Apple's new MacBook Air has hit the shelves, and one has made its way to the iFixit labs for dissection. Let's take a look at what's new in this device.
What's interesting about the new MacBook Air is that it is surprisingly similar to the previous-generation hardware. In fact, you can count the major changes on the fingers of one hand. These are:
- Larger capacity battery
- Smaller SSD module
- Updated AirPort card
- No separate platform controller hub
- New heat sink clamp
The battery is a 7.6 V, 7150mAh unit, compared to the 7.3 V, 6700mAh found in the version it replaced. This gives the MacBook Air increased battery life. with very little additional bulk.
In order to get the "up to 45% faster" flash storage compared to the previous models, Apple has switched from SATA to PCI-E. Interestingly, in order to deliver this Apple had to turn to its arch legal rival – Samsung. In fact, the flash storage is a triple win for Samsung:
- Samsung S4LN053X01-8030 (ARM) flash controller
- 8 x Samsung K9LDGY8SIC-XCK0 16 GB flash storage
- Samsung K4P2G324ED-FGC2 512 MB RAM
This is an interesting shift for Apple who has over the past few months been distancing itself from Samsung.
The revamped AirPort card features a Broadcom BCM4360, which supports 3-stream 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0.
Other chip highlights are as follows:
- Fourth generation Intel Core i5 processor, with integrated Intel HD 5000 Graphics
- Intel Z246TA38 Thunderbolt controller
- Linear Technology LT3957 inverting controller
- 4 x Elpida F8132A1MC DDR3L RAM, total of 4 GB
- Broadcom BCM15700A2
- Hynix H5TC4G63AFR 4 Gb synchronous DRAM
- MXIC MX25L6406E 64 Mb serial flash
- Texas Instruments TPS51980A synchronous buck controller
It's clear from this upgrade that Apple didn't feel the need to push the boat out in terms of upgrades in order to keep the MacBook Air current.
Like the previous generation, the 13-inch MacBook Air clocked in at a 4 out of 10 on our repairability scale (where 10 is the easiest to repair).
The iFixit team also got their hands on a new 802.11ac AirPort Extreme base station.
With this new device Apple has taken the power supply into the device, just as it did with the mac Mini.
The updated 802.11ac base station is designed to have multi-station WLAN throughput of at least 1 gigabit per second and a single link throughput of at least 500 megabits per second (500 Mbit/s).
On the logic board is a divers range of chips, including:
- Broadcom BCM53019 router SOC with gigabit switch
- Broadcom BCM4360KLMG
- Hynix H5TC4G63AFR 512 MB synchronous DRAM
- Micron 25Q256A 32 MB serial flash
- Skyworks 5003L1 WLAN power amplifier
- Skyworks 2623L high power WLAN power amplifier
- TDK TLA-7T201HF
There's also a free 3.5-inch slot in the AirPort Extreme big enough to take a hard drive, but there are no connectors on the motherboard to turn the AirPort Extreme into a Time Capsule equipped device.
The ease with which the AirPort Extreme can be dismantled earned it a repairability scale of 8 out of 10 from the iFixit team.