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I'm using a MacBook Pro Late 2011. The processor, RAM, hard drive - just about everything else still work fine. I'd like to have retina display without necessarily buying a new unit.

Is there a way to change my screen to a retina display - i.e. physically removing the old screen and replacing it with a retina one?

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3 Answers 3

Not easily. The Retina MacBook Pro introduced a new display assembly which makes retro-fitting very difficult.

Rather than sandwich an LCD panel between a back case and a piece of glass in front, Apple used the aluminium case itself as the frame for the LCD panel and used the LCD as the front glass

Source: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook+Pro+Retina+Display+Teardown/9493

The cost of doing so would probably be more than the rMBP itself.

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It won't work. This iFixit answer outlines the various issues:

Unfortunately, the simple answer is no. The graphics card would have issues running the display if you were even able to install it. The Retina display MacBook Pro also has different connectors and dimensions then the regular Macbook Pro and therefore not fit and not connect. The firmware for you computer will also not scale the resolution and render properly so you would have a 1440 x 900 resolution displaying on a 2880 x 1800 display which would only take up 1/4 of the display.

As the answerer says, your biggest problem is the graphics card. The mobile card on your Late 2011 MacBook Pro just isn't designed to push double the pixels at an acceptable framerate.

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Since Apple computers hold their value so well, you might be able to sell your existing Mac and buy a new one for less than the difference in part cost and have two fully supported Macs in service - the one you sold and the one you now have.

Doing any sort of DIY customization is always possible with enough budget and experience, but even if you were to get the display panel connected the old CPU/GPU will likely be very underpowered or balk at running the new display without extensive firmware modifications or tweaks.

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