Mobile Devices

Apple MacBook Notebook Computer Teardown

28 October 2011
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The Apple MacBook (model A1181) is the latest newer generation of Intel Core 2 Duo-based laptop offerings by Apple. First introduced in early 2006, the entry-level Mac laptop was designed to replace the venerable PowerPC-based iBook G4. Since then, the MacBook line has received numerous updates and re-spins primary at the motherboard level. In fact, this current model represents the 4th enhancement in processing power since the line was introduced with the inclusion of 45nm Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 (Penryn) processor. The 2.1 GHz CPU is supported by an Intel GM965 Express Chipset with an ICH8M I/O controller hub (Santa Rosa platform) and integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics.

Physically, the MacBook has changed little since its introduction 2 years ago. The 13.3 inch widescreen laptop features low profile, recessed keyboard buttons, integrated "iSight webcam, magnetic latchless power connector and screen lid and comes in either white or black (black color option only offered in the higher 2.4GHz speed processor model). At an entry price of $1099, the MacBook is by far the most affordable mobile computer offered by Apple to date. It comes standard with 1GB of SDRAM, 120GB harddrive and a slot-loading combo DVD/CD-R/W drive as well as the typical assortment of I/O ports. In keeping with the rest of the Apple product line, Apple has added an 802.11 draft-n capable WLAN [mini PCIe] module to take advantage of the faster wireless data speeds.

Apple MacBook Notebook Computer Main ImageApple MacBook Notebook Computer Main Image
Target Market

Mainstream consumers


Per press releases, this iteration of the MacBook was first release in February 2008.

Apple MacBook Notebook Computer - Motherboard TopApple MacBook Notebook Computer - Motherboard Top
Pricing and Availability

Pricing - Based on the configuration of the device under analysis, the Apple MacBook retails for $1099 at the time of writing (Oct. 10, 2008) directly from


- virtually global (availability details on

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime production volume of 2M units.

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed, volumes increment by an order of magnitude. Minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis.

Apple MacBook Notebook Computer - Motherboard BottomApple MacBook Notebook Computer - Motherboard Bottom
Market / Sector Performance

Apple ranks 6th among the top PC OEMs according to iSuppli's ""Compute Platforms PC Market Share Update - Q2 2008" analyst report. Apple has held onto this position for the previous 3 quarters as the company's total PC shipments grew 39% year-on-year. Much of that success came on the heels of the switch to Intel-based processors as well as greater PC consumer brand appeal through popular products such as the iPod and iPhone. Overall, however, Apple commands only a relatively small 3 to 4% of the total global PC shipments.

In terms of laptop offerings, Apple has 3 tiers of MacBooks: the original (under analysis), MacBook Pro for more graphically intensive applications, and the ultra slim MacBook Air aimed at enterprise market. Prominently missing is a lower tier, lower cost mobile computing offering which has been popularized by the new netbook or budget laptop category in the PC world.

Main Cost Drivers Representing ~80% of total materials cost

Intel - EC80577T8100 - CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T8100, 2.10GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB, 45nm

LG Display - LP133WX1 - Display Module Value Line Item - 13.3' TFT LCD, 262K Color, 1280 x 800 Pixels, 224um x 224um Pixel Size, 178.8mm x 286.1mm Viewable Area, 250cd/m^2, 400:1 Contrast Ratio, 25ms Response Time

Hitachi - HTS542512K9SA00 - 120 GB, 2.5', SATA, 5400 RPM, 8 MB Buffer, 5V, 700mA

Panasonic Communications Co., Ltd. - CW-8221-C - DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo Drive

Dynapack - Battery - Li-Ion Polymer, 10.8V, 5000mAh

Hynix - HYMP164S64CP6-Y5 - SODIMM DDR2 - 512MB, 64Mx64, 667MHz (Qty:2)

Intel - LE82GT965 - Northbridge - Graphics & Memory Controller Hub (GM965 Series)

Broadcom - BCM94321MC - WLAN Mini PCIe Module Value Line Item - IEEE802.11a/b/g/Draft-n, Up to 4x4:2

Intel - NH82801HBM - Southbridge - I/O Controller Hub (ICH8-M)

Compeq - 12-Layer - FR4, Lead-Free, Halogen-Free, w/ 6 Pressed-In Threaded Metal Inserts

Delta Electronics - ADP-60AD - AC Adapter / Charger - 16.5V, 3.65A, 60W

Keyboard Assembly - Injection Molded Plastic Keys, w/ Stamped / Formed Metal Substrate & Stamped / Formed Metal Mounting Bracket

Bottom Cover Ventilating Grille - Die-Cast Magnesium, for HDD & Battery, w/ 1 Brass Insert

Materials and Manufacturing $643.58

Apple MacBook Notebook Computer Cost AnalysisApple MacBook Notebook Computer Cost Analysis
What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing

Apple outsources 100% of their manufacturing to ODM/EMS partners in the far-east. According to iSuppli's ""Global OEM Manufacturing and Design Analysis - Compute Platforms", Apple's mobile PC manufacturing partners are split between Hon Hai (Foxconn), Quanta and Pegatron (Asustek) in 31%, 55% and 14% loadings respectively.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, the unit was assembled in China. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc. were sourced in China.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as LCD display), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. ""Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

Invariably, laptop computers represent some of the more complex and electronically dense devices. Manufacturing costs for more densely configured devices in inevitably higher than such products as desktops where assembly is facilitated and costs reduced by not having to resort to more sophisticated, costly and complex systems for such things as interconnect (flex cable, PCBs, etc.). Furthermore, higher density PCBs cost inherently more, as typically this affects board layer counts, via structures and complexity, etc.

With that said, the overall component count on the Apple MacBook came out to 2611 (excluding box contents), of which, 510 are mechanical in nature. This represents the highest component count on a laptop we have analyzed thus far (previous record held by Lenovo Thinkpad R60e at 1929).

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for China.

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

The most note-worthy difference in the MacBook laptop design [from other laptops previously analyzed] is Apple's decision to use a 12-layer PCB motherboard design. Typically, we've only seen 12 layer PCBs used in enterprise networking equipment as well as high-end consumer electronics where size and form-factor was critical in the design. Most other laptop designs have used, at most, a 10-layer design. With the Macbook, Apple opted to cram the motherboard into a small and densely packed PCB (relative to the size of the entire laptop) in order to achieve their desired component and functional layout as well as to maintain an overall laptop thickness of about 1 inch. However, the drawback to using a high layer count PCB is, obviously, lower yield and higher PCB costs.

Overall, the MacBook was designed to be very consumer friendly and user serviceable. The SODIMM memory modules are slot-loaded with a specially designed locking lever accessible behind the battery compartment. The hard drive is also accessible through the battery compartment allowing users to upgrade these parts without violating any terms of the Apple warranty.

Here is a summary of the major components used in the Apple MacBook design:



  • Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T8100, 2.10GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB, 45nm


  • Graphics & Memory Controller - LE82GT965


  • I/O Controller Hub (ICH8-M Base) NH82801HBM

I/O & Interface

  • Microcontroller - Renesas - R4F2116BG20H
  • Open Host Controller Interface - LSI Logic - L-FW323-06-V129
  • Ethernet Controller - Marvell Technology - 88E8058-NNC1
  • Transmitter - Silicon Image - Sil1362ACLU
  • Codec - Realtek - ALC885-GR


  • Clock Generator - Silego - SLG2AP101V


  • SODIMM DDR2 - Hynix - HYMP164S64CP6-Y5 (2x512MB)


  • Display Module - LG - LP133WX1


  • DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo Drive - Panasonic Communications Co., Ltd. - CW-8221-C
  • Hard Drive - Hitachi - HTS542512K9SA00 120GB

WLAN mini PCIe

  • WLAN Baseband - Broadcom - BCM4321KFBG
  • WLAN RF Transceiver - Broadcom - BCM2055KFBG

Apple MacBook Notebook Computer - Box ContentsApple MacBook Notebook Computer - Box Contents

Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 0 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the GlobalSpec
Stay up to date on:
Features the top stories, latest news, charts, insights and more on the end-to-end electronics value chain.
Weekly Newsletter
Get news, research, and analysis
on the Electronics industry in your
inbox every week - for FREE
Sign up for our FREE eNewsletter