Tools Featured in this Teardown

Introduction

How to take apart the Airport Extreme 802.11n.

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Apple AirPort Extreme Model A1143, use our service manual.

Image 1/1: The new base station is amazing. We achieved a 10x performance boost, and a 3x usable range increase (significantly better than Apple's 5x/2x claims). Actual benchmarks are on the next page.
  • We got our new Airport Extreme 802.11n today. We decided to deviate from our standard modus operandi and run some benchmarks before we took it apart. (I know, I know-- our screwdrivers were lonely for a while.) This image is a sneak-peek to get your appetite whetted.

  • The new base station is amazing. We achieved a 10x performance boost, and a 3x usable range increase (significantly better than Apple's 5x/2x claims). Actual benchmarks are on the next page.

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Image 1/1: Our office is a little bit spread out-- we have two snow 802.11g base stations and two Airport Express units. We may be able to replace them all with just one new base station!
  • Included: Base station, the famous $1.99 install CD, smallish power brick, and a manual. No USB or ethernet cables.

  • Our office is a little bit spread out-- we have two snow 802.11g base stations and two Airport Express units. We may be able to replace them all with just one new base station!

Hi. What a "Fun" site!! Is it possible to upgrade a Airport Extreme with Time capsule built in?

pdmpdm - Reply

maybe if you took the guts out of both of them and shoved them in a mac mini case, and wired them together externally, but connecting them together internally, would be impossible

Chris Green - Reply

Image 1/1: The base station is the exact same footprint as the Mac Mini, and slightly more than half as tall.
  • From bottom up: Mac Mini, new base station, old base station.

  • The base station is the exact same footprint as the Mac Mini, and slightly more than half as tall.

  • The device feels very sturdy, and weighs a bit more (1.70 pounds) than the old base stations (1.22 pounds).

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Image 1/1: These benchmarks are crude, but should give you a rough idea. All benchmarks were performed with a MacBook Pro 15" Core 2 Duo, a 'snow' 802.11g Airport Extreme Base Station, and the new 802.11n Airport Extreme Base Station.
  • This is the infamous 802.11n Sarbanes-Oxley mandated $1.99 802.11n enabler.

  • These benchmarks are crude, but should give you a rough idea. All benchmarks were performed with a MacBook Pro 15" Core 2 Duo, a 'snow' 802.11g Airport Extreme Base Station, and the new 802.11n Airport Extreme Base Station.

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  • We ran all the benchmarks at least three times, and we're presenting you with average numbers. Your mileage will vary significantly, particularly with distance-- our base stations were inside, but the building wasn't big enough so we had to go outside to get 300 feet away.

  • This graph shows transfer speeds at 5, 100, and 300 feet for both base stations. The graph is not linear or particularly to scale.

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Image 1/1: At 5 feet, N was giving me a whopping 9 MB/s! (It averaged at 7.8 MB/s.) I'm accustomed to keeping an ethernet cable at my desk to plug in when I need to make large transfers. With 802.11n, I'll be able to get rid of the extra cable.
  • We transferred two 35MB quicktime files (70 MB total). The first location was 5 feet from the base station. With the G base station, we had a reported comm quality of 56, and with the N base station the commQuality was 76. To get the commQuality, run the command `/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/ Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/ Resources/airport -I`.

  • At 5 feet, N was giving me a whopping 9 MB/s! (It averaged at 7.8 MB/s.) I'm accustomed to keeping an ethernet cable at my desk to plug in when I need to make large transfers. With 802.11n, I'll be able to get rid of the extra cable.

  • At 300 feet (with a building in the way), we were still getting 500 KB/s. We got tired of walking and stopped. I suspect you could still get signal at twice that.

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Image 1/1: There are five Phillips #0 screws underneath the pad you need to remove.
  • There is a rubber pad covering the bottom attached by an adhesive. To get into the base station, you have to peel the pad off.

  • There are five Phillips #0 screws underneath the pad you need to remove.

  • The numbers on the bottom are: FCC ID BCGA1143, IC: 579C-A1143, Model Number A1143.

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Image 1/1:
  • Lift the perforated plastic cover out.

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Image 1/1: There are two large blocks of aluminum on the upper case that Apple is using as heat sinks. The upper case alone is .9 lbs-- over half the weight!
  • Lift the guts of the base station out of the casing.

  • There are two large blocks of aluminum on the upper case that Apple is using as heat sinks. The upper case alone is .9 lbs-- over half the weight!

  • There are three antennas mounted internally: one on front (white cable), left (grey cable), and right (black cable). They all have standard antenna conectors on them.

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Image 1/1: Here's a [link|/Guide/200/images_large/airport_logic_top.jpg|hi-res] photo of the top of the logic board.
  • This is the top of the logic board. Interesting things: 3V (clock?) battery, two Samsung memory chips, and imprinted Apple part #820-1942-A. The processor is covered by a heat sink.

  • Here's a hi-res photo of the top of the logic board.

Any clue as to what the processor is on it? I wonder if its possible to use on of those Airport Extreme Mini PCI cards in a DIY Router kit?

nullx86 - Reply

Quote from nullx86:

Any clue as to what the processor is on it? I wonder if its possible to use on of those Airport Extreme Mini PCI cards in a DIY Router kit?

Most likely, it is a proprietary ARM procesor.

Chris Green - Reply

So, is the wireless chipset (Broadcom I presume) removable? Why isn't this chip revealed? It appears to be in the fourth photo (in the upper right). I'm curious because there is a 802.1.11 ac chip for sale online. If the chipset is removable it would be worthwhile to attempt to try the new chip in these previous generation airport extremes.

terryo907 - Reply

Image 1/1: Here's a <a href="/Guide/200/images_large/airport_logic_bottom.jpg">hi-res</a> photo of the bottom of the logic board.
  • This is the bottom of the logic board. Not much to see here--something large covered by another heat sink. At the top right is a plastic cover over the LED. Four ethernet ports, one USB port, a power jack, and a reset button. The Apple part number on the airport card is 603-9396-A.

  • Here's a <a href="/Guide/200/images_large/airport_logic_bottom.jpg">hi-res</a> photo of the bottom of the logic board.

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One Comment

my dog tour up my airport extreme wires how can i fix it please help.

natalie - Reply

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