M2 MacBook Pro Teardown: Is the chip the only innovation?


iFixit’s repair specialists recently took a look at the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip and took a look inside the laptop. There they made an interesting discovery: Apparently, the hardware components in the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro are almost identical to the M1 predecessor.

In the teardown video, iFixit experts note that the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 chip differs only slightly from the M1 variant. The similarities between the two laptops start with their chassis, which even share the same model numbers. When comparing the hardware inside the laptops, it is noticeable that this is also very similar in both models.

As iFixit explains, there appear to be minimal changes to the chips and smaller components on the logic board. Cables, grounds, pins, screws and standoffs are absolutely identical.

Can MacBook Pros be upgraded by swapping the logic boards?

Since the logic boards differ in only a few aspects and have the exact same shape, iFixit tries to fit the logic board with the M2 chip into the chassis of the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro. The repair experts want to test whether the older MacBook Pro can be upgraded by swapping the boards.

Replacing the boards actually works without any problems and the MacBook Pro even boots with the M2 logic board. However, the trackpad, keyboard and Touch ID sensor are not recognized. According to iFixit, these should basically work. The repair experts suspect that Apple is blocking the function of the peripherals via software in order to “prevent repairs and the replacement of hardware”.

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Furthermore, iFixit also criticizes Apple’s general attitude towards upgrades. The manufacturer has always put forward the different size of the hardware, cost reasons and manufacturing limitations as reasons why upgrades are not possible. iFixit finds it difficult to explain why the logic boards can be exchanged so easily.

Teardown shows why the MacBook Pro with M2 SSD has problems

Even before the iFixit teardown, reports surfaced that the MacBook Pro with M2 chip has poorer performance when it comes to SSD storage read and write rates than its predecessor. The teardown now also provides the reasons for this.

Instead of two 128 GB SSD chips as in the MacBook Pro with M1, the new model with M2 chip only has a single SSD chip with 256 GB memory installed. While the accesses in the M1 model are shared between both chips, memory requests in the M2 model have to be handled by just one chip, which results in lower read and write rates.

There is no official reason why Apple only chose a larger SSD chip for the M2 MacBook Pro. However, iFixit speculates that the continued shortage of components has forced Apple to take this step.