If you’re like me and really don’t appreciate a sluggish machine, then this walk through is for you. There’s instructions on Apple’s site on how to replace memory on any model iMac, but people usually have questions about how to do, was it hard, how long did it actually take, what memory did you end up with, etc. so I’ve summed it up with pictures and a how-to if you feel like you want to upgrade your iMac too!
So first off you need to check what you have – and then where you want to be. My iMac is Mid 2011 model (purchased in August 2011) but you can also check what model, by clicking on the Apple icon in the top left of your desktop and choosing About this Mac from the drop down menu. It’s also important to take notes on the speed and memory type from this menu before heading to a store and buying a few sticks of ram. Also read up on how much ram your machine can handle (per slot) and then you’re ready to buy. Mine started off at 4GB 1333 mhz DDR3 SDRAMM. (2 sticks of 2GB). If you need help figuring out what you have, tweet me and I’ll help you out.
After researching that my iMac maxes out at 16 GB of ram, and that each slot can take up to 4GB, I was ready to purchase. Found Corsair at CanadaComputers at $19 CDN per 4 GB. I bought 4 sticks and headed back home. It’s also important to note that the memory you’ll be looking for is marked on the package as “Laptop Memory”, and as long as it’s the 204 pin (for my Mac) you’re ok to use. The 244 pin ram isn’t compatible and won’t fit if your specs don’t ask for it.
What You Need
- 4 x 4 GB Corsair 204-pin memory sticks
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Flat Surface
After you shut down your iMac, unplug the power cord and lay your iMac flat, screen-down, on a towel/blanket/rag. You don’t want the screen to get scratched while you’re working on the ram. Lift the stand out to the highest position so that it’s out of the way and you can easily access the memory port along the bottom of the screen.
Use your Phillips screwdriver to unscrew the 3 screws holding the memory cover in place, and remove. *Make sure you use the correct size Phillips and be sure it doesn’t slip and/or strip the head on the screw. They’re not changeable. If you strip the head, you’ll need to get a new cover.
As soon as you have the memory cover off, you’ll notice there are 2 sides of memory slots and there is a film-like ribbon covering them. You pull down the ribbon from the top (it’s attached at the bottom) Pull the ribbons back to get access to the memory. This is the trickiest part of the old memory removal; Pull the tabs gently and firmly towards you. Make sure your fingers are dry and don’t worry about ripping the ribbons out from the iMac. They’re secured to the bottom of the ram pockets, and the only way to unseat the old ram is to pull on these tabs until you hear the memory click and it will slide out. *DO NOT use pliers or tweezers or any other tools to pull out the old memory, you will scratch the surface of your computer and could risk damaging the ram sticks. Patience is key when removing the old ram. It will come out – take your time.
With the old ram out, unpack your new ram and remember to place it in label-side up (or follow the old memory orientation). In order to seat the ram correctly, you press in firmly until you hear the memory click. *Remember to hold the removal tab so that you don’t crush it when installing the new ram. Repeat this step for all of the memory sticks you want to install. My mac has 2 slots on each side. It’s important to note that you should stick the same brand and size of memory for every pair of sticks. Don’t mix and match. Install memory in even numbers of two.
Now that you’ve got all your memory in and seated, make sure you put the tab ribbons back into their original position, and tuck on top of the stop memory stick. The tabs shouldn’t interfere with the installation of the memory cover at all. See my pic for an example of how it should look before you attempt the re-install of the memory cover.
Replace the memory cover using the Phillips, and remember not to over tighten. If you strip the head of the screw or tighten too much, it won’t hold. Hand tighter is good enough.
You’re now ready to re-connect your iMac to a power source and power it on. If you hear the standard start-up mac sound, you know that your memory was received and read correctly – and the computer will power up normally. If you don’t hear a sound while power up and the screen doesn’t come on, you have to go back and check that you seated the memory correctly and that it’s pushed it all the way. Done.
After your iMac boots up, click on the Apple icon in the top left and choose About This Mac from the drop down menu, and you should now see the GB of ram as per what you installed/wanted.
If you want to go deeper, click on More Info and then choose Memory tab along the top. You’ll now see how many slots have been used and how much memory is in each slot. Any questions or comments, leave them here or tweet me.