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Refreshed MacBook Air teardown reveals larger battery, smaller SSD and more

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
After a superficial "teardown" of Apple's latest MacBook Air was conducted earlier on Tuesday, a more comprehensive look at the thin-and-light has been posted, with minor changes seen in battery size, the SSD module and integrated graphics, among others.

An early look at the 11-inch mid-2013 MacBook Air was furnished by OWC earlier today, but now the repair gurus at iFixit have completed their thorough teardown of a 13-inch model, revealing a number of minor, but crucial changes to Apple's hot selling laptop.

MBA Teardown
Comparison of 2012 13-inch MacBook Air (left) with 2013 model. | Source: iFixit


Most notable among the hardware revisions is an enlarged battery, which moves from a 7.3V 6700mAh pack to a 7.6V 7150mAh unit. The cells still dominate the Air's innards.

Apple touts the new 13-inch model will last 12 hours on a charge, but the battery is not thought to be the main contributor to that spec buff. Instead, the Air uses Intel's Haswell ULT silicon, which offers huge decreases in power consumption while serving up snappier performance.

With Haswell, Intel moved to its next-generation integrated graphics solution, Intel HD Graphics 5000, which doesn't require a separate board.

Adding to the updated component list is a new SSD module from Samsung, which is smaller than similar parts used in previous MacBook Air iterations. With the new size comes new technology, as the latest SSD unit uses a PCIe bus rather than SATA, a first for Mac. PCIe can achieve rates of up to 800MB/s, while SATA is limited to about 600MB/s.

The new Air is also the first to employ the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol, which required the computer's wireless card to be updated. Apple launched redesigned AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models to take advantage of the new standard, and is planning on incorporating the technology into future Macs as they roll out.

The only change made to the MacBook Air's chassis is a hole to accommodate the addition of a second internal microphone used for sound cancellation duties.

Other smaller tweaks include a redesigned heat sink clamp, repositioned speaker cabling and a revamped MagSafe 2 board that no longer holds a socket for the laptop's iSight camera.
post #2 of 16
I think 90% of the whole MBA is battery.
post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedrohbrito View Post

I think 90% of the whole MBA is battery.

 

I love it how all they need to do is switch to those liquid metal(1) fuel(2) cells(3) and blam, they can drop most of the weight of those batteries out of the equation. :)

post #4 of 16

Well, i guess nobody can call this an incremental refresh, then!

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Well, i guess nobody can call this an incremental refresh, then!

 

Heck no. Haswell changes everything for laptops.

post #6 of 16
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post
Well, i guess nobody can call this an incremental refresh, then!

 

Nope, now they can call it a crippling update.

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post #7 of 16
Yes it does.
However there are more changes than just Haswell that vastly improve the Air. Those PCI Express based SSDs are a very significant improvement. Plus they where able to lower the price on one model.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NexusPhan View Post

Heck no. Haswell changes everything for laptops.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Yes it does.
However there are more changes than just Haswell that vastly improve the Air. Those PCI Express based SSDs are a very significant improvement. Plus they where able to lower the price on one model.

Only Apple seems to do this......deliver a better product than the one before and lower the price.........

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post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Yes it does.
However there are more changes than just Haswell that vastly improve the Air. Those PCI Express based SSDs are a very significant improvement. Plus they where able to lower the price on one model.

 

Ya, Samsung makes some crazy small fast SSDs. I'm glad Apple switched back to them from Toshiba. But I wonder if I'll ever need a laptop again. Haven't had one in years. Still glad to see the technology progress.

post #10 of 16

This laptop is nearly perfect for me. I just wish it had a higher resolution screen... 1440x900 just doesn't but these days IMHO for a 13" display (hell, I'd even take 1680x1050). I guess I'll stick to my 15" rMBP until the 13" MBA gets a rez bump.

post #11 of 16

I wonder if Nvidia or AMD have plans to release deticated thunderbolt1 GPU's (Pcie 4x speed).  A GPU with its own enclosure using a low power mobile chip so we dont end up with something bigger than the laptop. If the laptop market could adopt thunderbolt more rapidely there could be a market for this.

 

On the Mac Pro side, GPU upgrades are going to be a problem. Thunderbolt2 is about 8x speed compare to GPU PC slots that pretty much all run at 16x. Most GPU dont use all the 16x speed, unless they run out of memory. So thunderbolt2 external GPU's will need to have plenty of memory. Again, I wish Nvidia or AMD would release there own external device fully adapted for thunderbolt2 limited speed and power instead of rely on external boxes and PC GPU's.

 

There will be an opportunity for Apple too, it could come out with its own external GPU upgrades for imac, laptops and the Mac Pro. Maybe they will have to if the graphic cards manufacturers dont do it.

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

I wonder if Nvidia or AMD have plans to release deticated thunderbolt1 GPU's (Pcie 4x speed).  A GPU with its own enclosure using a low power mobile chip so we dont end up with something bigger than the laptop. If the laptop market could adopt thunderbolt more rapidely there could be a market for this.

 

On the Mac Pro side, GPU upgrades are going to be a problem. Thunderbolt2 is about 8x speed compare to GPU PC slots that pretty much all run at 16x. Most GPU dont use all the 16x speed, unless they run out of memory. So thunderbolt2 external GPU's will need to have plenty of memory. Again, I wish Nvidia or AMD would release there own external device fully adapted for thunderbolt2 limited speed and power instead of rely on external boxes and PC GPU's.

 

There will be an opportunity for Apple too, it could come out with its own external GPU upgrades for imac, laptops and the Mac Pro. Maybe they will have to if the graphic cards manufacturers dont do it.

I think you have some speed issues...

which version of PCIe are you talking about?  if its PCIe3, then Thunderbolt isn't even close.  Thunderbolt 1 is like PCIe 3 x1.25 slot ... and Thunderbolt 2 is like PCIe 3 x2.5 slot...  If your going all the way back to PCIe 2.. then thats basically half the speed of PCIe 3.

 

PCIe 4 is even faster... but still isn't finalized.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by doh123 View Post

I think you have some speed issues...

which version of PCIe are you talking about?  if its PCIe3, then Thunderbolt isn't even close.  Thunderbolt 1 is like PCIe 3 x1.25 slot ... and Thunderbolt 2 is like PCIe 3 x2.5 slot...  If your going all the way back to PCIe 2.. then thats basically half the speed of PCIe 3.

 

PCIe 4 is even faster... but still isn't finalized.

 

I am no sure which version it is. I could go verify it will come back. There are Thunderbolt1 with external case and Nividia 680GT out there that worked with great performance boost, almost the same as a full desktop setup. The main problem is memory, you absolutly must have all you need on the GPU or the thunderbolt will choke.

 


Edited by herbapou - 6/12/13 at 10:45am
post #14 of 16
What are the chances of retina on the MBA this fall? Probably more like 2014, I'm thinking.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by allenbf View Post

What are the chances of retina on the MBA this fall? Probably more like 2014, I'm thinking.

 

I will never understand this call for a Retina display on the MBA.  It makes it heavier, it lowers battery life, it makes it thicker (more than likely, for the battery), and it makes it more expensive.

 

If you're going to do all that to the MBA, why not just get a rMBP?

 

Seems to me that the entire point of the MBA is that it's thin, lower priced, light, and has great battery life.  Right?

post #16 of 16
Because I prefer the MBA look and footprint over the rMBP?
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