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Apple's latest AirPort Time Capsule expectedly similar to redesigned AirPort Extreme

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Coming hours after Apple's AirPort Extreme received the teardown treatment, the same was done to the 802.11ac Wi-Fi router's HDD-packing sibling Time Capsule, with results expectedly showing no difference between the two aside from the hard drive and corresponding port.

Time Capsule Teardown
The few parts from Apple's latest Time Capsule which are missing from the AirPort Extreme. | Source: iFixit


After dismantling the AirPort Extreme earlier on Wednesday, iFixit released images of a torn down Time Capsule.

As expected, the empty space seen in the Extreme is filled by a hard drive, in this case a 2TB Seagate Barracuda. Other than the HDD and its accompanying mounting and cabling hardware, the Time Capsule is nearly identical to the Extreme.

There is one difference on the control board, however, in a port to connect with the HDD. This space was left empty on the AirPort Extreme version.

Time Capsule Teardown
HDD connector port.


iFixit gives the AirPort time capsule the same 8 out of 10 score as the Extreme, noting the two products are almost identical.
post #2 of 26
So that means you can buy a cheaper Airport Extreme Basestation and add an Hard Drive yourself?
post #3 of 26
Of course it's similar. The only real difference between the two is one has a hard drive and backs up data and the other one doesn't. I wouldn't expect them to do much else that what they are doing. About the only thing I could see Apple doing is selling a hard drive kit with the various other clips and attachments to upgrade from a Extreme to a Time Capsule and also requiring a firmware upgrade. But doing it that way would more confusing to the average Joe Blow, it would increase support costs, especially since a lot of people might not be able to install the drive and firmware properly, thus requiring more after sale support.

The way they are doing makes sense. There are reasons to buy both products, but functionally they do the same exact thing only one backs up data and the other doesn't. I'm wondering when they are going to offer a SSD version. God, do I hate hard drives.
post #4 of 26
I'm sure there is a little more to it than just a clip to attach the hard drive cable. I'm sure there is a controller chip that's on the board that's hidden in the picture. I doubt that Apple is going to put a hard drive controller chip in a product that doesn't have a hard drive.
post #5 of 26

"Coming hours after Apple's AirPort Extreme received the teardown treatment,"

 

Wasn't that obvious 'hours ago'?

 

Hell, I worked it out when I saw WWDC 2013.

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post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

"Coming hours after Apple's AirPort Extreme received the teardown treatment,"

 

Wasn't that obvious 'hours ago'?

 

Hell, I worked it out when I saw WWDC 2013.

 

Sounds like a eureka moment.  Hours after having taken apart the two devices, like a bolt out the blue, the researcher suddenly realized that the detailed write up of each were exactly the same with only 2 sentences separating them.  Then and only then did he realize the magnitude of the discovery!  Stay tuned for next week when the new 11" MacBook Air with 256GB of flash storage is compared to the 512GB model; you won't believe what they found!

post #7 of 26

Not without the port on the control board.

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by commentssf View Post

So that means you can buy a cheaper Airport Extreme Basestation and add an Hard Drive yourself?

"There is one difference on the control board, however, in a port to connect with the HDD. This space was left empty on the AirPort Extreme version."

post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

I'm wondering when they are going to offer a SSD version. God, do I hate hard drives.

 

I hate hard drives for use in primary storage, too. However, they definitely have their places, and backup storage is one of them.

 

Im curious - what do you think the specific benefit of an SSD as a backup drive would be? Latency and throughput are pretty much non-issues, especially when you consider that in such applications the processor is the choke point. Power consumption is reduced, but this is not a portable, battery-operated device. The big issue is cost. A 2TB SSD is not likely to be competitive any time soon.

 

If you are looking to use this as a high-performance NAS, this isn't the right solution.

post #10 of 26
Personally, I really wish they had used a USB 3.0 port instead of USB 2.0. Better yet would've been a single Thunderbolt port.
post #11 of 26

Interested....until I saw 'Seagate'.

 

Then, not so much.

How that company managed to stay in business I will never know.

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post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaine_Michael View Post

Personally, I really wish they had used a USB 3.0 port instead of USB 2.0. Better yet would've been a single Thunderbolt port.

There is no reason for either. It would just be an added expense for no benefit.

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by chabig View Post

There is no reason for either. It would just be an added expense for no benefit.

There could be. Accessing an attached disk over the network would be no faster, but there is a button in Airport Utility that says "Archive Disk" that causes it to copy the contents of the internal disk to whatever you have attached to the USB port. A USB3 HD could perform this archiving quite a bit faster than a USB2 one.

post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaine_Michael View Post

Personally, I really wish they had used a USB 3.0 port instead of USB 2.0. Better yet would've been a single Thunderbolt port.

I think you miss the point of the Airport and Time Capsule devices.

Both of these are connected by GigE/802.11-something, but on past devices you could connect a USB drive and turn the Airport into a Time Capsule.

But mechanical hard drives (particularly the 5400RPM models used in external drives) are never really going to exceed USB2.0 specifications. Even when you plug in a SATA SSD, you're looking at a speed that is crippled but the weak processors used in these devices. 625MB/sec for USB3, 750MB for SATA6G, the PCIe SSD's are limited by interface they connect with ( 1 PCIe 3.0 lane = 985MB/sec ), some Fusion i/o devices with 16 lane SSD cards have 6700MB/sec benchmarks.

Even the most efficient 802.11ac hardware is going to peak at 423MB/sec

So in other words, even the most efficient Segate drive specs out to 210MB/sec (7200rpm), But you're going to get maybe 130MB/sec tops.

Even if you could connect a 6Gbps Sata device or a 5Gbps USB3 device, you're still going to be crippled down by the 3.5Gbps 802.11ac or 1Gbps ethernet connections.
post #15 of 26
Seagate drives have in my personal experience dealing with thousands of hard drives for Macs in the last three decades, have been by far the most unreliable make out there. I hope they offer an alternative.

As to those mentioning SSD's are not required for a back up I'd say they are on noise and heat alone, the remaining problem is of course size and cost for now. A year or so from now there won't be any spinners used by Apple who I am pretty sure will be relegating them to the same bin as floppies, CD drives and SCSI ports.
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post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
About the only thing I could see Apple doing is selling a hard drive kit with the various other clips and attachments to upgrade from a Extreme to a Time Capsule and also requiring a firmware upgrade.

Seriously?  You could see Apple doing that?  There is absolutely no way they will ever do this.

 

They say- "Here is a Time Capsule, buy this".

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Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

Seriously?  You could see Apple doing that?  There is absolutely no way they will ever do this.

They say- "Here is a Time Capsule, buy this".

I agree because it is all about supportability. The only possible way would be if the drive were added by an official Apple tech and i seriously doubt they even go that route.
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post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

Interested....until I saw 'Seagate'.

They've used Seagates for years in the TCs.  It is under standard warranty for a year- but where it is an incredible value is if you get AppleCare with the next Mac you buy- you can have it under warranty for at a minimum of 3 years up to 5 years!  For the record, this also means you can have your TC from its standard 1 year warranty up to 3 years, even if you don't buy Applecare.  In essence, you can buy a TC up to 2 years before you purchase another Mac- and the day you purchase your Mac & AppleCare is when the "1 year clock" or "3 year clock" starts.

 

 


What’s covered — Mac

  • Your Mac computer
  • Included accessories such as the power adapter
  • Apple memory (RAM)
  • AirPort Express Base Station, AirPort Extreme Base Station, or Time Capsule2
  • Apple USB SuperDrive (for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro with Retina display, iMac, and Mac mini)
  • Apple display purchased with your Mac

 

2. The AirPort device or Time Capsule must be purchased up to two years before your Mac purchase or during the term of your AppleCare Protection Plan coverage.


Edited by Andysol - 6/13/13 at 8:04am

2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #19 of 26
So does this mean I can get an Airport Extreme, and then insert a decent network hard drive rather than the mismatched Barracuda that Apple is shipping with the Time Capsule? A Western Digital Red would be perfect for this device — you want the coolest running drive you can get for a sealed casing like this, and a drive with network-oriented firmware for this purpose — but Apple just had to go and put in something completely unsuitable, a hotter-running, slightly faster drive that's oriented toward desktop computers rather than network backup, just because it's cheap.
post #20 of 26

@ andysol, Good to know.  I wish they'd put a more network-oriented drive in there, however.

post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by chabig View Post

There is no reason for either. It would just be an added expense for no benefit.

 

Gigabit Wireless will run circles around USB2. A USB3 port was definitely warranted and its omission is cause for derision.

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misa View Post

But mechanical hard drives (particularly the 5400RPM models used in external drives) are never really going to exceed USB2.0 specifications.

 

That's complete nonsense. Hard Drives, even 5400 rpm versions, far exceed the capability of USB2. If they didn't, there would have been no reason for the existence of Firewire 800 drive enclosures, and outboard USB2 drives would be just as fast as internal drives.

 

There's absolutely no excuse for not upgrading the port on the Airport to USB3. It tarnishes the brand with the appearance of petty cheapness.

post #23 of 26

Wonder when we will see 802.11ad support -- which could be a big deal for short distance file transfers...

 

See:

http://www.techspot.com/news/51343-7gbps-wireless-on-the-way-wigig-80211ad-adopted-by-ieee.html

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by commentssf View Post

So that means you can buy a cheaper Airport Extreme Basestation and add an Hard Drive yourself?

I don't think the AE has the required SATA commenter on the logic board. If you could do it, you might end up spending close to the cost of a TC depending in the connecter parts and choice of hard drive.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

Of course it's similar. The only real difference between the two is one has a hard drive and backs up data and the other one doesn't. I wouldn't expect them to do much else that what they are doing. About the only thing I could see Apple doing is selling a hard drive kit with the various other clips and attachments to upgrade from a Extreme to a Time Capsule and also requiring a firmware upgrade. But doing it that way would more confusing to the average Joe Blow, it would increase support costs, especially since a lot of people might not be able to install the drive and firmware properly, thus requiring more after sale support.

The way they are doing makes sense. There are reasons to buy both products, but functionally they do the same exact thing only one backs up data and the other doesn't. I'm wondering when they are going to offer a SSD version. God, do I hate hard drives.

It is painful to have to go back to a spinning drive once you have used an SSD. I wonder if going to the PCI based storage has a similar effect?
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by photoeditor View Post

So does this mean I can get an Airport Extreme, and then insert a decent network hard drive rather than the mismatched Barracuda that Apple is shipping with the Time Capsule? A Western Digital Red would be perfect for this device — you want the coolest running drive you can get for a sealed casing like this, and a drive with network-oriented firmware for this purpose — but Apple just had to go and put in something completely unsuitable, a hotter-running, slightly faster drive that's oriented toward desktop computers rather than network backup, just because it's cheap.

I don't care for Seagate drives, but didn't the WD red drives have a fairly high failure rate? Not sure if that was one particular batch or a general trend but remember reading about it. Seagate drives are definitely bottom of the barrel though.
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