Can You Upgrade the M1 Mac Mini? (Technically Yes, But NOT Easy)

So you’re wondering if it’s possible to upgrade the M1 Mac mini. Can you add more memory? What about storage?

Most PC enthusiasts will buy a desktop PC and upgrade it down the line, adding more storage, RAM, and other components. While that is a solid plan, it doesn’t quite work that way with an M1 Mac Mini.

Is it possible to upgrade an M1 Mac mini in the same way? Let’s find out.

Can You Upgrade the M1 Mac Mini?

m1 mac mini side

You cannot upgrade the M1 Mac Mini. The RAM and storage modules are soldered onto the motherboard and cannot be removed. The only time you can customize your Mac Mini is when you buy it.

However, some engineers have managed to remove the RAM and storage chips on the M1 Mac mini, replacing them with off-market upgraded versions. The system did detect the new components and worked as you would expect.

While it is technically possible to upgrade the M1 Mac Mini, only experienced engineers should attempt it. Remember, tinkering with the internal components of your Mac Mini will void your warranty.

For that reason, it’s better to accept that the M1 Mac Mini can’t be upgraded.

An Easy Way to Add Storage to M1 Mac Mini:

m1 mac mini ports

If you have an M1 Mac Mini that does not have enough storage for your daily needs, the easiest way to upgrade the storage is to buy an external SSD or HDD portable hard drive.

The M1 Mac Mini has two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports that support a maximum data transfer speed of up to 40 gb/s. It also has two USB-A ports that are rated at 5 Gb/s.

Did you know you can use 2 external monitors with a Mac Mini?

If you need the fastest portable hard drive possible, I recommend Samsung USB-C 1 TB portable SSD hard drive.

For the fastest transfer speeds, make to connect the portable SSD to the Thunderbolt 3 ports using a USB-C cable.

Build an NVME Portable Hard Drive:

Another fun trick is to buy a Thunderbolt 3 M.2 NVME enclosure and place an M.2 NVME drive into it.

Essentially, build your own portable hard drive for your M1 Mac Mini.

While this method is a little pricey, it offers the fastest data transfer speeds. NVME drives support up to 3,000 mb/s data transfer speeds. It will be close to the native speed of your internal hard drive.

An enclosure is also handy because you can always swap out the NVME drive for a larger one later on.

Pretty cool. So even though you can’t upgrade the internal storage of the M1 Mac Mini, you can buy a portable hard drive for extra storage.

Can You Upgrade the Memory on Intel Mac Mini?

You can upgrade the memory on the last-gen Intel Mac Mini. It uses the standard DDR4 RAM most laptops use, with user-accessible chip slots.

To upgrade the memory on an Intel Mac Mini you will need to completely disassemble the machine.

intel mac mini ram

It’s not as simple as popping off a panel, there are lots of components that you need to remove first before the memory grate can be accessed.

Locate the metal grate that houses the RAM chips and pop out the RAM chips. Replace the RAM chips with your upgraded chips and enjoy the new upgrade.

Be careful:

A small mistake can completely break your Mac Mini. I only recommend this option if you are familiar with computers and can afford the risk. It will also void your Apple warranty.

You can also watch this breakdown video.

Why upgrade the memory? Some apps like video editors are very memory hungry and 8 GB doesn’t cut it anymore.

According to Apple, the memory on the Intel 2018 Mac Mini cannot be upgraded, but that doesn’t seem to be true. Only the recent M1 models have the memory integrated into the chip and circuits.

Before You Buy Your M1 Mac Mini:

If you already bought your M1 Mac Mini, unfortunately, there’s not much you can upgrade. But if you’re planning to buy an M1 Mac Mini, you have some options to think about.

Currently the base M1 Mac Mini has 8 GB of RAM but you can upgrade to a 16 GB version for an additional fee.

The M1 Mac Mini with 16 GB of RAM costs an additional $200 but I think it is worth it. If you plan to use your Mac Mini as a workstation, 16 GB of RAM is required.

As for storage, that depends on how you use your computer. Nowadays, with streaming services, not many people are downloading large movies and files. I personally think 512 GB of SSD storage is sufficient for most purposes.

If you run out of storage, you can always buy a portable hard drive.

Where to Buy an M1 Mac Mini:

The Bottom Line:

I personally think the M1 Mac Mini is a great mini-computer.

The M1 chip can run almost anything that you throw at it, and while the RAM and storage are limited, 16 GB of RAM is more than enough for most activities.

Did you know you can play Steam games on the M1 chips?

What do you think? Have you tried upgrading the M1 Mac Mini? Leave a comment with your insights below.


  • Timothy Gagnon is the owner of My Portable Office. As a kid, he's always had a fascination with electronics and never passed on the chance to disassemble and reassemble them. When he's not taking a hammer to his electronics, he can be found playing with his cats or writing about his latest discoveries on My Portable Office.