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Live Feed: OWC Teardown of Apple’s New M1 MacBook Air [PHOTOS]

After receiving the new Apple MacBook Air with the M1 chip on Tuesday, we filmed the unboxing (coming soon). However, we held off shooting the teardown video for fear that the Auto-On feature would trigger a bricking of the machine if it powered up while we were taking it apart.

And no one wants an M1 brick. So, with no way of disabling Auto-On, we ran the MacBook Air’s battery down overnight.

Right now, Brady is taking it apart as we film. We will get the video posted as soon as we can.

After removing the heat sink and thermal paste, the M1 chip was revealed. This very well could be your first look at Apple’s new SoC.


Once again, we are happily voiding every warranty so you don’t have to.


macBook Air M1 Chip
Apple’s M1 SoC

[12:15 PM] Brady Campbell

That’s the very small logic board on the new MacBook Air with the heatsink and thermal paste removed on the M1 chip 

[12:22 PM] Mark Chaffee

Oh, I see. That entire silver piece with the Apple logo is the actual SoC?

[12:35 PM] Brady Campbell

The silver piece is the SoC – those two black modules might be the unified memory. Verifying now.

The two black modules with the paste still on them, that is.

[12:36 PM] Mark Chaffee

So, the memory may not be on the chip itself? Or perhaps I don’t fully understand what is meant by System on a Chip. :-)


[12:42 PM] Tom Voegeli

We might be the first people in the world to expose the Apple M1 chip in the wild 

[12:53 PM] Brady Campbell

Now that we have more of it apart and gotten a better look, it appears like the unified memory are those two black modules directly next to the lid of the CPU.

Being that the unified memory is built into the SoC, that means there is zero chance to upgrade.

Inside Apple's M1 MacBook Air
Inside Apple’s M1 MacBook Air

[1:26 PM] Brady Campbell

Is there anything specific you want us to look at, show, or do?

[1:27 PM] Mark Chaffee

How about a taste test? I wonder if Apple silicon is less bitter than Intel…

[1:28 PM] Brady Campbell

Ask Tom, he carried out that test

​[1:29 PM] Brady Campbell

No fan in the MacBook Air. One fan in the MacBook Pro which is down from two. But that may have already been expected.

I was surprised how easy it was to disassemble the MBA. It’s a shame that there is no upgradability as it would be cake to do

The chip itself is small compared to the previous Intel chips, even with the two unified memory chips

Pretty thin too

[1:36 PM] Mark Chaffee

What is the purpose of two unified memory chips?

[1:37 PM] Brady Campbell

I will say, this heatsink for the chip is kind of small for no active cooling. It’s just a small metal plate with no fins to bleed off heat. Crazy that is able to keep the chip cool enough, but I guess that’s a testament to Apple’s engineering (1 liked)

[1:38 PM] Tom Voegeli

I licked the M1’s Apple logo with my mask-covered mouth parts. Not surprisingly, it tastes just like the inside of my face mask.

[1:39 PM] Brady Campbell

Rather than having separate memory for the CPU and GPU, the memory is unified so the CPU and GPU can share the same pool. Moving it on to the chip allows for increased bandwidth and lower latency

[1:40 PM] Mark Chaffee

Ah, that makes sense.

The CPU & GPU, not Tom tasting the inside of his facemask.

[1:44 PM] Mark Chaffee

Anything else different with this MBA that you can see?

[1:47 PM] Brady Campbell

That’s about it for now. Current takeaways are no active cooling with a small heatsink, small logic board that was easy to remove, and a cool looking M1 chip with the Apple logo

And of course, the soldered on storage modules

​[1:47 PM] Mark Chaffee

Great, thanks Brady!

Are you going to be able to put that thing back together? 😊

[1:51 PM] Brady Campbell

Please, I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night, I got this

[2:11 PM] Tom Voegeli

Brady is using an OWC Toolkit to rebuild the Macbook Air.

He applied thermal paste to the M1 chip, his hands, and his shirt, before covering the chip with the heat sink.

[2:19 PM] Mark Chaffee

I guess he should have taken a few towels from the Holiday Inn.


Brady powering up the new m1 macbook air

[2:32 PM] Tom Voegeli

The Air powered up with just 1% charge. It’s alive!

[2:34 PM] Mark Chaffee


OWC Mark C
the authorOWC Mark C
Content Marketing Manager
A creative by nature, Mark is a writer, programmer, web developer, musician, culinary craftsman, and interpersonal artisan. He loves the outdoors because greenspace is to the soul as whitespace is to the written word. He does not like Diophantine geometry or mosquitos. Most everything else is okay. Oh yeah, he is also the managing editor of the Rocket Yard blog.
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8 Comments

  • Awesome. Thanks for doing that.

    Can you do a torture test (simultaneously charging and running video and a render) and check temps?

    • Yes, a video will be coming soon as stated – but that it takes some time to edit. We wanted to get out what we could as it was happening – hence this post. Our apologies if this was too lame for you.

  • How small is the entire logic board of the MacBook Air? Could you see Apple creating a blade-type server or heavy-duty workstation using customized M1+ SoCs?

    • Easier to add a Thunderbolt 3 drive, like the OWC Envoy Express to the back of the lid for additional, very fast storage. Get either the base 256GB or 512GB storage and easily add another 1TB of storage for Photos and Music, along with other things. You could even put your home directory on the external drive (pretty sure about this) and possibly use this external disk on another Mac.