M1 Mac upgrades — here’s how you can add more RAM or swap out an SSD

Black Friday laptop
(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve bought one of the Macs equipped with Apple’s own M1 chips, you’re likely satisfied with the performance of your machine, even if you can’t help but wonder about its upgradeability. As it turns out, Macs powered by the Apple M1 chip may be more upgradeable than you think.

That’s the word out of China where technicians report that they were able to upgrade both the memory and storage on an M1-powered MacBook Air. The report, picked up by MacRumors, claims to have upgraded a MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage to a machine that boasts 16GB of memory with 1TB of capacity. 

Engineer Yang Changshun from Guangzhou, China took to Chinese social media (with images and explanation via chongdiantou.com) detailing his process. Across several images, he removed the SSD and RAM from the M1 Mac and added upgraded storage. It's a process that carries a lot of risk, the least of which is that it voids Apple warranty. Nevertheless, based on the report, tit appears that upgrading the M1 Mac is doable, if a bit complex.

To that end, this is not something that should be repeated unless by experienced hands. It's also not immediately apparent whether the new storage or upgrades would work successfully through the immediate future, given Apple's penchant for recognizing unofficial hardware in devices like its phones and bricking those phones.

Macbook air m1 upgrade

(Image credit: hongdiantou.com)

With that in mind, it likely goes without saying that this is an impressive accomplishment that may not be repeatable for most users. At the same time, Apple, along with HP and Honeywell, are currently lobbying against a bill in Nevada that would require hardware manufacturers to offer parts, schematics, and instructions to third-party repair shops. There are several bills across the US at the moment that would force Apple's hand to make its machines upgradeable, eliminating the requirement for Apple device users to go to authorized dealers and instead utilize smaller (cheaper) independent repair locations.

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.