This Apple Mac Studio Teardown Left iFixit Disappointed

For the DIYers and teardown enthusiasts of the world, one of the most exciting things about a new product launch is seeing the folks at iFixit take the product in question apart. This time around, the M1 Max Mac Studio is the target of iFixit's screwdriver as the company attempts to answer a recurring question: how difficult to repair has Apple made this new product? It's like being stuck in a time loop where one encounters nothing but glue and security screws over and over again.

Today's teardown comes to us in video form, which you can see below, though iFixit has also published a transcript for those who prefer to read along. In any case, this is a pretty quick and breezy teardown, probably owing to the fact that the Mac Studio is a fairly small device. It quickly becomes clear that Apple has packed a lot into that small aluminum chassis, as removing the bottom cover reveals a power supply that's covered in black tape.

An answer to the burning question about storage

With that power supply removed, iFixit can get to what is perhaps the biggest Mac Studio question: is the storage upgradable, swappable, neither, or both? Sad news, it seems – while iFixit did have success in swapping the modular SSDs between two Mac Studios, attempting to upgrade the storage with an entirely different drive didn't work. So, if your SSD malfunctions or dies, you can swap in another of the same kind, but those looking to upgrade will have to wait until Apple releases such functionality – if it ever does at all. That's a shame, because without support for upgradeable storage it means there's a spare PCIe slot on the Mac Studio's board that will likely go unused for many.

Getting deeper into the teardown reveals that it takes a lot of work to get to the M1 Max chip, which is behind what iFixit describes as a "massive heat sink and two fans." It also reveals that the RAM is soldered in place, so it's not really user-upgradeable. That's something we certainly don't like to see because, as iFixit points out, that means you're stuck with the amount of RAM you choose when you first buy the Mac Studio, and Apple certainly isn't known for its inexpensive options there.

At the end of it all, iFixit gives the Mac Studio a repairability score of 6/10, which balances the good of its many modular components with the bad of its difficult-to-access fans for easy cleaning and its non-upgradeable RAM and storage. We've seen much lower scores for Apple hardware in the past, so a 6/10 is an improvement, but iFixit's teardown shows that Apple could be doing a lot more to make its hardware DIY-friendly.