MacBook Air 11" Late 2010 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

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

Join us as we take a peek inside the 11.6" version of the all-new MacBook Air!

Want to stay up-to-date with the hardware world? Follow @ifixit!

We took this Air apart on October 21, 2010.

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Edit Step 1 MacBook Air 11" Late 2010 Teardown  ¶ 

  • A new contender in the computer featherweight division has arrived!

  • We got our hands on the new MacBook Air 11" Late 2010, and judging from the picture on the box, it's thinner than we expected.

  • Technical specs on the thinnest Apple computer to date:

    • 1.4GHz or 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor

    • 2GB DDR3 SDRAM (build to order option of 4GB)

    • 64GB or 128GB Flash Storage

    • NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • We think this is absolutely awesome, and a couple of MacBook Air generations overdue.

  • Compensating for the lack of an optical drive, the box includes a USB software reinstall drive. The drive is 8 GB total, and contains both Snow Leopard and iLife '11.

  • The drive is bootable by holding down the "C" key on startup, just like a normal DVD restore disc.

  • The USB drive appears to be read-only, but we haven't tried any serious hacking to prove otherwise.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • The new MacBook Air's Magsafe power adapter has the same 45W 3.1A 14.5V rating as the old model, but at a fraction of the size.

  • The power button is now integrated into the keyboard, instead of it being part of the upper case.

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Measuring in at 11.8" wide and 7.56" deep and tapering off from .68" to .11" in height, the new MacBook Air looks a lot like a midget among dwarves compared to the old models.

  • A frontal view reveals the omission of the IR sensor and sleep LED.

  • The flip-open port door has been scrapped, and the new model manages to fit an extra USB 2.0 port along its right edge.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Apple apparently doesn't want you inside this thing. They decided to use 5-point "Pentalobe" security screws to attach the lower case.

  • For this teardown, we had to file a couple of flathead screwdrivers to take out the funky screws. We have since found the correct 5-point driver to fit it.

  • Here's a 1366x768 wallpaper version for the new MB Air owners out there. We won't tell where you got it from.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Drumroll please!

  • Lifting of the lower case after much struggling with those pesky case screws, we get our first look at the innards.

  • The inside of the MacBook Air is dominated by six individual lithium-polymer cells making up the 35 Wh battery.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • The large battery assembly is held in by five T5 Torx screws.

  • Apple claims that the battery will last up to five hours with active use, and up to thirty days in standby.

  • This battery is 35 watt-hours. Previous revisions of 13" MacBook Air machines have included 37 or 40 watt-hour battery packs. Since this Air has a smaller screen and lacks a spinning hard drive, we'd expect run time to be somewhat better than earlier Airs.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • After another T5 Torx screw is removed, the 64GB flash storage board can be disconnected from the logic board. It would be easily user-replaceable if you disregard the strange 5-point Torx needed to get inside.

  • The Mini PCI Express form factor SSD drive is a completely custom part, and will probably only be available through Apple support services, thereby putting another nail in the coffin for user-serviceability.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • The mSATA SSD unit appears to be assembled by Toshiba and is model number THNSNC064GMDJ.

  • There are six main chips on this custom board:

    • Four Toshiba TH58NVG7D7FBASB 16GB flash chips which make up the total 64GB.

    • Toshiba T6UG1XBG Solid State Drive controller.

    • Micron OKA17 D9HSJ DDR DRAM cache.

  • The new SSD is 2.45 mm thick compared to the platter-based 5.12 mm thickness of the old Air's drive. Being smaller in two of three dimensions definitely helps the new Air achieve a super-slim profile.

  • The SSD weighs in at a mere 10 grams, compared to the 45 grams of its spinning cousin.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • With the turn of a screw, out comes the wireless board.

  • Although it uses the newer Mini PCI Express form factor, the new MacBook Air uses the same Broadcom Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip as the current lineup of MacBook Pros.

  • The model number is BCM943224PCIEBT2.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Three T5 Torx screws secure the fan to the upper case.

  • All of the cooling and ventilation in the MacBook Air is provided by the single squirrel cage fan.

  • It's thinner and tinier than the regular MacBook fans, just like everything else in this machine.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • The MagSafe, USB port, and sound card are all part of one smaller board that connects to the logic board.

  • There's a blob of glue on the ribbon cable connection points that acts as an insulator. This may prevent some electrifying results from occurring should the contact points wear through the plastic sheeting and touch the aluminum case of the Air.

  • The Air sports a Cirrus Audio 4206ACNZ audio controller. We saw this same chip we found in the latest MacBook Unibody and Mac Mini

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • Three T5 Torx screws secure the ectomorphic logic board in place.

  • Like most recent Apple laptops, the heat sink comes out attached to the logic board. This is nice, as you'll only need to remove the heat sink and reapply thermal paste if you're replacing the logic board.

  • Unfortunately, like all previous MacBook Airs, the RAM is soldered to the logic board and is not upgradable. Apple does offer a 4GB RAM option at the time of purchase, but if you opt for only 2GB and decide you want more RAM later you'll be out of luck.

  • Our advice? Go for 4GB.

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • After removing eight T5 screws, the thermal paste on the CPU and GPU is the only thing remaining that affixes the heat sink to the motherboard.

  • The heat sink on the new MacBook Air is considerably smaller than all previous models. It weighs only 10 grams. Based on the tiny heat sink, it seems that the Ultra-Low Voltage 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU is a cool chip.

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • The logic board:

    • Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4 GHz processor

    • NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics

    • 2GB of Elpida J1108EFBG-AE-F RAM

    • F2117LP 20H V

    • TPS 51982 TI 06K

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • With the help of a plastic opening tool, the speakers come out next. These stereo units pump out... well... some mad wattage, probably around 1-2W.

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • The back of the trackpad has a Broadcom BCM5976A0K chip on it as well as a Cypress CY8C24x94-24L PSoC chip.

    • The CY PSoC chip is likely responsible for the multi-touch capabilities on the trackpad as it has touch capability and has been found on many MacBook trackpads.

  • The board is cleverly grounded by little arms extending from the metal trackpad hinges.

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

  • We can now remove the display from the lower case.

  • The 11.6" MacBook Air features a resolution of 1366x768. That's a few more pixels and noticeably more widescreen (16x9 vs 16x10) than the 1280x800 resolution of previous Air models.

  • The bigger display in the second picture is from the earlier generation MacBook Air. If you look carefully, you'll see that Apple's removed the microphone from the display assembly. The microphone now lives in the body of the computer, right next to the headphone jack.

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • MacBook Air 11" Late 2010 Repairability: 4 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

    • Once you manage to take off the bottom cover, all the parts are pretty easily replaceable.

    • Opening the bottom cover is quite difficult if you don't have the right screwdriver. It's clear that Apple didn't want people to open their machine.

    • All the components -- including RAM and hard drive -- are proprietary, meaning that no off-the-shelf parts will work in it without serious rigging.

  • If you're fortunate enough to have a more repairable Apple device, we've got you covered. We sell parts and tools to keep your Macs, iPods, and iPhones running smoothly.

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Comments Comments are onturn off

Would something like this work to replace the SSD Card (though I guess it wouldn't be much of an upgrade due to its capacity)? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...

lifeinhd, · Reply

no way it will work out

Nick,

Any clue if there are any USB header pads on the board? And is there *ANY* free space inside? (To hack in a 3G card, or something similar, as was done with the original Air.)

Ed H, · Reply

Please note the "Odd" Torx is called a "security torx" screw. There are two versions: a fived-lobed torx and a "High Security Torx" which is a five-lobed torx with a center metal pin coming out of it. Security torx is easy to find, high security is VERY hard to find but I've seen sources in automobile repair in the UK which uses these in some auto parts. Otherwise the company that makes the screws control tool distribution.

Jason, · Reply

I have a question?

Why didn't apple just add a bunch more cells on that black plastic block. Like essentially make the whole thing battery as opposed to have six batteries but holes in the middle?

Daniel Mena, · Reply

There is no backlight keybord. Why?...:(

Marcin, · Reply

Any info on the facetime camera vs the ichat camera. Better or just a rebranding?

falukorv, · Reply

Now all we we need is to re-assemble and put the monitor instead of the keyboard and we would have the perfect Pad. Now why hasn't Apple done that?! With OSX it would even run Flash!!

Billy, · Reply

Caramba! Espero que vocês tenham conseguido remontar esse Air. Desculpem a preocupação, mas o lado péssimo de ser macmaníaco é que a gente começa a ver as máquinas como brinquedos do Toy Story... hehehe!

Alfredo Barros, · Reply

Sorry, I put a message in portuguese. Now I will try to translate it:

"Wow! I hope you have managed to reassemble this Air! Sorry for the concern but the worst side of being Macmaniac is that we start to see the machines as toys like those from Toy Story..."

Alfredo Barros, · Reply

Probably you should search google for "PhotoFast GM2 SFV1 Air", or have a look at this :

http://www.slashgear.com/photofast-gm2-s...

Sounds good for SSD replacement !

Bolbolebo, · Reply

Just curious if you guys have a breakdown on the weight of this, i.e. how much weight is in the aluminum shell,batteries, and the actual computing components?

William Brown, · Reply

Hi,

Do you know what king of camera is mounted and do you know if we can upgrade it ?

Thanks

Csal, · Reply

You will probably get better results by asking on our Answers page. There is an entire community of users who may happen to know.

Matt Newsom,

Is it wipeable?

Nick, · Reply

Seems like something that iFixit could build and add to their 54 piece bit driver kit. Or, just sell the tip.

plink53, · Reply

What is the actual TORX size of the 5-point screw?

ranron, · Reply

Those aren't security Torx -- there's no center pin. They're just 5-point Torx, branded "Torx Plus". They allow greater torque and lower wear (but mainly exist because the 6-point patent was expiring). They are a bit rarer, thanks to limited licensing, but not a tamper-resistant fastener at all.

rmohns, · Reply

I may have some problems with Apple's software as of late, but %@@&, their hardware is still very sexy.

Nat Welch, · Reply

Does that hole in the middle of the battery have the same dimensions as a dock connector?? Sure looks like one!

Mike S, · Reply

Be very, very careful not to scratch, puncture, press, damage, deform… actually just DO NOT touch the battery units. They are extremely fragile.

jimbbo, · Reply

Is the socket the flash drive plugs into a standard mini-PCIe?

cityzen, · Reply

is the flash drive the same dimension in the 11" and 13" model? i.e. would it be possible to stick the 13" model's 256GB drive into an 11" model's slot and vice versa (and still be able to close the case...)?

rcfa, · Reply

Note: the Mini PCI Express SSD is not exclusive to Apple, in fact it was used on some early netbooks like the Asus EeePC 8 gb.

Ivan Veloz, · Reply

Looks like Toshiba is making these hard drives available independent of the MacBook Air: http://www.toshiba.co.jp/about/press/201...

Bill Westerman, · Reply

Will it be possible to remove and recover data from the "drive"? Is that a SATA connetion?

J W, · Reply

According to a poster over at Ars Technica, the board is a "Mini PCIe SSD". Are you able to validate that this is indeed the case?

Andre Mas, · Reply

Yes, you can tell just by looking at the connectors in and slots in the images above. In System Profiler this shows up under Serial-ATA and not PCI Cards.

One reason for this is that it’s likely using the SATA passthrough first made popular by Asus. What isn’t known if this preserves the mini-PCIe interface or not, thus making 3rd-party mini-PCIe SSDs a simple task for manufacturers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express...

NaN,

The physical connection used by the SSD & Wifi cards appear to be Apple custom. They have fewer pins than mSata or mPCIe. You can compare here (for mSata): http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/21/toshi...

Electrically, they are probably SATA & 1-lane PCIe (given the sparse number of pins, each connector is probably one OR the other, not both at the same time).

cityzen, · Reply

The Wifi card look very repleceable, any guess about future tecnology steps in this area?

What's the other connector just left of the WiFi card?

nicolapitre, · Reply

That's the battery connector. To the left of that is the display connector.

cityzen,

Mini PCI Express. I wonder can I get GPS for iAlert Anti Theft? Federal court accept Apple for want Google should more improve WiFi Access for Locator. That %*&% and poor locator.

David Guitard, · Reply

The Glue on the ribbon cable is an extra restraint to supply support when handling the board or harness while assembling or disassembling the unit.

On the opposite side glue surrounds a power transformer used in the DC circuit to subdue vibrational noise or hum from the resonant frequency of the component.

Jeff Beck, · Reply

I want to add the glue also helps inhibit cold solder joints from arising with vibration of the transformer or movement on the harness. Kind of a double duty for the application of glue or silicone in most circuits and near harnesses, jacks and other components that can receive stress in movement.

Jeff Beck, · Reply

THat is WAAAAAAY to much thermal paste, you oculd easy do with a quarter of that!

deetex, · Reply

Can upgrade the GPU?

RICARDO, · Reply

Nope, it is soldered to the board.

Andrew Bookholt,

is it possible to to upgrade the ram chip for this Macbook Air?

Mala chile, · Reply

i am a new user mac so i feel lost, who can help me i'll apreciate.... i hope be one can help me

cavar20, · Reply

i want to know how to drive this macbook air 13" help me please.... urgency

cavar20, · Reply

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