T2 chip in a Mac mini

(Philip Matthews) #1

Can anyone advise if the T2 chip in a Mac Mini detects user-installed RAM upgrades i.e does doing so count as “a repair”? And if it does, what is the result? Background: I am thinking of replacing my elderly Mac Pro by a Mac Mini, but am not inclined to pay the exorbitant Apple prices for RAM.

(Curtis Wilcox) #2

It does not. Otherwise, iFixit wouldn’t have a Mac mini Late 2018 RAM Replacement Guide and companies wouldn’t be selling RAM for it.

The T2 chip is not a nefarious plot to prevent the use of third-party repairs or upgrades, it’s security hardware to protect the encryption of your drive and other aspects of the system. The speculation from iFixit in this Verge article and elsewhere reflect a narrow view; they’re all about third-party repairs so to them that’s what the T2 is meant to prevent.

Apple should do a better job of enabling their hardware to be repairable but security always involves trade-offs and sometimes people are going to disagree.

(Philip Matthews) #3

Many thanks for your response to my post and clarifying the T2 “repair” issue. Some points by way of follow-up.

First, to be clear, I am not concerned about the presence of the T2 chip per se and nothing in my question was motivated by conspiracy theories or ‘nefarious’ plots. (I leave such things to those of a more imaginative caste of mind.)

However, just from the facts that there are videos on how to upgrade RAM and that one can buy upgrades, one can not deduce that Apple does not detect such upgrades. To make such a deduction one would need a great deal of additional information.

Consider: for what many would consider reasonable commercial reasons, suppose Apple wishes to protect itself from claims made under warranty for damage resulting from a user installing RAM. The company therefore decides to detect such activity and merely stores the information. Nothing is done with it unless a warranty claim is made. That is not a conspiracy theory; I regard it as at least possible, and from the company’s point of view it would be defensible. (Which is not to say that it corresponds to reality, or to say that I believe it to be the case.) My point is that videos and RAM availablity say nothing about that (theoretical) possibility.

Incidentally, perhaps we might agree that Apple’s attitude to users installing RAM in a Mac Mini is at best equivocal. The advice on Apple Support about upgrading RAM says: “To upgrade the memory in your Mac Mini (2018), go to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider”.
Note the ambiguity: the absence of an imperative such as “must” or “should”, seems to leave the door open for users to install upgrades; but on the other hand it is not exactly an encouragement to do so.

(Curtis Wilcox) #4

I don’t know if the T2 chip specifically can detect RAM hardware changes but the Mac firmware certainly can. The iFixit people take this stuff seriously, if there were consequences to RAM replacements that people should know about, they would include that information.

Given how many tools and steps are involved in replacing the RAM in the current Mac mini, “equivocal” is a reasonable stance for Apple to take. It’s clearly not been designed for home user replacement as it was on models like the Late 2012 Mac mini.