Apple Silicon Mac mini SSDs are upgradable, but it’s a challenge

Removing the old NAND chips from a Mac mini logic board [YouTube/Luke Miani]

Owners of the M1 Mac mini can upgrade the storage, but with a tricky process involving desoldering chips, it’s a difficult path that most users should avoid taking in the first place.

In previous generations before Apple Silicon was introduced, Apple’s design of the Mac mini allowed for various components to be changed, including storage drives. As part of Apple Silicon, Apple switched entirely over to chips soldered directly to the logic board, locking users into using a specific capacity of internal storage for the life of the Mac.

Through the use of solder, Apple does make it extremely difficult to upgrade the storage, but it’s not impossible. With the right knowledge and skills, as well as the correct components and a lot of luck, a determined owner can risk their hardware making the upgrade.

In one YouTube video published on Friday by Luke Miani and with assistance from Apple enthusiast “@dosdude,” the considerable effort behind such an upgrade is revealed, and it’s a process that most people won’t want to undertake.

The video has the aim of upgrading an M1 Mac mini from 256GB of storage and moving to 2TB of capacity. To accomplish this, the duo had to remove the existing soldered-in storage and replace them with two one-terabyte NAND chips

Disassembly of the Mac mini is relatively trivial, consisting of 13 screws and stripping off any plastic items and other removable components, in preparation for a lot of heat-based activity.

The first big obstacle is to remove an underfill layer from below the existing chips, which is a material injected underneath the chips and hardens over time. While it’s already difficult enough dealing with the underfill, there are also resistors near the chips that are also embedded in the material, components that need to be kept intact and in place.

Using a special tool for scraping away and for lifting the chip, the components are blasted with hot air and eventually separated.

The new chips are reballed with solder, using…