While M1 Macs have the RAM and SSD soldered to the logic board, it’s been discovered that users armed with patience may be able to upgrade the memory and storage of Apple’s M1 chip.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Default SSD and RAM are replaceable with larger-capacity ones.
  • M1 MacBook Air: 8GB RAM → 16GB RAM.
  • M1 MacBook Air: 256GB SSD → 1TB SSD.
  • macOS recognizes upgraded parts correctly.

Apple M1 small chip giant leap website screenshot 001

Upgrading the RAM and SSD on M1 Macs

MacRumors carries the report:

Technicians in Guangzhou, China have discovered that it is possible to detach the RAM from the ‌M1‌ chip and its nearby SSD module and replace them with larger capacity components, which are correctly recognized by macOS, without breaking the device.

A large number of images showing the process of a base model ‌M1‌ MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage being upgraded to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, and this change being correctly shown in macOS Big Sur, have been shared online.

The fact that macOS correctly recognizes upgraded parts hints that Apple has intentionally avoided allowing users to replace the RAM and SSD with higher-capacity components themselves. To be sure, these unofficial upgrades require substantial knowledge. As such, this isn’t recommended for average users as the invasive procedure breaches Apple’s warranty.

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At any rate, this should permit adventurous types with enough patience and time on their hands to upgrade the RAM in their M1 Macs beyond the current 8GB/16GB configurations.

Intel-based Macs use discreet RAM and CPU chips that are soldered to the logic board separately from one another, making user upgrades possible and convenient (only on certain models though). Contrasts this with the Apple M1 chip in Apple silicon Macs with its system-on-a-chip and RAM chips mounted together in a system-in-a-package design.