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Aluminum iMac Q&A - Updated March 25, 2013

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How do you upgrade the RAM in the "Mid-2007," "Early 2008," "Early 2009" and "Mid-2009" (20-Inch and 24-Inch) Aluminum iMac models? What type of RAM do they use? How much RAM do they actually support?

Please note that this Q&A explains how to upgrade the RAM in the 20-Inch and 24-Inch Aluminum iMac models that have black plastic backs. Apple refers to these systems as the "Mid-2007," "Early 2008," "Early 2009" and "Mid-2009" models. They can be identified by model numbers A1224 and A1225.

EveryMac.com also provides RAM upgrade instructions for the subsequently introduced "Late 2009," "Mid-2010" and "Mid-2011" 21.5-Inch and 27-Inch Aluminum iMac models that have all aluminum cases with a flat, thick edge around the display (model numbers A1311 and A1312) as well as the "Late 2012" (and subsequent) 21.5-Inch and 27-Inch Aluminum iMac models that also have all aluminum cases but with edges that taper sharply around the display (model numbers A1418 and A1419).

The memory upgrade procedure in all 20-Inch and 24-Inch iMac models is extremely quick and easy, but different lines use different types of memory and there are differences between official and unofficial RAM capacity as well. Precise identification can be tricky, too.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (20-Inch & 24-Inch Aluminum iMac)

Identification Help

If you're not sure which Aluminum iMac you have, the 20-Inch and 24-Inch models can be most readily identified externally via EMC Number -- located inconveniently under the "foot" supporting the computer -- and in software by Model Identifier for the purpose of upgrading the RAM. These models can be uniquely identified when combined with a secondary identifier like display size, processor speed and/or processor type.

EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- also can uniquely identify these models by the last three characters of the Serial Number, which is listed on the underside of the foot along with the EMC number and within the operating system alongside the model identifier. More details about specific identifiers are provided in EveryMac.com's extensive Mac Identification section.

To locate the model identifier in software, select "About This Mac" under the Apple Menu on your computer and click the "More Info..." button. If the iMac is running OS X 10.7 "Lion" or later, you will need to click the "System Report" button after clicking "More Info..." as well. As always, EveryMac.com has carefully hand documented each EMC number and model identifier for your convenience.

These identifiers for each of the 20-Inch and 24-Inch iMac models follow:

iMac

Subfamily

EMC

Model ID

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 20"

Mid-2007

2133

iMac7,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 20"

Mid-2007

2133

iMac7,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 24"

Mid-2007

2134

iMac7,1

"Core 2 Extreme" 2.8 24"

Mid-2007

2134

iMac7,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 20"

Early 2008

2210

iMac8,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 20"

Early 2008

2210

iMac8,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 24"

Early 2008

2211

iMac8,1

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 24"

Early 2008

2211

iMac8,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 20"

Early 2009

2266

iMac9,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 24"

Early 2009

2267

iMac9,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.93 24"

Early 2009

2267

iMac9,1

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 24"

Early 2009

2267

iMac9,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 20" (Edu)

Mid-2009

2266

iMac9,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.26 20" (Edu)

Mid-2009

2316

iMac9,1

RAM Types & Actual Maximum RAM Capacities

All 20-Inch and 24-Inch Aluminum iMac models have two RAM slots that are readily accessible via a small access panel on the underside of the display, but the type of SO-DIMMs as well as the actual maximum capacity varies.

Specifically, the "Mid-2007" (iMac7,1) models use 667 MHz PC2-5300 DDR2 SO-DIMMs (200-pin), the "Early 2008" (iMac8,1) models use 800 MHz PC2-6400 DDR2 SO-DIMMs (200-pin), and the "Early 2009" and "Mid-2009" (both iMac9,1) models use 1066 MHz PC3-8500 DDR3 SO-DIMMs (204-pin).

Officially, the "Mid-2007" and "Early 2008" models support a maximum of 4 GB of RAM, but they actually can support 6 GB. The "Early 2009" and "Mid-2009" models, however, both officially and unofficially support a maximum of 8 GB of RAM.

Much like the identification help, these details are easiest to visualize as a chart:

iMac

EMC

Model ID

SO-DIMM

Max

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 20"

2133

iMac7,1

667 PC2-5300

6 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 20"

2133

iMac7,1

667 PC2-5300

6 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 24"

2134

iMac7,1

667 PC2-5300

6 GB

"Core 2 Extreme" 2.8 24"

2134

iMac7,1

667 PC2-5300

6 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 20"

2210

iMac8,1

800 PC2-6400

6 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 20"

2210

iMac8,1

800 PC2-6400

6 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 24"

2211

iMac8,1

800 PC2-6400

6 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 24"

2211

iMac8,1

800 PC2-6400

6 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 20"

2266

iMac9,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 24"

2267

iMac9,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.93 24"

2267

iMac9,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 24"

2267

iMac9,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 20" (Edu)

2266

iMac9,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.26 20" (Edu)

2316

iMac9,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

*Apple originally supported 4 GB of RAM in the education-only iMac "Core 2 Duo" 2.0 20-Inch (Mid-2009) model, and it was believed to have an artificial EFI limitation that prevented 8 GB of RAM from being recognized. However, Apple later began to support 8 GB of RAM in this model, too.

RAM Upgrade Instructions

Upgrading the RAM in all of these 20-Inch and 24-Inch iMac models is the same and quite simple, too. To protect the iMac display, first place a soft towel on a table or other stable surface, place the iMac "face down" on top of the towel, unscrew the small access panel on the underside edge of the iMac display, and swap out the two SO-DIMMs.

Apple helpfully provides the RAM upgrade procedure silkscreened on the bottom of the "foot" itself, and this likely will be sufficient for many users. However, the below step-by-step video from Dave Merten is even better:

From watching the video, it should be clear that upgrading the RAM is simple. However, if you do not feel comfortable -- or have the time -- to perform the upgrade yourself, hiring a professional always is a good option.

iMac RAM Purchase & Professional Installation Options

Just because RAM meets the minimum listed criteria does not mean that it will necessarily function as intended in a particular Mac. Be sure to buy from a quality vendor that has tested their RAM with your Mac to ensure full compatibility.

In the US (and many other countries), site sponsor Other World Computing sells memory for all iMac models for do-it-yourself upgrades. Mission Repair provides an Aluminum iMac RAM upgrade service by mail with a 24-hour turnaround time.

In Australia, site sponsor RamCity sells Aluminum iMac compatible memory with a lifetime warranty and fast, flat-rate shipping Australia-wide.

In Southeast Asia, site sponsor SimplyMac.sg sells Aluminum iMac compatible memory with free delivery -- and optional upgrade service -- in Singapore and flat rate shipping to Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea.

Also see: How do you upgrade the hard drive in the "Mid-2007," "Early 2008," "Early 2009" and "Mid-2009" (20-Inch and 24-Inch) Aluminum iMac models? What type of hard drive do they support? Can you swap the hard drive for an SSD?



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