What you need to know before upgrading your Mac’s RAM

Have you noticed that your Mac might be performing a bit slower than usual? From experience, I figured before that it might have something to do with too many files in my drive – especially when I download complete seasons of TV series and movies I want to watch in HD, or when I have too many Photoshop files archived somewhere. Then, shining a light into a dark, dark place of ignorance, I learned about RAM.

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Felix had it coming. Damn it, Felix – know your priorities!


OK, I admit this: I don’t usually do research on a device’s specs. I prefer to experience a gadget first before I want to find out more about it. Therefore, my computer’s RAM was not that big of a concern for me. But when I started heavily using my computer for work, I understood the true value of RAM, and that’s what you should know as well.

What is RAM?

RAM means Random Access Memory. A general feature for all computer and tech devices, RAM works as temporary storage that holds data and information from all the apps you are currently using. Basically, if your computer has more RAM, you can benefit from faster system performance as there is more room for data to be processed.

With sufficient RAM for your Mac, you can easily multitask by switching and importing files between applications at a consistent rate. This is most crucial for multimedia professionals that rely on multiple applications to handle a variety of projects and workloads. Note that RAM does not process network or Internet speeds, but it does affect the programs you use for browsing.

Now, if you think your Mac does not meet your work requirements anymore, maybe it’s time to upgrade its RAM. However, like everything else that involves upgrades, there are some points you have to consider before you push through with this decision.

Learn the current specs of your Mac.
Computers are predictable, generally. Sometimes there’s more than one factor to blame for your Mac’s slow performance. Your Mac may have sufficient RAM but the graphics processor might be the culprit – things like that. To learn about the complete details about your Mac, follow this path:

Go to your desktop, and on the upper right corner of your screen, click the Apple icon. At the very top of the drop menu, select About This Mac. A pop-out window will appear and give you complete information on your Mac’s specs, including your current OS X version, processor model, RAM capacity, graphics processor and your Mac’s serial number (Mavericks 10.9 version).

Now check your Mac’s RAM capacity and determine if it’s sufficient enough to address your working requirements. As I said before, multimedia professionals need more RAM for their apps, and this is particularly true for those who work with 3D or video editing.

Is your Mac upgradable?
I’ll save you the time and tell you which Mac computers are upgradable. Here’s a summary:

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It’s two sides of a coin. What matters is: which side do you need?


The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display can’t be upgraded for one simple reason: the RAM chip is integrated into the motherboard and thus cannot be replaced or removed. Unfortunately, for those who use these two Mac computers, more RAM means you’d have to buy a whole new unit with higher RAM capacity. Or as a better alternative, you can switch to the non-Retina MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, or Mac mini; all of these Macs can be opened up and equipped with more RAM.

Confirm how much RAM you need.
Take advantage of your Mac’s upgradability and check your Mac’s capacity to integrate RAM chips and calculate the right amount of RAM you need for an affordable and sufficient upgrade. For a more convenient upgrade, take the chance to replace two memory chips with higher-capacity replacements for long-term performance benefits.

Check RAM compatibility before making an order.
Sounds like common sense, right? Some RAM chips are manufactured specifically for brands and models. Do not purchase a RAM module simply because you think the specs might give your computer superior capacity. Take the time to do your research because it does not work that way.

Create backup copies of everything on your Mac.
EVERYTHING. Remember that you will be replacing a new component in your Mac, and, should the worst happen, you might not be able to access or even use your computer at all. Improper hardware installation could result to data loss or corruption due to incompatibility or system overload.

You can create data backups through four convenient options:

  •  Cloud storage systems like iCloud or DropBox.
  • Drive cloning
  • Storing your most important data and files into an external hard drive
  • Store your data through the AirPort Time Machine for wireless storage and sharing advantages.

Also, you might want to keep your preferred settings from all your apps that make your workload a little easier. Take the time to screenshot everything for future references.

Look out for signs of improper installation.
So you’ve covered every point to get the right RAM for your computer. Now what? You need to watch out for these errors that may indicate their might have been something wrong with your installation process. If there was something wrong, your computer might exhibit the following:

  • Fails to boot-up
  • Does not finish booting
  • Unsuccessful reboot
  • Malfunctioning display
  • Beep codes that indicate system errors
  • The display tells you something’s wrong – hello, diagnostics.

Upgrading your RAM to boost your computer’s performance could be a better solution than purchasing a new computer or laptop. Not only will you retain the device that helped you at your most crucial workloads, but you could also save enough money for the next big release Apple might be brewing.

Getting Help
Need help in choosing and installing the right RAM for your Mac? Drop by MacMall retail stores and get professional recommendations from our Apple-credited experts. You can also visit macmall.com for exciting promos and exclusive offers for all your tech needs.

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