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I bought a MacBook mid 2010 which I have upgraded to 8GB of RAM. But now, 8GB is not enough for me. I need more RAM for my work.

Can I upgrade my MacBook's RAM to 16GB? I know the new Macbook Pros can do it, but I am not sure about mine.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

(Note: The original post said "No", which was right at the time it was written, but as of February 15th, 2014, the OWC page says that you can install up to 16GB of RAM on mid 2010 MacBooks (2.4GHz).)

Yes.

OWC continously tests the max RAM which apple computers support - which is usually more than Apple officially states.

The following table shows that the max RAM supported by your Macbook (mid 2010) is 16GB (officially 4GB).

OWC table

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I love how despite the anecdotes below (and especially @Biltu 's quite informative and enlightening answer, everyone votes for the answer that actually does not give the full picture and is the most deceiving. It's simply missing the full story - and I guess most people don't care enough to dig a little deeper. –  Taal Oct 30 '13 at 4:28
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That page has been updated to show that the Mid 2010 MacBook can support up to 16 GB. –  Mark Feb 14 at 13:33
    
@taal thanks for the comment about an outdated answer. Feel free to edit it like Vinicius did just now when you can save an answer with a documented correction. –  bmike Feb 15 at 22:19

Any mid-2010 MacBook Pro i5 or i7 is limited to a maximum of 8GB RAM. If you have a 2010 MacBook Pro Core2Duo (13"), then you are in luck and you can upgrade to 16GB RAM.

The type of RAM needed is DDR3 PC3-8500 1066. I believe there is an EFI limitation in OS X Mountain Lion that will not allow the 2010 i5/i7 Macbook Pro's to be upgraded over 8GB RAM. After doing some digging around, it sounds like the limitation has to do with the IntelHD graphics SW that is used by OS X.

Some datapoints to note:

  • A 2010 i5/i7 MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM running MountainLion/Mavericks will kernel panic during normal boot.

  • You will be able to boot into safe mode OK and it will show the 16GB RAM in System Information. Notice that the graphics card is listed as "Nvidia ..." in safe mode, as opposed to "IntelHD...".

  • It is possible to limit Max RAM to 8GB using the command: sudo nvram "-v maxmem=8192". This would limit the usable RAM to a maximum of 8GB (official Apple Max); however this also will cause a kernel panic during normal boot when 16GB RAM is physically loaded. A maxmem=2048 will allow the system to boot normally with 16GB RAM loaded; however only 2GB RAM will be usable.

  • If you load Ubuntu 12 onto the MacBook Pro (2010 i5 or i7) with 16GB RAM loaded, Ubuntu will boot OK and be able to see/address the 16GB RAM.

  • If you load Windows 7 onto the MacBook Pro (2010 i5 or i7) with 16GB RAM loaded, Windows 7 will boot OK and be able to see/address the 16GB RAM.

As far as I can tell, this appears to be an Apple SW limitation of some sort.

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I had 16GB stuffed into my first generation unibody 17" MBP.

Now I'm back down to 8GB, swapping the two sticks with my 2011 Mac mini.

I've stuffed a few more recent MBPs with 16GB, regardless of OWC or Apple have to say.

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OWC now shows that your MacBook can support up to 16GB of RAM. Check that page out for yourself. Seems like it was recently updated.

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Interesting. The 15" 2010 MacBook Pro is missing but if the 13" supports it then the 15" should as well. I wonder what changed as Intel's specs for the CPU in my 2010 MacBook Pro haven't changed: ark.intel.com/products/43560/… –  Sami Samhuri Jan 3 '13 at 5:07
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@sjs My mbp is 15". Is there any difference between 13" and 15"? I've checked 13" processor is 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, is seems not the same as 15". –  Shisoft Jan 4 '13 at 16:31
    
@Shisoft That's a good point. I forgot that the 13" has a different CPU architecture, and it may have always been 16 GB for the 13". –  Sami Samhuri Jan 6 '13 at 0:34

I am actually shocked. I've just tested my Macbook Pro 17" core i7 2.66Ghz, 2010 model and Core i5 2.53Ghz 15" 2010 Macbook Pro.

I put 2 8GB memory sticks (total of 16GB), and it's shows in About my Mac.

So 2010 models do accept 16GB of RAM.

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What kind of memory did you use? DDR3-1333? –  bummzack Mar 10 '13 at 18:44

It accepts it but won't let you use it while using an apple OS. It is clearly a software problem and it is shocking that apple will not give an update to solve this issue!!!

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You could put the wrong fuel in an engine even though the nozzle fits or you don't read the directions. It's pretty clear that motherboards can and do restrict maximum RAM and use only portions of chips when you put higher capacity chips in than was tested or designed when the hardware was released. Why would companies like OWC maintain testing labs to tell you which limits are soft and which are hard if it weren't reality? –  bmike Feb 14 at 14:28

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