Apple’s Mac Studio has been given the teardown treatment by iFixit, and the results aren’t half bad, although there is a sticking point in terms of the cooling solution and concerns around dust accumulation therein.
As iFixit makes clear in its write-up, there are impressive elements to the design of the Mac Studio, and also some disappointments, leading to an overall repairability score of 6 out of 10 – not great, but a decent effort, and a higher mark than many pieces of Apple hardware. Some particularly positive noises were made about the ports.
So, what were the main downsides here? System RAM can’t be upgraded as it’s integrated with the M1 SoC, of course, but if you’ve been following the chatter around the Mac Studio, you’ll likely know that despite Apple’s insistence that the storage is not user upgradable, we’ve heard that it might just be.
What iFixit found was that despite there being an empty slot for another drive, they could fit that second drive, but couldn’t get it working. So, that was a no-go.
What iFixit could do, however, was to swap the existing drive out and replace it with another. That was a like-for-like swap, mind, and what isn’t yet clear is if it’s possible to fit a bigger drive, and thus upgrade in the future. Time will tell on that score.
The iFixit team also found that the Mac Studio’s cooling system is built around a huge heat sink, accompanied by a pair of fans. The teardown experts worry here is how the Mac Studio will tolerate possible dust build-up, and to quote the site, “it’s gonna be a heck of a chore to clean this out every couple years”, potentially.
Analysis: Dust, anybody? No?
While the drive upgrade situation may seem disappointing given that our hopes we’re raised by the aforementioned speculation, the ability to swap out the existing drive and fit a (same size) replacement is certainly much better than nothing. It’s clearly useful if the original drive was to fail (but note that doing this involves some fiddling around using Apple Configurator to do a DFU restore to reset the drive).
As for the potential dust issue, well, it does seem like a valid concern on the face of it, but then again, the fans may not have to spin up all that much, so any intake could be kept to a minimum. Certainly in our review, we found the Mac Studio to be very quiet – even when pushed hard – so unless you’re really hammering the PC constantly, those fans may not actually be that active at all. The design and overall thermals certainly seem solid in that respect.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).