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Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 09:27 pm PT (12:27 am ET)

Refreshed MacBook Air teardown reveals larger battery, smaller SSD and more

After a superficial "teardown" of Apple's latest MacBook Air was conducted earlier on Tuesday, a more comprehensive look at the thin-and-light has been posted, with minor changes seen in battery size, the SSD module and integrated graphics, among others.

An early look at the 11-inch mid-2013 MacBook Air was furnished by OWC earlier today, but now the repair gurus at iFixit have completed their thorough teardown of a 13-inch model, revealing a number of minor, but crucial changes to Apple's hot selling laptop.

MBA Teardown

Comparison of 2012 13-inch MacBook Air (left) with 2013 model. | Source: iFixit


Most notable among the hardware revisions is an enlarged battery, which moves from a 7.3V 6700mAh pack to a 7.6V 7150mAh unit. The cells still dominate the Air's innards.

Apple touts the new 13-inch model will last 12 hours on a charge, but the battery is not thought to be the main contributor to that spec buff. Instead, the Air uses Intel's Haswell ULT silicon, which offers huge decreases in power consumption while serving up snappier performance.

With Haswell, Intel moved to its next-generation integrated graphics solution, Intel HD Graphics 5000, which doesn't require a separate board.

Adding to the updated component list is a new SSD module from Samsung, which is smaller than similar parts used in previous MacBook Air iterations. With the new size comes new technology, as the latest SSD unit uses a PCIe bus rather than SATA, a first for Mac. PCIe can achieve rates of up to 800MB/s, while SATA is limited to about 600MB/s.

The new Air is also the first to employ the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol, which required the computer's wireless card to be updated. Apple launched redesigned AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models to take advantage of the new standard, and is planning on incorporating the technology into future Macs as they roll out.

The only change made to the MacBook Air's chassis is a hole to accommodate the addition of a second internal microphone used for sound cancellation duties.

Other smaller tweaks include a redesigned heat sink clamp, repositioned speaker cabling and a revamped MagSafe 2 board that no longer holds a socket for the laptop's iSight camera.