How to upgrade RAM on a Mac


Most Macs shipped in the past few years include a substantial amount of RAM compared to Macs shipped 10 years ago. OS X is very memory efficient, providing lots of great features to maximize every spare bit of available RAM. Even with this efficiency, though, you can greatly improve the performance of your Mac by adding more RAM. In this article, we'll show you which Macs can be upgraded with RAM, and also give you some tips for installing more RAM in your Mac.

Which current Macs can I upgrade?

Over the past few years, Apple has been phasing out user-upgradable memory in all of their notebook lines as well as the Mac mini lines. This is done for a few reasons, including keeping the footprint of the product smaller my omitting additional components to accept RAM that cost precious space when building small form factor computers.

Because of this, none of the currently shipping MacBooks will let you upgrade the RAM. The RAM that you purchased during the checkout process is the amount of memory that your Mac will always have. This is why we highly recommend building your Mac to order, and choosing a higher level of memory than what you currently utilize - because you can never have enough RAM.

The currently shipping Macs that include user-upgradeable RAM are:

However, if you have an older MacBook, iMac, or Mac mini, you may still be able to replace the memory if it's a user-upgradeable model. We highly recommend replacing memory in older Macs, because it can breathe new life into the computer, making it snappier and more capable in the process.

Where do I buy memory?

One of the places we recommend purchasing memory from is Other World Computing. This company provides Mac-compatible RAM that is vetted, plus they're a really cool company that has been dealing with Mac upgrades for a long time (since 1988 in fact, so they know their stuff). Their memory chooser helps you narrow down the exact model of Mac you have, and shows you the available memory options.

Other companies offering Mac-compatible RAM are Crucial for basic memory and Corsair for more high-performance memory.

Can I upgrade it myself?

Apple offers user's guides on their support website, and inside of user-upgradeable Macs, the user guide will list the process involved to upgrade the RAM. This is usually very simple, per Apple design.

If you're looking for a step-by-step video, however, then look no further than Other World Computing. Even if you don't buy the RAM from them, their install videos come highly recommend and are really easy to follow. Find the upgrade video for your particular Mac here.