Video Overview


After years of neglect, Apple has finally updated the widely-beloved MacBook Air. Does this new lightweight have what it takes to keep up with ultraportables of 2018? Or is it just full of hot air? Let’s open it up and find out.

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your MacBook Air 13” Retina Display Late 2018, use our service manual.

  1. Let's clear the Air about some of these specs:
    • Let's clear the Air about some of these specs:

      • 13.3" LED-backlit IPS Retina display; 2560 x 1600 resolution (227 ppi)

      • 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz) with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 617

      • Apple T2 custom security chip / coprocessor

      • 8 GB of 2133 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM

      • 128 GB PCIe-based SSD

      • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2

      • Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports supporting charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, and USB 3.1 Gen 2

  2. Before venturing inside, we take a quick survey of some of the the new Air's external features.
    • Before venturing inside, we take a quick survey of some of the the new Air's external features.

    • On its underbelly we find some fine print, and some color-matched pentalobe screws.

      • Looks like we've got some new numbers! Model A1932 and EMC 3184.

    • Opening it up, we're greeted with a familiar 3rd-gen butterfly keyboard, and we immediately have MacBook Pro flashbacks.

    • The Air bears a remarkable resemblance to the Touch Bar-less 13" MacBook Pro—apart from thickness and Touch ID, they are nigh indistinguishable.

    • ...and despite the "Air" nomenclature, this makes the 12" MacBook look like a lightweight by comparison.

    • Of course, no external survey would be complete without a little X-ray reconnaissance.

    • With the help of our friends at Creative Electron, we get a peek at what's to come.

    • One last detour before we head inside: we can't resist popping off our favorite command key for a peek at the noise dampening ingress-resisting membrane.

      • Love it or hate it, it looks like butterfly is here to stay.

    • After a few twists of our pentalobe driver, one good tug pops the lower case free of its two clips, and we're in.

      • This simple procedure brings a smile to our face in comparison to some of the booby-trapped lids we've found on MacBooks and MacBook Pros lately.

    • Inside, we spy: a small logic board, one lonely fan, a pair of large elongated speakers, and an interesting radiator-esque heat sink.

    • Just six Torx screws and a few cable connectors stand between us and logic board removal—not bad! Certainly nothing our Marlin Screwdriver Set can't handle.

    • Out it comes! The Air's logic board is not mustachioed like the Pro's, nor is it quite so minuscule as the MacBook's.

      • So far this is easy, but we'd prefer to see upgradeable components or straightforward battery access—AKA device-life extenders—over board access at this point.

    • Next we snag the daughterboard, which hosts a (highly endangered) headphone jack and some connectors for the speaker and Touch ID sensor.

    • This board may be small, but it's still packing some decent processing power:

      • Intel SREKQ Core i5-8210Y processor

      • Apple APL1027 339S00535 T2 coprocessor

      • SanDisk SDSGFBF12 043G flash storage (128 GB total)

      • Intel JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 controller

      • 338S00267-A0 (likely an Apple PMIC)

    • We flip the board to find even more silicon:

      • 2x SKhynix H9CCNNNCPTAL LPDDR3 RAM (8 GB total)

      • Murata 339S00446 1ZE SS8915047 (likely a Wi-Fi module)

      • Intersil 95828A HRTZ X829PMJ

      • NXP 80V18 secure NFC module

      • Macronix MX25U3235F serial multi I/O flash memory

      • Texas Instruments CD32-15C00 power controller

      • Texas Instruments TPS51980A synchronous buck converter

    • Opposite the headphone jack, we spy some super modular Thunderbolt ports!

      • This MacBook is off to a good start as far as we're concerned—all the ports sit on their own boards and are easily replaceable.

    • Finally we meet the part responsible for blowing the air in this ... Air.

    • Continuing the repair-friendly (or at least friendlier) trend, we find stretchy adhesive pull tabs under these elongated speakers!

      • We don't love adhesive—reusable screws are nearly always better—but hey, pulling out this iPhone-esque stretch-release stuff is loads better than gooey solvents and blind prying.

      • Plus, the mere presence of stretch-release adhesive generally means that someone at least thought about possible repair and disassembly situations.

      • Are you there, Apple? It's us, iFixit. Have you heard our pleas?

    • Moving on, we direct our attention to the trackpad.

    • Unlike the newer MacBooks Pro, which have first-step replaceable trackpads, this trackpad shares a cable with the keyboard, which is pinned under the logic board.

      • Looks like any trackpad repairs will have to go through logic board removal first.

    • As the trackpad comes out, we can't help but think of a certain TIE fighter...

    • Thanks to our friends at MacRumors, we had a hunch that removing this battery might be less nightmarish than in some Retinas we know.

      • Sure enough, we find four screws and six friendly pull-to-remove adhesive strips securing this AirPower Air's power pack.

    • A sturdy frame, vaguely like those in Airs of old, supports the gaggle of battery cells and makes removal a snap.

    • Here it is: the 49.9 Wh power plant. In case you're keeping track, that's slightly smaller than Dell's new XPS 13 (52 Wh), but larger than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 (45.2 Wh) and HP's upcoming Spectre x360 (43.7 Wh).

      • All of these devices boast 10+ hour battery life, but the Air's competition manages to do so while also running faster, more power-intensive Intel U-series processors.

    • Things are starting to look Air-y inside this golden chassis—we can almost see the finish line!

    • Still lingering above the battery cavern are the metal antenna bracket and the new (modular!) Touch ID sensor, each secured by Torx screws.

    • A few more Torx screws later, the display is free! This new Retina panel is almost the same as the one found on the MacBook Pro line, differing mainly in peak brightness (a mere 300 nits vs. the Pro's 500) and P3 color gamut support.

    • We'll just let this MacBook Air out a little so you can admire its particles!

    • Featuring modular ports and pull-to-release adhesive, the new MacBook Air stands out against a trend of declining repairability in Apple's laptops.

    • Unfortunately, you'll still have to work around pentalobes, and neither storage nor RAM is upgradable. Though this update seems to favor experienced technicians more than the average DIYer, we're hoping it's the first step back toward repairable MacBooks.

  3. Final Thoughts
    • Many components are modular and straightforward to access—including the ports, fan, and speakers.
    • Apart from the pesky pentalobe screws, this laptop opens about as easily as any.
    • The battery is secured with a combination of screws and repair-friendly stretch-release adhesive—but you'll have to remove the logic board and speakers for access.
    • The keyboard is integrated into the top case, requiring a full teardown for service.
    • Soldered, non-serviceable, non-upgradeable storage and RAM is a serious bummer on a $1,200+ laptop.
    Repairability Score
    Repairability 3 out of 10
    (10 is easiest to repair)


Am I losing my eyesight, or is that fan not directly connected to any type of heat dissipating hardware? Looks like it’s either just providing a general low-pressure-air-flow throughout the internals - OR - it pushes air back through that antenna/heatsink-bracket-type-thing and coming out the other end of it?

Could you confirm or explain this in more detail?

alexander.lagergren - Reply

I think it is just an exhaust fan, that removes hot air from a laptop case outside (from the right side of the case, under the screen) and creates a negative pressure inside, which helps a laptop to “suck“ some cool air from the outside through the intake on the left side of case, under the screen. The shape of the radiator ribs also suggests some airflow from left/right side of the case to the opposite side.

Serge B. -

The only thing that fan is doing is moving a (tiny) bit of air indirectly across the logic board and the heatsink. Or at least that is what I think it does. As there is no direct heat conduction from logic board to case, the fan isn’t there to cool the case, that’s for sure.

Federico Barutto -

Yeah it is just a case ventilation fan, it doesn’t blow any heatsinks directly. Although with the very low TDP of the processor, a case fan with radiator type heat sink should do the job.

Tom Chai -

Yes, as the 12” Macbook with a ~5W TDP chip manages without a fan, I’m sure a slower general airflow together with that heatsink works well for the 7W chip in the 2018 MBA.

And when looking closer - the vents on either side of the antenna bracket, that the fan exhausts through on one side - air is drawn in on the other side and then guided by the vanes in the ventilation holes, allowing it to flow easily from right to left (when viewing bottom/inside of the MBA) over the heatsink cooling fins. There doesn’t appear to be any other openings in the chassi, so Apple has probably designed the airflow pretty efficiently in this fashion.

Pretty cool! Only Mac laptop I’ve seen with a fan but without heat-pipes/sinks by the fan.

alexander.lagergren -

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