Introduction

Having issues with wireless connectivity? The problem could lie inside the AirPort Board.

This guide will show you how to replace the AirPort card installed in the display frame of the Early 2009 and Mid 2009 MacBook Pro 17" Unibody. This guide does not apply to the Mid 2010 and Late 2011 MacBook Pro 17" Unibody. The AirPort card in the later models is mounted beside the optical drive.

  1. Remove the following ten screws securing the lower case to the upper case:
    • Remove the following ten screws securing the lower case to the upper case:

    • Three 13.5 mm Phillips screws.

    • Seven 3 mm Phillips screws.

  2. Wedge your fingers between the lower case and the vent, and lift upward to release the two clips holding the lower case to the upper case. During reassembly, carefully align the lower case and then press it firmly until both clips engage.
    • Wedge your fingers between the lower case and the vent, and lift upward to release the two clips holding the lower case to the upper case.

    • During reassembly, carefully align the lower case and then press it firmly until both clips engage.

    • Remove the lower case.

  3. Whenever working near the logic board, it is always wise to first disconnect the battery to avoid short circuits. If present, grab the plastic tab attached to the battery connector and pull it toward the front edge of the device.  For Late-2011 models the battery connector will not have a tab and is simply a plug that inserts straight down into the motherboard--to remove pry the plug straight up. If the plastic tab is missing, use a spudger to pry the connector up from its socket.
    • Whenever working near the logic board, it is always wise to first disconnect the battery to avoid short circuits.

    • If present, grab the plastic tab attached to the battery connector and pull it toward the front edge of the device. For Late-2011 models the battery connector will not have a tab and is simply a plug that inserts straight down into the motherboard--to remove pry the plug straight up.

    • If the plastic tab is missing, use a spudger to pry the connector up from its socket.

    • Pull the tab parallel to the face of the logic board.

  4. Before disconnecting the camera cable, a small plastic retainer stuck to the logic board must first be moved out of the way.  In late-2011 models you can skip this step because there is not a plastic retainer on the camera cable connector. Use the tip of a spudger to push the small plastic cable retainer away from the camera cable socket for enough clearance to remove the camera cable.
    • Before disconnecting the camera cable, a small plastic retainer stuck to the logic board must first be moved out of the way. In late-2011 models you can skip this step because there is not a plastic retainer on the camera cable connector.

    • Use the tip of a spudger to push the small plastic cable retainer away from the camera cable socket for enough clearance to remove the camera cable.

  5. Pull the camera cable toward the optical drive opening to disconnect it from the logic board. The camera cable socket is very fragile. Do not apply any upward force to this socket, as it may break off the logic board. Pull the camera cable parallel to the face of the logic board.
    • Pull the camera cable toward the optical drive opening to disconnect it from the logic board.

    • The camera cable socket is very fragile. Do not apply any upward force to this socket, as it may break off the logic board. Pull the camera cable parallel to the face of the logic board.

  6. Carefully pull the Bluetooth cable toward the fans to disconnect it from the Bluetooth board.
    • Carefully pull the Bluetooth cable toward the fans to disconnect it from the Bluetooth board.

    • Pull the cable parallel to the face of the optical drive.

  7. Use the flat end of a spudger to peel the thin plastic cover off the top and sides of the Bluetooth board housing.  For late-2011 models check out the other picture because the connector location is in a totally different location. Use the flat end of a spudger to peel the thin plastic cover off the top and sides of the Bluetooth board housing.  For late-2011 models check out the other picture because the connector location is in a totally different location.
    • Use the flat end of a spudger to peel the thin plastic cover off the top and sides of the Bluetooth board housing. For late-2011 models check out the other picture because the connector location is in a totally different location.

  8. Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the Bluetooth antenna connector up and off its socket on the Bluetooth board.
    • Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the Bluetooth antenna connector up and off its socket on the Bluetooth board.

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  10. If present, remove the small piece of EMI foam near the Bluetooth board. De-route the camera cable from the slot molded into the Bluetooth board housing.
    • If present, remove the small piece of EMI foam near the Bluetooth board.

    • De-route the camera cable from the slot molded into the Bluetooth board housing.

  11. Remove the two 7.1 mm Phillips screws securing the camera cable retainer to the upper case. Remove the camera cable retainer from the upper case.
    • Remove the two 7.1 mm Phillips screws securing the camera cable retainer to the upper case.

    • Remove the camera cable retainer from the upper case.

  12. Lift the black plastic flap attached to the display data cable retainer and rotate it toward the DC-In side of the MacBook. Pull the display data cable out of its socket. The display data cable socket is very fragile. Do not lift the connector upward as you disconnect it, as the socket may break off the logic board. Pull the cable parallel to the face of the logic board.
    • Lift the black plastic flap attached to the display data cable retainer and rotate it toward the DC-In side of the MacBook.

    • Pull the display data cable out of its socket.

    • The display data cable socket is very fragile. Do not lift the connector upward as you disconnect it, as the socket may break off the logic board. Pull the cable parallel to the face of the logic board.

  13. Remove the two 7.1 mm Phillips screws securing the display data cable retainer to the upper case. Remove the display data cable retainer.
    • Remove the two 7.1 mm Phillips screws securing the display data cable retainer to the upper case.

    • Remove the display data cable retainer.

  14. Remove the two outer 6.8 mm T6 Torx screws from each of the two display brackets (four screws total). We purposely have you leave one screw attaching each display bracket to the upper case to aid in future steps.
    • Remove the two outer 6.8 mm T6 Torx screws from each of the two display brackets (four screws total).

    • We purposely have you leave one screw attaching each display bracket to the upper case to aid in future steps.

  15. Open your MacBook Pro so the display is perpendicular to the upper case.
    • Open your MacBook Pro so the display is perpendicular to the upper case.

    • Place your opened MacBook Pro on a table as pictured.

    • While holding the display and upper case together with your left hand, remove the remaining T6 Torx screw from the lower display bracket.

  16. Be sure to hold the display and upper case together with your left hand. Failure to do so may cause the freed display/upper case to fall, potentially damaging each component.
    • Be sure to hold the display and upper case together with your left hand. Failure to do so may cause the freed display/upper case to fall, potentially damaging each component.

    • Remove the last remaining T6 Torx screw securing the display to the upper case.

  17. Grab the upper case with your right hand and rotate it slightly toward the top of the display so the upper display bracket clears the edge of the upper case. Rotate the display slightly away from the upper case. Lift the display up and away from the upper case, minding any brackets or cables that may get caught.
    • Grab the upper case with your right hand and rotate it slightly toward the top of the display so the upper display bracket clears the edge of the upper case.

    • Rotate the display slightly away from the upper case.

    • Lift the display up and away from the upper case, minding any brackets or cables that may get caught.

    • During reassembly, fit the display into place and install the display bracket Torx screws, then close the lid and lay the laptop upside-down to check the alignment of the screen to the body. If necessary, loosen the screws and realign the display before tightening.

  18. Grab the clutch cover as shown and slide it toward the right side of the display. It should move about 1/4" and stop. Don't force it beyond this point.
    • Grab the clutch cover as shown and slide it toward the right side of the display.

    • It should move about 1/4" and stop. Don't force it beyond this point.

  19. Lifting the left edge of the clutch cover, gently rock it back and forth on its long axis while pulling it away from the display. Remove the clutch cover from the display, minding any cables that may get caught.
    • Lifting the left edge of the clutch cover, gently rock it back and forth on its long axis while pulling it away from the display.

    • Remove the clutch cover from the display, minding any cables that may get caught.

  20. Use the tip of a spudger to disconnect the two antenna cable connectors from the AirPort board.
    • Use the tip of a spudger to disconnect the two antenna cable connectors from the AirPort board.

  21. Remove the single 2.7 mm Phillips #00 screw securing the AirPort board bracket to the display case.
    • Remove the single 2.7 mm Phillips #00 screw securing the AirPort board bracket to the display case.

  22. Move the AirPort board bracket towards the bottom of the display case with the tip of a spudger so that it does not block the AirPort board cable. Use the tip of a spudger to disconnect the AirPort board cable by rocking it back and forth until it is free. The AirPort board connection cable can be inserted both ways. The two sides of the connector look slightly different. However, inserting it upside down will cause a short circuit upon power on and damage the logic board and/or Airport board, so be careful to note the correct orientation.
    • Move the AirPort board bracket towards the bottom of the display case with the tip of a spudger so that it does not block the AirPort board cable.

    • Use the tip of a spudger to disconnect the AirPort board cable by rocking it back and forth until it is free.

    • The AirPort board connection cable can be inserted both ways. The two sides of the connector look slightly different. However, inserting it upside down will cause a short circuit upon power on and damage the logic board and/or Airport board, so be careful to note the correct orientation.

  23. Once the cable is disconnected, lift and remove the plastic bracket from the display case.
    • Once the cable is disconnected, lift and remove the plastic bracket from the display case.

  24. Remove the two 3.1 mm Phillips #00 screws securing the AirPort board to the display case.
    • Remove the two 3.1 mm Phillips #00 screws securing the AirPort board to the display case.

  25. Lift and remove the AirPort board from the display case.
    • Lift and remove the AirPort board from the display case.

Conclusion

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

11 other people completed this guide.

Brett Hartt

Member since: 04/12/2010

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6 Comments

Just a note for anyone looking at this guide with a MacBook Pro 17" mid 2010 model (2.6GHz) - this is the wrong guide for your laptop! Search for the MacBook Pro 15" mid 2010 Airport board replacement guide instead. The card is located on top of the optical drive rather than in the bezel - something i found out the hard way when following this ;)

Rob - Reply

How would I know if I need to replace my airport board or wifi antenna?

james - Reply

THIS GUIDE IS WRONG FOR MODEL 1297, which is far easier to repair.

Kevin Cahill - Reply

HI Kevin. Do you know a URL to a good video for the 1297?

Denis Putnam -

Will replacing the wifi card on a mid-2009 macbook pro 17" make it possible to hack the OS to MacOS sierra without losing wifi?

I read that the hack would disable wifi. So, are the replacement cards different enough to resolve that issue?

jimthzz - Reply

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