back to article Cool stuff: MacBook Air and Pro teardowns show thermal changes and missing T2 chip

The first teardowns of the MacBook Pro and Air reveal few surprises. iFixit got its hands on the inaugural Apple Silicon machines and tenderly disassembled them, with the results largely affirming what we learned during this month's keynote. The most interesting findings pertain to the cooling apparatus on both machines. The …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    I know where the T2 chip is

    Sarah Connor dropped it in a furnace.

    It's Friday ...

    1. DS999

      Re: I know where the T2 chip is

      The T2 chip is basically the secure enclave from the SoCs split off into its own chip, so it is present in the M1. Well, one several generations newer, at least.

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: I know where the T2 chip is

        Well, one several generations newer, at least.

        Let's hope this manifestation doesn't glitch USB audio interfaces.

      2. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: I know where the T2 chip is

        "The T2 chip is basically the secure enclave from the SoCs split off into its own chip, so it is present in the M1. Well, one several generations newer, at least."


        the T2 does far more than secure enclave, for starters it does the on-the-fly encryption for the ssd not just secure enclave for the keys.

        the ssd in a mac equipped with t2 is always encrypted, the user has a choice to use a password to access or have the machine auto provide access sans password.

        T1 can't do T2 things like drive encryption.

        yes T2 functionality is rolled into M1

  2. Mage Silver badge

    Dead Space?

    "Curiously, because the logic board is so small, the machine is filled with dead space. Apple could have conceivably shrunk the form factor without having to make any real hardware compromises. This opens the possibility for a more ambitious redesign further down the line."

    No, don't make it smaller. Put more batteries in it. Or an expansion slot / Media bay. Really USB-x dongles are poor compared with a high speed connection and internal slot that can take SCSI, GPIB, HDD, Firewire, more USB, video capture, HDMI, Serial, Parallel, Optical Network, Satellite Tuner, SDR, ANYTHING.

    The old double height PCMCIA was good on Windows and Linux Laptops. Then it was replaced with the smaller PC Card that had a USB option. So card makers took the cheap rubbish option of only using the USB. Also most of the old PCMCIA interfaces were NEVER ported to the new design. It was pointless so soon laptops had no slots. In fact no work laptop with the later type slot I had ever used it, the card functions didn't exist.

    The slots was one of the reasons for success of Apple II, ISA bus and PCI bus. The EISA and VESA were never popular. Similarly many useful PCI cards nevet migrated to PCIe.

    So I have an old laptop for PCMIA cards and an old PC for PCI cards. I know SOME things have USB dongle versions that work such as Serial, Parallel, DMX, Midi.

    My coat is the one with loads of big pockets!

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Dead Space?

      the mac mini isn't battery powered.

    2. J27 Silver badge

      Re: Dead Space?

      They're moving even further in the other direction. SoC? soldered RAM? Expect a soldered SSD next. It's the only thing left.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thankfully a new keyboard

    whoever thought that the last macbook air should have been allowed to ship with that monstrosity of a keyboard should have been fired

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: last macbook air ... ship with that monstrosity of a keyboard

      Re: whoever thought that the last macbook air should have been allowed to ship with that monstrosity of a keyboard

      The last (Intel) MacBook Air (i.e the 2020 model) had the fixed keyboard, not the problematic one of the last few years.

      1. Solviva

        Re: last macbook air ... ship with that monstrosity of a keyboard

        Actually the 2019 model (16") got the new keyboard first.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: last macbook air ... ship with that monstrosity of a keyboard

          Sorry, did someone say otherwise?

          Must have missed that bit. Saying the last Intel Air that was shipped had the new keyboard has nothing to do with which model got it first.

          "Actually", as you put it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: thankfully a new keyboard

      I'm typing this on my 2019 13" pro with the 3rd gen Butterfly Keyboard, its my favourite keyboard, I think they got it right by that point, its nicer than my 2017 2nd gen butterfly keyboard. My 2012 Air, 2013 Air or 2013 MacBook Pro keyboards do feel mushy when you have been typing for ages on the butterfly. I don't mind the magic keyboard on my 2019 16" MacBook Pro, but still I prefer the 3rd gen butterfly.

      But must rush, I need to go put an M1 Macbook in my basket as I don't have enough Macbook's.....

      1. Francis King

        Re: thankfully a new keyboard

        An external mechanical keyboard is best. For the full effect, get blue key switches...

  4. Mage Silver badge

    Soldered Storage!

    Evil. It wears out.

    Also bigger capacities or new technologies.

    Soldered RAM also is evil unless there is a massive amount.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Soldered Storage!

      I think the RAM is stacked (maybe even TSV) rather then just a soldered component - helps with performance, but agreed upgradeability is a problem ....

      1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

        Re: Soldered Storage!

        RAM is in the M1, probably on-die as I'm looking at things. Soldering down the SSD is way over the top IMNSHO. With that extra space, I'd like to see at least a couple of M.2's, or equivalent, replaceable. I abuse the heck out of mine just in loading datasets, dumping and loading another or even a prior one here.

        1. Crypto Monad

          Re: Soldered Storage!

          Not on-die, but in the same package.

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Keyboard riveted?

    I replaced a riveted keyboard on an Acer once. If you write a lot and use a laptop for sensible period of time you need to replace the keyboard and battery.

    1. carl0s

      Re: Keyboard riveted?

      Yeah I've had to cut off plastic weld/rivets on Asus an Acer laptops so that I could replace keyboards without having to buy entire palmrest+keyboard assemblies.

      My now rather old ThinkPad X1 Carbon gen3 is on its third keyboard+palmrest+ultranav, as you say, just through long term use. It's still a very good machine.

  6. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    The latest iPad Air and Pro use a similar processor, and they don't have fans.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      The iPad processors are more limited for the moment. Consider these spec differences:

      M1: 8 cores, 4 high-speed Firestorm at 3.2 GHz and 4 lower-power Icestorm at unknown clock rate (at least I don't know yet). Cores from A14 range.

      iPad Air 2020 (4th generation): 6 cores, 2 Firestorm at 3.0 GHz and 4 Icestorm, A14 range.

      iPad Pro 2020 (4th generation): 8 cores, but from A12 range instead of A14, high-speed cores (X4) running at 2.5 GHz.

      In addition to these technical differences, most users will not hammer the processor as hard on an iPad as they do on a computer. Most tasks requiring a lot of sustained calculating get done on computers with full operating systems, such as compiling code, managing large datasets, or manipulation of visual data. While some such tasks can run on iPads, fewer users intend to do that with them than intend to do it with a laptop.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        "manipulation of visual data"

        Many iPads are used for "manipulation of visual data" especially the pro's.

        in my view Apple have guessed that those buying the cheaper gear will, in a few years, start to wonder why they need a laptop when the iPad & iPhone does a better job at photo and video editing which is arguably the most cpu intensive workloads most users will ever do. The MacBook Air has just shown that you can get a powerful compute system in something that needs no fan. Maybe the air and the pro merge as an entryish performance level Mac portable.

        Apple are making huge savings by selling their own CPU's i don't see how Intel can compete on performance or price.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Many iPads are used for "manipulation of visual data" especially the pro's.


  7. carl0s

    No repairs

    Repairability? My friend has cracked the screen in a fairly new 16" MacBook Pro (model A2141). While she thinks about finding a box to send it off to Apple in, I said it would be interesting to see what a panel costs in the aftermarket i.e. eBay, fully expecting it might be expensive for an LCD-TFT or AMOLED panel, maybe £400 at worst, or simply not available at all new leaving you in the hands of Apple and their decision on whether they would or could repair a cracked screen.

    Turns out you can buy them, for between £720 and £1000.

    To be fair, it is the whole lid/top assy, rather than the OEM panel, but it reaffirms my feelings on this manufacturer's computers in general.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

      Re: No repairs

      is this how it happened?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    16 GB max?

    16 GB RAM is a bit tight for a machine marketed at video editing

  9. BGatez Bronze badge

    typical Crapple rape the customer for an 8gb RAM upgrade and landfill later cause f*** your environment

  10. Richard Lloyd

    Nice CPU, a shame it's from Apple

    The M1 is quite an impressive CPU, but it's a real pity Apple came up with it. They're unlikely to allow third parties to use the CPU, RAM is limited to a ridiculous 16GB even on their "Pro" model, there's no sign yet whether Windows or Linux wil ever run on M1 bare metal, their new M1 kit is horrendously non-upgradeable and the prices for extra RAM/storage (£200 each for 8GB more RAM and 256GB more storage) - a decision you are forced to make at purchase time - are nothing short of scandalous.

    If anyone else had made the M1 chip, we'd see it in a myriad of laptops/desktops, be able to run alternative OSes and be able to upgrade the RAM/storage both cheaply and to large capacities. I'd love to see a powerful ARM cheap laptop with Linux pre-installed (yes, I know about the Pinebook Pro, but it's nowhere near the M1's speed and its availabilty is sketchy too). We'll sadly never see that with the M1.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Nice CPU, a shame it's from Apple

      It's just an ARM. Loads of companies make equivalent or better ARM SoCs. Big.little is a standard layout recommended by ARM for many workloads.

      Sadly NXP have been going on a buying spree so there aren't quite as many options as there were five years back, but there's still plenty.

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