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Apple Won’t Allow Mac Studio SSD Upgrades


This week, a video showing the disassembly of Apple’s new Mac Studio PC went viral, revealing an empty SSD space. When it comes to Apple laptops, the company is known for not allowing upgrades after the sale. Soldered storage was envisaged due to the Studio’s size and “non user-accessible” architecture. Imagine the shock on the faces of those who discover that it utilizes socketed storage. There was no official explanation, which sparked wild conjecture about what Apple may be up to. Since an SSD slot is unoccupied, some assumed it was for storage upgrades.

Remember, we’re talking about Apple here. Sometimes things don’t pan out the way you expected them to. The issue has been examined by a number of media sites, and it is evident that it is not for storage improvements. Pre-installed two SSDs are required for studios that arrive with either 4TB or 8TB of storage.

Teardown video by Max Tech initially revealed the empty SSD slot. He saw the mainboard had two proprietary SSD slots, one filled and the other vacant. There is no indication that he tried to turn it on after plugging the SSD into the second slot, despite this. On the Mac Pro he also checked to see whether there was a similar pinout for a detachable SSD, but there wasn’t. This reveals that the Mac Studio has a unique storage arrangement.. A “upgrade module” for the second port was hypothesized by Max Tech.

The ball was then pushed down the field by YouTuber Luke Marini. For convenience, he deleted one SSD and placed it in an empty slot on another Mac Studio, as he had two computers. His goal was to test whether he could add a second hard drive and increase his storage capacity from 1TB to 2TB. As a consequence, the Mac Studio’s amber light flashed SOS Morse code. Taking the pre-installed SSD out of the primary slot and just relocating it to another slot didn’t solve the problem. This again didn’t work, since the OS informed me that the SSD was not being properly detected.

The discrepancy in the PCB below the slots is one indication that this may fail. Two Texas Instruments chips and some sort of VRM are installed in the populated slot. The PCB region of the second slot, on the other hand, is vacant. Storage on the Studio must be configured in a specific way for it to work. With a DFU Restore, iFixit was also able to switch SSDs between computers, but could not get both slots to work.

According to Asahi Linux engineer Hector Martin, the SSDs are little more than “raw NAND” data. In this case, it’s because the storage controller resides in the M1 chip, not on the SSD itself. However, he believes that if you use two SSDs, they will have to be the same size, and maybe even the same vendor. According to Ars Technica’s review of the SSD controller, mixing and matching drives is out of the question.

As a result, it appears like the second expansion slot is definitely for an SSD, but you can’t just throw anything in there. Is it even possible to get another storage device? In Apple’s words, it’s not useable by the average person. Even if Apple does sell SSD upgrades in the future, the vast majority of customers will be unable to do so because of the nature of the system itself. To expand your storage, you’ll need to erase your hard drive, something many people aren’t comfortable with. Conclusion: Regardless of if there’s an empty space, Apple has previously stated that the Studio won’t be upgradeable.