On the Mac Studio’s Extra SSD Slots

Last week, a story went around that at least some Mac Studio models come with unpopulated slots for SSD modules. This led to speculation that the machine could be upgraded with more storage.

I asked around about this, and came to the conclusion that these slots are populated on higher-end models with 8TB of storage, and maybe even the 4TB option. SKUs with less storage still have the slots, just without any modules in them.

Today, there’s confirmation that the Mac Studio freaks out when additional modules are added:

The Mac Studio recognizes the SSD, but Apple’s software prevents it from booting, suggesting that this is a conscious decision by Apple to prevent users from upgrading their storage themselves. On its website, Apple claims that the Mac Studio’s SSD storage is “not user accessible” and encourages users to configure the device with enough storage at the point of purchase.

Let’s look at my 2019 Mac Pro. In it, Apple used a similar design, with smaller, individual SSD modules raided together and tied to the logic board with encryption. Upgrades on those machines were possible but required a bonkers (and more than a little scary) process to set the drives up with the Mac’s T2 chip.

Apple may very well offer an in-store program1 for those wanting to add capacity to these machines, but things aren’t looking good as far as being able to buy additional storage from someplace like Mac Sales and pop it in.2

Don’t miss Quinn Nelson’s Twitter thread on the matter:

  1. Like the one for upgrading the RAM in an iMac Pro. 
  2. I have no doubt that Apple continues to lock their storage modules and logic boards together. I’m not surprised at all that components from one Mac Studio made another one refuse to boot.