I have a MacBook Pro 17" Mid 2010 which normally supports 1067 MHz RAM. I needed more memory and installed 2 x 4 GB RAM 1333 MHz modules which - as expected - also work with 1067 MHz.

After a couple of weeks the display started flickering and showed disturbances similar to television statics for a second and then returns to normal. A couple of weeks later this happens more frequently like every 5-9 minutes. It especially occurs when a secondary display is attached.

Could the RAM modules cause this or is my display card just dying?

enter image description here

This is how it looks like: video

  • This might be a way to isolate it if a RAM issue. Set the GPU to use Discrete Only with gfxCardStatus. This then uses only the VRAM on the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M GPU. If you continue to have issues, then it looking more like a GPU issue not a RAM issue although you can cross test by putting back in the supported RAM to see if the issue is still present. You can also set gfxCardStatus to Integrated Only and it will use the RAM and the Intel HD Graphics. Toggling between the different configs should help to narrow it down. Also run: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201257 Oct 15, 2015 at 14:49
  • @user3439894 I did tried gfxCardStatus but some apps won't allow me to use integrated card. I'll try old rams.
    – siniradam
    Oct 15, 2015 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


Yes. Apple uses some of your RAM as VRAM as explained in this answer.

So using unsupported RAM can affect your integrated video card. Try switching back to the stock modules that came with the device and see if you can still replicate your problem.

  • Ah! Didn't think about that - would make sense, but I'd expect a lot more system instability if it was bad system RAM.
    – Mikey T.K.
    Oct 15, 2015 at 17:03

This is almost certainly a graphics card problem. You could try putting the old RAM modules back in and see if that solves it, but generally, systemwide graphics corruption = GPU problems, either the GPU itself or the VRAM.

Another hypothesis is that this is a software related problem on the 2010 machines, e.g. something like this, but that impacts specific applications rather than the whole screen.

A way you could either temporarily work around this problem or determine if it is indeed the GPU is by downloading gfxCardStatus and forcing the system to use the integrated GPU.

  • I've tried to use gfxCardStatus but some apps won't allow me to do. But while I'm not using some apps problem doesn't occurs. pasteboard.co/1oOmNXN7.png Sometimes event gfxCardStatus's itself won't allow me. says You can't switch to Integrated Only while the following items are running: gfxCardStatus
    – siniradam
    Oct 15, 2015 at 17:43

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