Apple has been steadily moving away from products that users can upgrade themselves. This has been especially true with its lineup of MacBooks – they have been working to make them thinner, lighter, and more compact for years. In fact, parts have been soldered directly to the board in MacBook Pros since 2012. But since we have seen Apple once again implement user-accessible options in the new 2019 Mac Pro, might we get lucky with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro and return to the glory days of DIY?
Well, the short answer is no. The longer answer is nope. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is not user-upgradable. In fact, we are reasonably sure that the memory and SSD are soldered in place, even though we probably won’t have our hands on one until later today to verify.
How do we know? Well – just for fun– we can use some simple 3rd-grade level detective work, our extensive experience in tearing apart Macs, and a cursory knowledge of how to speak “Apple,” the screenshots tell it all.
Let’s start by heading over to the MacBook Pro page at apple.com to customize our new 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Scroll down until you see the memory options on the right-hand side and click on the link that says, “How much memory is right for you?”
We get a nice little pop-up window that says:
Notice what we’ve highlighted. Okay – if it’s not “user” accessible, can a professional swap it out? For that answer, we go to our old friend, the 21.5-inch iMac. Why? Because we have upgraded the memory on this particular machine. (Check out the video here). It’s not a walk in the park, but it is possible because the memory is not soldered in place.
So, let’s check how Apple communicates this fact in regards to the 21.5-inch iMac’s memory:
An Apple Authorized Service Provider can upgrade the memory, but they would “prefer” you to upgrade at the time of purchase. That makes sense – no fault on Apple for admitting that. After all, they would rather you buy memory from them instead of a third party like OWC, who offers high performance, cost-effective memory options.
So, is there a computer that Apple sells that allows a user to easily install the RAM themselves? There sure is – the 27-inch iMac:
Nothing to highlight on the above screenshot because there is an actual door on the 27-inch iMac that opens for you to add or swap out memory. No need for warnings. You can check out how that works here if you’d like.
There is also the current Mac mini. It doesn’t have a door, but if you are handy, a DIY install is not beyond reach. Check out this OWC Install Video and see for yourself. Oh yeah, here is what Apple has to say about this mighty little powerhouse:
So what about the SSD in the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Soldered in? Again, we think it’s likely. We can follow the steps we took with the memory. Go back to the MacBook Pro page at apple.com and click the “How much storage is right for you?” link.
Here is Apple’s recommendation:
We don’t need to belabor the point by running the same routine with the SSDs of other Macs as we did with the memory. The wording above, along with OWC’s previous teardowns and the history and trajectory of the MacBook Pro, all indicate that the SSD will be soldered in.
The good thing is that OWC has plenty of external storage options to expand your capacity. One great pick would be the Envoy Pro EX with USB-C – 1TB of blazingly fast, desktop-class additional storage for $250 as opposed to a 1TB upgrade on the 16-inch MacBook Pro for $400.
Now, if you were following along and still happen to be lingering about the purchase page, we highly recommend you navigate away. Rocket Yard bears no responsibility for impulse buys – like dropping $6,000+ on a new, fully-loaded 16-inch MacBook Pro. But if you do, at least you know you have maximized your memory and storage because you won’t have another chance.
UPDATE 11.15.19: It has been visually confirmed. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is not user-upgradable. Surprise, surprise. You can check out our unboxing video here.