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Unibody MacBook Pro Q&A - Updated June 19, 2014

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How do you upgrade the RAM in the "Mid-2009" through "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models? What type of RAM do they use? How much RAM does each model actually support?

Please note that this Q&A is up-to-date and covers pre-Retina "Unibody" MacBook Pro models. EveryMac.com also provides details about RAM options for the subsequently introduced Retina Display MacBook Pro line.

The RAM upgrade procedure for the "Mid-2009," "Mid-2010," "Early 2011," "Late 2011" and non-Retina Display "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models is fairly easy. It's not quite as easy as it is for earlier "pre-Unibody" MacBook Pro systems, as these later models require a screwdriver, but it still is simple and straightforward.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. ("Unibody" MacBook Pro Models)

Identification Help

If you're not sure which MacBook Pro you have, these models can be identified by the Model Identifier "closely enough" to an exact match for the purpose of upgrading the RAM. In turn, each model can be uniquely identified via model identifier and one or more secondary identifiers (like 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 Serial Number, which is listed on the bottom of the notebook in small type toward the hinge, as well as 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 MacBook Pro is running OS X 10.7 "Lion" or later, you will need to click the "System Report" button after clicking "More Info..." as well. EveryMac.com has carefully hand documented each model identifier for your convenience.

The model identifiers for each of these models follow:

MacBook Pro

Subfamily

Model Identifier

"Core 2 Duo" 2.26 13" (SD/FW)

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,5

"Core 2 Duo" 2.53 13" (SD/FW)

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,5

"Core 2 Duo" 2.53 15" (SD)

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,4

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 15" (SD)

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,3

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 15" (SD)

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,3

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 15" (SD)

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,3

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 17" Mid-2009

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,2

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 17" Mid-2009

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,2

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro7,1

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 13" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro7,1

"Core i5" 2.4 15" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

"Core i5" 2.53 15" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

"Core i7" 2.66 15" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

"Core i7" 2.8 15" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

"Core i5" 2.53 17" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

"Core i7" 2.66 17" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

"Core i7" 2.8 17" Mid-2010

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

"Core i5" 2.3 13" Early 2011

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,1

"Core i7" 2.7 13" Early 2011

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,1

"Core i7" 2.0 15" Early 2011

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

"Core i7" 2.2 15" Early 2011

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

"Core i7" 2.3 15" Early 2011

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

"Core i7" 2.2 17" Early 2011

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,3

"Core i7" 2.3 17" Early 2011

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,3

"Core i5" 2.4 13" Late 2011

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,1

"Core i7" 2.8 13" Late 2011

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,1

"Core i7" 2.2 15" Late 2011

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

"Core i7" 2.4 15" Late 2011

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

"Core i7" 2.5 15" Late 2011

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

"Core i7" 2.4 17" Late 2011

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,3

"Core i7" 2.5 17" Late 2011

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,3

"Core i5" 2.5 13" Mid-2012

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,2

"Core i7" 2.9 13" Mid-2012

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,2

"Core i7" 2.3 15" Mid-2012

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

"Core i7" 2.6 15" Mid-2012

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

"Core i7" 2.7 15" Mid-2012

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

RAM Types & Actual Maximum RAM Capacities

All of these systems have two memory slots that are accessible by removing the bottom case, but the type of RAM as well as the actual maximum capacity varies for different models. Apple formally recommends that you "fill both memory slots and install an identical memory module in each slot" for all of these systems.

The "Mid-2009" and "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro models support 1066 MHz PC3-8500 DDR3 SO-DIMMs and officially and unofficially support a maximum of 8 GB of RAM with one odd exception.

Specifically, as discovered by OWC, the 13-Inch "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro models (and only the 13-Inch models) -- the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13" Mid-2010 and "Core 2 Duo" 2.66 13" Mid-2010 identified by MacBookPro7,1 -- can support up to 16 GB of RAM with dual 8 GB memory modules if they are running OS X 10.7.5 or higher, have been updated to use the latest EFI, and are equipped with proper specification memory modules. If running a version of Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard," these models only can use 8 GB of RAM.

The "Early 2011" and "Late 2011" MacBook Pro models use faster 1333 MHz PC3-10600 DDR3 SO-DIMMs. They officially support 8 GB of RAM, but OWC has determined that they actually support 16 GB of RAM regardless of the operating system installed, although only the "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models are capable of running a version of Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard."

Finally, the "Mid-2012" non-Retina Display MacBook Pro models use faster still 1600 MHz PC3-12800 DDR3 SO-DIMMs and likewise officially support 8 GB of RAM, but actually can support as much as 16 GB of RAM. These models do not run versions of OS X prior to OS X 10.7 "Lion."

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

MacBook Pro

Model Identifier

SO-DIMM

Max

"Core 2 Duo" 2.26 13"

MacBookPro5,5

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.53 13"

MacBookPro5,5

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.53 15"

MacBookPro5,4

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 15"

MacBookPro5,3

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 15"

MacBookPro5,3

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 15"

MacBookPro5,3

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 17"

MacBookPro5,2

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 17"

MacBookPro5,2

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13"

MacBookPro7,1

1066 PC3-8500

16 GB†

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 13"

MacBookPro7,1

1066 PC3-8500

16 GB†

"Core i5" 2.4 15"

MacBookPro6,2

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core i5" 2.53 15"

MacBookPro6,2

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core i7" 2.66 15"

MacBookPro6,2

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core i7" 2.8 15"

MacBookPro6,2

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core i5" 2.53 17"

MacBookPro6,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core i7" 2.66 17"

MacBookPro6,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core i7" 2.8 17"

MacBookPro6,1

1066 PC3-8500

8 GB

"Core i5" 2.3 13"

MacBookPro8,1

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.7 13"

MacBookPro8,1

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.0 15"

MacBookPro8,2

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.2 15"

MacBookPro8,2

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.3 15"

MacBookPro8,2

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.2 17"

MacBookPro8,3

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.3 17"

MacBookPro8,3

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i5" 2.4 13"

MacBookPro8,1

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.8 13"

MacBookPro8,1

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.2 15"

MacBookPro8,2

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.4 15"

MacBookPro8,2

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.5 15"

MacBookPro8,2

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.4 17"

MacBookPro8,3

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.5 17"

MacBookPro8,3

1333 PC3-10600

16 GB*

"Core i5" 2.5 13"

MacBookPro9,2

1600 PC3-12800

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.9 13"

MacBookPro9,2

1600 PC3-12800

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.3 15"

MacBookPro9,1

1600 PC3-12800

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.6 15"

MacBookPro9,1

1600 PC3-12800

16 GB*

"Core i7" 2.7 15"

MacBookPro9,1

1600 PC3-12800

16 GB*

† Officially, these two models support 8 GB of RAM, but they actually can support 16 GB of RAM. However, this is if and only if they are running OS X 10.7.5 or higher, have been updated to use the latest EFI, and are equipped with proper specification memory modules.

* Officially, these models all support 8 GB of RAM, but they actually support 16 GB when running any compatible version of (Mac) OS X.

RAM Upgrade Instructions

Apple explains how to install memory starting on page 35 of the 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch "Mid-2009", 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch "Mid-2010," and 13-Inch, 15-Inch and 17-Inch "Early 2011" MacBook Pro User Guides, respectively, and this provides most of what you need to know to upgrade the pre-installed memory.

The "Late 2011" MacBook Pro models are so similar to the "Early 2011" models that Apple didn't bother to release an updated instruction manual. For the "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro line, Apple's "Quickstart" Guide does not cover RAM installation, but the procedure is the same as earlier models.

However, perhaps even better than drawings, OWC provides convenient step-by-step videos of the process for the 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch models alike.

13" MacBook Pro RAM Upgrade Video
Mid-2009, Mid-2010, Early 2011, Late 2011 & Non-Retina Mid-2012

15" MacBook Pro RAM Upgrade Video
Mid-2009, Mid-2010, Early 2011, Late 2011 & Non-Retina Mid-2012

17" MacBook Pro RAM Upgrade Video
Mid-2009, Mid-2010, Early 2011 & Late 2011

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

MacBook Pro 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 as well as storage for all MacBook Pro models for do-it-yourself upgrades. Mission Repair provides a MacBook Pro RAM upgrade service by mail with a 24-hour turnaround time.

In Canada, site sponsor The Mac Market sells memory for all MacBook Pro models with flat rate express shipping across Canada. The company also provides an upgrade service.

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

In Southeast Asia, site sponsor SimplyMac.sg sells MacBook Pro 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 "Mid-2009" through "Mid-2012" 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch MacBook Pro models? What type of hard drive do these models support? How do you replace the hard drive with an SSD?
  • Is it possible to add a second hard drive to a "Unibody" MacBook or MacBook Pro?


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