Apple’s Mac Studio is a pricey enthusiast and professional-grade desktop computer, but users can upgrade their device’s storage without paying up-front thanks to a third-party dock from Satechi. Apple has shipped computers with soldered-down storage chips for years, preventing buyers from expanding their storage down the road. Surprisingly, the Mac Studio was released with a removable solid-state drive (SSD), but that doesn’t mean it comes with expandable storage. Every SSD has a controller that facilitates reading and writing to the drive, but the Mac Studio’s controller is built into M1 Max/M2 Max or M1 Ultra/M2 Ultra SoC, depending on the variant.
Since the Mac Studio’s storage controllers are housed within its SoC, swapping out or adding SSDs isn’t as easy as it might seem. Tests have showed that even original Apple SSDs cannot be used to swap or expand a Mac Studio’s storage unless they are the exact configurations the M-series chip is expecting. Even then, a full system restore is required to get the drives working properly. However, users can still add storage through external drives. Satechi‘s stand and hub for the Mac mini, which adds an M.2 SSD slot and seven extra ports, is also compatible with the Mac Studio since the two Macs share the same desktop footprint.
An M.2 Slot Offers Storage Expansion
Satechi’s product page says that the stand and hub are only compatible with Mac mini models released in 2018 or later, but the company’s official Amazon listing confirms that it works with the Mac Studio. The stand packs an M.2 SATA slot on its underside and connects to a Mac Studio through a hardwired USB-C cable. That allows users to add additional storage to a Mac Studio for cheaper than an internal upgrade at the time of purchase, while preserving the Studio’s elegant form factor.
The base model Mac Studio is equipped with 512GB of storage and comes with a starting price of $1,999. Upgrading the internal storage capacity to 1TB will run buyers an extra $200, and storage upgrades get pricier as the denominations increase. But with Satechi’s stand and hub, users can add a full terabyte to the Mac Studio for less than the initial upgrade fee from Apple.
The stand and hub have an MSRP of $99.99 but frequently dip below that number with discount codes and Amazon offers. Buyers can get a 1TB M.2 SSD compatible with the stand for under $50 — such as Samsung’s renowned 980 1TB SSD. Paired with a base model Mac Studio, users can have access to 1.5 TB of storage for less than a stock 1TB Mac Studio, while having an M.2 slot on hand for future upgrades.
Satechi’s stand and hub solve two of the Mac Studio’s flaws — expensive storage upgrades and the lack of expandable storage — with a single accessory. For users willing to insert an M.2 SSD into the stand and connect it to their Mac Studio, the stand and hub serve as a simple solution that manages to provide both form and function.
Satechi Mac Mini Hub
The Satechi Stand & Hub for Mac Mini with SSD Enclosure features a USB-C data port, three USB-A data ports, micro/SD card readers, 3.5mm headphone jack port, and SSD enclosure. It’s compatible with Mac Mini (M2/ M2 Pro, 2023), Mac Studio (2022), Mac Mini (M1, 2020), but does not work with 2018 & earlier Mac Mini models.
Can You Upgrade The RAM on Mac Studio?
While the Satechi stand and hub provides a convenient way to upgrade the Mac Studio’s storage, the RAM is a different story. Unfortunately, there’s no way to upgrade the RAM on the Mac Studio. Apple doesn’t allow users to upgrade the RAM on Macs, which means they will need to choose the right memory option while buying the Mac Studio.
The base version of the Mac Studio with an M2 Max chip comes with 32GB of unified memory. This can be increased to 64GB for an additional $400. The Mac Studio with a 38-core GPU M2 Max chip can be upgraded to 96GB of RAM for an extra $800, while the Mac Studio with M2 Ultra be configured with 192GB of RAM for $1,600. 32GB is plenty of RAM for the average Mac Studio buyer, but those who want more RAM will need to select the appropriate variant during purchase, since there’s no way to upgrade the memory later.
Source: Satechi, Amazon