rMBP 13" Late 2013 - advice needed

tigerintank

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Jun 16, 2013
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Have a rMBP 13" Late 2013 with a bulging case.

To give a feel for the amount of bulge - when I close the lid there's around a 5-10mm or 1/4 inch gap at the front between the lid and the base - due to the keyboard /trackpad not being flat.

I've spotted it just now, but i'm unsure how long its been like that, as Ive not used it away from home for a while or indeed used it for much beyond mail, web and video recently.

There are no signs of performance issues when I use it and battery status looks good-
--------------
Battery Information:
Manufacturer: SMP
Device Name:
Pack Lot Code: 0
PCB Lot Code: 0
Firmware Version: 702
Hardware Revision: 3
Cell Revision: 379
Charge Information:
Charge Remaining (mAh): 4915
Fully Charged: No
Charging: No
Full Charge Capacity (mAh): 5225
Health Information:
Cycle Count: 110
Condition: Normal
Battery Installed: Yes
Amperage (mA): -1998
---------------

I'd really like to hear your views on my options here?

Some off the cuff thoughts from me-
  • Repairable? DIY or Apple?
  • Use longer term - maybe as a permanent desktop only - with battery disconnected / removed somehow?
  • Whether I should keep using the laptop in short-term whilst I decide what to do?
A replacement rMBP isnt really on the cards right now as finances are tight and of course timing couldn't be much worse!

All thoughts welcome positive or negative.
 

kohlson

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2010
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Battery is the most likely cause. I suspect you're having issues with the trackpad, too - which is right on top of it.
 
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tigerintank

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Jun 16, 2013
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Yes I think you're right everyone - must be the battery - although I seem to be in luck with the trackpad working so far.

I understand the caution that everyone is advising and thinking about it I do agree that I should get it dealt with asap.

It seems from some reading there are ways to DIY remove & replace the battery.

So now I'm wondering if I can run the laptop without the battery for a while - with the usual Apple slowdown that I saw with my old MB 2007 - that one ran at half speed with the battery removed.

Maybe I could remove the battery for the safety reasons and then live with a slower machine for a while, whilst I decide on whether to replace the battery or the laptop. Obviously battery would be much cheaper but my experience of non Apple batteries has been pretty poor I must admit...
 

tigerintank

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Jun 16, 2013
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Thanks for reviewing the video- I think I'll attempt removing the battery and if I can operate without for a while.
 

smbu2000

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Oct 19, 2014
247
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If you run your MBP without a battery, then it will run very slowly. Also the fans will run at max speed. I would not recommend using it without a battery. I recently swapped out the battery on my 2015 15" MBP and tried it out a little while I was waiting for the replacement battery to arrive. It is pretty much unusable IMO. I swapped out the battery on my late 2013 13" as well and it was the same before I installed the replacement battery.

The 2015 battery was at 3xx cycles and had started bulging pretty badly. The 2013 battery was at 4xx cycles and seemed totally fine (no messages in macOS) and I had no idea it had started to bulge until I removed the bottom cover to check on something else.
 
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tigerintank

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Jun 16, 2013
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Ah thats not good news - but thank you for confirming, especially since we have the same 13" model.

Tbh the slow speed i might've been willing to try, but full speed fans would be impossible to tolerate for any length of time.

Where did you get the replacement battery & have you been happy since you installed it?

So far from what I've read it seems that paying a bit more to iFixit here in Europe might be better, than risking a 3rd party Amazon or Ebay seller...
 

smbu2000

macrumors regular
Oct 19, 2014
247
104
Ah thats not good news - but thank you for confirming, especially since we have the same 13" model.

Tbh the slow speed i might've been willing to try, but full speed fans would be impossible to tolerate for any length of time.

Where did you get the replacement battery & have you been happy since you installed it?

So far from what I've read it seems that paying a bit more to iFixit here in Europe might be better, than risking a 3rd party Amazon or Ebay seller...
Well, it's not like it is just slow, it is really sloooooow. Dropping frames of animation even when you are just moving the mouse/clicking on stuff. It must be in Apple's safety mode or something to that effect, I'm guessing. The fan noise is also annoying.

I purchased the 13" battery locally, but it was a slightly used pulled from a 2013 13" MBP. I'm planning on selling it, so I just wanted something that wasn't expanding. That's the reason why I opened it up in the first place, as I wanted to check it out to make sure everything was fine/clean it out before I sell it. If I hadn't done that, then I probably wouldn't have known about the expanding battery as macOS showed it as fine and the kb/trackpad were still working just fine even though the battery had started expanding.

The 2015 15" battery, I purchased via Aliexpress. In that case, I also wanted to replace the topcase (kb/trackpad), so buying it all together was my best option I thought. I swapped everything over to the new topcase and everything has been working fine.
 
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tigerintank

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Jun 16, 2013
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Have ordered one from iFixit and will report back when I get it.
Expecting it to take a while to arrive though, due to holidays & backlog of postage.
 

tigerintank

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Original poster
Jun 16, 2013
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Belatedly updating my post, did the swap successfully a while back but was ill for a bit and if I'm honest had forgotten to update here sorry.

I installed the Intel Performance Gadget and found that without a battery the rMBP late 2013 was very slow as smbu2000 reported. In fact the CPE runs at around 25% and the GPU element at around 40% although the fan ran at normal speed as far as I could tell - not noisy anyway. I agree machine is unusable at that speed.

Replaced battery using fixit instructions and kit of tools and solvent that came with it - took my time and it was really pretty straightforward. Bulging case went back to normal surprisingly - no visible sign of swelling at all now.

I did have a problem with the SMC (I think it was that and not PRAM) needling resetting. No matter what I did - followed Apple instructions and other sources on the web, I could not get it to work. Iirc the power button just shutdown the Mac every single time.

So I decided to follow some desktop instructions and disconnect the battery where the instructions said to remove the power cord. That did the trick and everything's been fine since.