Teardown of Apple's New AirPort Extreme Reveals Hard Drive Slot, but No Connectors

While iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks drew most of the attention at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, another one of Apple's introductions also generated a significant amount of discussion and controversy: redesigned AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule Wi-Fi base stations.

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.

The teardown experts at iFixit have obtained one of the new AirPort Extreme units and have torn it apart to examine its internals. Given that the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule have identical external designs, it should be no surprise that the AirPort Extreme contains space for a hard drive, although it appears that users will not be able to build their own Time Capsules by simply adding hard drives to their AirPort Extremes.

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.

airport_extreme_2013_open
Looking further, iFixit found the usual array of chips on the logic board, and was also able to trace the antenna cable up through the center of the device to a large plate at the top which serves to distribute the Wi-Fi signals. And overall, iFixit gives the AirPort Extreme a repairability score of 8 out of 10, citing standard Torx screws, a relative lack of glue, and modular components as positives and slightly difficult prying to open, difficult fan access, and breakage-prone connectors as negatives.

airport_extreme_2013_apart
Apple's new AirPort Extreme is priced at $199, while the AirPort Time Capsule base stations incorporating hard drives for wireless backup storage are priced at $299 for 2 TB and $399 for 3 TB.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
92 months ago
Jeez, people! Do you not READ? The tower design is to help with the antennas and the 802.11 AC performance. Stop whining and READ!
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
92 months ago
Yea USB three is vitally important for printers and backup's while you sleep..
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
92 months ago

No USB 3.0 because USB 2.0 is faster than the bandwidth of a wireless connection anyway.

No it isn't.

802.11ac is 1300Mbps

USB 2.0 is just 480Mbps (much less in reality)

Other manufactures are including USB 3.0 (5000Mbps) in their routers and charging less.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
92 months ago
I bet I could fit a Raspberry Pi in there. Could make a nice little DIY NAS box.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
92 months ago

They really should have made a smaller profile design instead of wasting space with the Extreme version..


They did. It's called an Airport Express.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
92 months ago

I still don't know what to make of the new design...


Agreed.

I've got the current shape Extreme and it's classy, yet unobtrusive.

This design is perplexing.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Officially Obsoletes First MacBook Pro With a Retina Display

Wednesday July 1, 2020 3:40 am PDT by
As expected, Apple's first MacBook Pro with a Retina display is now officially classed as "obsolete" worldwide, just over eight years after its release. In a support document, Apple notes that obsolete products are no longer eligible for hardware service, with "no exceptions." This means that any mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro 15-inch models still out there that require a battery or other...

New Mac Ransomware Found in Pirated Mac Apps

Tuesday June 30, 2020 11:44 am PDT by
There's a new 'EvilQuest' Mac ransomware variant that's spreading through pirated Mac apps, according to a new report shared today by Malwarebytes. The new ransomware was found in pirated download for the Little Snitch app found on a Russian forum. Right from the point of download, it was clear that something was wrong with the illicit version of Little Snitch, as it had a generic installer...

Unreleased iMac With 10-Core Comet Lake-S Chip and Radeon Pro 5300 GPU Shows Up in Geekbench

Wednesday July 1, 2020 10:48 am PDT by
Benchmarks for an unreleased iMac equipped with a 10th-generation Core i9 Intel Comet Lake-S chip and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300 graphics card have surfaced, giving us an idea of what we can expect from a refreshed 2020 iMac. The Geekbench benchmarks, which appear to be legit, were found on Twitter and shared this morning by Tom's Hardware. The iMac in the benchmarks would be a successor to the...

Leaker: Future iPhone Models to Come in 'Exquisite' Thinner Box

Wednesday July 1, 2020 1:57 am PDT by
Leaker L0vetodream this morning posted a tweet corroborating recent rumors that Apple's "iPhone 12" lineup won't come with EarPods or a charger in the box, adding that this will also eventually apply to the existing second-generation iPhone SE. L0vetodream also claims that future iPhone packaging will be "thinner" and "exquisite," which would make sense if Apple's handsets are set to come in ...

Apple's A12Z Under Rosetta Outperforms Microsoft's Native Arm-Based Surface Pro X

Monday June 29, 2020 10:31 am PDT by
Apple's Developer Transition Kit equipped with an A12Z iPad Pro chip began arriving in the hands of developers this morning to help them get their apps ready for Macs running Apple Silicon, and though forbidden, the first thing some developers did was benchmark the machine. Multiple Geekbench results have indicated that the Developer Transition Kit, which is a Mac mini with an iPad Pro chip, ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Models Won't Include Charger in Box, 20W Power Adapter Will Be Sold Separately

Sunday June 28, 2020 7:56 am PDT by
iPhone 12 models will not include EarPods or a power adapter in the box, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. This lines up with a prediction shared by analysts at Barclays earlier this week. Kuo said that Apple will instead release a new 20W power adapter as an optional accessory for iPhones and end production of its existing 5W and 18W power adapters...

Rosetta 2 Benchmarks Surface From Mac Mini With A12Z Chip

Monday June 29, 2020 7:48 am PDT by
While the terms and conditions for Apple's new "Developer Transition Kit" forbid developers from running benchmarks on the modified Mac mini with an A12Z chip, it appears that results are beginning to surface anyhow. Image Credit: Radek Pietruszewski Geekbench results uploaded so far suggest that the A12Z-based Mac mini has average single-core and multi-core scores of 811 and 2,781...

Display Analyst Once Again Says No 120Hz ProMotion Display Coming to iPhone 12 Pro

Wednesday July 1, 2020 11:29 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 models will not feature an upgraded 120Hz ProMotion display, according to display analyst Ross Young. Young previously said that Apple would not implement ProMotion technology until it adopted low-power LTPO display technology, a move Apple is not expected to make until 2021. In a tweet shared this morning, Young said that the none of his contacts have been able to...

Apple Seeds Third Betas of iOS and iPadOS 13.6 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Tuesday June 30, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third betas of upcoming iOS and iPadOS 13.6 updates to developers, three weeks after seeding the second betas and over a month after releasing iOS/iPadOS 13.5 with Exposure Notification API, Face ID updates, Group FaceTime changes, and more. iOS and iPadOS 13.6 can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or over the air once the proper developer profile has been...

The New York Times Ends Apple News Partnership and Pulls All Articles

Monday June 29, 2020 11:17 am PDT by
The New York Times today announced that it is pulling out of Apple News, as the service does not "align with its strategy of building direct relationships with paying readers." Starting today, articles from The New York Times will no longer show up in the Apple News app. The news site says that Apple has given it "little in the way of direct relationships with readers" and "little control...