Curious types at iFixit have taken Apple's brand new 11.6-inch MacBook Air and reduced it to its component parts using nothing more than a few simple tools and a bloody-minded inability to poke about in the Cupertino company's deepest secrets.
iFixIt's Miro Djuric says the new MacBook Air is an exercise in proprietary engineering, noting that while you can easily access everything once you remove the security screws, you can't really replace any component with an off-the-shelf part, unless you source it from Apple or someone involved in Apple's official repair apparatus.
Most of the Air's internal components, including the system RAM, are soldered directly to the minuscule logic board which effectively prevents them from being replaced, at least by non-tech professionals.
Memo to prospective MacBook Air buyers; make sure to specify the £80 4GB
memory option at the time of purchase, since 2GB (the standard configuration) is simply not enough for OSX, and has not been for some time. The extra outlay up front will enhance retained resale value as well as savvy buyers looking for used MacBook Airs as the future unfolds will be aware of this issue.
iFixit reports that one stand-out exception to the new Air's hard-soldered components is the SSD, which is not locked down like the rest of the components. Although the flash drive has a very slim and unusual form factor (for a hard drive), it's attached to the logic board with what appears to be a new mini-SATA (mSATA) connector, which may enable some crafty tinkerers to retro-fit a larger drive inside the Air, provided they can find one that can snuggle within the incredibly tight confines of the 0.68-inch thick case.
However, it's been reported elsewhere that all three MacBook Air SSD capacity configurations share an identical form factor, so it would seem that there would be no
physical size impediment to upgrading a 11.6-inch Air to the maximum 256GB capacity that is offered by Apple only on the high–end 13-inch model, presumably as a marketing rather than an engineering decision.
MacBook Air with battery removed (this is the 13-inch version).
iFixIt gives the 11-inch Air a not-so-good repairability score of 4 out of 10, simply on the basis that all the soldered-down parts prevent average human beings from painlessly fixing their machines. Apple really doesn't want you inside this thing. It decided to
use proprietary 5-point security Torx screws to attach the lower case. Once inside, the Air is held together with more normal 6-point T5 and T8 Torx screws.
iFixit summarises that, while the new machine is a tidy little package, it wishes Apple would stop intentionally preventing users from upgrading and repairing their devices.
For the full teardown report with lots more photos, have a gander here.