A brand new MacBook Pro version is on sale in Apple stores and on Apple’s site, and the laptop isn’t cheap. That’s not necessarily unexpected, considering that Apple has always sold premium notebooks for premium prices. But before you give Apple your money you should know that you have to spend extra cash on certain dongles so that your other PC peripherals still work with the new machine. There’s also the question of upgradability to consider. MacBooks have a better overall life than their counterparts. But does the 2016 generation let customers change RAM or SSD?
We already know that RAM is capped at 16GB, supposedly due to energy efficiency concerns. But if you purchase a MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM, you won’t be able to upgrade it. The RAM is soldered to the logic board, which means you can’t pick off the shelf components to upgrade it to 16GB.
This isn’t a surprise, considering that previous-gen MacBook Pros also came with soldered RAM.
While 8GB of RAM may be enough for most people, storage is a little trickier. In fact, if your pro job requires you to upgrade RAM, you’ll probably going to need more storage as well.
Out of the box, the MacBook Pro ships with 256GB of space. That’s definitely an improvement compared to last year’s MacBook Pro. The cheapest Retina MacBook Pro only has an SSD of 128GB, and it’s still available for purchase.
Last year’s model had an user-replaceable SSD, though there aren’t many options for it — and they’re not nearly as fast as Apple’s highly optimized storage solutions.
This year’s MacBook Pro has even faster SSD speeds, which means the best thing you could do is order a custom MacBook Pro that has more storage out of the gate. Of course, that’ll be quite expensive, but you can go for up to 2TB of space if you so desire.
If you’re going the user-replaceable route, you should know that the dumber 2016 MacBook Pro — the 13-inch flavor that lacks a Touch Bar and two USB-C ports — has an upgradeable SSD.
OWC tore down the laptop and found out that you can replace the SSD module. The company supplies SSDs that fit into MacBook Pro models from mid-2013 or later, so it’s understandable why it already tore down the new MacBook Pro.
The company discovered that removing the SSD is possible, although it’s not an easy job. For starters, the bottom aluminum side is harder to remove. Then, the SSD is kept in place under the speaker module and has a very strong tape covering the interface port.
Apple on its website says the SSD of the new MacBook Pros can’t be replaced, but the company notes the same thing about previous-gen MacBook Pro models that ship with SSDs.
In its detailed hands-on experience with the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, Ars Technica noted initially that the SSDs inside the new notebooks couldn’t be replaced. The site updated the post to note OWC’s findings, saying that upgrades will remain “theoretically possible.”
The bad news is that, at this time, nobody is making SSDs that are compatible with the new laptops. Samsung recently announced crazy-fast SSDs for laptops, but they won’t fit any MacBooks, whether they’re brand new or 2013 or later.