Teardown of Apple's 2018 MacBook Air shows decreased repairability versus previous model

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
A teardown of the redesigned MacBook Air shows that Apple has turned to glue for the speakers and batteries, versus the previous revision which used tiny screws to hold the components in place.

Image Credit: iFixit
Image Credit: iFixit


Ten adhesive pull tabs secure the battery and speakers, and the Touch ID sensor and two Thunderbolt 3 ports are modular, repair firm iFixit noted on Thursday. That means the components can theoretically be swapped out without replacing major parts like the logic board, though the secure nature of Touch ID means a computer would still have to be submitted to Apple diagnostics.

There are still a number of aspects unfriendly to user repairs and upgrades. A special pentalobe screwdriver is needed to open the computer, and both the RAM and SSD are soldered to the logic board, so they can't be replaced once they leave the factory.

Where repairs are possible, they may still involve removing other components just to get access. iFixit gave the 2018 Air 3 out of 10 for a repairability score, a decrease from the firm's last Air teardown in 2015.

Image Credit: iFixit
Image Credit: iFixit


The firm also criticized the Air's 49.9 watt-hour battery. While it's said to be middle-of-the-road in terms of capacity, some Windows laptops are said to have equal or superior battery life despite using faster Intel U-series processors. The Air sports Intel's Y-series Core i5.

iFixit nevertheless called the updated Air "worth the wait," with "decent" processing power.



Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    tipootipoo Posts: 971member
    Interesting design - you'll notice the fan doesn't directly pass over heatpipe fins, but rather there's just a small block heatsink on the CPU while the fan ambiently draws air through the chassis. As I speculated it appears they went for a semi-passive design like the Matebook X Pro, with a backup fan to prevent a sharp drop to base clocks like on the 12. 

    Probably why that floor rep was confused, attempted-passive but with a fan. 
    edited November 8
  • Reply 2 of 15
    That's funny, MacRumours has more or less the same report but says repairability is INCREASED thanks to the easily removable adhesives.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,601administrator
    mknelson said:
    That's funny, MacRumours has more or less the same report but says repairability is INCREASED thanks to the easily removable adhesives.
    Well, given that iFixit lowered the score, I'm not sure how that assumption can be made. Plus, I'll take screws in the old model to glue in the new any day.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 15
    mknelson said:
    That's funny, MacRumours has more or less the same report but says repairability is INCREASED thanks to the easily removable adhesives.
    Well, given that iFixit lowered the score, I'm not sure how that assumption can be made. Plus, I'll take screws in the old model to glue in the new any day.
    No doubt Apple looked at the screws vs glue question very carefully.   But, the benefit of using glue (aside from being cheap) is not obvious.   I would love to have listened in to that debate at Apple.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,601administrator
    mknelson said:
    That's funny, MacRumours has more or less the same report but says repairability is INCREASED thanks to the easily removable adhesives.
    Well, given that iFixit lowered the score, I'm not sure how that assumption can be made. Plus, I'll take screws in the old model to glue in the new any day.
    No doubt Apple looked at the screws vs glue question very carefully.   But, the benefit of using glue (aside from being cheap) is not obvious.   I would love to have listened in to that debate at Apple.
    There is pretty solid evidence that the glue and reduced numbers of daughterboards and whatnot is increasing reliability across the board.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 15
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    My wife figured out how to deal with MBAs.  When she wants the latest model she pours a glass of wine on the old one. :(
  • Reply 7 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,601administrator
    MacPro said:
    My wife figured out how to deal with MBAs.  When she wants the latest model she pours a glass of wine on the old one. :(
    We had an iced tea incident here about five years ago. Similar effect.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    MacPro said:
    My wife figured out how to deal with MBAs.  When she wants the latest model she pours a glass of wine on the old one. :(
    We had an iced tea incident here about five years ago. Similar effect.
    And as far as I can see not a single salvageable item inside.  Kind of relevant to the whole discussion but for different reasons, once upon a time I'd rip out a usable drive, RAM, spare fan and so on ... not these days.  It's a recycle job and nothing else.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,108member
    MacPro said:
    MacPro said:
    My wife figured out how to deal with MBAs.  When she wants the latest model she pours a glass of wine on the old one. :(
    We had an iced tea incident here about five years ago. Similar effect.
    And as far as I can see not a single salvageable item inside.  Kind of relevant to the whole discussion but for different reasons, once upon a time I'd rip out a usable drive, RAM, spare fan and so on ... not these days.  It's a recycle job and nothing else.
    Your wife would hate this....    My 12 year old T60P with upgraded WiFi radio, memory and harddive runs like a champ.  But I haven't tried to find out how well it can swim.

  • Reply 10 of 15
    tipoo said:
    Interesting design - you'll notice the fan doesn't directly pass over heatpipe fins, but rather there's just a small block heatsink on the CPU while the fan ambiently draws air through the chassis. As I speculated it appears they went for a semi-passive design like the Matebook X Pro, with a backup fan to prevent a sharp drop to base clocks like on the 12. 

    Probably why that floor rep was confused, attempted-passive but with a fan. 
    I did some google and they’re using heatpipes.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    mknelson said:
    That's funny, MacRumours has more or less the same report but says repairability is INCREASED thanks to the easily removable adhesives.
    Well, given that iFixit lowered the score, I'm not sure how that assumption can be made. Plus, I'll take screws in the old model to glue in the new any day.
    No doubt Apple looked at the screws vs glue question very carefully.   But, the benefit of using glue (aside from being cheap) is not obvious.   I would love to have listened in to that debate at Apple.
    There is pretty solid evidence that the glue and reduced numbers of daughterboards and whatnot is increasing reliability across the board.
    Still better than Pros though.  I wonder if there's any statistics about how reliable the current Pros are, are they much worse than Retina when it comes to issues?
    edited November 10
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,601administrator
    DuhSesame said:
    mknelson said:
    That's funny, MacRumours has more or less the same report but says repairability is INCREASED thanks to the easily removable adhesives.
    Well, given that iFixit lowered the score, I'm not sure how that assumption can be made. Plus, I'll take screws in the old model to glue in the new any day.
    No doubt Apple looked at the screws vs glue question very carefully.   But, the benefit of using glue (aside from being cheap) is not obvious.   I would love to have listened in to that debate at Apple.
    There is pretty solid evidence that the glue and reduced numbers of daughterboards and whatnot is increasing reliability across the board.
    Still better than Pros though.  I wonder if there's any statistics about how reliable the current Pros are, are they much worse than Retina when it comes to issues?
    Even including the keyboards, the failure rates on the 2016-2018 MacBook Pros are a hair better than the pre-2016 model. The failure rates also dropped with the 2012 Retina MBP versus the pre-Retina models.
    edited November 10
  • Reply 13 of 15
    DuhSesame said:
    mknelson said:
    That's funny, MacRumours has more or less the same report but says repairability is INCREASED thanks to the easily removable adhesives.
    Well, given that iFixit lowered the score, I'm not sure how that assumption can be made. Plus, I'll take screws in the old model to glue in the new any day.
    No doubt Apple looked at the screws vs glue question very carefully.   But, the benefit of using glue (aside from being cheap) is not obvious.   I would love to have listened in to that debate at Apple.
    There is pretty solid evidence that the glue and reduced numbers of daughterboards and whatnot is increasing reliability across the board.
    Still better than Pros though.  I wonder if there's any statistics about how reliable the current Pros are, are they much worse than Retina when it comes to issues?
    Even including the keyboards, the failure rates on the 2016-2018 MacBook Pros are a hair better than the pre-2016 model. The failure rates also dropped with the 2012 Retina MBP versus the pre-Retina models.
    What if the keyboard failed half as much then?  Also, is it possible to clean the latest keyboard by individual?
  • Reply 14 of 15
    MacPro said:
    MacPro said:
    My wife figured out how to deal with MBAs.  When she wants the latest model she pours a glass of wine on the old one. :(
    We had an iced tea incident here about five years ago. Similar effect.
    And as far as I can see not a single salvageable item inside.  Kind of relevant to the whole discussion but for different reasons, once upon a time I'd rip out a usable drive, RAM, spare fan and so on ... not these days.  It's a recycle job and nothing else.
    Your wife would hate this....    My 12 year old T60P with upgraded WiFi radio, memory and harddive runs like a champ.  But I haven't tried to find out how well it can swim.

    I've always been drinking in front of the computer and never had any accident like this.  Makes me wonder if it's just me or people are always careless.
  • Reply 15 of 15

    MacPro said:
    MacPro said:
    My wife figured out how to deal with MBAs.  When she wants the latest model she pours a glass of wine on the old one. :(
    We had an iced tea incident here about five years ago. Similar effect.
    And as far as I can see not a single salvageable item inside.  Kind of relevant to the whole discussion but for different reasons, once upon a time I'd rip out a usable drive, RAM, spare fan and so on ... not these days.  It's a recycle job and nothing else.
    spare laptop fans for DIY?  I tried few for solder fume extractors, and they're noisy...
    edited November 11
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