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Unfortunately, the Software Lock on the Mac Studio Disables SSD Upgrades

Mechanically, Swapping Storage seems to be Pretty Straightforward. But, Sadly…

For many designers and professionals, Apple’s Mac Studio may be the ideal gadget, but does it offer expandable storage? The device was unveiled at Apple’s recent Peek Performace presentation. It’s essentially a Mac Pro encased in a somewhat larger Mac Mini. When the Mac Studio is connected to an external display, keyboard, and mouse, it transforms into a full-fledged yet portable desktop.

There are two versions of Mac Studio. Users can first purchase a Mac Studio with an Apple M1 Max chip for $1999. It has a 10-core CPU, a 24-core GPU, 32GB of unified memory, and a memory bandwidth of 400GB/s.

A Mac Studio with the new Apple M1 Ultra chip, on the other hand, starts at $3,999. It has a 20-core CPU, 48-core GPU, 64GB of unified memory, and memory bandwidth of 800GB/s. On the Mac Studio, consumers may now receive up to 8TB of storage.

On March 18, a YouTube deconstruction video from Max Tech revealed that the Mac Studio comes with a replaceable SSD drive and an additional SSD slot. According to the host, the empty SSD slot could allow users to improve their Mac Studios in the future by adding another storage drive. To access inside, users would have to remove the rubber ring at the device’s base and then unscrew it. While the host of the Max Tech channel, Max Yuryev, made it look simple, average people will not be able to do so. Another YouTuber, Luke Miani, claims, however, that the device is not upgradeable.

For the time being, the fantasy of an upgradeable Mac Studio is dead. If you read Apple blogs, you may have seen that teardowns of the company’s latest desktop computer revealed SSD storage that isn’t soldered to the main logic board over the weekend. This led some to imagine that Mac Studio users would be able to upgrade the machine on their own. Those dreams, however, have already been crushed.

YouTuber Luke Miani performed a test to see if he could increase the storage capacity of the Mac Studio. To do so, he erased the SSD on one system and then transferred the drive to an open SSD slot on a second machine. The disc was recognized by the secondary Mac Studio, but no matter what Miani tried, the computer would not boot with the component installed. The Mac Studio’s only answer was to issue an SOS call using its status LED. All of this indicates that Apple has set the Mac Studio to reject replacement SSDs.

That isn’t entirely unexpected. “Mac Studio storage is not user accessible,” Apple writes on its website, and the company suggests that buyers configure the computer with enough capacity to match their needs when they buy it. The aim of the Mac Studio’s SSD slots, according to MacRumors, is to allow certified technicians to replace nonfunctioning SSDs. They’ll almost certainly have access to tools that will allow them to get beyond the company’s software restrictions. According to the website, it’s likely that Apple may allow consumers to replace the SSD in their Mac Studio themselves at some point in the future by offering storage upgrade kits, similar to how it did with the Mac Pro in mid-2020. Until then, it’s a shame that a machine with such a high price tag doesn’t have some sort of upgradeability.

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