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Engineers Sneakily Upgrade Apple M1 Mac Mini With More Storage, RAM

M1
(Image credit: DuanRui)

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, 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. 

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(Image credit: DuanRui)
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(Image credit: DuanRui)
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(Image credit: DuanRui)

With a soldering station (its consumer variant is not that expensive at $60), 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. 

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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.

  • TCA_ChinChin
    What's a little surprising in this case is that Apple didn't have more software and firmware locks in place to prevent things like this from happening.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    After seeing this article, I'm sure they'll add one soon enough.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    TCA_ChinChin said:
    What's a little surprising in this case is that Apple didn't have more software and firmware locks in place to prevent things like this from happening.
    Apple does sell 16GB RAM versions, with up to 2TB of storage. It's a bit obscene to see the upgrade prices, though -- $200 to go from 8GB to 16GB! And $400 to go from 256GB SSD to 1TB SSD -- or $800 for a 2TB SSD! Frankly, I don't get why anyone would ever pay Apple prices on stuff like this. Even a 2TB Samsung 980 Pro only costs $350, so Apple charges double what Samsung charges for its fastest SSD. smdh
    Reply
  • GenericUser
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    Frankly, I don't get why anyone would ever pay Apple prices on stuff like this.

    The brand.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    GenericUser said:
    The brand.
    That’s the reason, but the brand isn’t even that good. So, what I’m saying is I don’t get how people convince themselves Apple is so great that its products are worth the massive price premium.
    Reply
  • hushnecampus
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    That’s the reason, but the brand isn’t even that good. So, what I’m saying is I don’t get how people convince themselves Apple is so great that its products are worth the massive price premium.
    No, that’s not the reason. MacOS is the reason.
    Reply
  • Heat_Fan89
    hushnecampus said:
    No, that’s not the reason. MacOS is the reason.
    As someone who has used OS X since the switch from Classic 9, i'd disagree snd i'm typing my response from macOS Big Sur. MacOS is no longer the "cats meow" because others have caught up. I personally think Microsoft has done a better job with their OS verses Apple. Windows 10 is just as stable as macOS, the uptime would be insane for Windows if not for Microsoft's forced updates and i'm cool with that as it keeps the OS secure.

    Linux is another great choice for those that just want to do the basics. Linux Mint looks and functions much like Windows. Then there's Ubuntu and my current favorite openSUSE.

    So no, i'm not dissing macOS but that card of it's because of macOS, no longer holds water. It's just as quirky and buggy as any other mainstream OS. There are some things I like about macOS but Windows is killing it with its Windows to Xbox integration and Windows App store is better as well.
    Reply
  • RadcliffeJasonGianan
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    Frankly, I don't get why anyone would ever pay Apple prices on stuff like this.
    for me it’s because i don’t want to be bothered with going to another platform again. it already works for me so i stick with it. i don’t know if it’s brand loyalty or laziness. also the interoperability of all the devices is another draw for me. i already have the MacBook, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch & Apple TV. i guess i’m already locked in to the ecosystem and i honestly don’t want to get out. it’s a personal choice which i’m willing to pay the premium price for.
    Reply
  • Unolocogringo
    hushnecampus said:
    No, that’s not the reason. MacOS is the reason.
    That use to be the excuse for paying a premium for 2 year old hardware in a shiny new case.
    Never understood it myself.
    Pay extra for a locked OS, that tracks everything you do and reports it back to apple. Oh and if you disable the tracking and reporting you device no longer works.
    At least with windows 10 and Android you can disable almost all of it and the OS still functions properly.
    Don't take it wrong. I was one of the first group of people to figure out Microsoft's new business model with windows 10. Collect all of the data from your computer and sell it everyone who will buy it. Same as Apple has always been.
    So I did not upgrade /Downgrade to windows 10 until extended support for win7 ended.
    By that time people had figured out how to keep windows 10 from stealing all of you information. So moving to 10 was at least manageable.
    My daughter and grand-kids are Apple everything and X Box.
    So last Christmas I gave the oldest grandson a GAMING computer.
    Asus hero 7 wi-fi
    R7 2700x
    16gig Gskill 3200 cas14
    Asus GTX 1070 Dual white edition
    WD 500 gig Blue ssd
    1 TB WD black HD
    2TB seagate 2.5 HD for backups
    Corsair RM750x
    CM Masterbox TD500 white mesh.
    Daughter complains now that he doesn't use his new X-box or new I pad any more.:smilingimp:
    Reply
  • escksu
    TCA_ChinChin said:
    What's a little surprising in this case is that Apple didn't have more software and firmware locks in place to prevent things like this from happening.

    I don't see why they need to..... firstly, not everyone knows where to get the right parts to perform such mods (not to mention skills required). Also, 16GB versions do exist. So, this is pretty much replacing the 8GB RAM chips with 16GB ones. Nothing out of the blue and you can't cheat.
    Reply