This just in: What? No, I can't believe it. The 2018 MacBook Air still a huge pain to have repaired

Full teardown necessary should butterfly keyboard need service

2018 MacBook Air Teardown
2018 MacBook Air (pic: iFixit)

The team at iFixit took a screwdriver set to Apple's refreshed MacBook Air and found it a step in the right direction for repairability.

The 2018 MacBook Air updated a design which, when it first appeared a decade ago, was revolutionary but now looks a bit tired. Despite mutterings that perhaps the granddaddy of ultrabooks might be sent out to pasture in favour of the MacBook and MacBook Pro, Apple gave the brand a much needed overhaul.

Size-wise, the Air sits between the MacBook and the Pro. Alas, it also has the butterfly keyboard replete with membrane to keep down the noise or, just maybe, keep out those pesky molecule-sized bits of fluff that have proven oh so troublesome.

Once inside, the iFixit team found a single fan – an interesting addition since others (including Apple) have been looking for ways to remove spinning blades from their lightweight machinery – coupled with a radiator. The more powerful guts of the Air clearly need a more active cooling solution.

The logic board features the Intel CPU (a Core i5 in this case) with RAM and storage soldered in place. Upgrade-ability has sadly taken a back seat in the drive to make devices as thin and light as possible, and Apple is no exception to this rule.

Also front and centre on the logic board is Apple's T2 co-processor. The custom silicon handles tasks such as access to the storage and, of course, keeping everything secure.

While the logic board and ports are simple to extract (and must be removed to get at the trackpad), adhesive makes the batteries a little trickier to pull out, although not insurmountable, and the team noted the 49.9Wh power pack is larger than the 42.5Wh in Microsoft's Surface 2.

Overall, the team rated the MacBook Air a 3 out of 10 in the repairability stakes.

While a little harsh, since the design does seem to favour disassembly more than certain other devices (Apple's included), the team reckoned that having to do a full teardown to get to the keyboard and trackpad merited a black mark.

And the ongoing trend by all manufacturers of soldering memory and storage to the logic board is clearly not going to be rewarded any time soon. ®




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