Tools Featured in this Teardown


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.

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your AirPort Time Capsule A1470, use our service manual.

Image 1/2: 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.
  • 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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Image 1/1: 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.
  • 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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Image 1/2: The standard SATA drive has a not-so-standard, super-thin connector that attaches it to the ~~mothership~~ motherboard.
  • 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).

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 -

Ok, now that 6 GB drives are available... would you check that those would be ok?

James - Reply

Hi all! Thanks for excellent teardown and instruction.

Have just added a 8TB 3,5 "Seagate Archive" drive today in the A1470. Works like a charm.

Backup resumed and "infinitive"..

But, trying to access and move the old files from the original 2TB to the new one.

What drive format is Apple using for the AirCapsule drive?

Put the SATA disk in a "toaster" and connected USB to both MAC and PC.

Cannot access drive. But when connecting USB back into AirCapsule I can se the files but receive "unknown error -8084" when trying to copy files.

Any suggestions how to access old HD?

borje - Reply

Image 1/1: 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.
  • 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.

Honestly I don't think you provided enough detail on removing the ribbon cable from the mother board. When I tried removing mine the gold connector (inside the red square) broke free from the motherboard. Now my Time Capsule is absolute garbage. I can't complain too much because your instructions were free but perhaps you should let folks know that the ribbon cable should be removed from the drive side instead on the motherboard side.

gsvee9081 - Reply

Image 1/1: Basically nothing new to see here, [|move along].
  • 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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Image 1/2: AirPort Time Capsule A1470 Repairability Score: '''8 out of 10''' (10 is easiest to repair).
  • 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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Image 1/1:
  • 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.

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 -

An SSD should be about twice as fast. Gigabit Ethernet can transfer about 108MB/s ( I got this with a networked MacMini with internal SSD) Whereas my iMac's internal HDD can only manage about 58MB/s transferring data to my internal SSD. In the real world HDDs are about half the speed of Gigabit Ethernet. The SATA interface is quick but it still has to find the data on a spinning platter before it can blast it over at 6Gbps. Also faster seek times will make the SSD seem a lot more responsive.

John Hunter -

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 -

Hubbert is wrong, in the real world Gigabit ethernet will transfer files about twice as fast as the HDD can read them off the platter.

John Hunter -

so the drive used is a 3.5" SATA. Any ideas on plugging in a WD WD60EFRX 6 TB RED NAS drive?

me - Reply

My original 2tb Seagate drive apparently bit the dust recently. Bought a 3tb WD Red WD30EFRX assuming it would be relatively plug and play. Found out the 3 rubber pads (two in the top of the TC, then the rubber pad which seals the bottom) don't fit. They conform to the Seagate drive, which has several kinks in it possibly to make it harder to swap drives. Anyway, 30 minutes of very tedious cutting and testing with a knife eventually got the rubber grommets down to a size where the WD drive could be forced into the TC. I can't say that the bottom of the TC seals perfectly at the moment, but I suppose with some additional cutting I probably could have gotten it down to size. Either way, just a warning.

I have a few pictures of what I did, but don't know how to add them. Anyone who knows, let me know.

wmhartung - Reply


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 -

Question - if I replace the HDD with a say 4TB drive what formatting is necessary? Do you simply format the HDD to Journaled etc before installing it in the TC and that's it? Or do you need to do something else as well?

Schmacker - Reply

Any idea where to get a replacement motherboard for the 2013 Time Capsule? Mine broke and I'm trying to repair it rather than replace. Thanks!

ejl10 - Reply

Here is a word of caution for other potential upgraders re using a NON seagate drive

I pulled my Apple 'coffee can' A1470 apart to find the 2Tb Seagate.

I used a 4Tb RED WD to replace it. When inserting the drive back into the drive space I noticed a difficulty in getting the rubber moldings in the bottom of where the drive goes to wrap around the new drive. The old 2Tb Seagate has a larger cutaway on the metal folding of the case. To get the WD to fit I had to take a really sharp thin blade and carefully slice away to make a bigger space for the bottom of the WD drive, on both sides, of the rubber moldings. Now the WD fitted into the chamber OK. PLUS the small wire connections I had to take off/refit are the smallest ones I have seen. I needed a torch and a small pair of forcips to be able to get them back in place. Overall, this is not a job for anybody who might have been called 'Kaptain Klutz' in the past. The new drive works well, and possibly I may be tempted to upgrade to a 6Tb next time.


davidperry - Reply

I've just replaced the original 2TB HDD with a 6TB HDD. (Use a low power "Green" HDD.) I managed to trash my AirPort Time Capsule when detaching the two small ribbon cables from the mother board: don't try to lift them up; move them towards you instead. Don't use a metal tool when attaching them again; use your nail, and you'll be fine.

So, take two. Bought a new AirPort Time Capsule. You have to lift up the two rubber buffers in the bottom well, and cut out a little of them to be able to fit the new HDD in. This time everything worked like a charm, but the spanking new HDD did not show up. Hm. I took it out, placed it in an external HDD cabinet, formated it with a GUID partition.

Once more, everything went back in the new AirPort Time Capsule, I connected the cables, and it worked! Finally!

Snake Plisskin - Reply

I just scored a broken one on eBay for $110. I pray this risky shot at a $189 savings really was a "score". Lol wish me luck XD

Korry Busch - Reply

Do you have to use a seagate HD? I would prefer WD. This is the second time capsule I have had that the internal disk has failed and needs repaired.

Adam Lichvar - Reply

I also put a 3TB WD Red WD30EFRX into a refurbished 2 TB Time Capsule and it was hours of tedious work. Cutting the rubber bumpers to fit took a couple tries, and somehow the alignment shifted during all this so that the top metal plate took considerable force to line up, and the ports are still a little more recessed than they should be.

My reason for doing this was to move the disk from my old TC (the previous generation), but in retrospect I wish I had just bought a 3 TB Time Capsule and copied the files over. Not recommended.

Max - Reply

I just changed the 2tb to a 4tb Seagate. Awesome! Great pics and instructions. Now my A1470 has a working 4tb drive. Love it. 2tb - was running out of space.

wgee - Reply

Thanks! Guide easy to follow. Change 2tb to a 4tb Seagate. Didn't want to mess with another brand because threads said that the rubber supports were a better fit for Seagate drives.

wgee - Reply

Using the AirPort Extreme A1531 Teardown directions as listed in Step 6 (page 11) my Airport Time Capsule (model A1740) two spring-loaded, captive screws required T8 torx (not a T10).

Ludwig - Reply

Following directions as stated in Step 6 (page 11) of AirPort Extreme A1521 Teardown; my Airport Time Capsule model A1740 has the two spring-loaded, captive screws required the T8 torx NOT the T10!

Ludwig - Reply

Hi There,

I have got Apple Air port Time capsule A1470 wireless router and i reset this for the first time and i doesn't have got any idea to reconfigure.Please show me the guidance at earliest.

Utshav Ghimire - Reply

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