Mac Daniel's Advice

Installing Memory Upgrades

Charlie Ruggiero - 2001.02.05

Q: How difficult is it to install more memory in my _____?

A: It's usually very easy. There are a few exceptions, however, so I will give a brief overview on what is involved. You can decide for yourself if you want to do the installation.

Keep in mind these are summaries and that some machines are not listed because I simply have never done a RAM upgrade in them. Some information may be slightly inaccurate because of the many different models out there. To save space I have put together Macs which have the same or similar setups.

If you can't find your computer, look at Macs which have a similar case design or search this page for it. Keep in mind that you should use this information at your own risk. This information may not be completely accurate, and if you do not know what you are doing you may damage something. I am providing this information to help you decide if you want to take a crack at installing your own RAM.

Compact Macs (Mac Plus, SE, Classic, SE/30, Classic II): Unfortunately, this installation is fairly hard. You will have to remove the entire case, which requires a long handled T-15 torx screwdriver (in the States, Sears Craftsman 47431 for US$4.99). For all b&w compact Macs except the Classic, you also need to pull out the motherboard after disconnecting a few wires. (The Classic has memory on a RAM card.) This is not as easy as it sounds. There is a serious risk of electrocution, so be sure to take care when working near the monitor tube. The nice part is that if you ruin something, you can always buy another one for about $25 or less. Take care not to touch or break the video tube and related devices inside the Mac. I would not pay to have someone install RAM in this computer - it would be cheaper to buy a Mac with the maximum RAM, except in the case of the SE/30.

Mac II series: These involve lifting off the top of the case, which is easy because it is basically clipped on. The II, IIfx, and IIx all need the metal bracket containing the hard drive and floppy which is on top of the RAM removed. There are some cables to be disconnected. IIsi, IIcx, IIci all need only the top of the case lifted off.

Quadra and Centris: Minitower machines (800, 840av) require complete removal of the outside case. Sometimes some screws also have to be removed. The Quadra 605, 610, and 660av, as well as the Centris 610 and 660av, only need the top of their case to be lifted off. For the Quadra 900 and 950, you need only take off the side. The Centris/Quadra 650 is a pain (see Power Mac 7100). The Quadra 700 has similar setup to the IIci. Several early LC models, and the Performa 400 series also have a similar setup to the Quadra/Centris 605 and 660.

Performa 500 Series, Color Classic and CC II, Macintosh TV, Performa and LC 600 series: These all have a similar design. Remove screws holding back cover, remove the cover, and pull out motherboard. Few or no cables to disconnect.

Power Mac 6100 and 7100: Adding memory to the 6100 is a simple operation. Simply lift off the top of the case, like the Quadra/Centris 610/660av. The 7100 is a pain, because you will need to completely unscrew the metal bracket system which holds the CD-ROM, floppy, and hard drive. You will also need to remove the power supply screw and then the power supply. There are a few cables to disconnect as well.

Power Mac 8100, 8500, 9500: The Power Mac 8100 needs to have the case removed, but not much else. In the 8500 and 9500, you must remove the case, and then the motherboard kind of slides out. There are several cables that need to be disconnected.

Power Mac 7500, 7600, 7200, 7300, Beige G3 Desktop: Remove top case (by pressing the two buttons at the front of the Mac underneath the lip). Pull the plastic case off. Fold out top portion of the Mac after releasing latches. The best desktop design until the Blue and White G3 and Power Mac G4.

Performa 5200, 5300, 5400, 5500, 6200, 6300, 6400, 6500: Remove screws at the back and either remove back plastic cover and pull out motherboard, or simply pull out motherboard. No cables to disconnect.

Power Mac 4400: Remove top case.

Power Mac 8600, 9600: See PowerMac G3 series below.

Power Mac G3 Series: Desktop G3: See PowerMac 7500. Tower G3: pull off side of Mac, remove latches, and fold out. Usually no cables to disconnect in either of these. Similar procedures with the Power Mac 8600 and 9600.

Blue and White G3, Power Mac G4 (all models): Grasp latch and pull down. Can't get any easier than this.

Power Mac Cube: Turn upside down. Push on the latch and remove inner "core" of computer. Be careful with this. It is fragile and susceptible to static because it has no grounding out of it's incasement.

iMac: Lots of crazy steps for drawer-loading model. Turn iMac on face, remove screw on bottom, pull out a bunch of stuff, disconnect some cables, remove some covers. It's a pain in the butt. The slot-loading model is much easier: turn iMac upside-down, open door on bottom, insert RAM.

PowerBooks

Mac Portable: Remove the back cover to gain access to RAM expansion. Remember to remove the battery and all other devices inside any PowerBook before upgrading RAM.

PowerBook 100-180: In all cases you must remove the top of the plastic case, and this is not always easy. You must also always remove the battery. The PowerBook 100 involves even taking off the screen sadly enough.

PowerBook 190, 5300: Unscrew the screws on the bottom and remove keyboard. As with all PowerBooks, remove the battery and CDROMs/Floppy Drives before attempting to add RAM.

PowerBook 500 series: Remove battery, keyboard, and you must remove the metal cover over the motherboard.

PowerBook Duo Series: Unscrew the screws at the bottom of the Duo, then remove the keyboard. Remember to remove the battery and all other devices inside any PowerBook before upgrading RAM.

PowerBook 2400: You must remove the entire top case. Then you have to remove the metal cover over the memory modules. Remember to remove the battery and all other devices inside any PowerBook before upgrading RAM.

PowerBook 1400: Remove speaker grill. Remove keyboard. Remove metal cover over ram and processor. Remember to remove the battery and all other devices inside any PowerBook before upgrading RAM.

PowerBook 3400, PowerBook G3 (original): Unscrew screws at the bottom of the PowerBook and remove the keyboard. Remember to remove the battery and all other devices inside any PowerBook before upgrading RAM.

PowerBook G3 Series and G4: Remove keyboard and possibly metal cover. Remember to remove the battery and all other devices inside any PowerBook before upgrading RAM.

iBook: Remove keyboard, remove Airport card, and remove metal cover over RAM. Remember to remove the battery and all other devices inside any PowerBook before upgrading RAM.

Macs I don't know about: 20th Anniversary Edition, Lisa, anything not listed on this page, prototypes.

If you want to upgrade your Mac's memory, Apple gives instructions (sometimes good, sometimes bad), and it usually goes step-by-step. Sometimes your manual will have instructions.

If you are a beginning user, be sure to scope out what you need to do before doing anything. That way you can decide to abort before something gets changed or damaged.

People who have had Macs for a while should use discretion before deciding to install RAM. If you have installed RAM in a Mac before, then you will probably be able to do most desktop machines excluding the Classics, the drawer-loading iMac, the Cube, and a few others. If you have never installed RAM, be sure to read up on the procedures before taking action.

Most people should avoid installing RAM in the PowerBooks before the 3400 series simply because of the number of parts you usually have to remove.

Some tips on installing RAM:

  • always discharge static before working in your computer. In most cases (check your Apple manual) Apple recommends you unplug your Mac; I think this is to avoid electrocution.
  • Make sure you have the correct RAM for your computer. Size, speed, voltage, manufacturer, and number of chips can all play a part in terms of compatibility with your Macintosh.
  • Never try and force a RAM chip in that does not seem to fit. If in doubt, do not try - you'll save money in the long run.

I hope this article has helped you decide what to do, or even saved you money by skipping paying the Apple certified technician to do your RAM installation.

Charlie Ruggiero has used a lot of Macs, from Plus to G4, and even ran a BBS (remember those?) on a Plus. He works as Macintosh tech support and technology advisor for the College of Education at Michigan State University. He does a lot of hardware and software troubleshooting, as well as a great deal of video editing, capture, and streaming. Charlie is well versed in HyperCard, fairly knowledgeable in Future Basic, and has a good background in sound and video. He even has his own site, Edge of Heaven.

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Not sure if you should upgrade your old Mac or replace it? Check the Mac Daniel index to see if we've already addressed your problem.

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