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The latest MacBook Air is more repairable than its predecessors, thanks to several design changes.
Do you dare to repair? Broken Mac? You should be fine — unless you want to repair or upgrade it yourself, that is... BY Alex summersby
The good news: Apple’s latest MacBook Air is more repairable than ever. The bad news: The T2 chip in this and other models blocks unauthorized repairs. Apple devices do not have a good reputation for repairability. Repairers and upgraders have complained for decades that Apple routinely uses screws with non–standard heads, making it a challenge just to get inside, and components glued or even soldered in place, making it hard to repair them, let alone upgrade them. For example, the memory is not user–upgradeable in iMacs and MacBook Pros post–2012, and the SSD storage is soldered directly to the circuit board in MacBook Pros post–2016. 8 Feb 2019 maclife.com
Now, though, in one of its renowned teardowns, iFixit has found that the 2018 MacBook Air is much more repairable than previous models. The base is easier to remove, with no concealed cables that could be damaged if you’re not careful. “Apart from the pesky pentalobe screws, this laptop opens about as easily as any,” iFixit says. Once you’re inside, “Just six Torx screws and a few cable connectors stand between us and logic board removal — not bad!” Some components are modular, such as the fan, Touch ID button, and Thunderbolt 3 ports, so they can be individually replaced. The batteries and speakers are held in place with stretch–release
adhesive — you simply pull the tabs to remove it. “We don’t love adhesive,” iFixit comments, adding “reusable screws are nearly always better,” but this is certainly “loads better than gooey solvents and blind prying,” and its use suggests “that someone at least thought about possible repair and disassembly situations.” Even so, iFixit awards the 2018 MacBook Air a repairability score of only 3 out of 10. The keyboard is integrated into the top case, requiring a full teardown for service; the trackpad shares a cable with the keyboard; and the RAM and SSD chips are soldered in place, meaning they can’t be removed.
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