In brief: Apple's new and rather expensive Mac Pro has received compliments from the team at iFixit for its modular design and repairability. The company's high end desktop managed a score of nine out of 10, which is unusually high for an Apple device and should be seen as a move in the right direction.
When you think about Apple's products for the past four or five years, they're not exactly the most easy to open up and fix by yourself. It's so difficult that in some cases replacing the device is the only possible option, as the company has made some radical design decisions such as soldering components like the RAM and SSD onto the motherboard.
iFixit did a full teardown of Apple's new Mac Pro, which surprisingly scored an impressive nine out of 10 for repairability. The repair experts explained that it's easy to open and doesn't require any special tools to replace components. The CPU is more difficult to get to as it's buried deep inside, but since it's not impossible it might be worth it for those who want to save $1,050 when upgrading to a 12-core CPU.
They noted the machine is a "Fixmas miracle: beautiful, amazingly well put together, and a masterclass in repairability." And they've also taken the time to see if comparisons with a "cheese grater" are warranted, but it turns out you shouldn't be tempted into grating some cheddar with it unless you're prepared for a painstaking cleanup afterwards.
To put things in context, the iPhone 11 scored a six out of 10 for repairability, and the MacBook Pro 16 with the more reliable scissor keyboard still only managed a one out 10. That's just as bad as the 2016-2019 MacBook Pros, but at least the Retina MacBook Air managed a three out of 10 thanks to some design tweaks.
They also require special tools and patience to open, whereas the Mac Pro can be opened using the handle on top to slide its shell out. This action also cuts power to the machine for safety reasons, and the inside draws many similarities with a traditional desktop tower PC meaning most components like RAM modules and graphics cards can be handled in a similar way.
An interesting detail is that Apple provides step numbers and guiding diagrams right on the device, as well as free repair manuals that cover the essentials. However, the SSDs installed in the new Mac Pro are proprietary and linked to the controversial T2 chip, so they're not user-replaceable despite being modular. The good news is you can add more storage using MPX modules.
The modular design of the machine is evident throughout the detailed teardown - the feet can be replaced with wheels, the three fans at the front slide out in one piece, there's very little cabling, and the screws and connectors are standard. That said, if you want to replace one of the proprietary components, you're going to depend on Apple to get them and you'll likely pay a hefty price.
In any case, the new "cheese grater" Mac Pro is more repairable than its "trashcan" predecessor, and arguably a more innovative desktop computer. iFixit speculates that Apple's efforts to make the new machine more modular can be explained, in part, by the right-to-repair battle, which has recently made some progress in Massachusetts and California.