Building a MacBook Air at home

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by gustavopi, Nov 6, 2018.

?

What is the oldest Air model still useful?

Poll closed May 6, 2019.
  1. Any

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. 2008

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. 2009

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. 2010

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. 2011

    6 vote(s)
    66.7%
  6. 2012

    3 vote(s)
    33.3%
  7. No Air model is very useful

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. gustavopi macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Brazil
    #1
    I've just build a Compaq notebook using two waste notebooks plus some used parts. It's not needed to be a genius to make it, and a Compaq is an interesting machine, worth the efforts. Than I though - why not to build a MacBook?

    I have a pro 2012 and I can say will be hard to find waste ones around, at list where I live. But we can find more easily MacBook Air. It does not need to be a burned machine, an old model won't be very useful with 2GB RAM, probably won't run 64 bit systems, means it is totally outdated and can be bought for a cheap price. Maybe is a good idea to pick the body, keyboard, screen, battery, etc, some real useful purpose of existence, right?

    That said, I am now researching about the logic board and parts, how to reuse or replace. I saw a tutorial of a freek chinese guy that changed the memory chips in a logic board from 2GB to 8GB in a home lab... does not seems to be something I can do in my home with my screwdrivers and my 30W welder. I am looking for something more in the level of changing parts and doing minor adaptations. Though will be more accessible to most of mac enthusiasts.

    So I opened this thread to exchange some technical information about old Macbook Air, specially logic boards. Different from many notebooks I have opened from other brands, MacBooks have mainly rectangular pieces that seems easy to change. Will fit really? Will recognize basic devices such screen and keyboard? What about energy needs?

    I am opened to suggestions, even the "give up" one...
     
  2. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #2
    Parts from the same generation and screen size will fit, but parts from other generations may or may not (Apple is known for subtle design changes between generations).

    As for the oldest one I'd recommend, probably the 2012. Supported in Mojave, and all have at least 4 GB RAM.
     
  3. Audit13 macrumors 601

    Audit13

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    #3
    I recommend at least a 13" mid-2013 Air since all parts from the mid-2013 to 2017 are interchangeable.
     
  4. Macdctr, Nov 6, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018

    Macdctr macrumors 6502a

    Macdctr

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Location:
    Ocean State
    #4
    I recently “built” my Early 2015 MBA 13 Inch at home using parts I acquired mostly from eBay.

    I started out with a 2013 MBA 13 Inch that supposedly had some liquid spill on it for $75. It turned out the spill was contained to the keyboard area so I went to the ifixit site and ordered a brand new upper case/keyboard assembly for an 2013 MBA (this part is the same for 2013-Early 2018) and replaced that part. The track pad had some spill residue on it that cleaned up easily and was fully functional afterwards so I reused this part.

    The 2013 logic board in the computer had an i5/4GB board so I sourced an Early 2015 i7/8GB board, M.2 NVMe adapter, 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD card and new battery to upgrade the computer.

    Once everything arrived, I did the upgrade and for $700 spent overall on the computer and all replacement parts, I had a fully spec’d BTO MacBook Air that runs fast and reliable.

    Couldn’t be happier with the results!

    I went with the 2015 logic board so I could take advantage of software updates for many years to come since the spec’d out 2015 is the same as the spec’d out 2018.
     
  5. Audit13 macrumors 601

    Audit13

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    #5
    @Macdctr , wanted to let you know that I had an early 2015 running the GM release of Mojave on an early 2015 13" i5 Air with an Intel 600p nvme. I ran the software update to get 10.14.1. After completing the update, my Air's bootrom was updated to the latest release. This is the first time my Air has received a bootrom update while running an nvme drive.
     
  6. Macdctr macrumors 6502a

    Macdctr

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Location:
    Ocean State
    #6
    Interesting! I'm currently on Mojave 10.14.2 (Build 18C31g) on my early 2015 MBA 13" with a Samsung 950 PRO M.2 NVMe and this is my current Boot ROM version MBA71.0176.B00

    Here's a screen shot of what comes up when I click on system information on my MBA...
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Audit13 macrumors 601

    Audit13

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    #7
    My air was running bootrom 0178 on 10.14 and is now on 182.0.0.0 after the 10.14.1 update.

    Not sure if the bootrom update did anything because it works the same as it did before the update.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. gustavopi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Brazil
    #8
    Good to know!

    I am glad we got a success story here! Make me more optimistic.

    By reading all the posts, I think we have two and half situations: 2013 or newer will be easy, 2012 will be basically a maintenance job, but worth it, and 2011 or older will be the challenge. The older case might work if we buy just the "case" with the screen and build an earlier machine inside. I am particularly worry with the power supply and the connection with the screen, things that I will have to investigate deep.

    Thanks for comments!
     
  9. Banglazed macrumors demi-god

    Banglazed

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    Cupertino, CA
    #9
    My Mid 2011 MacBook Air still useful using the Mojave patcher even though it may be slightly slower.
     
  10. Audit13 macrumors 601

    Audit13

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    #10
    The screen connections for the 2012 and 2013 and not the same. The location of the add-in cards is also different.
     
  11. gustavopi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Brazil
    #11
    Well, in a quick look I already forgot about to old MacBooks such one 2009 I saw for selling. There is to much of differences, I think won't be possible to adapt a newer logic board, it simply won't fit inside (when I say impossible, I mean I don't have the abilities and tools as that crazy Chinese).

    A 2012 and maybe a 2011 are targets now. I have, of course, bigger values involved, I will have to be more careful now buying just garbage. If some screws fit, as Audi13 said, to fit the rest became a possibility. Though that's one big conclusion of this thread!
     

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10 November 6, 2018