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Teardown of Apple's new MacBook Air finds SSDs are replaceable

A peek inside Apple's refreshed MacBook Air lineup has found that the new notebooks continue to have flash-based solid state drives that are removable, dispelling a rumor that they would be soldered onto the motherboard.

iFixit cracked open the new MacBook Air on Thursday, and found an internal design that is largely similar to the previous models released in late 2010. The thin-and-light notebook was given an update this week, adding a Thunderbolt port and backlit keyboard.

"Just like in the mid-2010 MacBook Air, the SSD is not soldered on the logic board," they wrote. "Thankfully this means you can upgrade the SSD for more storage, but you're still out of luck if you need extra RAM."

Since the RAM is not user-serviceable, the solutions provider advises potential owners to pay the extra $200 to upgrade to 4GB of RAM, though only the base 11.6-inch model with 64GB of storage has 2GB of RAM.

The teardown proves incorrect a previous rumor that claimed the new MacBook Air hardware would feature NAND flash soldered onto the base circuit of the notebook.

The peek inside the new notebook found that the main chips on its mini-PCIe wireless card include a Broadcom BCM4322 Intensi-fi Single-Chip 802.11 Transceiver, and a Broadcom BCM20702 Single-Chip Bluetooth 4.0 Processor with Bluetooth Low Energy Support. Both the new MacBook Airs and Mac minis released this week support Bluetooth 4.0, a first for Apple products.

iFixit 1

iFixit also found that the heat sink in the new MacBook Air is virtually identical to the one used in last year's models, though it has a larger plate to accommodate a larger die face on the new Core i5 processor.

iFixit 1

The logic board on the model dissected includes an Intel Core i5 Processor-2557M with integrated graphics, DSL2310, Intel E78296 01PB10 / E116A756 SLJ4K Platform Controller Hub (presumed to be for the new Thunderbolt port), and a Genesys Logic 822 SD-slot controller.

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"Shifting to integrated graphics on the processor freed up a lot of room on the board — enough for Apple to add the sizeable Thunderbolt-capable PCH," the site said.

In all, the new MacBook Air was given a repairability score of 4 out of 10, with 10 being the easiest to repair. All of the internal components are proprietary, making upgrades or replacements particularly difficult. For more pictures and details, see the full teardown at iFixit.

Save when buying

The new MacBook Airs began making their way to Apple stores and authorized resellers on Thursday. Readers in the market for one of the notebooks can check out AppleInsider's Mac Pricing Guide (also below), where MacMall is already offering readers an additional 3% discount off its already reduced MacBook Air (and MacBook Pro) prices. The discount is instant when using the links below but available only when placing orders on line — you do not need to call MacMall to place a pre-order. Orders placed online will ship as soon as the reseller receives stock from Apple.