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White & Black MacBook Q&A - Revised August 23, 2011

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How do you upgrade the RAM in the "White & Black" MacBook models? How much RAM of what type do they support?

Please note that this Q&A covers the "White & Black" MacBook models -- those in white or black polycarbonate cases. For the aluminum clad "Unibody" MacBook Pro models, please refer to the answer to "How do you upgrade the RAM in the 'Unibody' MacBook Pro? How much RAM of what type does it support?" For the subsequently introduced "White Unibody" MacBook models, see "How do you upgrade the RAM in the White 'Unibody' MacBook? How much RAM of what type does it support?"

Users interested in upgrading the RAM will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the MacBook is quite a bit easier to upgrade than some previous Apple notebooks.

The Apple Support Site has posted a detailed article on "How to Install Memory" in the MacBook that likely will provide everything you need to upgrade the stock memory.

The Apple Support Document states that the MacBook:

Has two memory slots that you access by removing the memory door in the battery bay. Your MacBook comes with at least 512 MB of 667 MHz [or 800 MHz] Double Data Rate (DDR2) Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory (SDRAM) installed.

Both memory slots can accept an SDRAM module that meets the following specifications:

  • Double Data Rate Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module (DDR SO-DIMM) format
  • 1.25 inch or smaller
  • 512 MB or 1 gigabyte (GB)
  • 200-pin
  • PC2-5300 DDR2 667 MHz Type RAM or PC2-6400 DDR2 800 MHz Type RAM

Apple officially supports a maximum of 2 GB of RAM in the "Core Duo" and "pre-Santa Rosa Core 2 Duo" MacBook models (ones released prior to November 1, 2007). However, third-parties have discovered that "pre-Santa Rosa" MacBook models equipped with a "Core 2 Duo" processor -- those with a Core 2 Duo processor released prior to November 1, 2007 -- will work with 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM. Due to chipset limitations -- the same limitations that apply to the "Late 2006" MacBook Pro systems -- these models can hold 4 GB of RAM but cannot fully utilize the memory beyond 3 GB due to the possibility of memory "overlap".

For other pre-Unibody "White & Black" MacBook models -- starting with the "Late 2007/Santa Rosa" line (introduced on November 1, 2007) -- Apple officially supports 4 GB of RAM, but, again, third-parties have found that these systems actually can support 6 GB of memory (using a mismatched 2 GB and 4 GB pair of memory modules).

For your convenience, the memory type and maximum memory capacity of each model are summarized below:

MacBook

DDR2 RAM Type

Max RAM

"Core Duo" 1.83 13"

667 MHz PC2-5300

2 GB

"Core Duo" 2.0 13" (White)

667 MHz PC2-5300

2 GB

"Core Duo" 2.0 13" (Black)

667 MHz PC2-5300

2 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 1.83 13"

667 MHz PC2-5300

3 GB*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 13" (White/06)

667 MHz PC2-5300

3 GB*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 13" (Black)

667 MHz PC2-5300

3 GB*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 13" (White/07)

667 MHz PC2-5300

3 GB*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.16 13" (White)

667 MHz PC2-5300

3 GB*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.16 13" (Black)

667 MHz PC2-5300

3 GB*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 13" (White-SR)

667 MHz PC2-5300

6 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.2 13" (White-SR)

667 MHz PC2-5300

6 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.2 13" (Black-SR)

667 MHz PC2-5300

6 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.1 13" (White-08)

667 MHz PC2-5300

6 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13" (White-08)

667 MHz PC2-5300

6 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13" (Black-08)

667 MHz PC2-5300

6 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 13" (White-09)

667 MHz PC2-5300

6 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.13 13" (White-09)

800 MHz PC2-6400

6 GB†

* These models officially support 2 GB of RAM. However, third-parties have been able to successfully upgrade these systems to 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM (it can hold 4 GB but cannot fully utilize the memory beyond 3 GB).

† These models officially support 4 GB of RAM, but third-parties have been able to upgrade the system to 6 GB of RAM using one 2 GB and one 4 GB memory module. As re-discovered by a helpful reader, it is possible to install 8 GB of RAM in these models, and it will show up as installed, but as soon as RAM in excess of 6 GB is used, performance will "nose dive."

For all of the "White & Black" MacBook systems, Apple reports that "for best performance, fill both memory slots, installing an equal memory module in each slot." Given the "integrated graphics" the MacBook is heavily dependent on system RAM, and consequently, Apple reports that installing equal RAM in each slot is important for maximum graphics performance.

Site sponsor Other World Computing has posted detailed test results comparing the performance of different MacBook models configured with different "official" and "unofficial" memory configurations. If one takes Apple's formal recommendations into account, the results may be surprising.

The Apple document goes on to provide installation instructions complete with drawings, which absolutely should be read in their entirety before one installs memory.

Perhaps even better than drawings, however, Other World Computing has step-by-step video instructions of the process that you may find helpful as well as compatible memory for sale.



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