Apple's Mac Studio doesn't come with an upgradeable SSD after all

A teardown video from iFixit shows a laborious process of breaking into the Mac Studio. And unfortunately once you’re in, you can’t upgrade its SSDs.

To nobody’s surprise, Apple has made it a challenge to crack into the Mac Studio. Apple started shipping its new desktop, the Mac Studio, on March 18 and there’s since been a few teardown videos from tech YouTubers. The most recent entry from iFixit, which is known for its repair guides and repairability scores, gave us a better insight into how the SSDs work.

In the breakdown, iFixit is able to swap SSDs of the same size between two Mac Studios by doing a DFU restore. When it comes to upgradability, iFixit tries to add an SSD from another base model into the Mac Studio’s empty secondary SSD slot, but is unable to get it to boot. It did note that there could be a software update that allows for SSD upgradability in the future, however.

Secondary SSD slot — From all the teardown videos, there seemed to be a lot of confusion surrounding the secondary empty SSD slot. With some digging, ArsTechnica attributed this to differences between the 1TB base model of the Mac Studio and the maxed-out 8TB version, which would likely have 4TB SSDs in both slots. But since the 1TB model still comes with that empty secondary SSD slot, it could be Apple’s way of offering more storage in the future, as iFixit suggested.

Still from iFixit’s teardown.

Now that we have several detailed looks inside the Mac Studio, we can tell that Apple wasn’t really interested in making these easily upgradeable. You can’t even upgrade RAM later down the line since you have to choose which M1 chip you’re going with when you buy a Mac Studio, sealing in how much unified memory you get at the time of purchase. All that said, iFixit still gave the Mac Studio a 6 out of 10 for a repairability score. The non-upgradeable storage and a dual-fan assembly that looks like a hassle to clean out were all knocks, but iFixit commended the Mac Studio’s design with its modular ports.

Classic Apple — It’s not really a surprise that the Mac Studio is hard to get into, since that’s kind of their M.O. But at least Apple’s latest desktop is more accessible than its Macbook Air and Pro laptops, which have consistently scored low on iFixit’s repairability charts. But again, that’s just Apple doing Apple things.