Theoretically, you can upgrade RAM & SSD on your M1 Mac mini, but you shouldn't

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
It's technically possible to upgrade the RAM and storage on an Apple M1 Mac mini -- but there are several reasons why it's a terrible idea.

Credit: DuanRui
Credit: DuanRui


The M1 is Apple's first Apple Silicon chip for the Mac. While it boasts significant advantages in speed and performance, it's also a lot less user upgradeable with integrated memory and storage.

Even though the new Mac devices are less upgradable, swapping some of the components on the chip is still theoretically possible. That's evidenced by Chinese maintenance engineers who successfully expanded the RAM and SSD capacities on an Apple M1 chips.

Chinese maintenance engineers can already expand the capacity of the Apple M1. The 8GB memory has been expanded to 16GB, and the 256GB hard drive has been expanded to 1TB. pic.twitter.com/2Fyf8AZfJR

-- DuanRui (@duanrui1205)


Reportedly, the engineers completed the feat using a soldering station to install DRAM memory chips and NAND flash memory chips. While the process involved de-soldering the existing chips and adding the new components, it apparently didn't require any firmware modifications.

The exact details about the upgrade are scarce, but roughly translated Chinese text in the post touts the apparent success and claims that "victory belongs to those who adapt."

Of course, just because some engineers managed to pull it off doesn't mean you should try it at home.

For one, it's nearly impossible to purchase the DRAM and NAND chips you'd need for this procedure at the consumer level. You'll also need to shell out money for a soldering station. And, this all assumes that you or somebody you know has the skill to do it.

More importantly, any modifications of this nature will instantly void your warranty. That becomes more of a problem when you consider that de-soldering and soldering the DRAM and NAND chips requires a good amount of skill, precision, and patience.

Make any mistakes here and you'll end up with a dead Mac and no avenue for getting it fixed. Because of that, we'd caution against any sort of modification like this unless you're prepared to waste your money.

Because of the speed and performance benefits of the M1, it's much more advisable just to upgrade the RAM and SSD space at the time of purchase. It's an investment, and probably a wise one.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    mtanikamtanika Posts: 5member
    ... delayed April 1st ?
    Agree you may be able to change the SSD chips, but the RAM inside M1 ?
    there are no memory lanes outside the SOC ...
    dk49killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 38
    tylersdadtylersdad Posts: 243member
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    elijahgkillroyGeorgeBMacdarkvader
  • Reply 3 of 38
    dk49dk49 Posts: 81member
    How can they change the RAM or Memory? Isn't it integrated in the SOC at circuit level? It's like saying you can take out four cores from the M1 to make it a quad core processor!
    edited April 6 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 8,921member
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    Then you’ll be leaving the Mac platform shortly, right? Because this is the future of the Mac. 
    edited April 6 twokatmewseanjwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 5 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 8,921member

    dk49 said:
    How can they change the RAM or Memory? Isn't it integrated in the SOC at circuit level? It's like saying you can take out four cores from the M1 to make it a quad core processor!
    Anything to get views and clicks. I just happen to know a tiny bit about this kind of surgery. The kind of equipment you need to unsolder these components is very expensive and requires extreme skill to pull it off. You just don’t pull out your 10 watt pencil iron from the local hardware store and have at it. Anyone who tries this will certainly wind up with a pile of useless junk on their hands. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 38
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    New platform

    new rules. 

    It’s a bit like the iPad where you need to order enough storage at purchase. 

    Apple really should make 128GB the minimum across the board. Maybe a discount for those who’ve been on iCloud for more than 12 months too. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 38
    tylersdadtylersdad Posts: 243member
    lkrupp said:
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    Then you’ll be leaving the Mac platform shortly, right? Because this is the future of the Mac. 
    I left the Mac platform in 1994. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 8 of 38
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,008member
    lkrupp said:

    dk49 said:
    How can they change the RAM or Memory? Isn't it integrated in the SOC at circuit level? It's like saying you can take out four cores from the M1 to make it a quad core processor!
    Anything to get views and clicks. I just happen to know a tiny bit about this kind of surgery. The kind of equipment you need to unsolder these components is very expensive and requires extreme skill to pull it off. You just don’t pull out your 10 watt pencil iron from the local hardware store and have at it. Anyone who tries this will certainly wind up with a pile of useless junk on their hands. 
    Very tiny evidently, so much so you don't know that a hot air rework station is really all you need. A solder stencil would be very useful though.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 38
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,486member
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    As it has been proven and reported countless times before... 99% of all consumers will NEVER upgrade their RAM or SSD after purchase.

    Like it or not, that's where it's going.

    I bought a 2020 iMac and for three months my brand new machine was nearly unusable (would crash/reboot every 10 minutes).  With no help from Apple, I myself finally narrowed it down to bad RAM that a reseller used when I purchased additional memory at purchase. OWC swapped the RAM, machine still crashed.  I bought new memory from Crucial (128GB & $700) and works perfectly now.  Long story short, it's crap like this that was also another reason why Apple will most likely not allow RAM upgrades because of problems like this, and I fully support it.  The 3rd-party RAM suppliers will take a hit because they don't play nice at times.  OWC still hasn't fessed-up and admit there was a problem.
    ravnorodomseanjStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 8,921member
    tylersdad said:
    lkrupp said:
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    Then you’ll be leaving the Mac platform shortly, right? Because this is the future of the Mac. 
    I left the Mac platform in 1994. 
    Then why are you here? Makes no sense.
    seanjStrangeDayswatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 11 of 38
    cloudguycloudguy Posts: 323member
    sflocal said:
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    As it has been proven and reported countless times before... 99% of all consumers will NEVER upgrade their RAM or SSD after purchase.

    Like it or not, that's where it's going.
    Think about where it's REALLY going. Remember how brutal the first batch of cloud, web and mobile software and hardware was in the mid-2000s? This includes iPhone which launched with a Samsung CPU, 128 MB of RAM and no app store. Well look at the hardware and software on your iPhone 12 or iPad Pro and compare. Well that is Stadia today versus what services like it are going to be 10 years from now when 5G will be mature and yielding to 6G (which is right now in the "agree on specifications so we can start designing prototype hardware to implement it" stage). Long story short: buying upgrades for your end user client is going to be as much a thing of the past as going to Radio Shack for Christmas shopping and loading up on the gadgets that the iPhone replaced as stocking stuffers (and Radio Shack itself for that matter). 

    Nvidia - the king of this current scene - to their credit knows that their business model is going to soon end. It is why they are trying to buy ARM Holdings and pivot to being a company that provides cloud and edge infrastructure and products. Now Intel on the other hand ... not only are they entering the dying discrete GPU market (which will be hammered by the great integrated GPUs and 5nm and below processes will make possible before cloud and edge GPU products kill it off) but they sold the very division that they should have been using to design 5G and 6G radios to integrate into their CPUs to Apple. Meaning that Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek (and soon Google who is beginning the process of splitting from Qualcomm) will all have this capability where Intel and AMD are the only major players who don't. 

    So when you stated that Apple was getting out of the upgradeable client game, you might not have been aware of how correct you were. 10 years from now, all upgrades are going to happen in the cloud and edge.  
    mtanikaseanj
  • Reply 12 of 38
    lkrupp said:
    tylersdad said:
    lkrupp said:
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    Then you’ll be leaving the Mac platform shortly, right? Because this is the future of the Mac. 
    I left the Mac platform in 1994. 
    Then why are you here? Makes no sense.
    Harvesting souls for the Windows/ Linux overlords?
    seanjwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 38
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,323member
    Non-upgradeable components is where ALL of consumer computing is going, not just Apple.

    Google just announced they're going to copy ... I mean make their own ... chips.

    Microsoft is looking into same.

    Intel is crapping itself.
    seanjStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 38
    I wonder if there is any market for a company like OWC to do these upgrades and then offer their own warranty.
    darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 38
    tobiantobian Posts: 104member
    lkrupp said:

    dk49 said:
    How can they change the RAM or Memory? Isn't it integrated in the SOC at circuit level? It's like saying you can take out four cores from the M1 to make it a quad core processor!
    Anything to get views and clicks. I just happen to know a tiny bit about this kind of surgery. The kind of equipment you need to unsolder these components is very expensive and requires extreme skill to pull it off. You just don’t pull out your 10 watt pencil iron from the local hardware store and have at it. Anyone who tries this will certainly wind up with a pile of useless junk on their hands. 

    Hot air rework table, pick&place precision machine, smart pencil iron and you’re good to go. I’ve been doing this for some time and it’s much more suceessful than fifty-fifty. I would be more concerned about SMC controller setup.. whether it’s able to use it up without editing prams (how this can be done since T2 anyway?)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 38
    ravnorodomravnorodom Posts: 316member
    sflocal said:
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    As it has been proven and reported countless times before... 99% of all consumers will NEVER upgrade their RAM or SSD after purchase.

    Like it or not, that's where it's going.

    I bought a 2020 iMac and for three months my brand new machine was nearly unusable (would crash/reboot every 10 minutes).  With no help from Apple, I myself finally narrowed it down to bad RAM that a reseller used when I purchased additional memory at purchase. OWC swapped the RAM, machine still crashed.  I bought new memory from Crucial (128GB & $700) and works perfectly now.  Long story short, it's crap like this that was also another reason why Apple will most likely not allow RAM upgrades because of problems like this, and I fully support it.  The 3rd-party RAM suppliers will take a hit because they don't play nice at times.  OWC still hasn't fessed-up and admit there was a problem.
    Totally agree. I had that bad RAM experience before and it was so time consuming to figure this out and fixed it. I maxed out my 2018 Mac mini with 64GB of RAM at the time of purchasing and I am glad I don't have to mess with it in the future.
    watto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 17 of 38
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,047member
    lkrupp said:
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    Then you’ll be leaving the Mac platform shortly, right? Because this is the future of the Mac. 
    So, you are suggesting that because Apple chose to do this that justifies their decision?
    I miss the logic of that kind of circular logic.  
    muthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 18 of 38
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,047member
    lkrupp said:
    tylersdad said:
    lkrupp said:
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    Then you’ll be leaving the Mac platform shortly, right? Because this is the future of the Mac. 
    I left the Mac platform in 1994. 
    Then why are you here? Makes no sense.

    Because Apple is screwing up one product doesn't mean they've screwed them all up.
    elijahg
  • Reply 19 of 38
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 320member
    tylersdad said:
    So, in essence, if you don't have the extra funds to pay for additional RAM or drive space and you want to upgrade those at a later time, you're out of luck. 

    No thanks. 
    None of the MacBooks MacBook Pro’s sold since 2016 have been upgradeable. Nothing new here. 
    seanjStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 38
    nadrielnadriel Posts: 40member
    dk49 said:
    How can they change the RAM or Memory? Isn't it integrated in the SOC at circuit level? It's like saying you can take out four cores from the M1 to make it a quad core processor!
    They are not “integrated”, they are standard modules soldered on the circuits (motherboard, SoC circuit board). For example a RAM stick is a small circuit board with modules and controllers, etc, soldered on it.

    Apple do not have their own special memory and storage modules, the pin layout is quite standard. There might be some difference on how they are controlled (calls for the memory controller to store, read, clear data).

    It’s not the same as having something integrated on a same module. But I wouldn’t attempt at it myself even if I had the tools available.

    I’d say it’s like scraping off existing paint and repainting something, rather than taking cores from a CPU die.


    GeorgeBMacdarkvader
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