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White & Black MacBook Q&A - Updated February 10, 2015

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

This Q&A explains how to upgrade the RAM in the white and black polycarbonate MacBook models shipped from 2006 until 2009 (model number A1181). These models should not be confused with the *Unibody* white MacBook models shipped in 2009 and 2010 (model number A1342), which EveryMac.com covers separately.

EveryMac.com also provides RAM upgrade instructions for the Aluminum "Unibody" MacBook models shipped in 2008 (model identifier MacBook5,1).

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

White MacBook
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (White MacBook)

Identification Help

The White or Black MacBook models can be collectively identified by the A1181 Model Number on the bottom of the notebook toward the hinge in tiny type.

There are seventeen different models that share this model number, though, so this identifier is not sufficient to pinpoint the specific type of RAM or its actual maximum capacity.

However, the EMC Number -- listed underneath the removable battery -- and the Model Identifier -- provided in software -- both are unique enough for the purposes of upgrading the RAM.

To locate the model identifier, select "About This Mac" under the Apple Menu on your computer and click the "More Info..." button. If the MacBook is running OS X 10.7 "Lion" or later, you will need to click the "System Report" button after clicking "More Info..." as well.

The Model Identifier and EMC Number for each of these models follow:

MacBook

Subfamily

Model ID

EMC No.

"Core Duo" 1.83 13"

MacBook

MacBook1,1

2092

"Core Duo" 2.0 13" (White)

MacBook

MacBook1,1

2092

"Core Duo" 2.0 13" (Black)

MacBook

MacBook1,1

2092

"Core 2 Duo" 1.83 13"

Late 2006

MacBook2,1

2121

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

Late 2006

MacBook2,1

2121

"Core 2 Duo" 2.0 13" (Black)

Late 2006

MacBook2,1

2121

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

Mid-2007

MacBook2,1

2139

"Core 2 Duo" 2.16 13" (White)

Mid-2007

MacBook2,1

2139

"Core 2 Duo" 2.16 13" (Black)

Mid-2007

MacBook2,1

2139

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

Late 2007

MacBook3,1

2200

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

Late 2007

MacBook3,1

2200

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

Late 2007

MacBook3,1

2200

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

Early 2008

MacBook4,1

2242

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

Early 2008

MacBook4,1

2242

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

Early 2008

MacBook4,1

2242

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

Early 2009

MacBook5,2

2300

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

Mid-2009

MacBook5,2

2330

EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- also can uniquely identify these systems by their Serial Numbers, and this is another method that can be used to find the precise model.

More details about specific identifiers are provided in EveryMac.com's extensive Mac Identification section.

Official RAM Details

The Apple Support Site has a detailed PDF on "How to Install Memory" in the MacBook that provides much of what you need to upgrade the stock RAM.

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

Official & Actual Maximum RAM

Apple officially supports a maximum of 2 GB of RAM in the original (Core Duo), "Late 2006" and "Mid-2007" MacBook models.

However, third-parties have discovered that the "Late 2006" and "Mid-2007" MacBook models -- both of which are equipped with a Core 2 Duo processor -- 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 these subsequent MacBook models -- 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 physically 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."

RAM Performance Tests

For all of these MacBook systems, Apple reports that "for best performance, fill both memory slots, installing an equal memory module in each slot." Given the slower "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 posted detailed test results comparing the performance of different MacBook models configured with different "official" and "unofficial" memory configurations up to 4 GB.

Unsurprisingly, matched RAM is ideal, but the extra performance boost provided by a mismatched larger configuration is better than a matched smaller configuration. In other words, 3 GB mismatched (2 GB + 1 GB) provides higher performance than 2 GB matched (1 GB + 1 GB).

RAM Upgrade Video Instructions

The Apple document provides installation instructions which absolutely should be read in their entirety before one installs memory.

However, this video from YouTuber "readthename" also can be helpful:

After watching the video, it should be clear that upgrading the RAM in these models is a straightforward endeavor. However, if you do not feel comfortable -- or have the time -- to perform the upgrade yourself, hiring a professional never is a bad idea.

MacBook RAM Purchase & Professional Installation Options

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

In the US (and many other countries), site sponsor Other World Computing sells memory and storage upgrades for the White and Black MacBook models (and all other Macs as well). Mission Repair offers an upgrade service by mail with a 24-hour turnaround time for this model.

In the UK and Ireland, site sponsor Flexx sells MacBook compatible memory with free shipping. The company provides flat rate shipping to France, Germany, and Switzerland and inexpensive shipping for all of Europe, too.

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

In Southeast Asia, site sponsor SimplyMac.sg sells MacBook 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 South Korea.

Also see:

  • How do you upgrade the hard drive in the "White & Black" MacBook models? Do these models support an SSD?
  • How do you upgrade the RAM in the White "Unibody" MacBook models (A1342)? What type of RAM do they use? How much RAM do they actually support?
  • How do you upgrade the RAM in the Aluminum "Unibody" MacBook models (MacBook5,1)? What type of RAM do they use? How much RAM do they actually support?



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