I have a 2009 iMac and wanted to bump up the RAM to it's max capacity.

I did a quick search and found that it is supposed to handle 8GB. I Bought 2 4GB sticks from Crucial (supposedly a good brand) and installed them according to the instructions.

On restart, I got 3 beeps which is supposed to mean that the RAM is bad. I tested various configs of the old RAM with the new RAM and am able to use either of the old 2GB sticks and either of the new 4GB sticks with no issues but can't put 2 new 4GB sticks or even 1 4GB stick by itself.

It has to have an old stick in to be able to boot. When it boots the RAM shows as 6GB and seems to have no issues. So what's the deal and how common is it that the RAM is "just bad" and has to be exchanged? (See attached images for clarification)

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  • Please update your question with your specific Mac model (early, mid, or late 2009) and the PN#s of the memory chips. Type this info into your original question. Your photo is too blurry.
    – Allan
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 13:54
  • Edited the pics according to your request.
    – popealope
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 21:57
  • When you bought them did you go through crucial's selectors asking gwhat machine you have or just choose 2 4 gb sticks?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


Your comment of "supposed to handle" is key here. Apple supports up to a specific amount of RAM in upgradable Macs. Now guessing Apple's motivations is generally discouraged here (and celebrated elsewhere...), it is not a stretch to extrapolate why.

The "supposed to handle" comes from at least one person reporting that more than the supported amount of RAM worked fine on their Mac. In some models perhaps a lot more than one. So putting more RAM in a system that will reportedly work with more than officially supported is not much more than "my cousin Jane put more than the supported amount of RAM in her 2009 iMac and it worked fine."

Apple likely did not set the maximum RAM supported arbitrarily. There are likely technical reasons why certain Macs only support up to a certain amount of RAM. And you are one of the 'lucky' few experiencing an edge case where manufacturing tolerances have conspired to make your iMac one of the unlucky few that don't support more than Apple's Officially Supported specification.

In this particular case there are two possibilities. One, that your particular iMac does not support the amount of RAM you wish to install, PERIOD. Or two, that the RAM Crucial has provided you is defective in some way (doubtful from your testing scenario) or just incompatible with your particular iMac. And perhaps another manufacturers RAM would work fine.

Personally I would go with number one. But if you have more fortitude than I you could try exchanging the RAM or getting a refund and trying another brand.

  • According to Apple's info... my early 2009 machine should be able to take 2 sticks of 4GB SODIMM... which is what I was trying to use.
    – popealope
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 21:54
  • then return the RAM and get it replaced. Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 14:38
  • That's not the right memory. It's faster than the spec for the machine, and it's low-power. May or may not generally work, I have no idea, but it's not the spec, which is PC3-8500, like this: amazon.com/Crucial-PC3-8500-SODIMM-204-Pin-Memory/dp/B008LTBJFM Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 12:57

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