back to article This just in: What? No, I can't believe it. The 2018 MacBook Air still a huge pain to have repaired

The team at iFixit took a screwdriver set to Apple's refreshed MacBook Air and found it a step in the right direction for repairability. The 2018 MacBook Air updated a design which, when it first appeared a decade ago, was revolutionary but now looks a bit tired. Despite mutterings that perhaps the granddaddy of ultrabooks …

If you open devices sold today without training or proper tools, anything with that level of engineering plummets in value once you tried to repair it. Whine about it all you want.

If you don't take even basic ESD damage prevention steps, you ARE the reason we can't have nice skinny light-weight things with 12 hour batteries.

Get over yourself. Stop breaking shit.

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WTF?

Wow... do you work for Apple or something ?

If the engineering is so great then why not engineer devices to be easily serviceable with easy to replace parts ?

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"not engineer devices to be easily serviceable with easy to replace parts ?"

Because there would be mass gun violence around the world to take it away from you for the parts?

Duh?

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iFixit is providing the information

They are showing you what you will encounter so you can fix it yourself, and they sell you the "proper tools". Whether a phone or laptop you've repaired yourself will be worth less when resold depends on whether you've done a good enough job that it is noticeable or not. So long as the warranty is over, what's the harm? A broken device has no resale value except for parts, and a device you tried unsuccessfully to repair still has resale value for the parts...

If they were just going to give it a repairability score, they would simply have a table showing the scores they assigned. They wouldn't have the long writeup with lots of pictures and detail for what you will encounter like 'when you remove this board, be careful of the tiny ribbon cable attached to the back side'. They do that so the next person won't break something during initial disassembly like they occasionally do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ESD?

I've not seen or heard of anyone taking that precaution outside a clean room for how long now?

You do realise you have an SD card in your pocket and it don't spontaneously explode.

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Re: Do you work for (Cr)Apple

Yeah who do you think we ((Cr)Appple), are? Some kind of charity? Go and buy a new One you Pleb, We got a mult-billion Dollar busness to run. ain't nobody got time to make you replacemet parts. Which is why (Cr)Apple, make most AASPs turn in their old Parts just to make sure they don't land up in someone elses unauthorized repair shop. Who also runs a Youtube Channel, explainging how shady this practice is for the consumer of Appl-ly Goods.

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Because the majority of people don't want devices to be easily serviceable with easy to replace parts as those issues are not a factor in their purchase.

They wants small, light, long life and if the compromise is that its a single unmaintainable slab, then people are in general, happy with that.

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@whoseyourdaddy

It's funny.

30 years ago, I would have agreed with you about ESD damage.

But since then, although I have taken hundreds of laptops and other computers apart, many of which I used myself, I don't think that I can attribute any of the (relatively few) failures to ESD damage.

I do take minimal static precautions, like having something earthed close to me that I will touch periodically, and before I touch the processor, but I don't completely follow the rules, and I don't use an anti-static strap.

I know, you're going to quote cumulative static damage, which may be true, but I think that chip design, for all it's modern complexity, has meant that unless you really zap stuff, it's likely to survive with only moderate precautions.

And I think that this is true across the computing spectrum. In my last post, I was working with hardware engineers on supercomputers, and they were not that different, even when changing very complicated assemblies (but of course, there was plenty of grounding around when working on equipment that was still connected to the power infrastructure, as was the case with these systems.)

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Maintainable?

Nope, the problem is that for anyone buying anything from Apple, there is no hope of bering able to fix anything as Apple want you to stump up the money for a new device.

Note: I am not saying that other manufacturers are much better.

Personally I hate laptops. Hate the trackpad, hate the kayboard, do not like the small (relative to my PC) screens. Find it awkward to use.

I like a proper keyboard with a proper mouse and a big screen (dual 24" in my case) and if anything goes wrong with my PC I can just swap out the parts that fail.

I can increase the memory or replace or add hard drives V easilly, I do not have to resort to a soldering iron.

Whenever I upgragde I tend to keep a lot of the existing parts from the old pc, makes it cheaper to upgrade and i only change those bits I need to.

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They wants small, light, long life and if the compromise is that its a single unmaintainable slab

Well that's not Apple either as there are many cases of MacBooks with known design flaws such as GPUs which die, capacitors which blow, glue that comes unstuck due to heat, and hard drive cables which fail and instead of replacing the part (which is something that can be done, despite Apple's best attempts) Apple say they can do nothing for you apart from replacing the whole board which will cost $CURRENCY 800-1200 please. And instead of getting it fixed you throw it away and buy another.

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You're an actual grown up human being and you think the reason we aren't all robbed at gunpoint for our devices is because the "scamps" can't remove components for sale?

Setting aside the fact I don't think there's been a gunpoint robbery in my town ever, that I remember (something mirrored by many of us in the UK) you honestly believe we are safer because devices aren't repairable?

You're a clown.

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When I studied electrical engineering at college, the lecturer once detailed the difference between TTL and CMOS logic chips, including how easily susceptible to ESD CMOS chips were.

He rolled it around in his hands and plugged it into his breadboard. It still worked.

He vigorously wiped his feet on the carpet, taking a couple of laps up and down his work area, before plugging it into his breadboard. It still worked.

He then passed 48V across it for a few seconds from his bench PSU (the chip was rated at 3.something to 8,something volts, IIRC) and it STILL worked.

Feeling embarrassed now, he started up his desktop Van De Graaff, blu-tacked the chip to his discharge wand and zapped the thing with 200kV. THAT got the result he was after.

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@Whoseyourdaddy

Everything OK at home there mate?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ESD?

I've not seen or heard of anyone taking that precaution outside a clean room for how long now?

Sorry, then you have not been near people properly trained to handle modern electronics. Static electricity is still bad news for unprotected gates, and especially in construction or repair you may end up having components outside the place where they will have some protection from discharge.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Amendum.

I'm the "Never seen any ESD" ananon up top... I will make one addendum to my comment.

Being from good old rainy UK we have very little ESD from the air. YMMV if you live in Nevada or a storm area!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @whoseyourdaddy

30 years ago, I would have agreed with you about ESD damage.

But since then, although I have taken hundreds of laptops and other computers apart, many of which I used myself, I don't think that I can attribute any of the (relatively few) failures to ESD damage.

I do take minimal static precautions, like having something earthed close to me that I will touch periodically, and before I touch the processor, but I don't completely follow the rules, and I don't use an anti-static strap.

But you still pay some attention to the issue (the repeated discharge by touching metal, for instance). Most modern components (when soldered in place) are relatively well protected against discharges, but why take the risk?

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He then passed 48V across it for a few seconds from his bench PSU (the chip was rated at 3.something to 8,something volts, IIRC)

At school (many, many years ago) I put 240v AC through a 12v transistor. It glowed like an LED for a short while before suffering rapid unscheduled disassembly (which left part of the metal cover embedded in the suspended ceiling tile..)

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Anonymous Coward

>At school (many, many years ago) I put 240v AC through a 12v transistor. It glowed like an LED....

No need for mains, electrolytic capacitors make for quite a satisfying bang when in reverse polarity.

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FIA
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If the engineering is so great then why not engineer devices to be easily serviceable with easy to replace parts ?

It's not worth it. You're adding cost (and ironically probably greater failure points) that will only benefit a fraction of the target customer demographic. It's much cheaper to have a robot solder a chip to a board than it is to have it solder a socket, then have someone fill the socket later on.

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Re: ESD?

As a technician who does things properly I can honestly state that the last comment is complete bollocks.

If it isn't, the people doing the job need training.

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"...Because there would be mass gun violence around the world to take it away from you for the parts?

Duh?.."

Nurse! whoseyourdaddy is off his pills again!

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gfx

They may be happy until it breaks and they can't get the data of the soldered harddisk or replace the battery. Or the device is so thin that the keyboard travel is non existant.

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Saving $?

Oh yes, I think we can all see how making their gear into one glued brick has enabled them to lower prices to consumers.

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Happy

It glowed like an LED for a short while before suffering rapid unscheduled disassembly...

Have an upvote for rapid unscheduled disassembly. Made me laugh.

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"engineer devices to be easily serviceable with easy to replace parts ?"

My Macbook Pro 2012 is an example of user serviceability.

Problem is no one buys such devices today. You can't have thin and lightweight without glue.

And, you all are cheap enough to buy the bare minimum, then stick in all the cheap-and-pathetic upgrades and replacement parts, then blame Apple when it no longer works.

Grab yer popcorn...fools. Doesn't take an Apple employee to understand what you're forcing them to do.

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Problem is no one buys such devices today. You can't have thin and lightweight without glue.

My Acer Swift (13.3 inch screen) is 0.6 inches thick (15mm) and can be taken apart with nine screws. No glue in sight, battery, wifi, SSD all removable once the case is open. RAM, unfortunately not, but for the price, I'll accept it. Cost $250.

No one buys such devices... where do you get that? If Acer can do it at that price point, anyone can. Any thinner than this is just marketing... it's thin enough and light enough to be carried around everywhere as it is, and shaving an extra few mm off the thickness isn't going to help that. At worst, it could mean the full-size ports would have to be switched to mini versions, and I'll have to get as many dongles as an Apple buyer. Oh, and I won't be able to open it up, which means I won't buy it anyway.

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"You can't have thin and lightweight without glue."

Disagree entirely. My wife's laptop is a Samsung Series 9. Very thin ultrabook on a par with a Macbook Air. Opening it up involves removing half a dozen small screws, inside the battery is held down with two more screws (not a drop of glue in sight), and the SSD is replaceable. Unfortunately the RAM is soldered down, so it isn't perfect, but it's a lot more easy to service than an Air - despite being no thicker.

Alternatively, pop open a Lenovo X1 Carbon and there's also no glue, plus the RAM is also replaceable.

You can build an ultralight without lots of glue, and without soldering everything in sight - if you want to. Face it, Apple doesn't want to. They want their products to be disposable so that users keep buying replacements every few years.

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Problem is no one buys such devices today. You can't have thin and lightweight without glue.

I think Louis Rossmann mentioned in one of his recent videos that the later MacBook Airs had glued-in batteries and earlier ones didn't, however glue has nothing to do with the size of the machine as the size of the later MacBook Air models remained the same after the change.

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Anonymous Coward

"You can build an ultralight without lots of glue, and without soldering everything in sight - if you want to. Face it, Apple doesn't want to. They want their products to be disposable so that IDIOTS keep buying replacements every few years."

FTFY

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"No one buys such devices... where do you get that?"

Easy. A 2013 Macbook pro weighs more than my iPad Pro, Ipad Air2, and a Macbook Air stacked on top of each other.

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Easy. A 2013 Macbook pro weighs more than my iPad Pro, Ipad Air2, and a Macbook Air stacked on top of each other.

You said that to be thin and light, glue is needed, and no one buys such devices anymore.

I provided an example of a device that people are buying that is thin (lightness is implied, as it comes with the reduction in materials from thinness), and that is not glued together. I could provide more examples-- I've actually bought three brand new laptops in the last year, and none were glued together. Every one of them was easy to open for the purposes of upgrading (and all three needed it right out of the box).

There are plenty of laptops out there that are not glued together, and I'm far from the sole owner of each model (meaning other people are buying them).

I don't doubt that a 5 year old laptop weighs more than a bunch of other newer devices, only one of which is a what we were talking about, a laptop (btw, stacking them doesn't change their weight), but what relevance does it have to the claim that people aren't buying non glued-together devices now? People aren't buying five year old laptops brand new, certainly, but that's very different from saying that people aren't buying anything that's not glued together.

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That's a pretty amazing collection of downvotes. How many will it take before someone learns this is The Register and not AppleInsider? Testing is still under way...

If the weight of a laptop is an issue for you... exercise more.

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Command Strips

They haven't used glue as such but replaced them with something like 3M command adhesive strips.

At least you won't need hot packs or heaters to try to soften the glue.

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Anonymous Coward

Cost savings.

Everything in there shouts cost savings, not performance or production IMO.

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Re: Cost savings.

Exactly.

Besides the cost of the materials, I guess there are huge time savings during assembly. If you can shave a few seconds off several operations multiplied over millions of units . . . .

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Thanks but ..

As a dedicated Mac fanboi ... I will stay with my new Acer Swift 5 Pro Ultra-Thin Touch.

So long Apple, and thanks for all the phish ...

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Re: Thanks but ..

They lost me when they tried to TouchStrip me right in the F keys...

We'll never dance again.

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JLV
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In the recent macOS penguinista article there were many suggestions for Linux based alternatives. I ran past the usual suspects and was not that impressed. A highly kitted out Dell or Lenovo is cheaper than a MBP but not by a huge amount ($2700 vs $3600 is not that great if it puts me in charge of driver configuration and installation after wiping Windows - I frankly dislike that chore, sorry. Been there, done failed that).

And lots of them seem to have the same spiffy, sleek, sexy look as macs. And likely the same soldered & glued innards as this article. Leaving me pretty much where I would be with a mac, albeit on Linux. But Linux retro-installed on Windows hardware, most likely.

But one person recommended Librems by Purism. I could care less about some of their ideological aims, such as banishing non Libre components, to be honest. But they apparently have fully swappable RAM and SSD layouts - std Phillips screwdriver and you can go to town.

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3223865/laptop-computers/purism-librem-15.html

Now, that gets me all hot and bothered. And a custom Linux distro, which could be very good - stable drivers+hardware. Or bad, as in a rebranding exercise that gets you further from std distros without adding value.

Anyone used them in anger? Happy?

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Never seen on for real but you could give it a try - no worse a gamble the most. Also you can put your own distro on it as it uses relatively 'open' hardware so practically every Linux will have working drivers for all parts.

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Why on earth have you been downvoted for this post?

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$900 is a fair whack of cash. Higher end Dell and Lenovo laptops can be configured with Linux.

Failing that, I would have thought you could get a Linux support shop to set up Linux as you wish for somewhat less than $900.

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@Dan 55

I suspect it was the suggestion that almost a grand is hardly any difference in price :)

When the reality is that is another reasonable spec'd laptop cost on top. OR a very good mobile phone. i.e not an insignificant number.

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JLV
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Hey, Binky, why is how I want to spend my money any of your business again? Do you see me tut-tutting at your driveway because my 25K$-when-new, 10 year old, Civic is thriftier than what you drive?

My point was that we are not comparing 800$ BestBuy laptops here. For this, my work computer, I need lots of RAM and beefy storage (Retina level displays are a waste tho). The equivalents in non-Apple land, by the big PC manufacturers, are not cheap. So, I'm talking paying 30% premium for a tool I'll be using for the next 6-7 years at least. I've also used, in the past, HPs, Toshibas, Acer laptops. They all kinda sucked, IIRC and I was glad to see the end of them after 3-4 years.

>get a Linux support shop to set up Linux

More diktat-ing of what's best for me, Herr Kommissar? I know Linux perfectly well, once it is on a pre-installed system. I just don't want to deal with system configuration from scratch on laptops with somewhat exotic components like say fingerprint sensors and (hopefully decent) trackpads. And, now, according to your wisdom, I need to take a brand new laptop and get Linux on it by a shop. How does that do for the warranty period again? Think Dell will be happy troubleshooting a Linux-ed system if they didn't install it? And the shop will work for free? Some of the Ubuntu-certified laptops are not, in fact, being sold with Linux on it in Canada. Just Windows.

How much is my time worth till I think $900 is not that great a saving, in this particular case?

It's not like I really really like Apple, the company. My beef is that a new laptop from them is not like my 2011 MBP. It's not serviceable and they gouge you on RAM and SSD capacities. I returned a 2016 upgrade after 2 weeks, didn't like the keyboard or the stupid Touchbar. And, yes, I also resent their focus on looks and weight for what's intended as a light workstation.

Show me a laptop with a similar build quality to my old MBP, metal enclosure, Linux pre-installed/supported, and easily replaceable components and I'm willing to consider the, relatively light, changes to my workflow from using open source software on Linux rather than on Apple's consumer-level BSD.

And that's what I was asking about here, not your opinion on how I spend my $, thank you very much.

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Facepalm

Mac Mini 2018

So I had a quick look at iFixit's teardown for the Mac Mini 2018.

Yes it has an accessible modular design without any glue or strange screws.

Yes it has replaceable/upgradable memory, unlike the Mac Mini 2014.

No it doesn't have replaceable/upgradable storage and they market this something which can do server work.

Way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Apple.

Even so, it got 6/10. So you can see grade inflation is at work, because 6/10 for computer without replaceable storage would have been unthinkable a few years back.

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Re: Mac Mini 2018

No it doesn't have replaceable/upgradable storage and they market this something which can do server work

Couple it with a decent external Thunderbolt RAID array and you would have a decent storage server. Although the MacOS Server has been neutered almost to the point of uselessness..

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Re: Mac Mini 2018

Yes, but storage is still usually the cheapest and easiest way to upgrade and prolong a system.

Still, given that there's only one internal disk, it'd need at least an external mirrored array to be vaguely worthy of being called a server.

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Death by Apple?

My current client was bemused a couple of days ago on a site visit when I hauled out my 14-year-old HP laptop and thunked it down to do some work. (I was astonished myself at its age, having had to count back to when I bought it). Having cost less than £1,000 originally, it had a replacement screen 6/7 years ago, a memory upgrade around the same time, and because it's big, it has room for and got an SSD replacement for its OS+apps drive and a 2Tb spinner for storage. Had it to bits once more, maybe 3 years ago, to suck out dust, chewtoys and mummified sloths, as you do.

My point being that this 17-in quad-core i7, still tooled up with W7U, scores no points for newness, fashionability or beauty, and for anyone who hasn't experienced full marching order its portability would be an issue too.

But it works. It slogs on, chowing down every productivity task I can throw at it, multitasking happily and zipping along well enough with its ancient combo of cores, SSD and RAM.

In terms of reliability, repairability, capability and performance measured against any kind of value for money and cost-effectiveness you can think of, it eclipses shiny iBaubles by an order of magnitude.

Yes, the Chinese slaves produce very pretty gadgets for Cupertino. Much cleverness goes into making them unrepairable and un-upgradeable, to ensure victims keep buying new ones ... as the landfill swells, and the air becomes more toxic by the day. Samsung makes very pretty screens for them too. And to add the final shine as a status symbol (for the needy and credit-worthy), the result is priced at about three times what the device is worth.

But for all that we rightly condemn the imbecility, cowardice and folly of politicians, perhaps the best symbol for our dead planet and the inevitable charnel mound of consumers' corpses will be a half-eaten apple perched on humanity's gravestone above a simple epitaph—"Suicide: The Stupidity of Lemmings".

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Re: Death by Apple?

it eclipses shiny iBaubles by an order of magnitude

My 2011 Macbook Pro is still very much up and working (with upgraded SSD drive & RAM - it had the motherboard replaced after about 5 years for free even though it was out of warranty).

It also weighs several tons and has a nice dent in the aluminium top where a (full, still with cork in) bottle of wine fell on it..

Yes, the Chinese slaves produce very pretty gadgets for Cupertino

And HP. And Dell. And Acer..

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Re: Death by Apple?

That takes some doing. A 14-year old i7 laptop. That's about 4 years longer than the Intel i7 has been available. Of course, if it's had a processor replacement (implying a motherboard replacement too) in addition to the screen, memory and disks, I would suggest there isn't much left that counts as 14 years old.

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