Confirmed: Third-gen MacBook Air ships with upgradable SSD (updated)

Confirmed: Third-gen MacBook Air ships with upgradable SSD (updated)

Summary: Rumors suggested that Apple might solder the SSD to the logic board on the next-gen MacBook Air, Luckily that turned out not to be true and the third-generation Air indeed ships with a SSD on a blade.


Whew! That's a relief. You'll be able to upgrade the SSD in the new MacBook Air after all.

It sounds like a given (the previous MBA had a socketed SSD, after all) but rumors leading up to this week suggested that Apple might solder the MacBook Air to SSD to the logic board.

Luckily that turned out not to be the case and the third-generation Air ships with its SSD on a blade that's socketed to the logic board. Translation: you'll be able to upgrade to a higher-capacity SSD.

The blade SSD was confirmed today when iFixIt performed a teardown of the MacBook Air Mid-2011, noting:

Apple is continuing to use a modular design for the MacBook Air's solid-state storage, meaning that it can be replaced or upgraded if necessary, although it is not officially supported as a user-replaceable component by Apple. A report in the weeks leading up to the machine's debut had claimed that Apple might be shifting to new Toggle DDR 2.0 flash memory, which would be soldered directly onto the motherboard. This is not the case, however, with Apple continuing to use a separate, pluggable board for the solid-state drive.

Granted, SSD upgrades for the MacBook Air aren't cheap (OWC's 320GB model costs $779 and its 480GB SSD fetches $1,399) but if you need the extra space, it's nice to have options. A socketed SSD is important for anyone considering moving from a traditional hard drive to a SSD as they give you the option of having hard drive-like storage capacities in a zippy SSD -- albeit, for a price.

Unfortunately, the RAM in the MacBook Air (Mid-2011) is still soldered to the mobo leaving no upgrade path from the 2GB or 4GB that comes standard.

Update: OWC confirms that its high-cap OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD works perfectly in the new 2011 MBA. Check out its benchmark comparisons against the stock drive MBA SSD.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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  • RE: Confirmed: Third-gen MacBook Air ships with upgradable SSD

    As I sit here writing on my Apple BT keyboard which sits next to my Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse, my trusty Black MacBook sitting closed beside my 22" AOC monitor I convince myself that my setup is quite adequate to my needs. As a writer I don't often travel and write. I don't often need a really slick, lightweight laptop. My Core 2 Duo Black MacBook runs the latest version of Mac OS X, Lion. I can edit home movies, play some games, do some artwork, update my website, and even read ZDNet daily without sinking a grand into a MacBook Air.

    There's only one problem...the new MacBook Air is so shiny!! I want one! Come to me my precious... Yeah, ok. The lust factor is out of sight on this machine.

    Since I purchased my MacBook (did I mention it is black) I think I've used my DVD/CD Superdrive a handful of times and then mostly to load the odd program or two. External Superdrives are dirt cheap and wouldn't be carried about in any event. Also, the latest iteration of WiFi compares nicely in speed with my gigabit ethernet port so Apple's 'evolution' away from those two technologies isn't as worrisome as it was to me when they first came out with the MBA.

    And it's so shiny!
    • Imagine how I feel

      I'm still writing on a 1.8 G5 tower! :-)
      Laraine Anne Barker
  • I always thought this rumour was daft.

    Sometimes you have to wonder about the people who start such rumours.
    Laraine Anne Barker
  • RE: Confirmed: Third-gen MacBook Air ships with upgradable SSD

    You should not listen to rumours. Then again, these sites depend on them.