Tuesday, May 17, 2022

iFixit teardown provides a detailed look at the Mac Studio and Studio Display

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i’ll fix it got his dirty mitts on Apple’s new Mac Studio computer and Studio Display, taking both apart to learn more about them — including how easily they’re repairable or even upgraded. The Mac Studio, in particular, has caused some controversy as the SSDs are not user-upgradable, despite being quite easy to access and remove.

There is good news from iFixit’s disassembly, that’s it is doing seems to be possible to swap the SSD in a Mac Studio for one of the same size in case the drive fails. But despite accessing a second SSD slot, it doesn’t seem possible to simply insert an extra second drive to easily upgrade the Studio’s storage itself. Would it ever be possible for an end user to upgrade the storage of a Mac Studio? “The jury is still out,” says i fix it.

These issues have led to speculation that Apple is implementing some kind of software blocking to prevent SSD upgrades from end users. but if ArsTechnica explains, it probably has more to do with the fundamental design of storage in Apple Silicon Macs. While PC SSDs typically contain both NAND flash chips and an SSD controller on the same (removable) module, Apple’s recent Macs have separated them. The NAND remains on the SSD module itself, but the SSD controller is built into Apple’s chips.

Regardless of the reasoning, it’s still frustrating not being able to easily upgrade your own computer’s storage. Instead, as security, you’ll have to pay Apple’s (often exorbitant) prices for the higher storage configurations.

Elsewhere, there’s both good and bad news about the Mac Studio’s recoverability. The good news is that most components are held together with screws, and the computer’s ports are modular and relatively easy to replace if they break. But to really get into the computer you have to remove a tacky rubber foot ring, the RAM is soldered on it and the cooling mechanism – while sturdy – looks like it will be a nightmare to dust off when the time comes. Overall, iFixit gives the Mac Studio a 6/10 score for recoverability, the same as the old Mac Mini.

Finally, i’ll fix it also took the opportunity to take apart the new Studio Display, which it says “opens like an iMac and looks like… a lot like an iMac inside.” While the company teases that it will have more to say about the display at a later date, it confirms that the Studio Display’s webcam appears to use the same camera sensor found in the iPhone 11. What makes it even more confusing is that the monitor’s webcam offers such shocking quality. I hope Apple’s promised software update improves things.

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