Unibody Keyboard Replacement

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Syndacate, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. Syndacate macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2008

    I had a little incident about 6mo ago, I spilled coffee (just a few drops) on the top left side of my keyboard and it made the tab key feel like ****. Then I went to pop off the tab key and clean it out, but those keys are rather tricky and I broke part of the tab's scissor.

    I went to the Apple store looking for a keyboard replacement but they told me I'd need a whole new top case, and a tab key isn't worth $250 to me. Ebay pretty much confirmed the same thing.

    Then I stumbled upon this replacement keyboard just now on accident. So I guess I'm wondering if the keyboard is replaceable with the same top case?

    I mean I'm not really keen on ripping EVERYTHING out of the computer to replace the damn tab key but doing it and paying $40 beats doing it and paying $250 (or letting Apple do it and god knows how much).

    I'm not sure how the keyboard is held into the top case but I thought they were like, one unit, not separable. Though can I replace my keyboard keeping the same topcase?



    Following isn't important, just an unrelated aside
    On a separate note, unrelated to this post, I really don't like the unibody at all comparatively to the non-unibody. I switched from a 4,3, the last gen before they went unibody. It had full DL-DVI (no stupid adapters except for a standard VGA), had ports out the ass, expansion slot, etc., with the unibody they crammed the 2 USB ports so close together most of the time you can't put 2 USB devices in there, you ALWAYS need an adapter, you lose the FW400...but you get a faster FSB, newer arch, better battery. Also, I've found the craftsmanship to be pretty crappy on these, too, a screw randomly fell out one day when I picked it up, its never been apart, I bought it new. The screw wouldn't go back in, apparently was stripped in manufacturing.. Also have more table scuffs on the bottom (none of my last one, I treated them the same way), just weird stuff like that. I also hate the keyboard, the dished keys on the old MBPs were EPIC. Anybody else have the same qualms about the 'upgrade' as I do?
  2. ezramoore macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2006
    Washington State
    If you broke the key linkage why not just buy that $35 replacement keyboard and pull the tab key, and use its linkage to replace the one you broke. You might also look for someone selling individual keys who have already done the same thing. There might be no need to replace the entire keyboard (which Apple doesn't even provide instructions to its technicians to do).

    If I had any dead unibody top cases lying around here, I'd send the linkage/key to you for the cost of postage. I might have one at the other shop, I'll post back if I do.
  3. randomrazr macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2011
    current macbook pros are much better
  4. Syndacate thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2008
    Care to elaborate? If you're dealing with the C2D newer unibodies like I have, then you don't have the QPI, so you just have the 1066 FSB (I'd have to check on the 1066) instead of the 667 FSB that was on the 4,3 IIRC. Other than that the processors have similar benches, tolerances, clocks, IPS, CPI, etc. The graphics are hard to compare straight up, and memory hasn't changed much because triple channel isn't being used despite DDR3 mem.

    Though what makes you say what you do besides the fact that they're 3 years newer.

    Ah, smart idea, didn't even think about that. My only worry would be if the seat for the tab key is sticky. Though I suppose if I hit the bed with a moist, unused, toothbrush slightly it can be cleaned up so that's not a problem.

    I hate popping the keys off on these newer keyboards, lol. The dished keys came out easy as pie.

    If you come across that, thanks, if not...still thanks!
  5. ebouwman macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2007
    Hey my fiance spilled a candy apple martini on my keyboard, i popped off ALL the keys and put it back together. They're no longer sticky, but they don't feel right now, and they make lots of noise. Oh ya and the backlight is randomly dimm on some keys...

    35 bucks buys the whole keyboard WITH keys and stuff? Have you done yours yet?
  6. iBrody macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2008
    Don't mean to invade your thread but on a side note, my early 2011 15" MBP has an upside down L shape 'enter' key and not the smaller horizontal enter key.

    Do all UK keyboards have the upside down L shape key?
  7. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    Indeed they do.
  8. 0000757 macrumors 68040

    Dec 16, 2011
    Yes, they do. If you want to see reference for yourself (so you know you aren't crazy)
    U.S./NA Keyboard layout (Click to enlarge)

    U.K. Layout (Click to enlarge)

    Asian Layout (Click to Enlarge)
  9. iBrody macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2008
    I was watching a YT video and the guy was British but I noticed he had (what I now assume is) a US style keyboard layout.

    Looked at more videos and they all had the horizontal 'enter' key... thought mine was some odd one-off keyboard design at this point!

    Thanks for clearing this up.
  10. pjo macrumors regular

    Feb 20, 2006
    I find the guides on ifixit.com very helpful for figuring things like this out.

    I also have both a non-unibody mbp as well as an early 2011 unibody mbp. I like my unibody except for the closeness of the USB ports. I like that I can pass audio and video to my home-theater rig with a thunderbolt -> HDMI cable. I love the extra battery life.
  11. Syndacate thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2008
    I have not, was kind of hoping somebody could come through and get me a new tab key, then clean the seat with a tooth brush, then pop the new key/scissor on it.

    Hoping to find somebody with a hosed MBP, lol. Though I only feel the issue in the tab key, if I pay $35 for this keyboard, I'd want to swap the entire keyboard, lol. Though if somebody just has a hosed MBP laying around that has no future, I'd be more than happy to shell out a couple bux for the tab key + scissor + shipping. Saves me a much bigger headache of taking the entire computer apart.

    While I find them useful, too, both according to ifixit, and the Apple store, the keyboard CANNOT disconnect from the top case, they MUST be purchased as a pair, one piece. This angers me.


    Yeah, the thunderbolt ports are nice (go Intel!), I like the one cable for home entertainment too, though quite honestly could live without it. I simply zip-tied a ~6ft HDMI/1/8" audio cable together in like 10 places (snugly) and ran it as "one cable" when I had my old MBP, then could use a DVI to HDMI converter for the video... The only down side to this is it relies on the TV/monitor having independent audio channel selection, not assuming the audio is on the HDMI channel, just because an HDMI device is plugged in...most TV's allow you to do this.

    I got by just fine with the previously mentioned setup, but yes, the TB port is definitely more convenient, BUT, I honestly would rather take a full DVI-DL port over a TB port ANY day of the week. It'd be a different story if the TB port was dual link - but it's not. So you need to carry around two adapters (one for DVI, one for VGA), where you should realistically only need to carry around one TB to DVI adapter, and run a DVI-VGA converter off of that.

    Yes, I'm absolutely loving the extended battery life as well...but honestly? I rather have a battery I can take out...even if it means 3 hours less battery life. I just don't like knowing that in case **** happens, I can't remove the stupid battery.

    Also, say there's an expanding battery issue like there was with the MBP's around the 3,1 era? That's when the battery grows to about twice its size in thickness, maybe more. Well it'll probably push through the logic board and rape your computer, hopefully won't damage the HDD, either way it'd probably be a class action lawsuit for Apple. At least with the removable battery it took the path of least resistance (down).

    As for the USB ports...that's just disappointing. I don't even know what to say about that. It's so sad that Apple decided to sacrifice a nicely working setup PURELY for aesthetics. EVERYBODY knows the effects which can be had of running 2 USB ports that close to each other, but Apple STILL chose to place them there.

    And the ability to have an expansion slot was quite nice on the old MBP's.

    Trade-offs to all I suppose, but I, in general, was more satisfied with my pre-unibody...of course I don't feel that way when I'm wiping off the glass screen on my unibody, but meh, trade-offs.

    One thing that also annoys me about it is they changed something in the unibody which made tri-booting a seemingly impossible task for me. I was unable to do it, and gave up. Though that is neither here nor there, it is not Apple's fault that their HW is being fussy about letting me install more than one 2 OS's on it. It was a little fussy pre-unibody but you could get it to work if you played with it. Doesn't seem to be the case with the unibody's.

    What I don't feel there's an excuse for is a screw falling out.. My laptop's bottom has never been off, I am the original owner, a screw-driver hasn't as much as touched that thing, and I pick it up randomly and a screw falls out of the bottom. I tried placing it back in but it wouldn't catch - I don't have a tap set small enough to re-thread a hole that small, though maybe I'll find one. Regardless, that was a manufacturing defect, and a sad at that.
  12. shoppy macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2007
    I have a us macbook pro and I brought some original keys from a seller on ebay for £5 to replace the dollar sign key and the @ key. I now have the uk keys and am happy with this darn sight cheaper then paying for a new top cover with keyboard when I spoke to apple. You can buy a tab key complete with attachment part like I did. It works perfectly a bit nerves racking removing the key but an easy 2 minute job.
  13. Elevon macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2011
    I wonder what the right key next to the spacebar does on the asian keyboard layouts...
  14. 0000757 macrumors 68040

    Dec 16, 2011
    I believe they are modifier keys (similar to the Shift keys) for the alternate choices for the keys.
  15. Syndacate thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2008
    Any idea what this seller's ID is?
  16. Mikesus macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2011
    If you are near another Apple store you might want to give another store a try. I went in yesterday with a single key that was messed up (linkage was fine) and they replaced the key no charge! YMMV
  17. Syndacate thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2008
    My tab key's linkage is broken.

    That's why I was looking for the key and the linkage.

    My caps, tab, and tilda are all kinda sticky, but the caps is by FAR the worst and the scissor there is cracked so it adds to it sucking...

    One way or another, this is pissing me off. To make things worse, seeing as I'm a SW developer, hitting tab is like second nature to me...so I get really pissy really quick when using my laptop :(.
  18. shoppy macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2007
    i'll look for my ebay receipt and send you seller details.
  19. Syndacate thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2008

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