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 …

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Can't somebody produce a standard size laptop case into which you can then put your own motherboard, SSD, RAM, monitor etc?

Then whenever something fails, it's simple to just replace that part. And if the motherboard need replacement/upgrade, it can be done easily.

Case broken? No sweat. Just buy a new one, transfer all the components, and send the broken case for recycling.

Oh and make it Linux friendly too, so that any Linux/Unix-based OS/distribution can be installed on it without major hassle....

Or am I too optimistic to think that laptop companies will work together to make that a reality?

Money talks, the less money that can be wasted on the consumer and more that can go into manglement and shareholders nasty pocketses, the better...

Something like this...

https://pi-top.com/products/pi-top/

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Something like this...

https://pi-top.com/products/pi-top/

Gah. Now I wants one. :(

Anonymous Coward

That's way too optimistic. Even in the heavily standardised desktop ATX world you can run into problems if you don't pay attention to clearances for heat spreaders around CPU heatsinks, and other such tomfoolery. In a laptop chassis that sort of problem would be orders of magnitude worse. This is one of many reasons why there's no direct equivalent to ATX for laptops, and different motherboards end up being made specifically for each laptop chassis design. The displays and associated hardware to drive them tend to be bespoke for each chassis as well - components that you'd normally expect to be part of the screen itself sometimes get tucked away in other places, where the chassis designer found a little bit of spare space for it (I'm thinking inverters for the screen backlight, in case you're wondering). However, if there's no glue involved you can sometimes repair such beasts, if you can find the right replacement part - it's amazing what you can find on eBay, even if it is a manufacturer specific part.

Theoretically, the manufacturers could make up a standard form like ATX for laptops, but it'd be hard to cover all the different size and shape constraints that are already present in the laptop market (everything from about 7" to 17"+, with different sizes and thicknesses of chassis with varying peripheral support). At best you might be able to get agreement for a single standard "most common size" format (maybe 14-15" inches?), but it would *not* be thin and light as it would have to accommodate any possible peripheral setup that a customer would reasonably want to specify. It doesn't sound a particularly enticing prospect to me, so I'm not sure how it could be successfully pitched to Dell, HP etc.

Realistically, the nearest you can do these days is buy something where the storage and RAM can be replaced and upgraded, maybe including space for an extra SSD or optical drive. In other words, a standard business laptop (i.e. not the thin+light macbook air-a-likes) from one of the usual suspects. If you're not fussy about room for extra drives or optical bays you can even do thin and light - there's already a couple of Thinkpad X1 carbon recommendations on this thread for exactly this role.

Anonymous Coward

A couple of years ago you could buy those "barebones" systems. They were pretty thick, as you'd expect. I think enterprises skipped on them due to servicing concerns, and general public didn't want to bother

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Even in the heavily standardised desktop ATX world you can run into problems if you don't pay attention to clearances for heat spreaders around CPU heatsinks, and other such tomfoolery

No kidding. At work I have been re-using an old 3U ATX case as my "development" machine for some years. There is a slight issue with the PSU in that it doesn't take standard ATX format PSUs, but that's get-roundable because we have a lot of these things so always carry spares.

The latest refresh (first in five years) involved an AMD Zen and I was pleased to find that the processor & heatsink fitted in quite nicely.

What didn't fit nicely was the distinctly middle-of-the-road graphics card. Due to some kind of plastic frame holding the fan in place, this card is about 2 - 3mm too tall to allow me to fit the lid on the box. Any other case would have had enough leeway, but not this one.

It's currently sitting under the desk with the lid off. OpenSuse runs lovely, but Windows 7 refuses to install :-/ (W10 isn't an option at the moment)

M.

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Trollface

And yup, quite an impressive amount of downvotes going on here...

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Unhappy

3 out of 10 repairability!

And that's good these days ... no need to fix stuff anymore, just buy a new one ... kinda like politics today, whichever side you voted for, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Let's see what Apple pricing for say an iPhone repairs is

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/iphone/repair/service/pricing

So, I've cracked the glass back on my phone, or.. well anything that isn't a screen.. maybe if I look closely there'll be a foot-note that it can 'cost up to' and maybe some ball-park numbers...

Can't for the life of me imagine how people get the idea into their head that there's a place for 3rd party repairs and/or Apple may be in the business of trying to push upgrades over repairs..

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It should be made illegal...

...to solder storage and RAM onto any laptop board. Both should be made to be upgradable.

We have climate change, partly because of waste. It's clear Apple don't give a fuck about that and just want you to buy the next thing instead of repairing.

The c**ts.

Alert

"insurmountable"

I know there's a joke there somewhere but its Friday afternoon

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Childcatcher

Where would most of us be......

If we hadn't had a go at repairing things when we were PFYs?

Without tearing things apart and putting them back together and getting them to work (frequently with bits left over) there would be little interest in technical careers. Where is the next generation of tinkerers?

I have (almost) repaired previous ipods (well the 64GB is now a 20GB as I couldn't scrape up a proper replacement drive) and am no stranger to melting my digits on a soldering iron. Apple are doing a disservice to human curiosity,

Thankfully, I had no interest in medicine.....

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Re: Where would most of us be......

"...If we hadn't had a go at repairing things when we were PFYs?

Without tearing things apart and putting them back together and getting them to work (frequently with bits left over) there would be little interest in technical careers. Where is the next generation of tinkerers?

I have (almost) repaired previous ipods (well the 64GB is now a 20GB as I couldn't scrape up a proper replacement drive) and am no stranger to melting my digits on a soldering iron. Apple are doing a disservice to human curiosity,

Thankfully, I had no interest in medicine....."

I couldn't agree more.

Waaay back in the day I was an electronics engineer. I fixed everything from electronic typewriters, photocopiers, cordless phones and laptops and computers all to component level.

It meant understanding what I was doing but also being able to learn what were often quite clever interpretations of various things.

Then slowly and surely things became more modular in their repair - change the entire board and don't waste time repairing it.

Surface mount devices had already started to quicken this, but custom silicon that you couldn't actually buy was a huge contributor.

Then, for me, Dell knocked what was a huge nail in the coffin by offering a complete PC (an early Optiplex, if I recall) with a 3-year on site warranty for something like £360. This would've been around '96/'97

That's when I made the switch over to projects-based work.

I dabbled for a good 10 years or so afterwards, repairing the odd CRT TV or even a pump for a power shower one time, but gradually things became less and less and less repairable.

It was a great and constant learning curve and one I still miss even now.

The death of Maplin meant no easy access to those little kits you could buy to build with the kids - not that either of mine ever showed any bias for engineering of any kind.

I guess what I'm getting at is that it's not something that has happened overnight but with the likes of Apple and their drive to make things throwaway. it does seem to have accelerated. And it's a real shame.

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Re: Where would most of us be......

Dell knocked what was a huge nail in the coffin

What really put me off Dell was that time when they fitted what looked like a standard power connector to their power supplies, which mated just fine with the standard connectors on standard motherboards, but which had all the leads in different places meaning in the event of a PSU failure you couldn't replace a Dell PSU with a standard one and in the event of a motherboard failure (or elective upgrade) you couldn't replace a Dell motherboard with a standard one.

no easy access to those little kits

Even before Maplin had gone, that situation was changing. Maplin's own kits had long disappeared and I always got the impression that Vellemann kits were expensive for what they were. These days you don't have to look very far for a very wide choice of kits.

Only one of my four has shown much interest in this kind of thing, but she's quite keen and enjoys a bit of soldering :-)

M.

i cant see how any gerbil could survive in such a tight space? apple need to make these bigger so they can breathe

I like my HDs replaceable

Aside from various Windows machines, I run a 2007 iMac and a 2010 MacBook. The iMac is now on its third hard drive (HD failures in 2010 and 2015, each replaced with a larger disk), and the MacBook on its second (HD failure in 2018, replaced with a larger disk). For all three HD replacements, I was able to switch the disks myself (which would not be the case with a soldered-in HD). Also, Time Machine was my friend on all three occasions.

For me, reliability is much more important than weight or thinness.

Both machines are now up for replacement as they have outlived the upgradeability of their operating systems. I hope their replacements run as well and as long.

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