back to article Man buys MacBook Air, pulls it apart, takes pics

Worried about changing the battery in a MacBook Air? Don't - according to one tech site that's taken the skinny machine to bits, opening the laptop up is "a surprisingly pleasant task". Cynics will, of course, say the 13.3in notebook that's short on stature but big on hype should stay that way, but at least iFixIt's …


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  1. Rob Strzelecki

    '16 1Gb chips'!?

    I know RAM is cheap at the moment but a bit of an overkill? 16 128MB chips maybe.

  2. Marco Alfarrobinha

    If you are a Jobite...

    Please don't read any further! Horror, oh horror, the bowels of a iCrap... Anyway, my Tesco bought £500 Gateway laptop is more powerful than this thingy, what is the bloody point of £1000+ laptop that only numpties or the rich will buy? If i ever spend over a grand on a lappy, it would be on something with a good dedicated graphics card, lovely options to expand the memory/hdd, a detachable battery, etc.

    What a rip-off.

  3. Andy Worth

    I bet I can do it quicker....

    I am willing to put money on being able to disassemble a Macbook Air more efficiently than they did (using a hammer).....putting it together again might be a problem though......

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it blend?

    If you can read this comment you are a nerd.

  5. Saucerhead Tharpe


    Typing this on my Asus EEE

    It'll do me.

    Easier to stow in the bag

  6. Lewis Wernham

    re: '16 1Gb chips'!?

    That's 16 x 1 gigabit chips, not gigabyte. ;)

    16 x 1Gb = 2GB

  7. Arnold Lieberman

    16Gb = 128MB

    It's all in the capitalisation ;-)

  8. Andrew Macrobie


    16Gb is 16 giga-bits. 8 bits to a byte so makes 2GB or 2 giga-bytes.

    (Uppercase B for byte, lowercase b for bit)


  9. Roddy Mackenzie

    Do the maths!

    Just for Rob - the first poster, a little maths:

    1Gb = 128 MB

    1GB = 1024 MB

    The difference is in the casing, the first one means bits (ie, an eighth of a byte, the second one is bytes).

  10. Gavin Johnstone

    Re: Rob Strzelecki

    The 16x1Gb chips make up 2GB of RAM.

    2GB is pretty much industry standard just now

  11. Chris Gibson

    Each to their own...

    How does one laptop provoke such rage in guys like Marco? Ranting about the MacBook Air is like hating the Smart car because it only has two doors and a tiny boot. A Ford Fiesta has four doors, a larger boot and costs less, so why would you buy a Smart car?

    The thing is, some people like Smart cars, some people like Fiestas. Each to their own. Personally, I reckon a MacBook Air will suit my own needs perfectly and I'm going to get one. I just can't imagine foaming at the mouth because someone else wants to buy something cheaper, bigger and more expandable. What's the problem?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Porn for nerds

    Yep, I'm loving it....

  13. Dana W
    Thumb Down

    And again.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm a recent Mac Covert "14 months" and I love my MacBook Pro. But Steve J has taken a huge leap from his senses with this one. even the $1200 Macbook is more computer than this.

    This is the first machine to come out since I switched that makes me want to make people look the other way when the Mac ads come on. I feel like my belief in the "Resurrection of the Apple" is being sorely tested.

    All that money for that little bit of computer? Looks like I'm going to get that EEEPC for my sub notebook after all. And if they try pulling the "Laptops don't need optical drives" stuff on the MacBook Pro line, then this will be my last Mac.

  14. Trygve Henriksen

    @Rob - the memory...

    Please note the difference between GB and Gb.

    GB is GigaByte, and Gb is Gigabit. There are 8 bits in a Byte, so yes, you'd need 16 x 1Gb to make up 2GB.

    As for the HDMI chip, Apple and indeed others too, have been known to design machines with a set of functions, then suddenly decide against it, and either leaving the area of the PCB unpopulated, or even leaving the chips in and just disabling them.

    The reason for leaving an area unpopulated is that at the later stages of design it's more cost-efficient than redesigning and testing the PCB again.

    Leaving 'disabled' or 'unused' chips in there can have many reasons. Maybe they tried, and the change in resistivity and capacitance threw the timing off?

    Or the same chips have other tasks, too?

    (Did you know that the Keyboard controller in older PCs also had a hand in control of memory above 1MB?)

  15. Sam

    @Anonymous Coward

    I understood it. Laughed. Then reached for my coat

  16. Richard Scratcher
    Jobs Halo

    Hot Air

    The Macbook Air is aimed at a niche market. I bought one for my niche and she's very happy with it.

    It's not designed to replace your average laptop, it's designed for those people who have a desktop at home and want a lightweight computer for on-the-road use.

    I used to have a Toshiba laptop that had its optical drive in a detachable "docking station" plinth, which also housed an extra battery. Combined the device was still quite small and light but I always used to leave the plinth at home and almost never missed it. These days every man and his dog has a few GBs (or Gbs) of flash memory on their key ring so transferring files was never a problem. Nor was battery life a problem. Most places I went to would let me connect my laptop to the mains. The Macbook Air might be overpriced and overrated but that doesn't mean it won't sell.

  17. Bastian Pfister
    Dead Vulture

    HDCP can be done over DVI

    So the HDMI chip is no sign of 'things to come'. DVI and HDMI are pincompatible (with DVI missing only the sound-portion of HDMI). All Apple has to do is offer a mini-DVI to HDMI cable and turn on hdcp if hollywood knocks on their door.

  18. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    Nice hatchet job

    Nice hatchet job on the customers talk about extreme built in form factor obsolete design from day one !

    Only a apple fan boy would pay more then USD$200 for that POS in two years time !

    Now the lighter 849 gram and more versatile Toshiba Portege R500 which has all the missing user required ports (secure lan unlike wireless , built in finger print security !), upgradeable memory , a longer life battery that can be easily swapped in under 30 seconds and no major surgery required too ! I also note that only recently Fujitsu have abandoned the 1.8" form factor hard drive as well !

    Get one today and in eighteen months to two years time they will be selling you a replacement at the usual Apple cost mark up prices of two to three hundred percent plus !

    I guess the Toshiba wins this round !

    Or as Paris would say beauty is only in the eyes of the beholder or a blinded fan !

  19. Iain Gilbert

    Share the love, not the hate.

    Why do people hate this laptop so much? If you like the hardware but don't like OSX, install Windows on it. If it doesn't suit your needs don't buy it!

    I also don't seem why folks are complaining about the lack of optical drive, the external drive seems pretty good value to me. Also it's supposed to be an ultraportable, generally ultraportables (IBM X series etc) don't come with integrated optical. There are plenty of Macs with integrated opticals but many people have been calling on apple to drop un-needed fat out of it's portables to create a decent ultra-portable.

    I'm more concerned as a "road warrior" at the lack of integrated modem/ethernet, although it's not a huge issue as long as you factor in the extra cost and you can always use you're mobile as a modem. The other issue I have is with the 13" screen, it's still too big for my liking, a 12" screen would have been better, especially if it was in 4:3 format (for documents / web pages etc), however I think Apple is far more worried about the movie crowd than people who have to use wordprocessing/email/web on the move.

    I'm wanting to replace my IBM X21 which recently bit the dust, but I'm not sure about the Air (if I can even afford it!) I think I may end up getting a linux friendly "pc" laptop, probably a Toshiba judging by the quality of some of the new ones I've seen, for the extra money I'd have to spend on the Air I could get an EEEPc which would be nice round the house for ssh / IM.

    As for hdmi I was under the impression that standard HDMI was DVI + sound in a different connector and that DVI could support HDCP. If I'm right surely this means that Apple could "Enable" support for HDCP via an adaptor (although probably at great cost).

  20. RK
    Black Helicopters

    @Dana W

    so you know there's an easy solution for your impending disillusionment with Apple and Jobs "leaving his senses" with the MBA release: don't buy one.

    if you were an investor in Apple, i could understand your concern, but as simply someone who's come round to seeing positives about using Macs (as opposed to frothing at the mouth and spewing vitriol about them simply because they're made by Apple), you really can just ignore the MBA and go about your business as if nothing has changed. it's not as if they're dropping the Macbook or MB Pro lines in favor of this.

  21. Sam Millner

    Its still ridiculous

    They have this amazing "remote disk" feature, that uses other DVD and CD drives, to excuse not using a built in DVD player, but cannot be used to play CDs and DVDs? I'm sorry, but I'm not converting to Mac for that. Linux all the way.

  22. Martin Huizing
    Jobs Halo

    Apple is truly innovative.

    Guys, have you not gotten it through your thick skulls that this is a giant leap forward in the quest for miniaturization? Future, no doubt more powerful and with more feature-ridden, machines will all look as sleek (or sleeker) like this. Apple is paving the way. Expensive? Yes. Limited? Also but there is no question about taste, is there?

    Soon we will find thin cool laptops everywhere when prices drop.

    And then maybe we will find a thin and cool OS to compliment its features...

  23. Ivan Headache

    @ Sam Milner

    We're not asking you to "convert to mac for that". You're obviously a linux geek so why not stay that way.

    And anyway, if we were asking you to "convert to mac" you're not obliged to have a macbook Air. There are 5 other mac portables that do have DVD players built in. You could have one of those instead. (And you can run Linux on all of them.)

  24. Erik Ray
    Thumb Up

    this is only v1

    Anyone who has followed Apple over the years knows that this pattern is to be expected. Version 1 of a new product line will be sold at high price to a few early adopters. It will have problems, to be sure, but the point is Apple is dipping their toe into a new area. Don't forget, there will be dozens of later versions which address the problems and lower the prices.

    Look at the iPod. It started as a $400 clunky, monochrome, 5GB brick. So many pundits claimed it would never sell, that it was overpriced and underpowered. Sounds familiar?

    The complainers will always complain because they can't think outside the box. Version 2 will be better and cheaper. Version 3 better still and cheaper still. Eventually, everyone will be talking about the MBA's descendant as the must-have subnotebook.

    Apple's in this for the long haul. Don't forget that.

  25. Dave

    Taking Macs apart is always easy

    It's putting the buggers back together that's the tricky bit. I see they skipped that part...

  26. Anonymous Coward

    I'd just like to point out...

    ...that 16 1Gb chips equals 2GB of ram, not 16GB, but it does equal 16Gb of ram.

    You know, in case that hasn't been made clear. I thought I'd... you know. I thought I'd let everybody know.

    Just in case.

  27. Herby

    Mac Air vs. ASUS Eee PC

    It all comes down to this: Nice model on beach using device, or bland inter-office envelope.

    Anyone with half a brain will make the obvious choice: THE MODEL!

    Enough said.

    Gotta go.

  28. Swineherd

    Re: You could have one of those instead. (And you can run Linux on all of them.)

    Yes, but PC Hardware is so much better supported, so much cheaper and so much easier to find, so why would we...?

  29. call me scruffy


    They skipped that part? Oh, I'd have skipped the whole flipping machine!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Yes 16 x 1Gb = 2GB

    8 Bits to a Byte ... Funny how some people forget the basics ...

    16 GigaBits divided by 8 equals 2 GigaBytes.

  31. tempemeaty

    Technology advancement

    Apple is ahead of the curve in the eventual miniaturisation of components to X86 based hardware. They sacrificed expandability in this example of the tech but in the near future we can have full mobo's in regular PC's that are no bigger than a Graphics card as the norm. They will be able to out perform and out last today's machines yet still keep all the expansion slots/ports...just smaller.

  32. Iain Gilbert
    Thumb Down

    @Swineherd - Linux on Apple

    "Yes, but PC Hardware is so much better supported, so much cheaper and so much easier to find, so why would we...?"

    I think you'll find that Apple hardware IS pc hardware, after all they do use Intel and that's before I get all pedantic and point out that PC stands for personal computer!

    As for compatibility - I never had any problems with my old dual processor G5 powermac or my old G4 PowerBook 12" running GentooPPC.

  33. Marcus Bointon
    Thumb Up

    For all those doubters

    So where can I buy this mythical PC with the same screen size, decent keyboard, faster CPU, internal optical drive, longer battery life and less weight for £1000 less than the MBA? Apparently it's stocked in every corner shop in the world, but I've not seen one yet.

    As for the lack of ethernet - if you're using ethernet much, you're probably carrying a cable anyway, so the addition of 15 grams or so for the Ethernet USB adaptor is probably not something you'd notice. As it happens the Ethernet port in my MacBook died, but I've not exactly missed it.

  34. Saucerhead Tharpe

    For all it does, the EEE is a winner

    Looking at what the MacAir can do for me, and what my EEE does for me. I think I'll stick with my EEE

    I put the RAM up to 1GB (I had a spare 1GB anyway) and I can't see I really needed it so far. I can use my Cruser 4GB or my FreeCom 160GB potable HD to swap files over, and I have a USB DVD R/W at home.

    One last great thing about the EEE? Itdoesn't look like you vae a laptop in your bag. Much less muggable and a fraction of the price.

  35. Ivan Headache

    @ swineherd

    Not sure what you mean by "better supported"

    Do you mean bricks and cement and girders and stuff?

    My wife's (work provided) PC laptop is so heavy that it hurts. I have to use a pallet truck to get it to the car.

  36. Brian Whittle

    the battery thing

    can't understand the thinking about the none removerable battery , its in the outside of the chassis. Then Apple have a history of things like this such has the hard drive on the macbook pro, iphone battery and ipods. People put up with it so they must know what they are doing

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heard at the apple store:

    You need a new battery? thats $129, bring your macbook in and we will install it for you.

    No, i just want to buy the battery ill put it in myself.

    Ok that will be $299 and we have the only batteries with the correct TPM chip in them to prevent your computer becoming a brick. BWAHAHAHA. thanks for shopping at apple.

    I changed the battery myself but i lost one of the screws in the airplane,

    that will be $49.99 for a set of special screws not avaliable anywhere else. thanks for choosing apple!

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Re: This is only V1

    So what's all the fuss about then? By your argument Apple has merely indicated that they'd like to develop a worthwhile subnotebook in the next few years, as I'm sure many other computer manufacturers would! In the meantime they'll make money by mass producing the intermediate prototypes and selling them to gullible fools. And I'm afraid that's why the rest of the world roles it's eyes and mutters "fanbois" under it's collective breath.

  39. Sarah Baucom
    Thumb Down


    Nice attempt at humor. Apple has never used anything but standard torx and phillips screws in their computers. For special screws you can't find elsewhere, you can look to Compaq and Packard Bell.

  40. Nick
    Paris Hilton

    The light...

    TBH, this is the first Apple product i 'want', but not at any price. It needs to be AT LEAST 25% cheaper than it currently is. My current Dell generally only has the power and usb mouse connected, I hardly use the DVD Writer, and I have a USB hub for other things where necessary, but I generally transfer stuff wirelessly anyhoo. So when the pricepoint comes up to match the products around it (the EEE is also on my Radar) I may just pay a visit to the local mac store to lay down my £.

    Does anyone know whether Paris prefers a small, or thin and light package?

  41. Ivan Headache

    @Re: This is only V1

    So I suppose the same applies to those who bought V1 of the EEE.

    Fanboys - they're all the same.

  42. Silo Spen


    I'm still shocked at how little is under the hood. It looks like an IPod on the inside!

    I can't help but think that Apple have missed the point of miniaturisation. Light, small, etc are all good points - thin? That doesn't really make it smaller in any sense. I mean, if you took pretty much any object and made it thin instead of smaller, it would still be a pain in the ass to carry around.

    Still, thin looks good.

  43. Ryan Stewart


    They arent really adead of anything in that respect, especially not a curve of any type.

    Sony, Fujitsu, Dell, Lenovo. All have had smaller computers. The Apple is just thin. Its still pretty large. Its thinness comes from an unorthodox battery solution and the LED display (well, that and ditching everything but one USB and one headphone port).

    They do make pretty designs, but this is hardly pushing the limits of technology.

  44. Andy Worth


    Why term them as 1Gb chips rather than 128MB chips then? Surely saying everything else in Bytes and then throwing in a Bit here or there is just confusing for everyone? (btw before a fanboi or anti-fanboi jumps on this, I'm just asking if it makes sense to anyone else)

    A lot of people seem to get hung up on the lack of removable battery. Given that my company have between 600 and 700 laptops out in the estate at any time, the number of batteries we have to replace is actually very small. It certainly wouldn't be the reason I chose not to buy one.

    @Sarah - Compaq don't exist as a single entity any more so I assume you're talking about their old machines? The last Compaq machine we bought with a non-standard screw in it was in around 2000/2001, when they did the Ipaq range and they had those annoying torq screws with a bit in the middle. Everything we have from D500 onwards uses standard torq screws throughout. So, nice attempt at humour, but no cigar this time.

  45. auser

    The layout of this system...

    looks just like my old thosiba laptop. Even the ribbon cables are arranged in the same fashion. It's an ancient 10 inch laptop with a 7 inch color vga screen. The harddrive was placed right under the various plastic film ribbon cables, with a 2 mm thick led panel with glued on components and an L shaped integrated cpu/vga/bridge/bios motherboard. The cooling was done with a nice piece of thin aluminium sheet covering the chips and conducting the heat towards the keyboard. (no fan on that old 486) The two differences were that it had a memory expansion stack-on card at the bottom and an expansion bay in place of the air's wireless card. Btw, the laptop i'm talking about is still working and in use, and it has been outfitted with an ssd storage for vibration resistance and installed as remote operated wehicle control unit.

    So far it seems the apple engineers have succesfully copied a 20 year old design. Except the leds based backlights, that is a new technology. Imho, even an asus eee has more technology in it.

  46. Ivan Headache


    My Vauxhall has a wheel at each corner, One in front of the seat I occupy to help me get it round corners, an engine near the front , a speedo. OPG, temp gauge and odometer to display information to me - and some doors.

    Seems like Vauxhall's engineers have successfully copied an 80 year old design, except for the LED odometer.

    There are only a few ways you can do some thing (imho).

  47. D. M
    Thumb Down

    the real question is

    Is every die hard Mac fanboy/girl missing a screw or two?

    I just don't get it. Apple is always overprice, underpowered, nice looking, lock-in user to Apple only, treat its user like crap. Why do people put up with this Apple abuse? Same I couldn't understand why people put up with M$ crap.

    You buy any computer using your head, think before making decision. Ask yourself what does product X do for me, and what I can do with it, AND who control this machine - myself or someone else.

  48. Albert Stienstra

    Apple does not do miniaturization

    @ Martin Huizing

    You don't really believe Apple has real hardware factories of its own, do you? In the USA? And as to miniaturization; Apple is just riding on technology development in the Far East. Like all PC manufacturers.

  49. This post has been deleted by its author

  50. Rob Strzelecki

    Ok ok misread/misunderstood!

    No need for 8+ people to point it out! Can't you read the first comment where Arnold Lieberman corrects me. Just misread an posted hastily.

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