MacBook Polycarbonate Unibody Teardown



The folks at iFixit have done us a solid by tearing apart the newly redesigned MacBook with a polycarbonate unibody design.So it looks like Apple is creating two tiers of products, using the machined aluminum for their premium offering and polycarbonate for the lower-cost option. From

Earlier this spring, Apple restructured its notebook offerings by repositioning its aluminum unibody MacBooks as premium offerings under the MacBook Pro moniker, adding long-requested features such as FireWire and higher-quality displays. This left the company with just a single MacBook offering, a white polycarbonate model that retails for $999 but sticks out like a sore thumb when positioned alongside its peers.

So one question that’s been posed is: How is the polycarbonate case made? Machined or molded? So let’s take a look at iFixit’s images…


From what I can see, I think it’s molded… I would hope that they molded the polycarbonate since doing a lot of secondary finishing would be kinda expensive… but honestly I can’t quite tell since the big image of the underside shows recessed lettering that could be machined (although the little bit that would be required would be kinda crazy… but I wouldn’t put it past Apple…). So I’m 75% sure it’s molded….


Apple’s web site just refers to polycarbonate as recyclable, but doesn’t say the case itself is made from recycled polycarbonate (not bloody likely since recycled stock would have to have zero random bits of other colors which would never pass Apple’s standards). If anybody has had direct contact with one of these puppies, see if you can tell…

(Thanks for the tip, Vince!)


3 Responses to “MacBook Polycarbonate Unibody Teardown”

  1. 1 Vince November 5, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Hey Warren,

    The bottom plate you are showing with the 8 screws and “recessed letters”, according to the site is an Aluminum sheet with what appears to be an elastomer type coating for “grip”. So the recessed lettering is produced into the elastomer portion.

    The (perhaps) molded Polycarbonate unibody is the upper part with the keyboard/trackpad shown in the top left corner of your first image. Flipped in that image showing underside.

  2. 2 Warren Ginn November 5, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t realize that shot of the recessed lettering wasn’t the back side of the plastic case. But the other images definitely show a molded plastic case…

  3. 3 Gord December 8, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Thanks a bunch for this, helped me out a bunch

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