Skip to main content

Third-party Mac repairs can be blocked by new T2 security chip, Apple confirms

Audio player loading…

Apple’s latest T2 chip was first introduced to us last year when it made an appearance in the tech giant’s then-newest computers, the 2017 iMac Pro and MacBook Pro

The processor uses an ARM-based architecture and is designed to handle some of the newer features that were introduced in last year’s MacBook Pros, including the Touch Bar and Touch ID. On the iMac, it looks after video and graphics rendering, along with beefing up security by allowing firmware-level passwords to be set.

Unfortunately, it's also been speculated that the T2 chip could render a Mac inoperable if certain components were replaced as part of third-party repairs. This aspect was first revealed in October, when internal documentation emerged that suggested the T2 chip requires a proprietary diagnostic tool to be run after any repairs are made.

The T2 chip | Image: iFixit

The T2 chip | Image: iFixit

That tool, called the AST 2 System Configuration Suite, is distributed to Apple Stores and authorized service centers only – meaning owners of the newer machines have no choice but to go to an Apple Store or an authorized service center if you need to get certain parts of your Mac replaced. DIY repairs will also likely brick the devices.

While Apple didn’t respond to these reports when they first surfaced, the Cupertino firm has finally confirmed to The Verge (opens in new tab) that the earlier rumors are true.

Locked in

According to The Verge’s report, Apple has officially stated that “repairs involving certain components on newer Macs, like the logic board and Touch ID sensor” cannot be done by third parties. 

Apple has not elaborated on what “other” components are affected, however the internal documents unearthed last month specifically list the display assembly, logic board, top case, and Touch ID board for the MacBook Pro, along with the logic board and flash storage on the iMac Pro. This could mean that the newly announced Mac mini and MacBook Air will also be affected.

The official confirmation has raised concerns amongst Apple critics that the company is further locking its customers into its own ecosystem. In an email to The Verge, iFixit’s CEO Kyle Wiens called it “a guillotine” being held over the necks of Apple users.

The tech giant has previously locked out iPhones from third-party repairs, for which the company was fined millions of dollars in Australia.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (yes, she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing cameras and lenses, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She also contributes to Digital Camera World and T3, and helps produce two of Future's photography print magazines in Australia.