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iFixit’s Mac Studio teardown sheds light on storage mystery

Apple’s Mac Studio and Studio Display have only just come off the delivery trucks, but that hasn’t stopped iFixit’s army of determined engineers from tearing them down and shining a light on their deepest, darkest secrets. And they’ve revealed some intriguing details in the process.

The repair experts saved most of their attention for the Mac Studio, which they said “impresses and disappoints in almost equal measure.” It scored 6 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale — not exactly a ringing endorsement, but a better outcome than most Apple devices get.

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Starting on the outside, iFixit praised the variety of ports on offer, as well as Apple’s decision to place some on the front of the device (something you still don’t get on the 24-inch iMac). That makes it feel like “the Macs we used to love,” according to iFixit.

After finding a way into the Mac Studio’s shell, iFixit turned its attention to the storage. Previous teardowns from YouTubers Max Tech and Luke Miani suggested that the Mac Studio’s SSD could be removed and replaced physically, although neither content creator was able to get a replacement working.

However, iFixit had more success here. The company noted the Mac Studio has a spare SSD slot in addition to its base storage slot, but couldn’t get the computer to boot with two drives installed at once. However, when the existing SSD was swapped for another drive of the same capacity, it worked.

An iFixit engineer tearing down Apple's Mac Studio by removing a heatsink bracket.

As explained by Ars Technica, this is probably due to the way Apple’s SSDs work, where the drive’s storage controller is actually included on the Mac’s system-on-a-chip, not the drive itself, which probably results in errors when SSDs are installed in unexpected ways. However, iFixit’s drive success hints that storage upgrades might be possible in the future.

Elsewhere, iFixit noted the enormous heatsink that keeps the Mac Studio’s chip cool, dubbing it a “monster.” However, as with all Apple Silicon chips so far, the memory is integral to the chip itself, meaning RAM upgrades are not possible after purchase.

An iFixit teardown of Apple's Studio Display monitor, showing the device's internals.
Image credit: iFixit

Paired with a series of difficult-to-remove fans, that lack of upgradability counted against the Mac Studio, while iFixit praised its impressively modular ports. That resulted in a 6 out of 10 score for the desktop.

The repair gurus also turned their attention to the Studio Display, albeit briefly. According to iFixit, it looks an awful lot like an iMac on the inside, although it’s not quite as empty as the 24-inch all-in-one desktop. It’s the second Studio Display teardown this week, after MacRumors took the knife to the monitor a few days ago. Keep your eyes peeled for a full Studio Display teardown from iFixit, which the company says is coming soon.

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