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I'm looking at buying some extra RAM for my mid-2011 (?) MBP. OWC says that I can handle up to 16GB (2x8), though I might elect to go with "only" 8GB.

I haven't bought computer components in a couple of years, so I'm not sure what the state-of-the-art is. Do I have to match the speed of the current modules (listed as 1333MHz) or can I go faster? Do I have to look for certain timing characteristics? Does brand matter?

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Your model requires 1333 MHz. Would it support higher? Maybe. The 2010 Mac minis required a perfect match. The newer 2011 model can handle a myriad of types (outside the 1333 MHz). So the answer is, it depends. I'd recommend sticking with the proper clock speed. As for type, personally I feel comfortable buying anything listed as "Apple RAM." You can get more details on your system here: everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook_pro/stats/… Reports show it can indeed handle 16 GB. –  cksum Mar 15 '12 at 10:28
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Click the apple symbol on top left > About this mac> More info > Memory . There you can see the type of memory you need. I don't think there are more that 1333 Mhz for laptop,even if there are they will ether not work or work at 1333(not sure which). Also unless you do really heavy work(3d modelling maybe) 8gb is more than enough.

On my mid 2009 MBP 13" with 8gb memory there is no page swapping even when playing games/making movies.

Also about the brand. I don't think it will make any difference as long as its a well known brand like crucial kingston corsair etc.

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I believe that 1333 MHz is the max that the computer can handle. You're looking for DDR3 memory at that clock speed. Brand doesn't particularly matter. I personally like G.Skill, Crucial, Mushkin. If you're on NewEgg and sort by rating it's usually a pretty good indication of how the memory does and often times people post their computer model in their review.

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If you followed the OWC wizard correctly then the ram they recommend would be correct. I've ordered a lot of ram from these guys and its always been spot on for several different models.

1333mhz is your bus speed there is no point getting faster ram, I don't even think it'd work actually.

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