Apple's computers have been notorious for their lack of upgradeability, particularly since the introduction of Apple's M1 chip that integrates memory directly into the package. But as spotted via Twitter (opens in new tab), if you want to boost the power of your Mac, it may be possible with money, skill, time and some real desire by removing the DRAM and NAND chips and adding more capacious versions, much like we've seen multiple times with enthusiasts soldering on more VRAM to graphics cards.
With the ongoing transition to custom Apple system-on-chips (SoCs), it will get even harder to upgrade Apple PCs. But one Twitter user points to "maintenance engineers" that did just that.
By any definition, such modifications void the warranty, so we strongly do not recommend doing them on your own: It obviously takes a certain level of skill, and patience, to pull off this type of modification.
With a soldering station (its consumer variant is not that expensive at $60 (opens in new tab)), DRAM memory chips and NAND flash memory chips, (which are close to impossible to buy on the consumer level), the engineers reportedly upgraded the Apple M1-based Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage to 16GB and 1TB, respectively, by de-soldering the existing components and adding more capacious chips. According to the post, no firmware modifications were necessary.
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/2Fyf8AZfJRApril 4, 2021
Using their soldering station, the engineers removed 8GB of GDDR4X memory and installed chips with a 16GB capacity. Removing the NAND chips from the motherboard using the same method was not a problem. The chips were then replaced with higher-capacity devices.
The details behind the effort are slight, though the (very) roughly translated Chinese text in one of the images reads, "The new Mac M1 whole series the first time 256 and upgrade to 1TB, memory is 8L 16G, perfect! This is a revolutionary period the companies are being reshuffled. In the past, if you persevered, there was hope, but today, if you keep on the original way, a lot of them will disappear unless we change our way of thinking. We have to evolve, update it, and start again. Victory belongs to those who adapt; we have to learn to make ourselves more valuable."
Of course, Apple is not the only PC maker to opt for SoCs and soldered components. Both Intel and AMD offer PC makers SoCs, and Intel even offers reference designs for building soldered down PC platforms.