Introduction

It's that time of year again: the MacBook Air has come out of hibernation with some new specs for spring.

At Monday's "Spring Forward" event, Apple promised us next-gen Broadwell CPUs with updated graphics, Thunderbolt 2, and faster flash memory. Join us as we pop the hood to confirm, and see if anything has changed in these past eleven months.

The 11" MacBook Air got a refresh too, so we're on double teardown duty. Check out the 11" Air here.

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your MacBook Air 13" Early 2015, use our service manual.

Can you smell it? There's fresh silicon in the Air. The MacBook Air 13" Early 2015 contains: 5th generation, dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 6000
  • Can you smell it? There's fresh silicon in the Air. The MacBook Air 13" Early 2015 contains:

    • 5th generation, dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 6000

    • 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

    • Thunderbolt 2

    • Dual microphones

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  • This newest 13" Air keeps its traditional model number, A1466. For identification purposes, you'll need your serial number, EMC (2925), or model year (2015).

    • At least it's not A1278.

  • The right side is fitted with an SDXC card slot, USB 3.0 port, and (all new!) Thunderbolt 2 port. As before, the opposite end hosts the MagSafe 2 power port, audio jack, and another USB 3.0 port. Also included are dual microphones, designed to diminish background noise.

  • Ahh, mine old nemesis Pentalobe.

    • We see Apple hasn't changed its stripes—the classic pentalobe keeps this Air sealed up from the common fixer.

  • Luckily, we have a handy driver for just these occasions. And... we're in!

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One of these is the updated, Early 2015 MacBook Air, and the other hails from mid-2013. Can you tell which is which? At first glance, neither can we. This MacBook plays its AirPort cards pretty close to the vest.
  • One of these is the updated, Early 2015 MacBook Air, and the other hails from mid-2013. Can you tell which is which?

  • At first glance, neither can we. This MacBook plays its AirPort cards pretty close to the vest.

  • The first image shows the 2015 model, and the second is from our MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013 Teardown.

  • If you guessed wrong, fret not: we're about to get down to the nitty gritty.

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Deck the Halls
With tools and Fix Kits
Up next, our favorite Air feature: battery removal. Thanks to this tidy plastic frame, the battery is held in with five screws and no adhesive—easy for fixers, easy for recyclers. It's a design carried over from previous models—but if yesterday's reveal is anything to go by, it could be on the outs. It looks to us like Apple didn't like wasting internal space on a plastic frame that could instead be more battery. In the absence of a frame, we're guessing those cells will get the glue treatment, signaling a continuation of the trend started by the Retina Pro.
  • Up next, our favorite Air feature: battery removal. Thanks to this tidy plastic frame, the battery is held in with five screws and no adhesive—easy for fixers, easy for recyclers.

    • It's a design carried over from previous models—but if yesterday's reveal is anything to go by, it could be on the outs. It looks to us like Apple didn't like wasting internal space on a plastic frame that could instead be more battery.

    • In the absence of a frame, we're guessing those cells will get the glue treatment, signaling a continuation of the trend started by the Retina Pro.

  • The battery specs carry over as well: the Air continues to sport a 7.6 V, 54 Wh, 7150 mAh battery. Thanks to the new Broadwell chips, we're supposed to get more life out of the same capacity: Now up to 12 hours of web browsing or video playback.

    • For all you scorekeepers, that's 2 Wh and a theoretical 1 hour more than the new Dell XPS 13.

Did anyone ever try to put a battery from one of the newer MBA models into (for example) a 2012 model? If only the capacity has changed, it shouldn't be a problem to put it and get an extended battery time or am I missing something?

Martin Flow - Reply

The flash memory is still PCIe-based, and remains, thankfully, removable—at least for now. Popping it out for inspection, we find: Samsung S4LN058A01 PCIe 3.0 x4 AHCI flash controller Samsung K4E4E324ED 512 MB LPDDR3 DRAM
  • The flash memory is still PCIe-based, and remains, thankfully, removable—at least for now. Popping it out for inspection, we find:

    • Samsung S4LN058A01 PCIe 3.0 x4 AHCI flash controller

    • Samsung K4E4E324ED 512 MB LPDDR3 DRAM

    • 8 x Samsung K9LDGY8S1D-XCK0 16 GB flash storage (128 GB total)

  • Apple tells us this bad boy "...features faster flash storage that is up to two times faster than the previous generation."

    • We did a little benchmarking, and found that the claim is valid. Nice one, Apple!

Is this the same size as the mbp retina? looks like it is.

iliketurtuls - Reply

is the pci ssd slot same as of mba 2015. can i swap 2014 ssd with 2015 one. i am planning to buy a new ssd for my 2014 mba

tushar kundra - Reply

It'd be good to know if the new PCIe SSD is compatible with last year's model so I can upgrade my MBA as well.

Huy Pham -

there is a third-party manufacturer of this type of SSD ?

Francesco - Reply

Hi, im wondering if Samsung SM961 M.2 2280 256 GB PCIe NVMe (MZVPW256HEGL-00000) will fix in to this macbook air 2016?

tom - Reply

With the heavy bits removed, we catch the logic board before it floats away. Turning it over, we found the heart of the matter: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 5250U processor, with integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000
  • With the heavy bits removed, we catch the logic board before it floats away. Turning it over, we found the heart of the matter:

    • 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 5250U processor, with integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000

    • Intel DSL5520 Thunderbolt 2 controller

    • GL3219 Genesys Logic SDXC controller

    • LT3957 Linear Technologies inverting controller

  • Broadwell shrinks the MacBook Air's previous architecture (Haswell)—meaning not a lot has changed performance-wise, but a new manufacturing process makes the transistors smaller, and the entire chip more power efficient by up to 30%.

  • In contrast, the integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000 brings a legit graphics performance boost (roughly a 20-25% improvement over HD 5000).

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On the flip-side, the logic board packs:
  • On the flip-side, the logic board packs:

    • SK Hynix H9CCNNN8JTALAR LPDDR3 SDRAM 4 x 1 GB for 4 GB total

    • Broadcom BCM15700A2, appears to be a wireless networking chipset

    • SK Hynix H5TC4G63CFR 4 Gb low power synchronous DRAM

    • Macronix MX25L6473E serial multi I/O 64 Mb flash memory

    • Instruments TPS51980A synchronous buck controller

    • Texas Instruments/Stellaris LM4FS1EH SMC controller

    • Intersil 958 26AHRZ N450MT and SMSC EMC1704-2 Current/DC Power Sensor with Temperature Monitoring

so the 4 GB model works actually with 8GB of RAM? 4 regular and 4 low power like the smartphones?

Daniel Rece - Reply

Continuing the trend of sameness, the I/O board is nearly identical to the one found in the MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013, even down to the audio codec IC: Cirrus Logic 4208-CRZ HD audio codec, likely similar to the 4207 Cirrus Logic 4208-CRZ HD audio codec, likely similar to the 4207
  • Continuing the trend of sameness, the I/O board is nearly identical to the one found in the MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013, even down to the audio codec IC:

    • Cirrus Logic 4208-CRZ HD audio codec, likely similar to the 4207

Only rMBP received the touchpad update. It would make very little sense for Apple to update it on the Air as well given that the gap to rMBP is already so small.

Dominykas Tautkus - Reply

this force trackpad is the same as on the Blackberry Storm 2 smartphone from 2010.

Nick - Reply

so, should we all get BB's because they've always had excellent hardware?

...or should we stay the !&&* away because they're OS is so crappy, they're not even smartphones: they're just really expensive, high quality regular phones with kick-butt cameras (sorry I owned one, .. well two actually, and pretty much never was able to get on the internet. Now... well for get it: BlackBerries are great, don't get one; may they experience a tenth of the trouble they caused me and my business. Well that's being a little too harsh, A SIXTEENTH :( !

Howard -

That's all I need, a high-quality, regular phone, and a really-good camera. A key-pad with it is good, because a touch screen doesn't know when I touch it. Internet on a dinky-sized cel-phone screen? No thanks but Thanks a lot. I've got an MacBook for that.

jimmy5 - Reply

MacBook Air 13" Early 2015 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.
  • MacBook Air 13" Early 2015 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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16 Comments

Why is there no mention of the touchpad board and its components?

MM - Reply

Because nothing changes

Tom Chai -

I'd like a teardown of the Macbook that only has the new USB port and no others!

Dan W - Reply

Question. What does this line mean: "SSDs are not compatible between generations."

What I want to know is if the hard drive is upgradeable or not.

Brian - Reply

The ssd is the harddrive, which according to the guide is removable but it is proprietary and is not available aftermarket so effectively not upgradeable.

Richard Yankowski -

General question: outside the issue of this helpful guide, does this development seem to make the MacBook Pro/ MacBook Air distinction look forward to be coming soon to be irrelevant? with this sleekness, lightweighness enterprize...

Also, what's up with the lack of plugs? I don't really like or need to plug things in, ..er, ugh, EXCEPT ALWAYS! are we now going to be carrying a "Swiss Army Knife of adaptors and split adaptors (split between whatever plug and the regular need to 'charge' or run off a/c power so later we don't run out of charge.. such a development would certainly makes the cleanness effort superfluous. I mean they do still have their Pads or Tablets or whatever they are right?

Lets take a vote: How many people think the missing plugs are great:

Corollary question: which plug do you miss the most (all of them is an acceptable answer)

one additionally helpful feature here: I wind up learning more about the product itself here than from all the apple advert has,

thx

H

Howard - Reply

I have a late 2013 retina MacBook Pro 13" (Haswell, first Pro to have a PCIe SSD). I'm considering replacing my old Air with a new Air and these new blazing fast SSDs sound really awesome. Are the PCIe SSDs in the 2015 Airs compatible with the 2013 rMBP? I'd probably get the same capacity and swap SSDs to give the more powerful machine a faster SSD..

Santiago Moreno - Reply

@Richard Yankowski;

OWC had been offering upgraded for Mac Air for several years. It's possible they offer SSD upgrades so why you make conclusions by saying "so effectively not upgradeable".

Foxy Fix - Reply

Hi there. I have a A1466 with no display. But it works perfectly with external monitor. It should not be the screen problem as I saw the screen works once. So I guess it may be the video cable or something. Any one know which part may go wrong? Regards.

Xiaoxin Qian - Reply

Had the same problem. Check the display connector. The plastic tab that's attached to the plug gets hot touching the screen voltage pins and may melt onto the connector. Clean the plug & circuit board jack well but gently with 99% alcohol and Q-tip or light brush. My screen came back to life. Good luck.

davige -

MacBook AIR does have a fan? I never knew that!!

manish chandra - Reply

ahora mismo voy y lo desmonto, que ganas... y quito la ram soldada y sueldo otra mucho mas grande y rapida ala!!! a mi me la van a colar...menudo soy yo,,,, no podreis conmigo capitalistas de appleeeeeeeeee

tonylopezval - Reply

Hi can we replace this logic board with a late 2013 logic board with Core i7?

sanciero - Reply

Why does it has a Samsung chip inside?

Czarina Marie Hernandez - Reply

It would be really nice if you covered compatibility given you goto all this effort. Especially as the shell has not changed. What does it take to replace the motherboard in the previous models with this one? Just the screen and ssd? Other boards? What else changes?

albert - Reply

My screen was hit on my early 2015 13 inch MacBook Air it is mostly multi color plaid. I️ need to replace the entire display. I️ need to know the exact part number to order. We have the tools from fixing my iPhone and my husband can replace the complete display. Please help with the exact part number needed.

PhotoMom - Reply

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