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Possible to install 802.11ac card in 2012 MacBook Air

So at WWDC this year, they announced 802.11ac wireless for the new 2013 MacBook Airs. Is it possible to replace the 802.11g card in my 2012 Macbook Air?

I assume the wireless cards are not off the shelf products so I would have to buy it from a third party manufacturer or parts from a broken 2013 MacBook Air, both of which seem unlikely.

Thanks!

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Solución Elegida

Until Apple ships a system and iFixIt tears it apart no one knows what Apple did on the inside (needed changes or if the WiFi connector is the same).

So, sit back grab another brew out of the icebox and watch a good movie or two. I'm sure within a week or two someone will have had a chance to see whats inside and tell us all about it.

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I managed to extend the wires in my mid-2012 MacBook. It is necessary to remove the left side I/O board to access the two screws securing the antenna wires on the left hinge. I then used scissors to cut the wire from the thin metal plate (bend away the two narrow metal legs from the wire and cut the legs but not the antenna). I guess one could also desolder the antenna wire from the metal plate in lieu of cutting. After doing this, the wires will have just enough length to reach the antenna connectors on the 802.11ac card.

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Kevin Ko, thank you so much for sharing this. I plan on doing the same thing so that I can enable the Apple Watch auto-unlock function, Just to be clear, you did this on a Mid-2012 MacBook Air 13"? And have you experienced any wifi, bluetooth, or any other issues since completing the upgrade?

Thanks again.

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Julian, that is correct. I did this with a 13" Mid-2012 MacBook Air. I've not noticed any issues with wifi or Bluetooth. BT works great for Airdrop between my iOS devices and the MBA. 802.11ac on the MBA averages around 30MB/s, so it shows some benefits over my 802.11n PC (~20MB/s).

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Kevin Ko, does it matter which way you connect the antenna wires? Thanks again for all the help. I just ordered the new wifi card.

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I'm not certain, but I suspect that it doesn't matter. However, I vaguely recall that the extended wires only reach the card connectors in one order, which makes the choice easier.

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Thanks again for all of the help. I did it today and it's working flawlessly!

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Yes! I did it and it works!

Thanks to Kevin Ko’s idea, I tried to modify the antenna wire and connect to the new ac wifi card, and it works!

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Check the red arrow, I cut off this little metal plate, in order to elongate the antenna wire.

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Connect the antenna. The new wifi card(94360cs2) is a little longer. So thanks to John Pr’s advice, electrical tape is highly recommended for it.

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Perfect. Thanks for the pictures. My only question is, that metal plate that you cut was attached to the hinge screws, so it was grounding it. Does it not need to be grounded? Why would Apple have grounded out the wires to begin with?

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It appears that the slot is the same but the length of the antenna wires in the 2012 may prevent it. Only way to know is to open a 2012 and try to stretch the antenna wires to where they would be with a 2013 card installed. The 2013 "ac" card has the connections in a different spot than the 2012 card, which may prevent it from hooking up to the antennas.

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I tried to swap the card in my mid-2011 MacBook Air with one I purchased from eBay and found the 802.11ac card was longer and has antenna connections on the end instead of on the side. As a result, I was unable to use the 802.11ac card in my mid-2011 machine. I see no reasonable way to lengthen the wires; hence, I don't believe there is a solution. I visually checked the QCard 2 and it is just like what I bought and would not work.

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Hi Kevin

may i know if i'm having a MBA 11 late 2012 version, i cannot replace the airport card due it's too long, any suggestions??

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Hi

I have just completed this install as documented above. Used the wifi card 94360cs2 as mentioned previously (attached photo showing difference in length). It works great, have now got AC wifi and can unlock with apple watch on my Mid 2012 Macbook Air.

I had to follow Kevin Ko’s guide to lengthening the cables (not for the faint hearted)

Hope this helps

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Could you please show photo after installed?

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Hi Guys, im struggling to find out which AC airport to buy, which one have the same size of the 2012 mba?

Update (12/30/2018)


So I used a 94360cs2 which is few millimiters longer. It hits a component on the bottom, so i added some electrical tape under.

Now I can successfully unlocked the air with my watch now :)

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The other spot for antenna remains empty? I'm willing to do this trick on my MBA 13" mid-2011, i.e. changing the original AirPort card (N) to this one BCM94360CS(AX), that's made for the RMBP. Do you know if it fits on mine? I don't remember if the 2011's and 2012's logic boards lookalike.

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also wondering the same ^^^ @lucasschimit

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I know this is old, but wanted to post I also did the same thing with my MacBook Air 2012. One wire is shorter than the other. I unscrewed the wire from the hinge as posted by Kevin Ko. Leaving it unscrewed, you can stretch the wires the length you need, however the wires couldn't be underneath the board anymore where they originally were. I now have them just stretched across. John Pr said he can now use his watch to unlock, however, I get an error if I try to enable this function still. "Your Mac was unable to communicate with your Apple Watch". So, I am not sure how John got his watch to work with it. MacOS does show under WiFi "Auto Unlock: Supported", so not sure why it's not working.

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Update: I was able to resolve the communication error with apple watch.

I followed the steps on this forum https://discussions.apple.com/thread/251...

After that, I rebooted the MacBook Air, signed out of iCloud on MacBook, and re-signed in. Then I was able to enable the Auto Unlock feature.

Only other issue I have noticed with the new WiFi card is, on boot when you hold down Option, no networks can be detected. I assume it's because the driver is embedded into the MacBook's firmware so it doesn't see the new driver. Miner issue as I never really use this function, but if you want to restore your MacBook Air with COMMAND+R on boot, it doesn't work with this upgraded card!

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So is it possible to do this “swap/upgrade“

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Could someone please clarify what the best replacement card is to carry out this upgrade?

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I think everyone used this: BMC94360CS2

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So what’is result? Is it possible?

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Sim é possível!

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What about a wireless card that does not need these modifications? Just a straight swap?

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After hesitating quite a bit, I opted to make this modification with the BCM94360CS2  module.

It took me quite some time to get some extra cable length, for which I needed to slightly lift the mainboard first. After that the cables were just long enough to fit the connectors.

I thought about the loose ground connector, and I guess the soldered piece of the cable can be extended with a wire, and connected to ground on the original location. However after the mod the WiFi signals seem strong enough, so I left this ground loose. Most likely the other end of the wire is grounded.

The wires are not the ‘clean Apple’ way anymore, and the fact that the module is not secured by a screw is also not ideal, but for normal home use, this should be sufficient.

Most happy about the AC chipset which now support WPA3.

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