Apple introduced new models of the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule during their WWDC 2013 keynote, and guess who got their hands on an AirPort Extreme and tore it down? Yup, those teardown-mad guys at iFixit!
The new vertical designs take up considerably more volume than their predecessors, although footprints have been reduced to just 3.85 inches square. The new base stations include support for the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, and Apple has increased the number of antennas from three to six. The vertical design is intended to optimize range and signal strength by elevating the antennas, while also helping the base stations offer beamforming, which automatically finds 802.11ac devices and targets Wi-Fi signals toward those devices for optimum performance.
Since the AirPort Extreme and the AirPort Time Capsule have identical internal designs, it’s no great surprise to find the AirPort Extreme has space for a hard drive, but sorry hardware hackers, you’re not going to be able to pop a hard drive in there and create your own TIme Capsule. Unfortunately, Apple neglected to include a connector to plug the drive into.
We free the top cover, only to find…3.5″ of empty space. While the AirPort Extreme doesn’t come equipped with storage, we dug up a standard 3.5″ SATA hard drive, just to test it out. Perfecto!…Except we can’t find any connectors where we’d plug in the hard drive, only empty spaces on the logic board—so chances of DIY AirPort Extreme to Time Capsule upgrades are slim.
iFixit gave the AirPort Extreme a repairability score of 8 out of 10, as there was a relative lack of glue, fasteners were industry standard Torx screws, and the only moderately difficult to pry open enclosure contained modular components. There were some breakage-prone connectors, and difficult access to the fan, so that led to the less-than-perfect score.