iFixit tears down the new AirPort Extreme

Following most new hardware announcements, self-repair site iFixIt quickly brings us a glimpse of what the new hardware is all about, on the inside.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
2 min read

iFixIt took a look at the guts of the new MacBook Air, as well as the new AirPort Extreme base station, which Apple unveiled at WWDC 2013. The new AirPort Extreme offers more advancements in speed, connectivity, and capacity than its predecessors and has a new design, to boot.

Instead of being squat and flat, the new design is an elongated cube that looks like a brick standing upright. Apple claims this was required to implement a major advancement with directional antennas that should extend both the range and speed of connections to wireless devices.

AirPort Extreme bracket showing drive placement
While it does not come with a drive, the AirPort Extreme's bracket can easily house one. iFixIt

This new design has spurred curiosity in many of us, and iFixIt's teardown shows what constitutes this new device.

Overall, the brick is almost like a small squared-off shipping tube, with a bracket extending the length of the device. Surprisingly, the bracket does not house anything in the middle of the device, but appears to be just large enough to perfectly accept a 3.5-inch hard drive and hold it at a diagonal.

Unfortunately there are no connections (or space for them) in the system, so while there may be similar Time Capsule devices based on this design, iFixIt claims it will likely be very difficult if not impossible to modify an AirPort Extreme to be a Time Capsule.

Airport Extreme Antenna
The AirPort Extreme antenna is a square plate, perched at the top of the unit's internal brackets. iFixIt

On the sides of the drive bracket are two circuit boards that hold the power supply and logic board, containing 4GB of synchronous DRAM, 32MB of serial flash memory, and a Broadcom router controller. These components are encased in heat sinks and thermal venting, with a small fan to provide active cooling.

The innards are connected by six contacts to a flat, square antenna that is perched at the top of the tower and is the size of the end of the unit. Oddly, this deviates from Apple's explanation at the WWDC keynote that the elongated design was to house the antennas and beam data from the sides. Instead, it's evident that the beaming happens from the top of the unit.

Regarding repairability, iFixIt rates the new AirPort Extreme fairly well with a score of 8 out of 10. The reasoning for this is its modular design, lack of proprietary fasteners, and lack of glued components, making it easy to disassemble. Of course getting to the innards required a bit of prying, and some fasteners are small and delicate, so iFixIt settled on an overall rating of 8.

To see the details of the teardown, head on over to iFixIt.

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