MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

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

Apple used its Worldwide Developers Conference to yet again debut a new MacBook Air model. Join us as we see what 12 months of vintaging has done for the 13" variety of Cupertino's prized ultra-slim laptop.

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Edit Step 1 MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013 Teardown  ¶ 

  • A day after its announcement, the newest 13" MacBook Air is in our hands. Let's see what it's got.

    • 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD graphics 5000

    • 128 GB flash storage (configurable to 512 GB)

    • 4 GB LPDDR3 RAM, configurable (but not upgradable) to 8 GB

    • 13.3" 1440x900 pixel display (~128 ppi)

    • 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity

    • Dual microphones

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Externally, the 2013 MacBook Air is nearly identical to its predecessor, including the model number (A1466).

  • The right side ports haven't changed a bit, with the new MacBook sporting the same lineup of SD card reader, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt port.

  • A 180° rotation gives us a glimpse of the only noticeable change to the outer case: two ports for the dual microphones along the left side.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • We heard all the new stuff was inside the computer, so we grabbed our unfortunately necessary Pentalobe bit to open 'er up.

  • As we've come to expect by now, MacBooks of all shape and size are easy to open with the appropriate tools at hand.

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • We can spot the differences between the 2012 (left) and 2013 (right) MacBook Airs, but can you? Let's see if you see what we see.

    • Smaller SSD module

    • Updated AirPort card

    • No separate platform controller hub

    • New heat sink clamp

    • Opposite-facing speaker cable connector

  • We could nitpick the differences between the two models all day, but we'd rather get back to disassembling the new guy.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • When we want to fast-forward through battery removal we go double time on our screw removal.

    • iFixit fun fact: All iFixit guide makers must be ambidextrous enough to simultaneously use two screwdrivers.

  • The 7.6 V, 7150 mAh battery inside this year's Air is an upgrade from the 2012's 7.3 V, 6700 mAh power source and contributes to the claimed 12-hour battery life.

  • Increased capacity isn't the only addition to the new battery—important information is now printed in Chinese Korean as well as English.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • In order to achieve flash storage that's "up to 45 percent faster" than the previous model, Apple switched from SATA to PCIe, and turned to its best pal in the industry: Samsung.

  • In this case we find:

  • We didn't run any tests to verify that the PCIe-based Samsung SSD is indeed that much faster than last year's Toshiba SATA module, but we can definitely say that the drive is smaller and not compatible with previous MacBook Air models, making it harder to find parts if you want to upgrade.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Next out is the totally redesigned AirPort card, providing 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity.

    • While the current and prior generations' Airport cards will fit in each others' logic board slots, their different lengths will prevent you from fastening them down. We haven't yet tested for compatibility beyond this.

  • At the heart of the card we find a Broadcom BCM4360, which enables operation on the 5 GHz band at speeds up to 1.3 Gbps and communication via Bluetooth 4.0.

  • Also on the board is a Skyworks SE5516 dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WLAN front-end module.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • What's that sound? Oh, it's just the MacBook Air's stereo speakers.

  • Other than the aforementioned change in the direction of one of the speaker cables, these appear to be the same speakers found in last year's model.

  • Some computer and smartphone manufacturers like to emphasize an industry partner's audio systems in their marketing. Apple is not one of those companies, simply listing the noisemakers in the MacBook Air as "stereo speakers."

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • The I/O board in the MacBook Air is mostly unchanged from last year, except that it no longer has a socket for the iSight cable.

  • We find a Cirrus chip marked 4208-CRZ next to the headphone jack. This appears to be a two-channel version of the CS4207 low power HD audio codec with headphone amp.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • If one microphone was good in last year's MacBook Air, then two microphones in this year's model must be better!

  • As in the iPhone, the Air's dual microphones help cut out background noise while you're making a FaceTime call or dictating important memos.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Goodnight logic board.

  • Goodnight heat sink.

  • Intel's fourth generation Core i5 processor appears to integrate the platform controller hub (PCH) right next to the CPU, a departure from the prior design's segregated chips.

  • The new heat sink design allows it to cover both chips, but Apple only put thermal compound on the CPU.

    • We won't complain too much though, as the old design left the PCH out in the hot with only the lower case as a heat sink.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • Let's take a closer look at the logic board:

    • 1.3GHz (with Turbo Boost up to 2.6 GHz) dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, with integrated Intel HD graphics 5000

    • Intel platform controller hub (unmarked)

    • Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller

    • GL3219

    • Linear Technology LT3957 inverting controller

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • On the flip-side we find:

    • Elpida F8132A1MC LPDDR3 RAM 4 x 1 GB modules for 4 GB total

    • Broadcom BCM15700A2

    • Hynix H5TC4G63AFR 8 Gb synchronous DRAM

    • MXIC MX25L6406E 64 Mb serial flash

    • Texas Instruments TPS51980A synchronous buck controller

    • 980 YFC LM4FS1BH

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • As in most other unibody MacBooks, the Air's trackpad is held to the upper case with six tiny Phillips screws and comes out without much hassle.

  • In addition to a plethora of connectors, we find the following chips on the trackpad board:

  • Finally, we free the display assembly from the upper case by removing the Phillips screws that secure the two hinges.

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013 Repairability Score: 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.

    • Proprietary screws on the case require the right screwdriver.

    • All the components—including RAM and SSD—are proprietary.

    • As with the prior iterations, this MacBook Air's biggest detractor is the lack of upgradeability. The RAM is still soldered to the logic board, and SSDs are not compatible between generations.

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Comments Comments are onturn off

The guide is wrong in saying the GPU is segregated in the old model and right beside the processor in the new one, that's not the GPU. The GPU is part of the CPU die, that's why it's long like that. I think the segregated chip in the old one and the adjacent chip in the new one is the Platform Controller.

And they even said so in the older guide, just the new one is wrong.

nitesh singh, · Reply

Updated. We suspect this new chip (next to the CPU) is the Platform Controller Hub.

Kyle Wiens,

Would you recommend (if you have the proper tools and know-how) taking apart a new Air and putting thermal compound on the second portion of the cpu?

I've seen a lot of tests about what the best way to apply thermal paste for most heat transfer-ability, and it seems like the less-is-better model has the best effect. I've noticed in repairing a lot of Apple laptops, that they just gob the thermal compound on to the point where it's overflowing out the sides of the processor. So I'd probably redo the thermal compound anyway, might as well put some on the rest of the processor. That would only help right?

Ian Gunther, · Reply

It would help thermal transfer, but it's possible it's not necessary. I don't see what it would hurt, but I'd suggest holding off until you see what the thermal characteristics of your system are out of the box.

Kyle Wiens,

The picture of the motherboard @ 2:53 in the video is of the old 2012 MacBook Air motherboard. Doh!

Emyr, · Reply

since you took off the heatsink a reapply with mx4 would be good in future, temps before temps after etc, evaluate factory tim performance ? but since no ivy and haswell factory IHS & Tim lga based issues, core temps should be within a 1-3degs of each other with direct heat sink to cpu die contact, and not varying by 10 degrees like on the lga version when OC'ed hard.

ancientscream, · Reply

Better to repaste with MX2 rather than MX4. Longevity is important here since the difficulty of taking the laptop apart is high. MX2 is rated for 8 years of durability.

danwat1234,

Looks like RFMD has some content on the WiFi - two components - as their logo is on the package. Any way to verify this?

Brian, · Reply

Yes RFFM4293 (low band) and RFFM4591 (high band)

RFJeff,

I noticed the keyboard and trackpad are connected via SPI bus instead of USB. That would explain the large amount of serial flash memory. Can anyone verify that the previous models of Airs also had mouse and keyboard via SPI?

Thomas, · Reply

Add me to the pre-order 802.11ac retrofit card/kit for a 2012 MacBook Pro Retina

Joe Meek, · Reply

Well done, Gwendolyn! You have an awesome voice/presence for teardowns. Look forward to the next one.

Afroza Zaman, · Reply

Can the SD card slide all the way in or does it jot out?

jacobh95, · Reply

It's not Chinese, it is Korean

Ethan, · Reply

Thanks, fixed.

Kyle Wiens,

I would give my right arm to be ambidextrous!

chrisncarolp, · Reply

I have a question - The 2013 model's battery looks to be the same size and shape of the 2011, 2012 (A1369) models' - Is it possible to install a 2013 model's battery in a 2011 model (for example) in order to get that coveted 12 hour battery life? Or is it more complicated than a simple swap?

Ike, · Reply

Am I right in assuming that the batteries are not glued? Because that is awesome!

ch4di, · Reply

The SSD uses the M.2 standard which is readily available.

steveliv, · Reply

What is the SSD endurance rating?

jacobh95, · Reply

That's not M.2 and even if it were, it's not readily available... It's closer to mSata but looks like the smaller connection is a little wider. I was hoping an mSata would fit if taped down, but it doesn't look like it

Derek, · Reply

Dear team iFixit. Please, for the love of god, do indeed go ahead and try your darndest to install this in the 2012 model, I will most certainly buy an 802.11ac AirPort-card from you, as well as any potential "kit" or otherwise to install it, if you end up bringing out such a product! And I know at least 5 other people who will as well!

adrian, · Reply

Yes Please!!! I would Pre=Order the card from you today if it's possible!

tilhas,

Add Me to the list.

drocha184,

Add me to the list 802.11ac card upgrade kit for my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina

Joe Meek, · Reply

I personally ordered an 802.11AC card using my Authorized repair account and stuck it in my 2011 macbook air. And although the card was a bit longer, it still fit in. Unfortunately I also had to reroute some cables since they weren't quite long enough to reach. But in the end I was successful. I now have an 802.11AC card working perfectly fine in my laptop. I'm getting good signal, and System info reports the full AC capabilities of my card. Also keep in mind that since the card is longer you won't be able to secure it down with a screw, you'd likely need to use some sort of ESD tape.

usdmattiphone, · Reply

Oh God I'm foaming at the mouth over the idea of putting an 802.11AC card into my 2013 retina MacBook Pro....I just hope it isn't an insane install job as I generally don't like to open up my electronics tell they are out of warranty, besides messing with my new $2300 MacBook? Ill need a drink or two after that! I've done optibay, RAM, Hard Drive and even some more advanced stuff on the 13 and 15" unibody MBP's but sounds risky. Still 802.11ac is very nice, even though its not out yet I'd like to have it to make it more future proof! Keep us updated on if its possible with the rMBP!

nate opgenorth, · Reply

Is there any other material than the thermal paste on the CPU like wax or plastic seal that could hinder thermal transfer? The core looks blackish to me... If there is, is it something removable?

Prylen, · Reply

It's only thermal paste on the CPU core; in the top-down shot in step 12, the black is a reflection of our camera :).

Andrew Optimus Goldberg,

could the logic board be installed on a 2012 model?

Agalonammuumma, · Reply

The orange chip looks like Intel's new eDRAM module for its Iris Pro graphics.

Lucian Pacurar, · Reply

No, that is correctly labelled as the platform controller hub. Before Haswell it was a separate chip package but is now situated on the same package as the CPU/GPU. The 2013 MacBook Air has Intel HD 5000 graphics, not Iris (5100) or Iris Pro (5200).

Emyr,

Error in name Thunderbolt controller. In Air 2013 is the same like Air 2012 (DSL3510L):

http://www.macwyznawca.pl/mac/files/thun...

Jaromir Kopp, · Reply

What is the Hynix H5TC4G63AFR 4 Gb synchronous DRAM for? That's 512MiB that's not part of main memory, and I don't see a chip that's analogous to it on earlier models.

Can Haswell's iGPU use RAM that's dedicated to it rather than share the main system RAM?

sendai, · Reply

It could be related to the iGPU, but definitely not as traditional GPU memory. From Anandtech :-

"To allow the entire platform to go to sleep while the display is still active, Intel recommends Panel Self Refresh (PSR) to be implemented in Haswell Ultrabooks. The idea behind PSR is to put DRAM on the panel itself to store the frame buffer. In the event of a static display (e.g. staring at a Word document, looking at your desktop), the GPU frame buffer is copied to the panel’s DRAM, and the GPU itself is shut off instead of having to drive meaningless content updates to the display 60 times per second. With PSR, the SoC can go into its deepest sleep state (C10)."

Could this power-saving frame buffer be placed on the MBA motherboard instead of the LCD panel itself, contributing to the 2013 MBA's extended battery life?

Apparently this isn't the case, so what's the mystery RAM used for then? Is it related to the BCM15700A2?

Emyr,

Can ifixit kindly take the display apart too? We will love to find out how many antenna the 802.11ac is connected to.

Kelvin Nye, · Reply

Seconded!

Also, to anyone reading this, what are your thoughts on the overall upgrade? I was hoping for retina so I can't decide if now is a good time to upgrade.

Brian,

@burke102, wait for Intel Skymont 10nm. That's when we'll see 10nm chips and probably 4-core Macbook Air and 6 cores with regular sized laptops.

Single threaded performance will be improved too

danwat1234,

The Hynix SDRAM is actually DDR3L not LPDDR3. Although the Core i5-4250U supports it Apple hasn't used LPDDR3 here.

xemone, · Reply

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