the warning to not throw your

MacBook Pro in the trash. These warnings were
missing on the Verizon iPhone we took apart a few
weeks ago.

 One comment 2/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 3

 The lower case is secured by ten Phillips #00

screws. There are no pentalobe screws since Apple
still considers the RAM and hard drive to be user-
replaceable. However, like the machine this
replaces, the battery is not user-replaceable (at
least according to Apple).

 The RAM in this machine is PC3-10600 RAM.

That's the same RAM used in the 2010 revision of
the 21.5" and 27" iMacs, but different from earlier
Apple laptops. PC3-10600 RAM is backwards
compatible with the PC3-8500 RAM in older
MacBook Pro Unibody machines, but you can't use
older PC3-8500 RAM in this machine.

 Add a comment

Step 4

 This machine boasts a 77.5 Watt-hour battery.

That's the same capacity as the previous revision,
but the reported battery life has gone from 8-9
hours to 7 hours. Has performance really
decreased, or is Apple being more realistic with
their estimates? We don't have 7 hours to wait and
nd out, so we'll have to leave that investigation to
$8.99 someone with a fully-assembled unit.
Tri-point Y0 Screwdriver

 Just like the previous revision, the battery is

secured by Tri-Wing screws.

 Add a comment 3/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 5

 A spudger makes disconnecting the battery easy


 On this model, you're able to disconnect the

battery without having to remove it from the
laptop. It's a nice design choice since you need to
disconnect the battery before performing any
$2.99 repairs.

 Add a comment

Step 6

 The wireless card includes support for 802.11n

wireless with 3 antennas as well as what seems to
be a dedicated antenna for Bluetooth 3.0.


We are a community of people helping each other x stuff. Answers Forum
Come hang out with us. 4/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 7

 After removing a soldered EMI shield, we nd

802.11n wireless connectivity provided by a
Broadcom BCM4331 "Single-Chip 802.11n Dual-
Band 3x3 Wireless Solution." Bluetooth 3.0 support
is handled by a BCM2070 in a separate, shielded
section of the board.

 According to Broadcom, the BCM4331 chip

provides "three transmitting and three receiving
streams of data in both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands.
Increased number of streams and antennas results
in faster speeds, longer range, fewer dropped
connections, and better overall wireless coverage."

 The BCM2070 Bluetooth controller is described as

follows on the Broadcom site: "The Broadcom
BCM2070 is a monolithic, single-chip, stand-alone
baseband processor with a high performance
integrated 2.4-GHz RF transceiver. It is fully
compliant with Bluetooth 3.0 and all prior standard
features...using advanced 65-nm LP CMOS

 The wireless card bracket is aluminum, rather than

the plastic in previous revisions. Perhaps this
change was made for thermal reasons, as a visible
pink thermal pad is used to transfer heat from the
board to its aluminum bracket.


Step 8

 Like most 15" Unibody laptops, there are two fans.

To make sure things stay cool, there's a plethora of
temperature sensors scattered throughout the
machine, including near the trackpad, in the
battery, and on the logic board.

 2 comments 5/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 9

 The main board lifts out along with the heat sink
still attached. This is a nice feature, as this way you
have to remove the heat sink and reapply thermal
paste only if you're completely replacing the logic

 Add a comment

Step 10

 This machine features not only the large primary

heat sink, but also two smaller heat sinks.

 Holy thermal paste! Time will tell if the gobs of

thermal paste applied to the CPU and GPU will
cause overheating issues down the road.

 The Mid 2010 15" Unibody was equipped with only

one large heat sink to cool just the CPU and GPU.
Also for that revision, the graphics switching chip
seen in the second image was present, but didn't
receive a heat sink.

 The chip under the heat sink in the third image is a

new chip that is most likely the Thunderbolt

 6 comments 6/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 11

 The Thunderbolt port is shown in the top left

corner of the rst picture. Also seen are the traces
leading to what we think is the Thunderbolt
controller IC.

 In the second picture is the AMD Radeon HD

6490M GPU.

 If you're wondering about the AMD GPU, ATI was

purchased by AMD in 2006. However, only within
the last few months has AMD retired the ATI name
and begun branding their graphics chips with AMD.

 In the third picture is the quad-core Intel i7


 Add a comment

Step 12

 Front side of the logic board (gigantic version can

be seen here):

 Intel BD82HM65 Platform Controller Hub

 AMD Radeon HD 6490M GPU (labeled as AMD


 Quad-Core Intel i7-2630QM Mobile Processor

(labeled as 2V041112A0127)

 Broadcom BCM57765B0KMLG Integrated

Gigabit Ethernet and Memory Card Reader

 Intel L051NB32 EFL (we assume this is the

Thunderbolt port controller)

 Parade PS8301 U08FUC

 TDK 6T213HF 1045 H

 6 comments 7/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 13

 Back side of the logic board (gigantic version here):

 Samsung K4G10325FE-HC04 1 Gb (128 MB)

GDDR5 SGRAM graphics memory, a total of 2Gb
(256 MB)

 Cirrus 4206ACNZ audio controller

 SMSC USB25138 USB 2.0 Hub Controller


 Lattice Semiconductor LFXP2-5E Low-Cost

Non-Volatile FPGA (Field-programmable Gate

 ST Microelectronics 6640 N053

 Intersil ISL6263 CHRZ and ISL6236 IRZ Single-

Phase Synchronous-Buck PWM voltage
regulators for GPU core power applications

 Cypress CY8C24794-24L


Step 14

 Aside from the logic board differences, there really

isn't much else that makes this machine different
from its 15" Unibody ancestors.

 Small plastic plates adhered near the display hinges

seem to keep the display data cable and antenna
cable bundle stationary while the display is opened
and closed.

 The SuperDrive used on this machine has the model

number UJ8A8, making it presumably different
from the model UJ898 used in the Mid 2010 15"

 2 comments 8/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

Step 15

 One thing that has us a little concerned about the

new models is their quality control.

 A stripped screw near the subwoofer enclosure and

an unlocked ZIF socket for the IR sensor should not
be things found inside a completely unmolested
computer with an $1800 base price.

 Add a comment

Step 16

 MacBook Pro Unibody 15" Early 2011 Repairability

Score: 7 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

 Easily removable bottom panel and readily

accessible battery connector allow for easy repair
of most components without touching the battery

 Unibody design allows for easy access of most

components with minimal amounts of extra work
needed to get to them.

 Absurd amounts of pre-applied thermal paste may

cause problems down the road.

 Tri-wing screws limit the average person from

replacing their own battery.

 LCD replacement is still very tricky, which could

easily result in shattering the front glass panel.

 One comment

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20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

31 COMMENTS  Add a comment

 Is the processor model right? The i7-2629 is a 25 W, dual core (not quad core) part.
marinelayer - 02/24/2011

 This may be a really stupid question, but would it be in any way possible to replace the superdrive with an (SSD) harddrive?
Joost - 02/25/2011

My thoughts exactly! I asked MCE about Optibay here:

Martin Cleaver - 02/25/2011

Unfortunately, preliminary reports indicate that the optical drive is connected to an SATA-II port, which may be affected by the Sandy
Bridge bug, so I would hold off until the situation is clearer.
Paul Vernaza - 02/25/2011

Paul - thanks for the heads up on this. So I did some digging - the best assurance I can nd is on : "Earlier this year, Intel discovered problems in the chipset of Sandy Bridge processors that
were shipping, but Apple vice president of worldwide Mac hardware marketing David Moody told Macworld that the company was using
the latest updated versions, which corrected the aw."
From I understand that as delivered, the motherboard is designed to work with an optical
drive on the optical drive port (3gb/s) & a SSD or HDD on the main 6gb port.
Open questions for me:
1) Where's the actual quote of what David Moody said?
2) What might "corrected" mean?
3) Given that he is a hardware executive, is it reasonable that they did a hardware correction, (rather than a software patch)
4) Can we trust that Intel's budget for the recall replaces for full HDD support on the optical drive port?
Martin Cleaver - 02/26/2011

I covered the "Sandy Bridge bug" issue in my comment on Step 12 of this guide yesterday. The PCH chip in the machine i xit performed the
teardown on is a B3 stepping chip without the 3Gbps SATA bug. For full technical details of the S-Spec codes for xed B3 stepping chips see
this Intel product change noti cation - les/pcn110...
Emyr - 02/26/2011

Thanks Emyr - I had read your comment yesterday but it didn't click that it addressed the Intel Sandy Bridge bug.
Martin Cleaver - 02/26/2011

I've typed up my conclusions here:

Martin Cleaver - 02/26/2011

Just found this message on the MCE website:

PRODUCT UPDATE February 24, 2011: The MCE OptiBay for Unibody MacBook Pro (above) has been certi ed to be fully compatible
with the new MacBook Pro 13", 15", and 17" (Early 2011) models just released today by Apple.
On this page:
Joost - 02/27/2011

Thanks Joost - they've promised me an email when they are 100% sure... still waiting for that though!
Martin Cleaver - 02/28/2011

 Can you t a 1TB drive (12.5mm tall)? That would change everything! Apple offers the MB Pro 15" with a 750GB drive and those are usually
12.5mm tall.
tamasko - 02/25/2011

The 750GB drives have been available in a 9.5mm high form factor for a while now. The drive space doesn't seem to be any taller than that.
cityzen - 02/25/2011

I asked an Apple Rep today, but they don't know about the drive space. At least up until the new MBP's, all Unibody 15" and 17" would t
the 12.5mm. Only an 1/8th of an inch taller, but...
I too am using the 12.5mm 1TB Seagate in my older 17" MBP. Hoping that it will t into a new 15". Jim
Jim Pollock - 02/25/2011

Yes. I have one in mine.

Henrik Dahl - 05/26/2011 10/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit

 Looks like they are using the new 12 character serial numbers on the 15'' now.
John Batchelor - 02/25/2011

 There could be more clarity around the wireless card. It does not have an "Extra" antenna for 802.11, that J3 antenna is hooked into the
BCM2070 Bluetooth chip at the bottom of that wireless board, so it's a bluetooth antenna.
Apple is still ahead of the game with a 3x3:3 radio, as most APs (Even Cisco enterprise APs) do not support 3 spatial streams today. In fact,
most Cisco APs are 3x2:2 (3 antennas, 2 transmit chains, 2 spatial streams). Aruba APs are mostly 3x3:2 (3 antennas, 3 transmit chains, but still
only 2 spatial streams). Mobile phones with 802.11n today are usually 1 spatial stream and 1 antenna (Which is why they max at a 65mbps
data rate). Most laptops are 2 spatial stream (Max at 150mb data rate on 2.4ghz, or 300mb on 5ghz (when 40mhz wide channels are enabled).
Apple is claiming 450 mb data rates because in a 40mhz channel 5ghz situation, they can use a 3rd spatial stream. Most APs don't yet support
this, but the AIrport Extreme from Apple does.
I xedit - 02/25/2011

 Might be nice to get close-ups of the PCH and hard drive, in light of the Sandy Bridge bug. Initial reports are that the HD is connected to an
SATA-III port and should therefore be unaffected... but it would be nice to know the exact HD model regardless for those considering
upgrading it.
Paul Vernaza - 02/25/2011

In addition to Emyr's point (that the machine iFixit toredown has the revised PCH Hub), check out which further discusses the point.
Martin Cleaver - 02/26/2011

 Can You con rm if the Displays are interchange able to the MID2010 Model.
Display have the same resolutions and the cables are all at the same place as far as i recognize also there is also no change in that connector?
Klaus - 02/27/2011

It's tough to say for sure (because we haven't tested it). What I do know is that this machine has four antenna connectors while the Mid
2010 has three, and the camera cables connect in slightly different locations between the two machines.
Andrew Bookholt - 02/28/2011

 The reason for the decrease in performance, according to an article I read on Tom's Hardware, is most likely due to the new i7 processor
consuming more power.
Nathon Dalton - 02/28/2011

 Excellent writing! Many thanks.

Deepthi Hegde - 03/01/2011

 Excellent article in both looks & quality. Many thanks.

Deepthi Hegde - 03/01/2011

 did you measure the voltage/current supplied by the thunderbolt port?

thompsonfamily - 06/07/2012

 Is it possible to remove the Processor? I have burnt my logic board, but the Processor is not damaged, so can I move it to another computer.
Seems like a waste to throw away a working quad core processor.
If Yes, how do I do it?
Yasser - 09/18/2014

 I'm struggling to know which exact part I need to buy for my 15" Early 2011 Macbook Pro.
The hinge of my MBP(Black bar) between display and upper case - it's slightly broken at the back. Visible when the lid is closed.
The photo as per does not show that particular part.
To be speci c, it's this part here -
Can anyone advice?
Asri - 10/28/2014

I think I found it, just didn't expect that it's not seen in this teardown guide. 11/13
20/3/2561 MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Teardown - iFixit
Asri - 10/28/2014

 How does one remove the keyboard?

re hardwick - 09/27/2015

 It's a pain in the butt. There are two plastic shields, both with some sort of circuitry on them so you have to be very careful and methodical
here. Then there are about 75 VERY tiny screws holding the actual keyboard in place. I changed it because I had a couple of extra bodies laying
around, and the body I wanted had a half dozen dead keys. I actually succeeded and the LED lights actually worked afterwards! I was amazed.
It took me a good couple of hours to complete. Don't try it unless you have a lot of patience, time, and a magnifying headset of some sort.
VikingShips - 06/16/2017

 Would it be obvious to say that if my early 2011 mac is not booting up that I would need to replace the logic board and hard drive?
Filip Milosavljevic - 08/15/2017

 Filip Milosavljevic - ugh, no that would not be obvious...You ned to provide more details. What exactly is it doing? Does it display anything? It
could be anything from a faulty DDR3 module, to the motherboard or hard drive....It could be a faulty keyboard with a button stuck with coca-
Mike West - 08/15/2017

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