Apple's Mac Studio exposed: A spare storage slot and built-in RAM
That's no quadcopter... that's a... cooling system?
Apple's latest and greatest – the Mac Studio – has come under the gaze of teardown merchants, iFixit. The good news? There might be hope for storage swappers. The bad news? Everything else.
The Mac Studio looks for all the world like a Mac Mini that has enjoyed a growth spurt. The block of aluminum is just over twice the height of Apple's entry-level desktop and is positively festooned with ports. A farewell to the "dongleverse" that has blighted the life of many an Apple fan.
Building in the RAM, while perhaps understandable from a performance standpoint, is also irritating on a desktop machine
Getting into the box presented few challenges. Peeling back the foot ring revealed four standard Torx screws and beyond that the black expanse of the power supply. "This thing weighs a ton and is giving off some serious Darth Vader vibes," quipped iFixit. Certainly, Apple has very much committed to black on the Studio's internals.
Going deeper, the team found the modular storage was easily removable. There was even an extra slot for another storage module but, alas, simply sticking the storage stick into another base-level Mac Studio's spare slot resulted in errors. However, it was possible to exchange two storage cards of the same size. "Hopefully," observed iFixit, "a software update will make the spare slot worthwhile, but it's always a bummer to see repair and upgrades at the end of the priority list."
Frustrating for sure, although more annoying is the built-in RAM, meaning that the configuration chosen at purchase will be the one that customers must stick with until the Studio gets relegated to the drawer of obsolete kit that one cannot bear to consign to the landfill.
Tearing past the ports ("and glorious SD card reader") the team finally came to the cooling assembly designed to keep the M1 Max chip cool.
Looking for all the world like a quadcopter, "these fans are just so much more massive than other Mac fans," said iFixit, "and the heat sink positively dwarfs the M1 Mini with more than six times the weight."
- Just two die for: Apple reveals M1 Ultra chip in Mac Studio
- Internet connection now required for Windows 11 Pro Insider setup
- Refurb your enthusiasm: Apple is selling an 8-year-old desktop for over £5k
- Use Zoom on a Mac? You might want to check your microphone usage
The Ultra version of the Studio is beefier still, thanks to a hulking copper heat sink.
Sadly, however, all the heat dissipation tech and extra ports did not translate to a high repairability score. While there are storage slots, upgradeability seems to be off the cards for the time being. Building in the RAM, while perhaps understandable from a performance standpoint, is also irritating on a desktop machine.
The Mac Studio ended up scoring 6 out of 10 on the repairability scale. Not terrible, but not great.
"That said," remarked iFixit, "it gives us a lot of hope for a repairable, upgradable, and reasonably priced Mac Pro."
"Maybe without a cheese grater this time?" ®