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How to Change Memory in iMac - Step-by-Step Guide


iMac Apple computers are famous for being highly proficient. However, with time, they also might need an upgrade as far as RAM is involved. Used by photographers, designers, and other creative professionals, iMacs require a sufficient amount of RAM to keep up with memory-intensive projects. But when it comes to the RAM upgrade, iMac users often get puzzled by the idea. Read on to find out the ins and outs of performing an iMac memory change.

change imac memory

How to Remove Memory from iMac?

Before you start, check if your iMac is subject to upgrade and find out the available memory specifications on the Apple website. For instance, the latest 27-inch iMac manufactured in 2017 comes packed with the default memory of 8GB and four memory slots. As a result, it is configurable to the 64GB max.

If your iMac originates from the mid-2010s, it comes with 4GB base RAM configurable to 16GB. Obviously, the year of issue impacts the amount of RAM to use for a memory upgrade. Deciding on a RAM upgrade, try to choose memory modules of the same volume. The same manufacturer and series are also preferable to prevent hardware conflicts. However, using RAM modules from different manufacturers won’t make a big difference.

As soon as you have all the needed components for your iMac’s RAM upgrade, you will need to prepare it for this important procedure. To avoid scratching or damaging your iMac’s display, lay it down on a smooth and solid surface. A work desk or a couch, if it isn’t too soft, will fit the purpose perfectly. Ensure there are no extra objects to mar the iMac’s screen.

For starters, let's figure out the instruction for the earlier iMac configuration (2011 and earlier):

1. Take a crosshead screwdriver to dismantle the iMac and extract the memory module. Make sure the computer is unplugged, then move the iMac’s screen with a rack towards you and take off the stand.

2. Find three small bolts at the bottom of the stand and unscrew them. Pull the plug towards yourself. The screws are attached to a special washer so that they won’t fall out. Put the screwdriver away and use your fingers to perform the next steps. Be careful to avoid damaging contacts.

3. After the washer is removed, you will see a small slot with two tenons resembling a tape on both sides.

4. Bend the tenons by swiping them with your fingers to extract the old memory module. It is recommended to manipulate the tenons with one hand while holding your iMac with another one. Drag smoothly without forcing the memory module out of the slot. Once out, carefully remove the module with your fingers.

mac memory removal

As for the new iMac models (2012 and later), they have a similar external design as their forerunners, so RAM upgrade is a lot quicker and easier. All it takes is to pop open a small lid located under the rear vents at the backside of the iMac to access its 4 RAM slots. To upgrade your latest iMac to the maximum 64GB, remove the default 4GB modules and insert the new ones.

How to Change iMac Memory?

Suppose, you have removed the old memory modules. How to insert the new ones? The iMac RAM connectors have two blocks by two planks. Every tenon is accountable for its unit.

1. Take the new RAM module in your hand with contacts facing the slot. The edge of the module responsible for connection (colored with yellow) has an incision that divides it into a ratio of 2/3 to 1/3.

2. Insert the RAM with that narrow part (1/3) on the right to ensure its proper work. Don’t push too hard or you may damage the connectors on both the RAM module and iMac.

3. Put the module into the empty slot until you feel that it’s in place. Gently push the module deeper into the slot, then fold the tenon.

4. When finished, screw the plug with the three bolts, return the iMac to its original position, switch it on and experience a much faster performance!

Insights on iMac RAM Upgrade

Upgrading your iMac’s memory can be pretty expensive. Apple would charge $1,400 for a 64GB RAM upgrade at the moment of purchase. The services of a third-party vendor will cost you roughly $600 to purchase the same upgrade (4x16GB).

Thinking of buying a brand new 27-inch iMac and need over 8GB of RAM? Then choose a more frugal option. Many iMac users ask which RAM brands to shop for. Hynix, Elpida, and Samsung are the brands chosen by Apple mostly to avoid troubles with no-name memory manufacturers. Still, technical specs like timing or latency are more important than the brand name.

Remember, that keeping your iMac’s random-access memory clean can partially help to speed up its work without having to upgrade. Some memory-intensive applications running in the background can seriously hinder your machine’s productivity. Using third-party cleaning apps with the RAM-cleaning functionality can help to remove major "RAM-eaters" and boost iMac’s performance. Apps like MacFly Pro have an option of memory cleanup to monitor the RAM consumption and quit ‘heavy’ applications. Make sure to perform regular checkups to keep your iMac healthy and productive!


iMac is a highly proficient Apple computer widely used by creative professionals like graphic designers and photographers. A regular iMac handles memory-intensive projects well. However, it may require a RAM upgrade over time. Users can remove the iMac memory modules and change them quite easily on their own. Please, note that a memory upgrade doesn’t exclude iMac’s maintenance and RAM consumption monitoring.

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