iPhone 4S Camera Made by Sony

October 14, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Chipworks definitely has some fancy equipment inside their labs. They took apart one of their iPhone 4S units this morning (using our teardown for guidance, of course) and tossed the 8MP camera directly under an infrared microscope to find out the manufacturer.

The infrared microscope allowed them to look through the whole structure down to the base layer. They saw die markings several layers below the surface.

So what did they see? S O N Y.

The pictures below are of the Sony designation inside the camera. Note that the camera itself is significantly smaller than a dime.

"Sony" spelled out nice and clearly

"Sony" spelled out nice and clearly

 

X-ray cross-section of the 8MP Sony camera

X-ray cross-section of the 8MP Sony camera

You can read more info on the camera discovery straight from the horse’s mouth, or check out more awesome hi-res images of the iPhone 4S innards on our teardown. There is no third option.

iPhone 4S Teardown

October 14, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We sent our henchmen around the world to track down the elusive iPhone 4S, and they found it. With the help of an iFixit user hailing from Germany, Markus Weiher, the iFixit team successfully dismantled Apple’s latest creation. Not even Siri’s incessant urgings and warnings were enough to deter our team from dissecting it!

If you’re one of the billions who’s pre-ordered this phone and you want to peek inside, follow our teardown guide and see for yourself. All you need is a spudger, a Phillips #00 screwdriver, a Pentalobe screwdriver, and the will to explore. Leave your warranty at the door — you won’t need it where you’re going.

Opening the 4S was no more (nor less) challenging than the iPhone 4. We’re always pleased to find a limited amount of adhesive in our patients, and easily removable rear panels are always a plus. However, the same pesky proprietary screws are present, and it’s never a joy to encounter fused (read: expensive to replace) displays. All things considered, the new iPhone 4S isn’t any easier or harder to repair than last year’s model, so it gets the same 6 out of 10 repair score as the previous-gen iPhone 4.

Teardown highlights:

  • Pentalobe screws, again? We were hoping there would be something new to keep us out this year, but it seems that our familiar five-sided friends have not moved far from their home at the bottom of the iPhone 4S. A couple quick turns with our 5-Point Pentalobe screwdriver and out they come!
  • Look closely… closer… there it is: an extra .05 watt-hours in the battery over the iPhone 4! That small change gives you an extra hour of talk time on 3G, but 100 hours less standby time. Go figure.
  • In true iFixit fashion, we removed the EMI shields for your viewing pleasure. The logic board now bares its electronic soul:
  • Apple A5 dual-core processor with 512 MB RAM
  • Toshiba THGVX1G7D2GLA08 16 GB NAND flash memory
  • Qualcomm MDM6610 baseband chipset
  • Qualcomm PM8028 power management IC
  • Qualcomm RTR8605 Multi-band/mode RF transceiver
  • Murata SW SS1830010. We suspect that this package contains the Broadcom chip that reportedly provides Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity, just like in some of the past teardowns.
  • Skyworks 77464-20 load-insensitive power amplifier (LIPA) module developed for WCDMA applications
  • Avago ACPM-7181 power amplifier
  • TriQuint TQM9M9030 multi-mode quad-band power amplifier module
  • TriQuint TQM66052 (possibly a PA-duplexer module)
  • Mysterious Apple chip with markings 338S0987 B0FL1129 SGP
  • Oh hey, what’s this? According to Chipworks, our German iPhone has Samsung DDR2 RAM (K3P markings on the A5 processor), while our Australian iPhone 4S contains Elpida DDR2 RAM (B40 markings on the A5 processor)!
  • We noted that the Verizon and AT&T iPhone 4’s display assemblies had different mounting tab locations. While most of the 4S has resembled the CDMA iPhone 4, the display assembly appears to be the same as the one found in the GSM version.
  • It appears that Apple elected to go with the linear oscillating vibrator that we found in the Verizon iPhone 4, as opposed to the rotational electric motor with counterweight in the AT&T version. This vibrator motor is quieter, softer, and all-around less annoying than its counter-weighted predecessor.
  • We noticed several white and red liquid indicator strips placed throughout the phone. So don’t let your friends pee on it! (No, seriously)
  • Good news: not a single trace of any Cyberdyne Systems components were found… it seems for the time being our judgment day is not upon us.
Removing the 8MP camera

Removing the 8MP camera

 

Final layout

Final layout

Apple Thunderbolt Display Teardown

September 28, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The big box we’ve been waiting for finally arrived. That’s right, Apple’s Thunderbolt Display crashed the party, and not a moment too soon. After managing to hoist this beast onto our operating table — while being mindful not smudge its 500 square inches of arsenic-free glass — we promptly grabbed our scalpels and went to work.

We got the warm fuzzies when we found out that no proprietary tools were required to dissect Apple’s colossal display. In fact, all you really need to pull the guts out of this machine are some heavy duty suction cups, Torx T6 and T10 screwdrivers, and maybe a spudger here and there.

All in all, we were struck by the Thunderbolt Display’s ease of disassembly, and its 8 out of 10 repairability score reflects our admiration. But what did we find inside? Lots and lots of goodies that usually don’t come standard with an LCD monitor. Although monitors usually don’t cost as much as a laptop, either.

Teardown highlights:

  • The LG display found inside is model number LM270WQ1. It’s the same display found in the iMac Intel 27″ from October of 2009, as well as the same basic LG display found in Dell’s competing 27″ monitor  — though the Apple version uses LED backlights as opposed to Dell’s traditional CCFL. Dell’s version is also matte, something that lots of Mac users have been complaining about since the old 30″ Cinema Display was discontinued.
  • The 27-inch (diagonal) TFT active-matrix LCD has a resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels, the standard for displays of this size and price. Its 12 ms response time and 16.7 million colors, however, fall short of the 6 ms response time and 1.07 billion colors of Dell’s comparable display. We might be splitting hairs here, but those hairs would be viewed with 1,053,300,000 less colors on Apple’s display. Just saying.
  • The fan is easily removed simply by detaching a couple of connectors and unfastening a few screws. Apple has, as usual, chosen to go with a large, brushless fan to keep the colossal Thunderbolt Display cool and quiet.
  • Interestingly enough, the Thunderbolt cable that routes into the display also plugs into a standard Thunderbolt socket on the logic board. Apple could have just soldered the cable wires to the board, but instead chose to implement a cover that prevents the cable from being detached from the logic board’s Thunderbolt socket.
  • Both sides of the logic board are packed with enough chips that it’s hard to believe there’s no computer inside this display. Standouts include:
  • Pericom PI7C9X440SL PCIe-to-USB 2.0 host controller
  •  L129NB11 EFL, which looks to be the Thunderbolt port controller
  • Analog Devices ADAV4601 audio processor
  • NXP LPC2144 USB 2.0 microcontroller
  • Delta LFE9249 10/100/1000 Base-T LAN filter
  • SMSC USB2517-JZX USB 2.0 hub controller
  • Maxim MAX9736B Mono/Stereo high-power Class D amplifier
  • LSI L-FW643E-2 open host controller interface
  • Broadcom BCM57761 Gigabit ethernet controller
  • Supertex HV9982 3-channel switch-mode LED driver IC
  • We found some massive speaker enclosures near the side edges of the Thunderbolt Display and eagerly removed the screws holding them in place. Turns out the Thunderbolt Display comes with a 49 Watt 2-speaker sound system, including a miniature subwoofer.
  • We made quick work of the few screws and connectors that held the Flextronics power supply in place and found that this puppy provides 250 watts of maximum continuous power!
Taking out the LCD panel

Taking out the LCD panel

Disconnecting the Thunderbolt cable from the logic board
Disconnecting the Thunderbolt cable from the logic board
A wallpaper made from one of the Thunderbolt Display's chips. Click to view in native 2560 x 1440 resolution.

A wallpaper made from one of the Thunderbolt Display's chips. Click to view in native 2560 x 1440 resolution.

Samsung Epic 4G Touch Teardown

September 20, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Sprint’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S II has finally graced the iFixit team with its presence. It arrived on our shores just last week and was branded by Sprint as the Epic 4G Touch. Although we’ve watched this phone’s reputation grow throughout Europe, we were very excited to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

We were delighted to find that taking apart this allegedly Epic phone was not too challenging. In fact, the Epic 4G Touch appears to fare better than its overseas cousin in terms of disassembly and repair. Expect to use a Phillips #00 screwdriver and a plastic opening tool if you want to see what’s inside. Expect significant trouble if you try to replace a cracked display.

We wanted to reward the Epic 4G Touch with a laudable repairability score — you can disassemble most of the phone with just basic tools — but its fused display and glass knocked it back a couple points. The iFixit team gave it a very reasonable 7 out of 10 for repairability.

Teardown highlights:

  • The glass panel and AMOLED display are fused, making cracked screens a costly repair. And you have to use a heat gun to take the two apart. So don’t drop your phone!
  • The Epic 4G Touch has slightly more girth than its overseas counterpart, the Galaxy S II. At 9.65 mm and 128 grams, the device gained a millimeter and a 14 grams during its trip to the U.S.
  • Unfortunately, Samsung and Sprint decided not to include NFC support in this variant of the Galaxy S II, which means no Google Wallet support either.
  • We love phones with batteries that are easy to replace, and this device fits that mold — just pop off the back cover. The 1800 mAh Li-ion battery in the device has a claimed battery life of 8.7 hours of continuous talk time and 10.5 days on standby. Compare this with the Galaxy S II’s 1650 mAh battery.
  • The Samsung Epic 4G Touch does not come with a microSD card. If 16 GB of internal memory isn’t enough for you, you’re going to have to spring for your own card.
  • A Phillips #00 screwdriver from our 54 piece bit driver kit and some plastic opening tools allow us to take apart most of the phone. There’s a total of 9 Phillips #00 screws to remove in the whole device.
  • We are pleased to announce that the device doesn’t house a smorgasbord of EMI shields and that its single EMI shield is removable with only a few gentle pries. It made our job easier (and less destructive) for this teardown.
  • The front-facing camera assembly is paired along with what seems to be the LED/ambient light sensor. Since these components share the same ribbon cable, overall repair cost increases if just one component fails.
  • Motherboard chips include:
  • Samsung K3PE7E700B-XXC1 Dual-Core 1.2 GHz Processor
  • Samsung KLMAG4FEJA-A003 16 GB Flash Memory
  • Broadcom BCM4330XKFFBG 802.11 a/b/g/n MAC/Baseband/Radio with Integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS and FM Transceiver/Receiver
  • Avago ACFM-7325 Band Class 14 PCS/Band Class 10 Cellular Band Quadplexer
  • Toshiba TC31501AAMBG
  • Maxim MAX8997 Power Management IC
  • Maxim MAX8893C Power Management IC
  • Qualcomm QSC6085 CDMA Processor
  • Yamaha YMU823 Audio Codec
  • Newsflash: The display on this Samsung phone is manufactured by Samsung. How about that!
  • AMS452GN05 is the official designation on the display ribbon cable, and it looks to be manufactured around January 11th of 2011.
  • We found the Atmel mXT224E mutual capacitance touchscreen controller. The sneaky fella was hiding on the rear side of the display assembly.
Separating the midplane from the display
Separating the midplane from the display
Final layout

Final layout

Droid Bionic Teardown

September 12, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Motorola’s Droid Bionic ties its cousin, the Atrix, as the most repairable smartphone we’ve torn down. All you really need is a Torx T5 screwdriver (and some untrimmed fingernails, if you want to forego plastic opening tools) to take the whole phone apart!

Not surprisingly, it received a 9 out of 10 repairability score, as the phone is held together with a limited number of screws and plastic clips. Adhesive is minimally used in its construction, and many components can be replaced individually — they’re not tied together with long, delicate ribbon cables. Heck, you can even replace the LCD separately from the glass!

It warms our DIY hearts to disassemble devices like the Bionic. It gives us hope for a world where people fix their devices instead of tossing them in the trash.

Teardown highlights:

  • A sticker, some clips, and a few — ahem, ELEVEN — screws around the perimeter of the Bionic are all that prevent us from peeking inside. All screws are of the Torx T5 variety, which are easily surmountable using iFixit’s 54-piece bit driver kit.
  • We were greeted by a forest of EMI shields once we removed the rear cover. It took us forever to desolder all the shiny squares.
  • We disconnected the loudspeaker from the otherwise unexciting rear case; it looked to be ideal for proclaiming the characteristic “Drooooooiiiiid” upon powering on the phone.
  • The 4G LTE SIM card module is held in place by two additional screws — and that’s the extent of screw-type fasteners inside this phone. They’re also the same T5 Torx size, meaning you only need one screwdriver to take apart the phone.
  • We’re relieved to see that Motorola isn’t using the same long ribbon cables found in some of their other devices. This is wonderful, since it means you don’t have to replace two or three fully functional components that are tied to the same cable as your dead component.
  • The rear-facing camera simply pops out. Inscription on the component is this wonderful gem: “NCAABA 65161 0100698 2001 SH.” We think that’s code for “8 MP behemoth,” but that’s just speculation.
  • The camera measures in at 7.1 mm x 9.3 mm (length x width) and weighs a porky 1.2 grams! Much like the Droid X and Droid X2, the large camera seems to be the main reason behind the “hump” at the top of the phone.
  • After some slash-and-burn on the EMI shield forest, we found the big players on the motherboard:
  • Elpida B8064B2PB-8D-F 1 GB DRAM and TI OMAP 4430 processor
  • SanDisk SDIN4C2-16G 16GB Flash memory
  • ST Ericsson CPCAP 006556001
  • Qualcomm PM8028 power management chip that works in conjunction with the Qualcomm MDM6600 to provide CDMA connectivity
  • Hynix H8KCS0SJ0AER and Hynix H8BCS0QG0MMR memory MCP containing Hynix DRAM and STM flash
  • ATMEL MXT224E-CCU Touchscreen Controller
  • Motorola T6VP0XBG-0001, believed to be the LTE baseband processor.
  • TI WL1285C, an 802.11n Wi-Fi/FM/GPS/BlueTooth 3.0 all-in-one solution
  • The back of the motherboard is absent of any notable features. It is possible that Motorola placed all of the chips on one side of the board to keep the thickness of the device to a minimum.
  • The qHD display in this phone originally appeared in the Motorola Atrix earlier this year, and we’ve seen one in every Motorola Android phone since.
Final layout

Final layout

Mac Mini Mid 2011 Teardown

July 21, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Our brand new Mac Mini swooned us with promises of “2x faster everything” and the new Thunderbolt I/O. Naturally, we had to take a look inside, just like we did with the new MacBook Air earlier today.

This year’s Mini is a great example of “less is more.” Apple has done away with the optical drive and replaced it with some good old-fashioned emptiness. We found that hole (as well as the empty extra SATA connection on the logic board) to be perfect for adding a secondary hard drive — essentially bypassing the $400 premium over the “server” model. The only snag in this master plan is being able to find another hard drive cable to hook it up to the logic board, something we’ll work on sourcing.

Kudos to the Mini for receiving an excellent 8 out of 10 repairability score. There’s no proprietary screws or glue, and you can easily replace the existing RAM and hard drive (or almost any other component) if needed.

Teardown highlights:

  • Apple removed the optical drive from this Mini, but would love to sell you one for an additional $79. Sweet!
  • Some of the screws inside the machine were quite interesting. We found T6 screws that were screwed into the top of T8 screws. A screw within a screw
  • The big question with this Mac Mini: “Can I install a second hard drive myself?” The extra empty space seems to imply so. There is definitely plenty of room for a second hard drive underneath the first. The only deterrent is the availability of a second SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable.
  • The new Mini has the same fan as the old Mini, and even the older Mini. Sticking with the brushless, high blade density blower, this single fan is quiet and effective — just the way we like it.
  • The Broadcom BCM20702 Single-Chip Bluetooth 4.0 Processor with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support is identical to the chip found in the 13″ MacBook Air we took apart earlier in the day.
  • Big players on the logic board include:
    • Intel BD82HM65 Platform Controller Hub
    • Intel V116A068 2.3 GHz Dual-Core i5
    • Intel L116IA35 Thunderbolt port controller IC, similar to that found on the Early 2011 21.5″ iMac
    • Broadcom BCM57765 gigabit ethernet and memory card controller
    • Texas Instruments XIO2211 FireWire Controller
    • irrus Logic 4206B Audio Controller
    • SMSC 1428-7 System Management Bus temperature sensor
Plenty of space for the second hard drive.

Plenty of space for the second hard drive.

Final layout

Final layout

MacBook Air 13″ Mid 2011 Teardown

July 21, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

With the release of these newly-updated MacBook Airs, people have been asking us what Apple updated under the hood. The answer? More than is evident at first glance. The new MacBook Air is visually very similar to the last revision, but it includes substantial improvements to the chipset and IO controllers. Moving to built-in graphics freed up tons of room on the logic board and allowed Apple to squeeze a new ‘Platform Controller Hub’ with Thunderbolt support onto the board.

Although today is an exciting day for Apple, it’s a sad day for consumer repair. Apple decided that this “svelte and sexy” MacBook Air will replace the “simple and serviceable” white plastic MacBook. So while your backpacks will be significantly lighter, future repairability and upgradability will suffer tremendously.

Check out iFixit’s MJ talking about the new MacBook Air on YouTube:

Teardown highlights:

  • A Broadcom BCM20702 chip on the wireless board adds Bluetooth 4.0 support with BLE. BLE chips hold many advantages over classic Bluetooth including 128 bit AES security, 6 ms latency (classic Bluetooth is 100 ms), and less power consumption.
  • A Broadcom BCM4322 Intensi-fi Single-Chip 802.11n Transceiver gives this Air the ability to get internet… through air.
  • Just like in the mid-2010 MacBook Air, the SSD is not soldered on the logic board. Thankfully this means you can upgrade the SSD for more storage, but you’re still out of luck if you need extra RAM.
  • Other than a larger plate to accommodate the bigger die face of the Core i5 processor, the heat sink looks nearly identical to the one used on the Core 2 Duo Airs of last year. We’ll do some testing to see if temperatures are any higher in this machine.
  • Surprisingly, there isn’t too much excess thermal paste between the processor and the heat sink. This is a nice departure from Apple’s recent trend of assaulting processors with gobs of thermal paste.
  • Big players on the logic board include:
    • Intel Core i5 Processor-2557M with integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics
    • Intel E78296 01PB10 / E116A746 SLJ4K Platform Controller Hub. We’re guessing this includes an integrated Thunderbolt controller. It’s not this part, but it’s similar.
    • Hynix H5TQ2G838ZR 4 GB RAM
    • SMSC USB2513B USB 2.0 Hub Controller
  • Shifting to integrated graphics on the processor freed up a lot of room on the board — enough for Apple to add the sizeable Thunderbolt-capable Platform Controller Hub.
  • A new addition to the upper case is the network of LEDs attached to the keyboard backlight cable. A couple LEDs transmit light through fiber optic channels to evenly illuminate the keys on the keyboard.
  • The thickness restrictions of such a thin display were the deciding factor in not equipping the Air with a FaceTimeHD camera.
Final layout

Final layout

Motorola Droid 3 Teardown

July 18, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

After various iterations and special editions of the original Droid, a worthy successor has finally arrived! The third Droid to hail from the halls of Motorola — smartly named Droid 3 — hosts several new hardware improvements over the older models. Whereas the Droid 2‘s CPU was based on the same ARM Cortex A8 core as the original Droid, the third generation features a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 CPU — a proper processor upgrade. Other notable improvements include an 8MP rear camera, all-new front camera, 5-row staggered keyboard, and 4″ qHD display.

And yet even with all the techno upgrades, Motorola paid no attention to the repairability of the Droid 3. You still have to take apart the whole phone in order to access the display and glass, a procedure hampered by Torx screws and glue that are used to hold everything together. Consequently, the Droid 3 received a mid-pack 6 out of 10 repairability score, having been given some brownie points for an easily-replaceable battery and for a straightforward (albeit time-consuming) disassembly process.

Teardown highlights:

  • Whoa! This Droid has a SIM card! A lack of SIM cards in earlier Droids severely hampered international use of Verizon’s network. This SIM enables the Droid 3 to be used almost anywhere in the world.
  • Although now you’re free to roam about the world with your Droid, a very attention-grabbing informational card included with the phone indicates that roaming data charges might be as high as $20.48 per MB!
  • Motorola likes to hide screws and latches beneath labels, making opening the phone a rather sticky affair.
  • The speaker assembly uses pressure contacts to transmit data to both the speaker and the antenna. Interestingly, a hole through the motherboard allows sound to pass through for better transmission to the outside of the phone.
  • We like the offset keys on the Droid 3’s new 5-row slide-out QWERTY keyboard, but the keys feel cheaper in quality than the original keyboard.
  • As with its predecessors, the display assembly in this Droid is very difficult to access. You have to take apart the whole phone (including peeling off the keyboard) if you want to change your broken display.
  • An Atmel MXT224E capacitive touchscreen controller can be found within the front panel — the same chip found on several other electronic gadgets, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
  • The main ICs on the front side of the motherboard include:
    • Qualcomm MDM6600 supporting HSPA+ speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps
    • SanDisk SDIN4C2 16GB MLC NAND flash
    • Elpida B4064B2PB-8D-F 512MB RAM
    • TI OMAP 4430 CPU (hidden underneath the Elpida RAM)
    • Triquint TQM7M5013 Linear Power Amplifier
    • Kionix KXTF9 11425 1411 three-axis accelerometer
    • Qualcomm PM8028 chip that works in conjunction with the Qualcomm MDM6600 to provide wireless data connection
    • Hynix H8BCS0QG0MMR memory MCP containing Hynix DRAM and STM flash
Taking off the back cover

Taking off the back cover

Final layout

Final layout

Elster REX2 Smart Meter Teardown

July 12, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The electricity meter is one device that no household connected to the grid can escape, yet the technology utilized by analog meters (the most common type) dates to the late 19th century.

Power engineers have recently developed a solid state electronic meter that sends electricity consumption readings wirelessly. This new meter eliminates human error and allows utility companies to monitor their systems more accurately.

We were always interested in these meters, but had trouble acquiring one for a teardown — it’s not like you can just walk into a Best Buy and pick one off the shelf. Thankfully, the generous folks over at Elster were kind enough to send us one of their REX2 meters for thorough dissection!

Teardown highlights:

  • The REX2 meter provides several enhancements over non-programmable meters:
    • Nonvolatile memory rated for 1,000,000 write cycles
    • Advanced security with full 128-bit AES encryption
    • Remote upgradeability
    • Support for 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz ZigBee communication
    • Optional: flux capacitor add-on???
  • Before gaining access to the interior of the meter, you must first break a security seal. Apparently, electric companies don’t want you tampering with their meters. Go figure!
  • Who would’ve thunk that your power meter would have a LAN ID? A LAN ID is required to connect to the IP-based EnergyAxis Smart Grid network.
  • The true innovation in smart meters is their ability to relay power consumption statistics without direct contact from a meter reader. Our Elster meter accomplishes this by sending encrypted signals on the 900 MHz ISM band.
  • Extremely thick copper wires allow the meter to be wired in series with a household’s main power supply. They’re capable of handling 200 Amps!
  • Interestingly, the meter relies on a black ring-shaped current transformer installed around the copper wires to send power consumption signals to the main board. Current transformers indirectly measure the current flowing through the thick copper conductors and provide an output that can be read by the electronics on the board.
  • Long metal pressure contacts along the inside case of the meter conduct 240V AC electricity to pads that provide power to the main board. No need to plug this unit into the wall outlet.
  • In the whole device there is only one screw, a surprisingly difficult to find Phillips #1.
  • Main ICs located on the front side of the motherboard include:
    • Teridian 71M6531F SoC with an MPU core, RTC, FLASH and LCD driver
    • Texas Instruments LM2904 low power dual operational amplifier
    • RMFD RF2172 medium-power high efficiency amplifier IC
    • Texas Instruments CC1110F32 Sub-1GHz System-on-Chip with MCU and 32kB Flash memory
Removing the motherboard

Removing the motherboard

Final layout

Final layout

Samsung Series 5 3G Chromebook Teardown

June 8, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — walter

Just over six months ago, Google released the Cr-48 prototype Chromebook to developers—promising that production hardware would be forthcoming. They weren’t lying! With today’s release of the first production Chromebook, the Samsung Series 5 3G, Google has officially entered the retail consumer laptop market with a device they promise will change computing forever.

Running Google’s own ChromeOS, the Series 5 Chromebook is Google’s answer to machines running monolithic operating systems, which they regard as overbearing and process intensive. We decided that the screws holding it together rather overbearing. So we removed them.

With the release of the first Chromebook, the Samsung Series 5 3G, Google has officially entered the retail consumer laptop market with a device they promise will change computing forever.

But what’s inside?

Our analysis revealed that the Series 5 is a well-polished version of the rather imperfect Cr-48 prototype Chromebook. We’ve had our Cr-48 for a while, and certain hardware failings—the incredibly horrible, no-good, really quite terrible trackpad and mediocre battery life—prevented us from using it regularly. The Series 5 fixes the major shortfalls of the Cr-48 and adds the polish necessary to strike lust into the heart of a broad consumer base: sleek looks, 8+ hours of battery life, and optimized performance.

The Samsung Series 5 3G Chromebook landed a decent 6 out of 10 Repairability Score. The Series 5 can be disassembled with a mere three tools: a spudger, a plastic opening tool, and a Phillips #1 screwdriver.

Teardown highlights:

  • The Series 5 is significantly more attractive than its ancestor—and a bit slimmer as well.
  • The improved Atom N570 processor sports 512K more L2 cache than the Cr-48’s Atom N455.
  • Samsung’s large integrated lithium-polymer battery is good for 8.1 Amp-hours at 7.4 V!
  • The Atom and NM10 graphics chip produce so little heat that no cooling fins are used at the fan’s exhaust.
  • Located underneath the keyboard, we discovered a Synaptics T1320A – Capacitive Touchscreen Controller.
  • Key players on the motherboard include:
    • 1.66 GHz Intel Atom dual-core N570 processor.
    • Intel NM10 Express Chipset (labeled as CG82NM10)
    • 2GB RAM: Samsung K4B2G0846 HCH9 2 Gb DD3 SDRAM (total of 8 ICs = 2 GB RAM)
    • 16 GB SanDisk SDSA4DH-016G SSD
    • Realtek ALC272 4-Channel High Definition Audio Codec

Lifting the motherboard out of the lower case

Lifting the motherboard out of the lower case

Final layout

Final layout