Apple TV teardown takes us inside Apple's 4K streaming solution

After a couple of quiet years, Apple has finally made some much-needed upgrades to the Apple TV and released a brand new Apple TV 4K model that supports super-high resolutions and HDR streaming.

Despite this significant upgrade, though, the Apple TV has retained its minimalist design. There’s nothing about this unassuming black box that gives away its high resolution capabilities so we’re glad that iFixit, a site famed for its teardowns, has taken Apple’s latest streaming device apart to reveal just what’s going on in there. 

The first sign that the new Apple TV is packing more power than its predecessor came before iFixit even cracked the device open – the base of the new TV has a completely redesigned bottom panel which appears to be for increased thermal venting. 

High resolution solution

To crack the box open, iFixit simply has to undo a couple of simple plastic clips and there are only standard Torx screws to content with. 

Inside iFixit finds a seriously big fan that’s been merged with the heat sink/EMI shield assembly from the fourth-generation Apple TV to create “whopper of a cooling solution”, no doubt required to cope with the extra heat given off when the box is ramping up the power required for its 4K HDR output. 

The guts of the new 4K Apple TV (via iFixit)

The guts of the new 4K Apple TV (via iFixit)

iFixit found that the box has a replaceable fan which is good news in terms of ease of repair. It also found there’s total of 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM supplied by SK Hynix which is an increase on the 2GB RAM in the previous Apple TV. 

The device’s logic board is also easy to remove but the only problem is all of the device’s main components are soldered onto it which means any port problems that emerge will necessitate board-level soldering or a full board replacement. 

While the device’s heat sink is the same as what was discovered in the 2015 model, there’s been a bump in the power supply to 12 V at 1.083 A from 0.917 A.

Overall, iFixit’s teardown revealed the Apple TV 4K is not all that different from its predecessor in terms of design and awarded it a repairability score of 8 out of 10. Ease of repair will no doubt be particularly important given that this is one of the more expensive 4K streaming solutions on the market. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.