AirPort Time Capsule A1470 (Mini!) Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

This mini teardown is more of an addendum to the AirPort Extreme teardown. The Apple Time Capsule is more or less the same thing, save for a hard drive and a couple of extra doodads here and there.

If you're interested in all the nitty-gritty details, check out the Extreme teardown for an extreme look into the device.

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Edit Step 1 AirPort Time Capsule A1470 (Mini!) Teardown  ¶ 

  • Today I went rogue. While the other tech writers were taking apart an as-yet-unnamed device (oh the secrecy!), I took apart the AirPort Time Capsule.

  • Going into it, we knew that there wouldn't be many changes from yesterday's AirPort Extreme. Hence the one-man team, and the fairly brief teardown.

  • Also, the designers hate it when I hijack their pretty graphics, so I made sure *not* to consult them on the main graphic. Take that, good taste!

  • This 2013 Time Capsule has the model number A1470, as evidenced by the "A1470" inscribed on the bottom cover. No funny business over here, we got the real deal.

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Alright, first thing's first: opening this enchilada. The procedure's the same, so I won't bore you like last time.

  • Now that that's out of the way, on to the good stuff: as soon as you open the Time Capsule, you notice subtle differences.

  • Instead of a metal cover/clamp, now there's a smaller metal cover/clamp that hugs a rubber cover like a... you get the idea. Underneath that rubber cover lies the hard drive.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • The drive is a standard, off-the-shelf Seagate Barracuda drive. We're cheapskates (hey, you never know when you might kill a $3,000 Retina MBP while trying to open it), so we opted for the 2TB option.

  • The standard SATA drive has a not-so-standard, super-thin connector that attaches it to the mothership motherboard.

    • The SATA cable's super-thin profile allows the hard drive to be plugged in, as well as allowing it to be clamped securely into the enclosure via the rubber cover (and metal clamp).

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • This is where the magic happens. This port is missing from the AirPort Extreme of yesteryear, which allows the Time Capsule to be a Time Capsule, and the AirPort Extreme to be... well... not so extreme.

  • Folks asked us if it's feasible to make an Extreme into a Time Capsule. Theoretically, the answer is "Yes," but we're not sure why you'd go through the trouble — the Seagate Barracuda drive is essentially the price difference between the Time Capsule and the Extreme.

    • Protip: You might as well pony up the additional dough ahead of time, and save yourself the potential of bricking the device.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Aside from that, the Time Capsule is pretty much identical to the Extreme. The same power supply, fan, and processing juice.

  • Basically nothing new to see here, move along.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • These are all the different parts that come in a Time Capsule, that you otherwise forfeit with the Extreme. So it's up to you, wise user, to figure out which Wi-Fi droid is right for you.

  • AirPort Time Capsule A1470 Repairability Score: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Quick update: the Time Capsule will easily accept a 4TB 3.5" hard drive in place of its lowly 2TB original drive. The Seagate was used to take this screenshot, but the HGST drive should work fine as well.

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Comments Comments are onturn off

Any chance you could shove a 4TB drive in it just to see what happens?

Sebastian, · Reply

+1. Change to WD/Hitachi 4TB would be helpful. Wish Seagate would just go away. Can't believe Apple still uses their products.

mega,

You asked, so we answered. Check out step 7.

Miroslav Djuric,

Wow! Thank you so much for doing that! I'm glad I asked. I'll definitely be doing it to mine. You're all awesome!

Sebastian,

If your objective if just to swap the disk, it is not necessary to remove all four connectors from the main board (which may be fiddly to reconnect). Remove just the large connector on the left (easy to reconnect) and the metal plate.

Then wiggle the rubber boot free. The SATA connector can now be unplugged from the disk (keep the disk pushed down) and the other two wires are just long enough to allow the disk to be extracted with care.

alex,

If you fit anything other than ST2000DM001, ST3000DM001, ST4000DM000 series of drives, then you may need to adjust (with a knife) the two rubber buffers at the far end (i.e. the top) of the disk slot. These are tailored to mate with a rebate in the end of the disk enclosure which is NOT universal .

This would be easy enough to do, so long as you're willing to fully extract the guts from the case. Alternatively you could always machine a 1/2 inch rebate into your preferred drive.

alex,

I'm guessing Apple would be !@#$%^ if someone sold a $20 kit with the missing parts+cables needed to DIY.

msgalicki, · Reply

It really wouldn't make sense since Apple aren't overcharging for the disk.

The 2G is $50 more than the Airport Extreme. Knock off your $20 for the kit and you've got $30 left to buy your 2G drive. And invalidate your warranty.

The only reason that I did this is because I needed the 4T drive. Not to be skinflint.

alex,

Is the hard drive screwed on, or when you remove the rubber cover and SATA connector it come right out?

Francois, · Reply

There's a clamp on top of the rubber cover that holds the drive (and rubber pieces) firmly in place — but the drive itself is not screwed into anything.

Miroslav Djuric,

Hi Guys,

It seems to have ASM1061 (PCIE to SATA Bridge IC) inside for the Time Capsule that is different to the Extreme except SATA connector.

Eric Shih, · Reply

Been waiting for this teardown, thanks! But I still have some questions unanswered ((=

Is the connector/drive SATA III or II?

Is PSU same as in AirPort?

Also the bottom of the device (Step 1 photo 2) looks white-ish, yet I've seen unboxings with black rubber (like AirPort Extreme + tiny feet) ... what gives?

Stanly ok, · Reply

Is there a way to hack the firmware to allow me to use any DHCP range? I don't get why I am restricted to three different ones! And do you have a fixit guide on just replacing the drive? I like to replace my 2 TB with a 4 TB.

Jonathan Weinraub, · Reply

We don't currently have repair manuals for this device, but if you're itching to get it open ASAP, your best bet would be to follow along with our AirPort Extreme Teardown. Be warned that teardowns are not a substitute for our comprehensive repair manuals—the procedure isn't intended to take you through every step, so be careful and proceed at your own risk. Good luck!

Andrew Optimus Goldberg,

The ones offered are the ones that the IP standard reserves for the private class A, B and C blocks respectively.

Any other address you pick is potentially dangerous, e.g. it could be someone else's static IP address or some other public reserved space.

If you have static IP addresses, then you probably don't want to be using DHCP to dish them out.

alex,

If it's a standard drive, I would be curious to see whether a standard 4 TB drive would work. In earlier versions of the Time Capsule there have been problems recognizing the full capacity of the 4 TB drive.

Also, in the newer iMacs Apple has been using harddrives with modified firmware, so it actually wasn't possible to replace the drive. Wonder if that's the case here with this 2013 Time Capsule.

Peter Andersen, · Reply

I've installed a Seagate 4Tb (ST4000DM000) drive in my new Time Capsule & have backed up more than 2Tb of data (still going). Doesn't look like there will be a problem accessing the full capacity of the 4Tb drive.

kirstysteve,

As Kirstysteve said, and such limit would likely be 2T , and since Apple ship this device with 3T is is implausible that such a limit exists.

Especially since Airport utility correctly reports the space.

alex,

Wonder if you could put and SSD in it, that would be cool to try, sure it would be smaller, but way faster. Maybe?

chrome262, · Reply

This device is network attached, why on earth would you need or want an SSD for backups? Magnetic drives are not the bottleneck in reading/writing data to the time capsule.

msgalicki,

A 2TB SSD would set you back about $5,000!

Are you still wondering?

Morten Hattesen,

Nice to know it can be upgraded to 4TB

Wizbang FL, · Reply

msgalicki, What is the bottleneck in Time Machine backups then? Because what I'm trying to figure out is what kind of SATA connection the new Time Capsule uses and if it's faster than a USB 2.0 Connected Drive?

Because that would give the Time Capsule a performance edge over the Extreme with a SATA drive attached to it's USB 2.0 port, yes? Or am I missing something?

Michael Bateman, · Reply

The bottleneck is the bandwidth for the network not the HD RW speed. Even an 802.11AC network or GigE wired ETH is substantially slower that the RW speed of any currently shipping 1TB or greater HD.

hubbert,

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