Teardown reveals Mac Studio's storage is not upgradeable

nanoguy

Posts: 1,200   +20
Staff member
Why it matters: Apple has a reputation for building devices that aren't user-upgradeable nor easy to repair, and the recently launched Mac Studio and Studio Display are no different. While it's possible to replace the storage on the new Mac Studio, finding the necessary part won't be easy. In the case of Studio Display, all that needs to be said is that replacing the power cable or the stand requires a trip to the Apple store.

As the dust settles with Apple's new Mac Studio and Studio Display, reviewers so far love the former's power, compact design, and connectivity while praising the latter's webcam, speakers, and elegant design. However, they're both quite expensive, and the Mac Studio lacks upgradeability, while the Studio Display doesn't support HDR and high refresh rates.

The folks over at iFixit disassembled the two devices and learned a great deal about them, including how easily one can repair them if things go wrong. When it comes to the Mac Studio, the internal storage can be replaced or upgraded, as there are two slots that are relatively easy to access, and only one of which is populated.

Another teardown earlier this month raised hopes that Apple had made the storage on the Mac Studio user-upgradeable or at the very least user-replaceable. However, only the latter option is truly possible at the moment. One reason is that the Studio's storage is managed through a NAND controller built into Apple's newest M1 Max and M1 Ultra chipsets instead of it being on the same board as the NAND storage chips.

In other words, Apple's new mini desktop PC uses a different storage architecture that makes swapping out the storage modules a bit more complicated since we're not talking about self-contained devices like Samsung's 980 Pro SSD. It will work if you swap out the raw NAND module on a Mac Studio with another of the same size and perform a DFU restore using Configurator. Swapping in a different sized module or trying to populate both slots with identical modules doesn't work.

For now, it looks like you'll need to decide on how much internal storage you need before you purchase a Mac Studio or rely on its many ports that allow you to expand capacity using external storage solutions. Otherwise, iFixit found the Mac Studio uses several Torx screws, brackets, and connectors that require patience to remove. Because of this, iFixit gave the device a repairability score of 6/10, which is the same as the Mac mini.

People who have played with the Studio Display found it essentially has iPad Air 5 internals such as an A13 Bionic chipset and 64 gigabytes of storage. It also runs iOS 15.4, which allows you to get "Hey Siri" functionality on older Macs that don't officially support the feature.

Techs at iFixit also took apart the Studio Display and found it to be very similar to an iMac---from the similar panel down to how you crack it open and how the internals look. The camera is essentially the same as the one in the iPhone 11, which is a blessing and a curse since it sacrifices repairability at the alter of quality. That said, iFixit is working on a more in-depth teardown to be released soon.

Reviewers, who have used the Studio Display, say this product isn't easy to recommend even to people who don't care that much about repairability and live entirely within Apple's ecosystem. That's because upgrading to the height-adjustable stand costs $400 and requires a trip to the store, as will the power cable if you damage it at any point during the monitor's lifetime.

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m4a4

Posts: 2,887   +3,695
TechSpot Elite
Oh, it is upgradeable.... if Apple lets you.

I just hope people make enough noise to get Apple to promise software support for user-swapped modules. The last thing we need is to give them another inch (as we know they will take the full mile).
 

psycros

Posts: 4,142   +5,770
"When it comes to the Mac Studio, the internal storage can be replaced or upgraded, as there are two slots that are relatively easy to access, and only one of which is populated.

Another teardown earlier this month raised hopes that Apple had made the storage on the Mac Studio user-upgradeable or at the very least user-replaceable. However, only the latter option is truly possible at the moment."

Aren't these two sentences contradictory?
 

ypsylon

Posts: 506   +506
Anyone who is surprised by any of this raise you hand.

Well if you go for 8TB option then all slots are populated. Studio is not really serviceable by ordinary person. Enthusiasts will get inside, but only them. If Apple wanted easily replaceable SSDs they would make slots in the case, but clearly they didn't. They're so paranoid its laughable really.

I'm sure OWC will make alternatives which are cheaper than Apple, they always did for all previous Macs unless Apple goes into full bully mode and will keep it to themselves. Previous Mac also used different M.2-like drives with different pinouts where you couldn't simply buy off the shelf SSD in store.

Apple Display is just garbage from the word go. Nice -old- panel, but as a device its junk for the price. Base version should be at most 700$, even for 5K, for this -nearly- decade old relic.

And in November or next year, we'll get subscription Macs... its getting better and better.
 

StrikerRocket

Posts: 122   +93
This is why I stopped using Apple products after... the Apple //e, basically.
Everything after this wonderful machine, on which I learned all the basics of computing, is locked and closed. You are allowed to do only what Apple lets you, period.
While I understand the goal, such limitations as requiring a trip to the store to replace a defective cable or stand, impossibility to replace storage devices or upgrade manually is unacceptable to me.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think without all those limitations, Apple could greatly increase their customer basis.
Personnally, knowing that I would be totally dependent on Apple to repair or upgrade my machine, paid at a *premium* price is a total deal breaker.
Louis Rossman has demonstrated time and again the inability of some staff in apple stores, as well as more than dubious commercial practices.
Too bad John Sculley won in the end...
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,752   +7,668
LOL ..... Apple strikes again! IMO it would seem that the community of Apple users would simply boycott Apple indefinitely until Apple cries Uncle and goes back to making a quality product like Woz insisted on. Just goes to show that Steve Jobs was every bit the bum a few of us knew he was and that management style of "screw our customers" lives on .......
 

OortCloud

Posts: 748   +683
As usual Apple goes out its way to **** the planet up just so Tim Cook can buy yet more **** he doesn't need.
 

Vanderlinde

Posts: 138   +93
Apple has always provided very selective computers that you just buy and use till their estimated lifespan. What stops you from using an external storage? Or a cloud based storage?

Its the same as their app-store. A very solid app store that protects their users from malware being sideloaded into rogue apps. They provide a app store with tremendous amount of data being consumed very month, and now dating apps crying who intent their whole business model on females that a 30% has to flow to apple and not being able to offer external payment getaways.

Screw you. I vouch for apple, even tho the only used apple product has bin the Iphone 6 and beyond. Very reliable phones. You get what you pay for if storage is such a issue.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,421
The thing has 10 gig networking and Thunderbolt 4. It’s really not that limited.

But if in 2022 you’re still getting mad that Apple won’t let users upgrade the internal storage then you probably aren’t bright enough to be able to use the system anyway.