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Apple MacBook Air Teardown (2010 11-inch)

Bill Detwiler cracks open the redesigned 2010 11-inch MacBook Air. See the hardware inside Apple's ultra-thin notebook.
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Topic: Laptops
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In October 2010, Apple released the 2nd generation MacBook Air. The redesigned notebook is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models. We cracked open the 1st generation MacBook Air (released in 2008) and could wait to get our hands on the 2010 model.
Follow along as we crack open the 11-inch MacBook Air.
To disassemble the new Air you'll need a screwdriver with Torx T5 and T9 bits and either a very small flathead screwdriver or special "cloverleaf" security bit.
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The 2010 MacBook Air is available in four basic configurations--11-inch with 64GB of storage, 11-inch with 128GB of storage, 13-inch with 128GB of storage, and 13-inch with 256GB of storage. Within each of these divisions, you can further customize the processor and RAM.
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We purchased both an 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air. In this photo, the smaller Air is sitting on the larger.
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Our $999 MacBook Air (11-inch) came with a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 2GB SDRAM, 64GB flash storage, NVIDIA GEForce 320M GPU with 256MB of shared memory, and an 11.6-inch LED-backlit display.
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In the box, you'll find the MacBook Air, 45W MagSafe power adapter, power cord, product documentation, and software reinstall drive.
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The new MackBook Air's 45W MagSafe power adapter is the same size as the power adapter on the 2008 MacBook Air.
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A long-overdue feature, this USB drive lets you reinstall the versions of OS X and iLife that ship with the MacBook Air.
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The 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $999, and I thought it would be interesting to compare it to another 11-inch notebook that costs $999--the Alienware M11x.
We reviewed the Alienware M11x back in April. As of this writing, an M11x with an Intel Core i5 520UM, NVIDIA NGT335M GeForce GPU, 4GB SDRAM, and 500GB HDD.
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From the top, both 11-inch notebooks are about the same size.
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When you look at the sides of each notebook, the MacBook Air's thinner profile is immediately noticeable. The Alienware M11x may have more power than the Air, but Apple's ultra-thin machine is definitely more portable.
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The 2010 MacBook Air (11-inch) on top of the 2008 MacBook Air (13-inch).
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Like the original MacBook Air, the 2010 version has no lid latch.
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Nothing to see on the back. All the ports are on the sides.
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Along the right side are one of the MacBook Air's two USB ports and the single Mini DisplayPort.
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Along the left side are the MagSafe power port, the second USB port, the headphone jack, and the microphone.
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The MacBook Air has an 11.6-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display that supports several resolutions--including 1366 x 768 pixels (16:9).
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On the bottom of the MacBook Air the bottom panel's screws and four rubberized feet.
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The 2010 11-inch MacBook Air has the model number A1370.
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Although the MacBook Air's case screws are easily accessible on the bottom panel, Apple used 5-point, tamper-resistant Torx screws.
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It took a bit of work, but I was able to remove all 10 case screws with a small slotted screwdriver. While I slightly damaged a few of the screw heads, I should be able to put them back in. If you're going to work on the new MacBook Air, I recommend getting a screwdriver specifically made for this type of screw.
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Eight of the case screws are very short and two (along the back edge) are longer.
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With the case screws removed, you can lift the bottom panel away from the case.
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With the bottom panel removed, we get our fist look at the MacBook Air's internal hardware. The large battery assembly takes up the vast majority of room inside the case. Above the battery, is the main logic board, cooling fan, wireless card, and SSD storage unit.
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Five Torx T5 screws hold the battery in place.
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The 2010, 11-inch MacBook Air has a 7.3V, 35Wh Li-ion battery.
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With the battery removed, we can see the connections for the MacBook Air's Multi-Touch Trackpad.
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The 2010 MacBook Air uses flash storage, exclusively. Our test unit came with 64GB. A single Torx T5 screws holds the unit in place. Once the screws is removed, you can disconnect the unit from the main logic board.
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The MacBook Air's flash storage unit contains four main components--the circuit board, a Toshiba Solid State Drive controller, a Micron DDR DRAM cache, and the actual Toshiba flash memory chips.
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The 2010 MacBook Air uses a Toshiba T6UG1XBG Solid State Drive controller.
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The 2010 MacBook Air's storage unit has a MSI 0MA17 D9HSJ DRAM cache chip.
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Our 64GB MacBook Air's flash memory storage unit has four Toshiba TH58NVG7D7FBASB 16GB flash chips.
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A single Torx T5 screws holds the Broadcom BCM943224PCIEBT2 wireless card in place.
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Next, I'll remove the cooling fan, which is held in place by three Torx T5 screws that I've already removed.
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Before lifting the MacBook Air's cooling fan away from the main logic board, you'll need to disconnect both ends of a thin, black ribbon cable, which runs across the fan and is stuck to the fan housing.
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While you're disconnecting the ribbon cable that runs across the fan, you might as well disconnect the left-side speaker cable underneath.
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You can also detach the connector that attaches the small, left-side circuit board to the main logic board. This smaller board contains the MagSafe power port, one of the unit's two USB ports, and the headphone jack.
With all the screws removed, and the cables disconnected, you can lift the cooling fan away from the main logic board.
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Before lifting the main logic board away from the MacBook Air's case, we need to disconnect the display cable.
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The display cable requires a fair amount of force to pull free of its connector, but luckily it has a small handle to pull on. With this cable separated from its connector, we can lift the logic board away from the case.
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The top of the main logic board contains three main components of the MacBook Air--the Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and NVIDIA GeForce 320M GPU (covered by the heat sink) and Elpida RAM chips.
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Eight Torx T5 screws hold the heat sink to the main logic board.
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We'll need to clean the thermal paste from the CPU and GPU for a clear look at the chips.
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With the thermal paste cleaned off, we can clearly see the marking on the MacBook Air's NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor.
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There are no visible marking on the core of our MacBook Air's Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4 GHz CPU, but there are markings printed onto the chip's green circuit board.?
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This small chip is a Silicon Storage Technology SST25VF032B 32 Mbit SPI Serial Flash memory.
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Our MacBook Air came with 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM. Like the previous MacBook Air, the RAM is soldered to the main logic board. Upgrading the Air's RAM after purchase isn't possible. As the upgrade from 2GB to 4GB is only $100, I recommend going with the 4GB.
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A second set of Elpida RAM chips are located on the bottom of the main logic board.
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After working our way around the MacBook Air's main logic board, we should turn our attention back to the case. A small circuit board is located on the case's left side and contains the MagSafe power port, USB port, and headphone jack. Three cables connect it to components remaining in the case. You'll need to disconnect all of them before lifting the small board away from the case.
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On the bottom of the small circuit board is a Cirrus Logic 4206ACNZ audio controller chip.
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The MacBook Air's display and lid are connected to the case via two hinges. Each hinge uses two Torx T9 screws.
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Several thin adhesive strips hold the MacBook Air's antenna wire to the case. The strips run through think slots in the case and are folder over the cable. You'll need to pull the strips through the slots and pull the wire free from the case before removing the lid.
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These two small metal spacers are located between the hinges and the case.
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With the lid and display removed, we can turn our attention to the Multi-Touch Trackpad.
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Although the twp brackets that hold the Multi-Touch TrackPad to the case use a total of 12 screws, you only to remove the six screws attached to the case to take out the Trackpad.
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The MacBook Air's built-in microphone is located just above the speaker on the left side.
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The MacBook Air's two speakers are stuck to the metal case with adhesive. I decided to leave the speakers in place.
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While the 2010 MacBook Air isn't difficult to disassemble--tamper resistant case screws aside. Nearly all of the internal components are proprietary. It's unlikely that many IT pros, let alone the average consumer, will ever upgrade the RAM or replace the flash storage unit.
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