Skip to Main Content

Is it worth upgrading your Mac’s RAM? 

One way to improve the performance of your Mac device is to upgrade its RAM. By increasing it, your device will run faster and is less likely to crash — you’ll also improve multitasking performance, so you can use multiple memory-hungry apps simultaneously. Read on to learn how to upgrade your Mac’s RAM and how to extend your device’s lifespan. You’ll also discover how to tune up and speed up your device with Avira Free Security. 


Should I upgrade my Mac’s RAM? 

Does it feel like your Mac’s becoming increasingly slower or are your apps taking ages to open? This could be a sign that you need more memory — also referred to as RAM (random access memory). The memory is a temporary storage space for process information that you use on your system. If the RAM is full, apps won’t get all the memory they need — slowing down your Mac. 

To remedy this, the first thing you should do is clean up your Mac to free up more memory. Sometimes it also helps to clear your Mac’s cache to increase performance. You should run a virus scan too. After all, your system may not be slow just because it’s low on memory — computer viruses can also sap it’s performance. If you’ve cleaned your device and found it’s free of malware, it might be worth upgrading your Mac’s RAM to rev up your device’s performance and increase its lifespan. 

How much RAM do I need? 

Experts believe that 8 GB of RAM is sufficient for everyday activities like surfing the internet. If you use spreadsheets or word-processing apps regularly, 16 GB of RAM is recommended. And if you want to use your Apple Mac for process-hogging tasks like video editing or gaming, it’s worth having at least 32 GB of RAM. 

How do I check how much RAM I’ve got? 

Before considering a Mac RAM upgrade, first check how much RAM your device has. To do so, follow these steps: 

  1. Open Spotlight: Press the Command key and spacebar simultaneously to open Spotlight.
    View of an open Spotlight search window on a Mac
  2. Type Activity Monitor: Type Activity Monitor in the search box and press the Enter key. Then select Storage in the top bar.
    View memory use and memory pressure in Activity Monitor on a Mac device
  3. View memory pressure: If the memory pressure graph is predominantly green, you’ve got enough RAM. If there are more yellow or red bars, your device is using a lot of memory — it might then be worth upgrading your Mac’s RAM. 

Which Mac models support RAM upgrades? 

You can upgrade the RAM on most Mac models — from the MacBook and the iMac to the Mac mini. Models include: 

  • MacBook: For models produced between 2008 and 2011, you can upgrade the RAM.  
  • MacBook Pro: You can upgrade the RAM on many MacBook Pro models. These include 13-inch models produced between 2009 and 2012 as well as 15-inch models made between 2008 and 2012. You can also upgrade the RAM on a 17-inch MacBook Pro. 
  • iMac: You can upgrade the RAM on the majority of iMac models, apart from most 21.5-inch models. 
  • Mac Pro: Despite the many iterations of this iconic device, you can upgrade the RAM of any Mac Pro model. 
  • Mac mini: You can upgrade the RAM on Mac mini models made between 2010 and 2012. That said, only an Apple Store can upgrade the RAM if you have a 2018 Mac mini. 

 Got a MacBook Air, 2014 Mac mini, or M1 or M2 device? Unfortunately, you can’t up the RAM. You only get to choose how much RAM the device has when you buy it​.

Where can I buy RAM upgrades? 

There are a few ways to buy a new RAM module. Here are some providers and how their costs stack up. 

  • Apple: Your safest bet is to buy RAM directly from Apple. That’s because you get a guarantee on official components and can return them if you ordered the wrong type. However, this option is also the most expensive. 
  • Aftermarket supplier: Mac RAM upgrades are usually cheaper from aftermarket suppliers. Many also offer you peace of mind with a guarantee and a returns policy. That said, it’s best to read reviews from other customers before purchasing. 
  • Certified refurbisher: You can also buy refurbished RAM for your Mac. These are used RAM modules that have been returned and checked. You often also receive a guarantee on the products you purchase and can return them if the RAM is incompatible with your device. 
  • Private providers: Your cheapest option is to buy used RAM. However, you usually do not receive a guarantee. If the RAM doesn’t fit your device or doesn’t work, you usually can’t return it. This makes this option the riskiest. 

No matter which option you pick: Check carefully in advance whether you can actually upgrade the RAM in your device and, if you can, which RAM is compatible. You can then avoid throwing money down the drain. 

How you upgrade your Mac’s RAM depends on your model 

How you upgrade the RAM on your Mac differs depending on the device. Whether it’s a MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, or Mac Mini, we explain below how to upgrade your Mac’s RAM. 

Here’s how to upgrade the RAM on a MacBook or MacBook Pro 

After checking whether the RAM on your device can be upgraded, you’re ready to get going. First, make sure your MacBook or MacBook Pro is turned off and has cooled down, then you can start upgrading your RAM as follows: 

  1. Disconnect cables: Disconnect all cables, cords, and peripherals from your Mac device. Then turn it over so it’s face down in front of you. 
  2. Unscrew the bottom casing: Now unscrew the bottom of the case. Make a note of where each screw goes since they can differ in size. 
  3. Touch a metal surface: To avoid damaging components, discharge any static electricity in your body first by touching a metal surface in the device. 
  4. Eject the RAM module: Once you’ve located the memory module, eject it using the ejector levers. Then carefully pull it out. Never touch the gold connectors to avoid causing any damage. 
  5. Install the new module: Now insert the new RAM into your MacBook or MacBook Pro. Press the module down firmly until you feel it click into place. Again, never touch the gold connectors to avoid causing damage. 
  6. Screw on the bottom casing: Now put the case back on the bottom and tighten the screws. Your RAM upgrade is now complete. 

Step-by-step guide to upgrading your iMac’s RAM 

The RAM slots in your iMac will differ depending on the model and year of manufacture. On late 2012 27-inch models and later, the RAM is located on the back of the device. On models made prior to 2012, it can be found on the bottom of the device. Once you’ve identified the slot, proceed as follows: 

  1. Allow the device to cool down: Before you upgrade the RAM, shut down your iMac and give it time to cool down completely. Also disconnect all cables and peripherals. 
  2. Place your iMac face down: To prevent the display from getting scratched, first place a soft, clean towel on the desktop or other flat surface. Then place your iMac face down for easy access to the slot. 
  3. Open the memory access door: Use the button just above the AC power port to open and remove the memory access door. 
  4. Check the diagram: A diagram on the underside of the compartment door shows the memory cage levers and the correct orientation of the memory modules. Follow this diagram to install your new memory correctly. 
  5. Remove the module: Push the memory holder levers outwards to release the memory cage. Now pull the levers towards you and remove the module. 
  6. Install the new module: Now set the new RAM module into its slot and press down firmly until you feel it click into place. Make sure it is oriented the same way as the module you previously removed. Now push both memory cage levers back into the housing until they lock into place. 
  7. Replace the memory compartment door: Finally, replace the memory compartment door. Also reconnect all cables and other peripherals. 

When you turn on your iMac, the screen may remain dark for up to half a minute. This is normal because the new RAM must first be initialized. 

How to upgrade your RAM on a Mac Pro 

In principle, you can upgrade the RAM on all Mac Pro models. The following procedure applies to all versions: 

  1. Shut down the computer: First, turn off your Mac Pro and let it cool down completely. Then disconnect all cables and peripherals. 
  2. Touch a metal surface: As with the MacBook RAM upgrade, it’s important to discharge static electricity in your body to avoid damaging the components. To do so, simply touch the metal casing. 
  3. Remove the housing: Flip the latch up, then twist left to unlock the housing. Now lift the housing straight up and off the computer. 
  4. Remove the RAM module: Slide the lock to the left to unlock and open the RAM cover. Then remove the cover and the old module. 
  5. Install the new module: Now set the new RAM module carefully into its slot before pressing down firmly until you feel it click into place. Be careful not to touch the gold connectors to avoid damaging the module. Then replace the module cover. 
  6. Reinstall the housing: Lower the housing over the Mac Pro. To lock it, twist the latch to the right until the case is secure. 

Finally, reconnect all cables and peripherals, and turn on your Mac Pro. 

How to upgrade the RAM in your Mac mini 

The following Mac mini RAM upgrade instructions apply to 2010 to 2012 models. You can’t upgrade the RAM on other models in the series — apart from the 2018 Mac mini. Although you can upgrade its memory, a specialist needs to do it. 

  1. Switch off the device: First, turn off your Mac mini and let it cool down completely. Also disconnect all cables and peripherals. 
  2. Unlock the cover: Place the device upside down on a soft cloth on your work surface. Then unlock the bottom cover by rotating it counterclockwise to the unlocked position. Now you can remove the cover. 
  3. Remove the module: Gently spread the RAM module clips just enough to eject the module. 
  4. Install the new module: Now press the new RAM module into the slot and press down until you feel it click into place. 
  5. Replace the cover: Finally, replace the bottom cover and reconnect your cables and peripherals. You can then restart your Mac mini. 

Improve device performance — even without a Mac RAM upgrade 

Can’t upgrade your Mac’s RAM or want to squeeze even more performance out of your device after upgrading it? Then Avira Free Security is the practical solution you’ve been looking for. You can use the tool to speed up processes and optimize RAM utilization, so more demanding apps and programs like games can load faster. 

On top of that, you can use the tool to troubleshoot and prevent your computer overheating. You can also use Avira Free Security to remove junk like duplicate files sapping your device’s speed. Our cleanup tool is designed to free up space on your device. Whether as a supplement to upgrading your Mac’s RAM or as an alternative: With Avira Free Security with built-in optimizer, you can improve your device’s performance and extend its lifespan. 

This post is also available in: GermanFrenchItalian

Avira, a company with over 100 million customers and more than 500 employees, is a worldwide leading supplier of self-developed security solutions for professional and private use. With more than 25 years of experience, the company is a pioneer in its field.
Avira logo

Rev up your PC’s performance with Avira System Speedup.

Avira logo

Rev up your device’s performance with Avira Free Security.

Avira logo

Rev up your iOS device’s performance with Avira ​Mobile​​​ Security.

Avira logo

Rev up your Android device’s performance with Avira Free Security.