The larger of Apple's MacBook Air laptops featuring dual microphones and 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity.

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Can I install the MBA '13s AirPort card in the '12 model?

Regarding the 802.11ac-enabled AirPort card in the 2013 MacBook Air: As this card is 2-channel MIMO -and the 2012 model, like the 2013 model, only has 2 antennas- it is the ideal card to use in replacing the 2012 Airs AirPort-card.

Is there any chance we could get a short yes/no answer (or longer of course) regarding whether this is possible or not? Bear in mind that I am a hacky guy and don't mind getting my hands (very) dirty in attempting this. I want 802.11ac!

I'm thinking something like removing the existing cards screw mount and either cutting it a bit and gluing it on further away from the socket, or just gluing the new card to a spacer of some kind. Is the screw mount "easily" removable?

Would I need to extend the antenna cables in attempting this or can they safely stretch to fit the ac-enabled card?

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Adrian - Review these answers Test the Wireless 802.11ac card in a MacBook Pro 15'' Retina.

The best thing here is to add your comment to the '13 teardown doc so the people at iFixIt see the pent-up want for them to do the needed testing as they have the hardware right now.

As I said before Apple consumes parts at such a rate (as well as contracts for them) new chips and parts like this one will be in short supply for quite awhile. So you'll need to wait until they show up on the open market thats assuming the board will even work in your older system.


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I think it won't be possible... like the Retina Display... you want 802.11ac you'll have to either buy a new laptop OR look for a wireless dongle/external card. At least (AFAIK) the antennas in machines for the past two years (or more) will support the standard.



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Thank you Emre - So it appears it functions in the older system, but you don't get much performance benefit per Davids testing.

yes but I believe as it was mentioned it was due to missing antenna socket on mba's 802.11ac card. it is quite possible that when it comes to mbp's it'll probably work/fit a lot better...

Not sure on that, over time Apple has altered the antenna's depending on the AirPort card version used in a given system. So some models won't have the needed antenna's to gain the benefit (as in this case). The next generation of MacBook Pro's will likely get 802.11ac (due this fall). But, what people wanted was to upgrade their current models. Clearly the MBP retina doesn't gain in the upgrade,

Yes you are most likely right about apple will not give an upgrade option officially but we probably will have some ifixit kind of options, which will probably not as good as new ones but still an upgrade... :/ I believe the only problem will be the antennas as you've also mentioned...

For so little gain I don't think it's worth the cost (10% at best per Davids testing).


802.11 ac will do nothing for your internet speed unless your isp offers something like 500mbit/s speeds or you transfer or stream files.

There are three possibilities.

1. The retina has three wires connected to the wireless card (from what I can see). This is good. In the past Apple has been nice remember g to n in the old MacBooks? Apple will make the card!

2. The retina is capable but Apple says no, a third party eventually releases a internal card!

3. The retina is not capable because of the antennas and you need to buy a usb 802.11ac device.

I have a 15 retina and hope that apple made this work for ac. However its really not like my 802.11n with time capsule is slow in anyway. Its really only for file transfers. I have a very fast internet speed compared to most 100mbit/s download. My 802.11n is more than capable to get the most out of the speed I have. So remember unless you transfer a lot of files over a network or have a 1gbit/s internet speed which I doubt, this upgrade will do little to nothing for you in speed increase on the network.


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Good point about the internet connection or in truth any down stream network connection and the limits of the remote host will be the limit of the full link. Also many people forget your internet connections from most ISP's is not balanced (the speed outbound is a lot slower than the inbound) an asymmetric Vs a symmetric connection. So downloading from a well contacts host (ie. Apples' or Microsofts' servers) will be quite fast but if you needed to upload something to them the speed will be very slow. Or, lets say you have remote access to your home system and you need to get a file off your home system it too will be very slow. Depending on what type of connection you have from the hotel you're at you might have no problem downloading all of the vacation pictures.


Theoretically it is possible because the size and interface of the networkcards are the same, but i don't know if the ac card needs extra drivers that only come with the 2013 model. If the 2012 has the drivers it would almost certainly work. But i really think ac isn't necessary and of any use.


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Just because the connection looks the same doesn't mean its the same. There is still the question on the antennas (cable length & their design). Again. its just too soon to know for sure until someone bites the bullet and swaps them out.

Or. . . attempts to.



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