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back to article Apple bolts chastity belt on super svelte MacBook Air

Apple doesn't want you mucking about inside its new 11.6-inch MacBook Air. But once you get past its defences, you'll find that its SSD-on-a-card storage system is a snap to remove. Those are two of the conclusions reached by the parts and repair folks — and teardown fanatics — at iFixit, who bagged one of the svelte ultra- …

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Anonymous Coward

It could be worse...

...at least they didn't use those one-way flathead screws you see holding the stalls together in public restrooms.

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FAIL

Extra RAM?...Er No Sorry Sir you should have bought the 4Gb Model....

Quote from iFixit;

"Unfortunately, like all previous MacBook Airs, the RAM is soldered to the logic board and is not upgradable. Apple does offer a 4GB RAM option at the time of purchase, but if you opt for only 2GB and decide you want more RAM later you'll be out of luck."

Wow, isn't Apple kit marvellous!!!

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Hardly an Air specific problem

Lots of devices have fixed memory. Mobile phones, iPad and iPhone etc.

Just buy what you need or buy something else.

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Lol

I see what you did There

You mentioned Mobile phones which are accepted not ot have memory upgrades.

Then lots of apple kit, tablets and laptops should be upgradeable thats what the OP was pointing out.

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Troll

Torx

Don't all Mac portable owners have a set of Torx and Philips #00 screwdrivers? I've spend many a happy(?) hour sticking screws to ifixit printouts! Who says that Apple machines are not user serviceable and upgradable! Tosh!

Speaking of Tosh, Toshiba introduced a range of mSATA SDD drives last year. Expect to see upgrade offerings for Mac Airs from Crucial soon.

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Don't all Mac portable owners have a set of Torx

Only if they read El Reg I guess... :P

I suspect you'll find most other mac users less interested in opening up their macs....

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To be fair...

...laptops have never really been designed to be "user serviceable". OK, some are surprisingly easy to tinker with, but a lot aren't. I don't think it's a nail in a coffin; merely the idea has never been born.

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Badgers

And how many have you fixed?

We do about 4 a day and I'm not sure I agree with your comment. Most laptops are a sinch to get into, repair and upgrade and parts can be had off the shelf right dam to the damn screws. Its surprisingly easy to upgrade laptops now too. Both myself and my engineers can tear a laptop down to motherboard in 5 mins tops.

The machine I'm on now started life as a 512Mb Celeron, 80Gb Sata drive and DVD combo drive. Right now its running a C2D, 4Gb of memory, DVDR-W DL and Win7. Hard to tinker with, nope.

Only Hpaq feel the need for odd screws and even now thats becomming rare. No I would suspect its more to do with Apples throw away vs fix and the protection racket they have running for anyone stupid enough to want to be an Apple service centre.

The only laptops to drive fear into are hearts are HP DVxxxx or TXxxxx machines, and thats because they die if you look at them funny. Apples are sent to West Quay Apple store with an apologetic expression and a suggestion to take some lube.

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I've fixed plenty and agree with you entirely.

However, I'm sure you'd be the first to agree you're hardly an average "user" ...

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Thumb Down

Inc. Dell

I discovered this when I came to install an SSD in my Vostro 1220. Expecting a10 minute experience similar to their Latitude series, I ended having to half-disassemble the bugger!

And after all that the bloody thing hammered the battery life so much I ended up going back to the original 250GB 7200rpm HD...

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Boffin

HT TXxxxxx MOBO Repair hint

1 - Cover your mobo (plain board, all extras not soldered demoved, esp. plastics and battery) with tin foil (aluminium, really)

2 - Place your covered board in a convection oven at 150ºC for 2 hours, placed in the middle of the oven, NO GRILL

3 - Le it slowly regain ambient temperature, reomove foil and use as new. Board repaired.

The process has to do with the difussion ressoldering of the cracks in the solder joints produced by crystalization.

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Stop

Re: To be fair

I vividly remember the Toshiba offerings of the very early 90's. Those had the charming feature that when you opened them they exploded to double the size, making 'em nigh on impossible to reassemble. The parts physically wouldn't fit into the case unless you were an octopus and able to exert inward force from eight directions at once.

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Pint

Day of the Tinfoil Hat.

Albert Gonzalez is right, this is a very good way of fixing flaky boards.

Also, this method has a pleasing amount of tinfoil usage. J'approve.

(I have seen many a HP printer board fixed this way, though we didnt use tinfoil at the time.)

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Jobs Halo

'only' a core2duo?

You'd rather have an Atom? Really?

Jeez, this is a superb engineering job - credit where credit is due, Apple have the beans!

Shame the keyboard doesn't light up though; that is a nice touch for the next version...

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Jobs Horns

I suspect the 'keyboard' will light up

when they decide they can make it even thinner by eliminating what little key travel there is by replacing the screen with a touchscreen. They'll then claim this as a 'magical and revoluionary' innovation; with a lawsuit against Nintendo for the DS for patent infringement being the only acknowledgment that the DS has a similar arrangement.

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Jobs Horns

You'd rather have an Atom? Really?

I'd rather have a subnote with a close to 10 hour battery life that costs less with a bigger SSD. For me, my Eee does fine. See, I got grunt desktop muscle when needed, don't need that much cpu throughput on the move, truth be told. Just need reliability, endurance and just enough grunt which my Eee more than supplies. Not as thin but just as portable.

But you're darn right. Looks shiny and stupendously well put together.

I've got 2 Mac lappies and I have to say I have had about as much trouble with them as I've had with my Asus'es.. ie very little. I find Apple lappies generally above par but...

Wouldn't buy an air all the same, too costly. And... it's still too new. Never an early adopter be... Especially for something so small, compact, unservicable and costly. Who knows what sort of problems we'll see down the road. Heat? Component failure?

And of course, Steve Jobs and Apple are getting really annoying... But credit where credit is due, sometimes Apple make really good kit (and sometimes NOT, iMacs are crap).

If you must buy one... wait a bit for the early adopting end-user reports to come in. Let them do the testing first ;)

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er, I meant

replacing the keyboard with touchscreen. Which should make the DS comments make more sense. doh!

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Coat

mSATA

mmmmmmSATAY...

wait, why did i post that?

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Core 2 Duo comments are painful

Has anybody actually looked at the benchmark numbers for Intel's newer chips? The C2D is not THAT much slower than an i3, GHz for GHz. Maybe 10-20% slower. I doubt you would be able to tell the difference. If somebody told you the new Air had an i3, you'd be perfectly happy with it.

Also, 1.4GHz is not a death sentence. What's the fastest chip you could reasonably hope for in such a form factor? 2GHz? If something takes 5 seconds with a 2GHz chip, it will take 7 seconds with the 1.4GHz chip. Are those 2 seconds really killing you?

Personally I think the slower CPU is terrific. I have a MacBook that gets uncomfortably hot and loud when doing CPU-intensive things. I would gladly wait a little longer if it meant my laptop stayed cool and quiet.

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Troll

Wishing your life away

but all those 2 seconds add up! Which is why I'm grateful for my 2.13GHz Air circa November 2009.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree.....

Plus, if you're using an 11.6" device, you really don't need a massive, power guzzling CPU. After all, you're not likely to be running nuclear detonation simulations or high end games on it.

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Pint

Satay

Bastard. The nearest decent Indonesian restaurant is dozens of miles from here, and now I'm hungry.

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Just played with one of these in the store

CPU is more than perky enough for what it is, and there's a suprising amount of screen real estate once you shift the dock to the side like it should be.

Touch pad is noticeably smaller than the 13" models but the profile of the machine is awesome, no cutting into your wrists, it's more like a standalone keyboard ergonomically.

It's light but not as light as it looks, but thats only because it looks like it's going to float away.

Lack of sleep light I can understand given the month of standby but omitting the IR sensor and keyboard backlighting is a bit of a downer.

Finally, just want to say a big thank you to whoever fixed up the mobe version of this site, fantastic job sirperson, may I buy you a beer?

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Bronze badge

Crikey!

Sorry, folks, but that's a simply gorgeous set of innards.

Not liking Apple's unnecesary lockdown, but I think they're setting the pace nowadays.

Kudos.

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Silver badge

So it's designed

Like an x86 version of an iPad with a keyboard.

It's a Netbook.

If an ARM is cheaper and gives similar grunt they'll switch to get more Battery life. Nvidia need not worry but Intel should.

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Ewww Toshiba SSD Controller...

You can see the SSD controller in the higher res images on on the original site. Toshiba SSD controllers are just about the worst out there (with the exception of the tragic early attempts by JMicron,) and the lack of other options is plenty of reason for me not to buy one of these. Shame, since the size and price weren't too far off what I would expect to be reasonable.

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Anonymous Coward

The SSD isn't bad

Apple is using the T6UG1XBG controller which is the same one used in the Kingston SSDNowV+ line of drives. These drives get good reviews and okay benchmark results. You could do much worse.

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Coat

User Serviceable

The last easily user serviceable PC I worked on was an IBM P70!

Mainly because it was the size of a small weekend suitcase. Things went down hill rapidly after that.

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FAIL

"Apple bolts chastity belt on super svelte MacBook Air"

-> No upgrade-ability and no user-maintenance-ability

-> Only Apple authorized persons are allowed to change parts/repair for much $$$/€€€

-> & bad connectivity inclusive

Typically Apple -> pure (expansive) lifestyle toy

Apple is getting more and more a replacement religion.

iLove ( ;-) ) standard-(IBM compatible)-PC/notebook

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I haven't ripped apart one yet

but to me the SSD module looks plainly like a Mini PCI-E card, which were pretty standard with oldish Netbooks (back in the good old days when they still had SSDs and running Linux instead of HDs with Windows on them). Nothing you kids have ever seen, of course.

According to some benchmarks from Ars this SSD is a fast one, by the way.

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Thumb Down

OMG

I'm not sure why Apple is bothering. The new Macbook Air is a hige POS! Another FAIL for Apple.

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Jobs Halo

Look back on it:-

No doubt everything you've called "Fail" over the last ten years has gone on to sell in huge quantities. Damn good thing that Steve Jobs doesn't run his ideas past JP19 for informed approval first, isn't it?

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Jobs Halo

1.4gz

I have to say - that was what made me sad...

I have an original 1.6 MBA in my apple 'garage'... its ok for holidays and stuff when I don't need the 17" MBP, but once you try playing say gopro 1080p footage it maxes out the CPU and stutters to a halt. Obviously editing them in FCP or imovie is equally frustrating.

However, I popped in to apple today with a USB drive with some straight 1080p gopro mp4 H264 footage to see if it would play it....

F**K me if it didn't play it smooth as a babys ass cheeks - and with only about 15% CPU usage ( I remind you - this is a 1.4 core duo - and I've not done any fancy crap like I do on my PCs like use the right version of MPC-HC and feck out to try to get it to do some hardware acceleration.

And, as ars technica has pointed out the flash memory speed is absolutely mentally quick (160MB/sec).

Now, granted, when it comes to something that actually needs raw horsepower still - like ENCODING 1080p (at least for now under OSX that doesn't use the GPU) you are going to feel that 1.4ghz slowness, but seriously I could not believe how responsive it is just down to the flash memory

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FAIL

If you want something to service & upgrade

Buy a desktop that has room to do so, not a laptop package-designed harder than a cellphone.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Flame

You could

Try turning your screen upside down

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Jobs Halo

Not another one...

"I have an urge to show that I'm far too cool to bother about Apple, so I'll just resort to name-calling about those who actually use & appreciate the machines".

I suppose you would berate Ferrari on the grounds that their latest offering won't let you fasten a plough to it and ready a field for sowing - and a 'proper' car MUST have a manual advance-retard lever, a starting-handle and acetylene headlamps.

If you think it's unsuitable for your needs - then don't buy it.

The thought that only those who are in accord with your line of thinking are normal, and those who dare to disagree automatically qualify for insulting invective is not something which I would recognise as a sign of mature or reasoned discourse.

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Bronze badge

Antitrust Law

The Department of Justice should start going after companies that can't justify making a part hard to replace or upgrade in a computer - the way Apple, of course, did with the very first Macintosh, making it hard to upgrade from 128 K to 512 K - treating this as an anti-competitive act in violation of antitrust law.

Since Macintosh has a monopoly on OS X systems, people who prefer that operating system to Windows don't have the latitude to just buy a different brand of computer. So it looks like the government will have to be the one to beat them over the head - somehow, the message has to get out that this kind of conduct is not tolerated.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Antitrust Law

Using new, unusual screws on the MacBook Air is not a violation of anti-trust law unless Apple claims copyright over the screw-head and sues anyone who tries to make a compatible driver without its permission. It would also have to offer an upgrade service of its own.

Now, I don't like Apple sticking new screws on the machine any more than you do, but that don't make the company's action anti-competitive.

If it was going to try that, the first thing it would do would be to slap a 'no user-serviceable parts inside' sticker on the base, just like so many consumer electronics parts have.

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Last I looked

IBM has a monopoly on AIX, Z/OS and OS/400 kit and HP on HP-UX.

As somebody working in IT for more than two decades I'm quite used to proprietary machines.

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Stop

The screw heads are standard Torx Plus screws

They are completely standard other than missing the security "post" AFAICT.

See http://www.wihatools.com/700seri/716_IPR_serie.htm for a picture of the bit.

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Gold badge

Nothing to upgrade inside

Making it hard to upgrade is not the same as making it impossible to upgrade.

You can't upgrade these Macbook Air devices, therefore you have no need to crack open the case.

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Black Helicopters

The accountants stepped in and...

"Okay, how much do regular screws cost? Plus a sticker saying No User-Serviceable Parts? Let's compare that with Rare, Exotic, Tools-Not-Available 5-Prong Torx Screws? Ah, look - now we don't need the sticker at all! Penta-Torx it is, then!"

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Anonymous Coward

Overboard

You are just used to the relatively unusual situation with PCs where hardware and software is very mix-and-match.

Are you also up in arms that, for example, many (most?) car repairs require special parts and/or tools that are only available from the manufacturer? Should the government step in and mandate that it should be easy to swap a Chevy engine into a Ford, for example?

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Penta torx

I have one of these drivers and the torque that can be applied is greater than you would normally be able to apply without stripping the head.

I have gone to insert tips on my T6, T8 & T10 because the manufacturers screw them in so tight that you can end up stripping the head breaking the driver or both.

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Jobs Horns

Their own battery technology ,,,

What's with the three sizes/shapes of batteries?

Guess Jobs really wants to keep suckers feeding his money machine.

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Boffin

Can it run regular Mac software?

It looks like it is heading, at least at the hardware level, towards the iPhone model. If Apple were a car maker, they'd be selling cars with the hoods welded shut, have a governor on it so you can only drive as fast as Apple thinks you should, can only use fuel purchased from an Apple dealer, and that can only run on special roads owned & approved by Apple.

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Coffee/keyboard

Audi did

Can you say Audi A2

Least VAG decided it was a bad idea pretty sharpish.

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Happy

Screws.

You mean there are people who like to take things apart out there who don't own a bit set with one for each size of every security screw type known to man?

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From the article

> this method only works on security torx, not on non-security ones.

The screw you pictured looks like a non-security torx.

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