As an aging member of the personal computer’s early years, I come from a generation that opened the hood to see what made the machines tick. I swapped out hard drives, added chips for more RAM, even upgraded CPUs and GPUs.
That was never easy on most Macs, but at least Apple paid some homage to our generation with the first cheesegrater Mac Pro, and even Mac notebooks could be opened up so a user could swap out RAM, swap out disk drives, and, well, tinker a bit.
Someone said today’s Macs are more like the original; a personal computer appliance. The original Mac was all but inaccessible. Today’s Macs are not much different. A few years ago Microsoft came along and decided to reinvent the PC with the Surface line of desktop and notebook-tablet hybrids.
I can’t tell you how well that effort has improved Microsoft’s bottom line, if at all, but the latest Surface models are what Macs are not.
Maybe this is just the tock that comes after tick. The pendulum swings, first to one extreme, then to another. PCs once were accessible, then, well, not so much. Now the pendulum seems to swing back again and some of the new Surface models can be opened up by customers.
Jay Peters explains the teardown:
Previous Surface Laptops weren’t easy to open up at all. You had to forcibly pry off the keyboard and top cover assembly to get to the internals — iFixit used a knife on the Surface Laptop — and when you finally got to those internals, it turned out that none of them were user-replaceable.
If the pendulum is swinging back again, maybe Microsoft has started a new trend.
My grandfather and father tuned their own cars and trucks, changed oil, and tinkered around maybe more than the average owner. I visited my grandfather’s house more than a few times and found grandma’s car’s transmission on the back porch.
Yeah. Those days are gone. I have to open the manual to find out what is what under the hood of my car; it’s almost hermetically sealed.
For the Surface Laptop 3, though, iFixit says you can loosen up the top cover assembly just by unscrewing four Torx Plus screws on the bottom of the laptop. Once you do, you can use a guitar pick or another soft prying tool (maybe even a fingernail?) to gently lift up the top cover, which is attached to the rest of the computer by magnets and a single flex cable.
Now, to be fair, I’m not so sure what most of us would do once we opened up a Mac notebook, but it doesn’t matter because, well, you can’t. Even the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has soldered CPU and RAM so the only changeable item is the SSD.
I hope this is a trend with legs. There is no reason a qualified and experienced Mac user should not be able to open a Mac and swap out RAM, battery, and SSD. Microsoft is leaning in the right direction. Let’s see if Apple can do the same thing.