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MacBook Pro Q&A - Updated November 15, 2008

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How do you upgrade the RAM in the MacBook Pro? How much RAM of what type does it support?

Please note that this Q&A covers the "pre-Unibody" MacBook Pro models -- those released prior to October 14, 2008. For the "Unibody" MacBook Pro models, please refer to the "Unibody" MacBook Pro Q&A.

Page 83 of the original MacBook Pro User's Guide notes that "Apple recommends that you have an Apple-certified technician install memory. Consult the service and support information that came with your computer for instructions on how to contact Apple for service."

Although cannot advise self-installation contrary to Apple's recommendation, the manual goes on to state that the MacBook Pro "Core Duo":

Has two memory slots that you access by removing the memory door in the battery bay. Your MacBook Pro comes with a minimum of 512 megabytes (MB) of 667 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

The MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.16 GHz/2.33 GHz models use the same type of memory, but officially support up to 3 GB with "a 2 GB SO-DIMM in one slot and a 1 GB SO-DIMM in the other." Apple notes that "you can use RAM module sizes of 1 GB or 2 GB in the top or bottom slots." However, is possible to install 4 GB of RAM in these models, but only some RAM in excess of 3 GB actually can be used by the system.

The MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo "Mid-2007/Santa Rosa" models introduced June 5, 2007, and the "Early 2008/Penryn" models also use the same type of memory, but officially support up to 4 GB with two 2 GB SO-DIMM modules (this covers all "pre-Unibody" MacBook Pro models with processor speeds other than 2.16 GHz and 2.33 GHz). However, just as with the previous series, third-parties such as site sponsor Other World Computing, have successfully installed more RAM than is officially supported -- up to 6 GB using one 2 GB module and one 4 GB module.

The User's Guide has installation instructions complete with drawings, which absolutely should be read in their entirety before one installs memory, but in a nutshell, the quick instructions are:

1. Shut down the MacBook Pro, unplug it, and disconnect any cords or cables.

2. Slide the battery latches up and remove the battery.

3. Unscrew the memory door and remove it from the battery bay.

4. Discharge static electricity by touching a metal surface [or better yet, use a grounding wrist strap].

5. Spread the tabs apart and slide out the existing memory modules.

6. Slide in the new memory modules, spread the tabs apart, and push the memory modules down until they lock into place.

7. Screw the memory door back into place and re-install the battery.

Drawings are nice, but perhaps even better, site sponsor 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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