This Mac Studio Teardown Video Revealed A Surprising Feature Of The New Apple Powerhouse

Apple's decision to ditch Intel and switch to custom silicon back in 2020 has helped it gain tremendous interest from consumers. The company already projects its M-series of SoC's to be plenty powerful and compete with the most powerful processors from AMD and Intel, despite its tiny footprint. But with this massive upgrade in performance, consumers have had to let go of any opportunity to upgrade the internals on their Mac devices.

The lack of upgradeability is really concerning for anyone buying a Mac Mini or the recently announced Mac Studio for a desktop setup. The Mac Studio, unlike the Mac Mini, is designed for creators in mind, but Apple's aversion to upgradeability and third-party repairs does not sit well with their ever-evolving needs of the creative clique. Surprisingly, though, a recent teardown video of the Mac Studio reveals that users may at least be able to upgrade the SSD storage on the unit without struggling a lot.

The Mac Studio is built like it's sealed off

Initial impressions from reviewers including MKBHD suggested the Mac Studio is tightly sealed (via Twitter) and Apple doesn't leave much room for users to take the internals apart and repair or upgrade them themselves. Max Yuryev challenges this assessment on the Max Tech YouTube channel in a teardown video of the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chipset inside.

Notably, there are no screws or fasteners visible on any face of the Mac Studio. The screws are hidden under the rubber ring at the bottom of the Mac Studio. Yuryev pries out the ring, revealing four hexagonal screws underneath it. Once the screws are taken off, the backplate comes right off with the force of gravity, revealing a second aluminum plate held with some more screws.

At 5:45 in the video, Yuryev jubilates upon spotting a port behind the second plate that is visible through the gap between it and the side edges. Although not the same, the port is seemingly similar to an M.2 SSD connector. They note that a user can likely slide in a compatible SSD and install it without having to take the second cover off.

Upgrades needs proprietary SSD upgrade kit

Apple's M1 and newer PC chips feature Unified Memory integrated within the SoC instead of a separate RAM module. This leaves Yuryev to speculate that this port is probably intended to be used for storage extension. This easily accessible placement could allow users to extend or upgrade the storage on their Mac Studio seamlessly.

Later in the video, around 8:24, Yuryev remarks this port looks similar to the SSD expansion ports on the Mac Pro. Notably, Apple sells DIY SSD expansion kits ranging from 1TB to 8TB in size allowing owners to upgrade the storage on their 2019 Mac Pro units. While Yuryev tries to insert one of these Mac Pro SSDs into the alleged expansion port on the Mac Studio, they realize that the storage stick is not only bigger than the space inside the chassis, but the pins on the port don't line up either. That means Mac Pro SSD kits are incompatible with the Mac Studio.

Apple suggests against storage upgrade

Although the Mac Pro SSD sticks don't line up with the port, there is still hope that Apple could launch a separate storage expansion kit for the Mac Studio. While we hope Apple does that, there is some uncertainty because the Mac Studio page on the online Apple store dispenses a warning about the storage on the Mac Studio not being accessible to users and suggests buyers to choose higher storage variants if they want more capacity. Apple's general disinclination when it comes to allowing DIY or third-party repairs indicates that while this storage upgrade may be possible, Apple may not want users to do it themselves. After all, each upgrade is an opportunity for Apple push for the highest upgrade, i.e., 8TB costing $2,400 above the base model.

The clouds over this matter should clear out once the Mac Studio is bought by more DIY and repairability enthusiasts. Until then, we suggest you rely on Apple's words and buy the storage variant that matches your requirements.