Is it possible to miss more flash memory on a Mac mini with Apple Silicon, whose SSD is known to be soldered? The answer is: Absolutely. However, this requires some soldering skills – and there is a risk that the project will backfire. The well-known tech YouTuber Luke Miani, who already has some experience with the subject, recently showed how one should imagine such an unusual Apple hardware upgrade.
SSD out and back in
A video recorded in cooperation with the Apple hobbyist dosdude1 demonstrates in just under 20 minutes how to turn an M1 Mac mini with a 256 GB SSD into a computer with a 1 TB SSD. Even opening the compact Mac isn’t that easy: almost a dozen screws, heatsinks and various built-in parts have to be removed before you can get to the board. Then the two memory chips are desoldered, taking care not to damage any existing components.
Special tools are required to remove the memory modules from the board. Finally, the new SSD chips have to be reballed before they can be soldered back in. Overall, the demands on manual skills are high – no wonder that such interventions are very rare on Macs. Workshops that are officially certified by Apple don’t even offer such “board level repairs”. Instead, entire circuit boards are replaced in the event of defects.
Apple Configurator 2 must help
After soldering in the new SSD chips, the system must first be configured. However, as Apple is increasingly nailing down its ARM systems, this is not easy. It turned out that NAND modules from another Mac simply could not be used – the necessary tools for “serialization”, with which the SSD and board are connected, are only available internally from Apple. The solution was to use completely empty memory chips (“Blank NANDs”), which are available in China – so the soldering in and desoldering was done twice (plus an attempt to change the order of the chips).
This finally made it possible to restore via Apple Configurator 2 on a second Mac via DFU mode. Bottom line: For just under $100 (and lots of sweat and tears) the upgrade was doable. Apple itself would have asked for just under $800 if the Mac mini had been purchased with 2 TB.
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