Thursday, December 10, 2009

Macbook Air making noise / Dissected

About a month ago I noticed an intermittent noise coming from my Macbook Air (MBA) that sounded like something was rubbing or scratching the inside of the computer. It wasn't quite a buzz or hum. This gave me reason for concern since my MBA is less than 3 months old and has a solid state drive, which means it couldn't (shouldn't) be my hard drive. In fact I imagined there weren't too many moving parts on such a small laptop.

A quick Google searched turned up an Apple Support Discussion about the subject here.

It started occurring regularly yesterday so at the suggestion of one of my coworkers I "dissected" my MBA by removing the case and checking the fan. As I pressed on the fan to determine if that was the cause of the noise and it snapped back into its proper alignment. Take a look for yourself at the fan in my MBA:

As I noticed the fan is probably the moving parts inside the newer Macbook Air's - especially with a solid state installed. Since I had the MBA dissected (at least the cover off) I decided to browse over it's internal components and check to see if I could find the RAM chips.

I assumed when I purchased my Macbook Air that I would be able to upgrade the memory at a later date. I mean 2GB isn't very much to start with. My assumption was the Macbook Air would use standard SODIMM chips that could be upgraded at any time. I was definitely surprise when I saw this:

Anandtech has a much clearer picture here.

The photos show the RAM is actually built onto the motherboard (logic board) in the MBA, for what I can only assume is to save space. That means this and all other Macbook Air's memory cannot be upgraded. No memory upgrades - Bummer!

Note: This may only be a temporary fix for the noise problem because once the fan is out of place it may continue to slip / fall out when the Macbook is flipped over for normal use. At this point it might be worth taking back to Apple and having them replace the fan.

Update on Sunday, April 4, 2010:

After "fixing" this issue a few times myself I could still hear the scratching sound so I decided to take my MBA into the Apple store and let the "geniuses" fix it. Of course the problem wasn't occurring during my appointment but I told them exactly where the problem was and the fan needed replacing. About a day later I had my MBA back and it hasn't made the sound since.

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