How to Add RAM to a MacBook Pro

It’s easier than you might think.

I bought a 15-inch MacBook Pro about a year ago. I use it primarily as my “test mule” — the computer I run software on when I’m writing about the software. But recently, I signed a contract to create a video training course for macPro Video. I’d record the video on my MacBook Pro using some high-end recording hardware. The hardware’s install guide requires a minimum of 1 GB of RAM, which my MacBook Pro had. But it also recommended 2 GB of RAM. More RAM is always better than less, so I looked into upgrading.

I found compatible RAM on the 4AllMemory.com Web site. LIke most RAM suppliers, 4AllMemory makes it easy to find the right RAM for your computer by letting you tell it exactly which computer you have. In my case, I have a MacBook Pro 2.16GHz 15.4-inch computer. The page for that computer offered a bunch of options.

I was shocked by the price. And, as usual, I must digress to explain why.

Back in 1989, when I bought my first Mac — a Mac IIcx — I upgraded the RAM from the 1 MB (not a typo) on board to 2 MB (not a typo) by installing four 256 K (not a typo) RAM SIMMs. The cost for that upgrade: $750 (not a typo).

The single 1 GB SO-DIMM I needed for my MacBook Pro would cost me $29.99 with free shipping.

As discussed in “MacBook Pro: How to install memory” on Apple’s Web site, RAM is very easy to install. The only thing you need is a size 0 or 00 Phillips screwdriver. The instructions on that page are step-by-step, with diagrams that show you each step. While I recommend that document as required reading before a memory installation, I took some photos this morning to supplement those steps.

Here’s how I did the job.

First, I shut down the computer. Then I laid out a dishtowel on my kitchen table and put the closed computer upside down on the towel (to protect its footless top from scratching). The bottom of the computer looks like this:

Bottom of MacBook Pro

Next, I removed the battery by pushing up on the two sliding latches that hold it in place and pulling the battery out. That exposed the three small screws that hold the RAM cover in place. I removed the three screws with the Phillips screwdriver. In this photo, two of the screws have already been removed:

RAM Cover

Inside the ComputerWith all screws removed, I lifted the RAM cover off, exposing the RAM slots. As you can see here, there are two slots; one is filled with a 1 GB SO-DIMM and the other is empty. A diagram illustrates how the slots work. Basically, the DIMMs slide in at an angle and then get pushed down parallel to the computer’s body.

I lined up the new DIMM’s pins and notch with the slot on the computer and firmly pushed in into place. Sorry about the bad focus in this shot:

Inserted DIMM

Then I pushed the entire DIMM down until it locked right above the other DIMM:

Pushed Down DIMM

About this MacAfter that, it was just a matter of screwing the RAM compartment cover back on and replacing the battery. When I started up the computer, a quick peek at About This Mac confirmed that the computer recognized the new RAM.

Total time elapsed: 5 minutes. But that’s because I stopped to take pictures.

5 thoughts on “How to Add RAM to a MacBook Pro

  1. Hi Maria

    Thank you for this most informative post. One question, however. In adding rams don’t we have to replace the existing one with the same brand that you put in? In other words, I have heard that Rams work better in same pair

    Thanks

  2. Claude, although I’ve seen them sold in “matched pairs,” the How To article I referenced on the Apple Web site does not say we have to pair them. I believe that if there was a pairing requirement, Apple would have mentioned it in this document.

  3. Wow!! It is definitley a lot cheaper to add ram all by yourself. Apple would charcge you double that price to put in a little extra ram. Thanks for the post. That will be very useful when I purchase my new computer.

  4. Thank you for posting this! Now I will be able to do this myself. Much appreciated!!! Hello from Ireland

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