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.

  • Have you tried extending the ram capacity of your macbook? If so does the 16GB work well?
    – Coyote
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 12:18

6 Answers 6


(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).)

It Depends.

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

The mid-2010 MBP is size dependent. The 13" will support 16GB. The 15" and the 17" will not.

The following table shows that the max RAM supported by your Macbook Pro based off size (mid 2010) is 16GB (officially 8GB).

OWC table

  • 2
    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
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 4:28
  • 2
    That page has been updated to show that the Mid 2010 MacBook can support up to 16 GB.
    – Ɱark Ƭ
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 13:33
  • 1
    Indeed; albeit I was referencing a 'mid-2010 MacBook Pro i5 or i7'...which as far as I can tell, is still limited to an 8GB max RAM. Looks like a mid 2010 Macbook (7,1) can be updated to 16gb RAM....but not a mid 2010 Macbook Pro? I have a mid 2010 macbookPro 15" - MacBookPro6,2 - Intel Core i5 - 2.4 GHz. I'd love to update it to 16gb RAM, and am wondering if this 'february update' from OWC effects my machine?
    – Biltu
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 23:31
  • 1
    @Biltu, did you ever figure out if your 15" MBP 6,2 supports 16GB RAM? I have the same model and I'm curious if its supported, I've yet to find a definitive answer for this particular machine.
    – meub
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 6:06
  • 1
    @Biltu, I'd like to know too if you ever got your MacBook Pro 6,2 to work with 16GB? Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 21:32

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.

  • 2
    Anyone been able to get this working on OS X Yosemite 10.10? Can't get mine to boot with 16Gb (2 x 8gGB).
    – longda
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 18:51
  • Was this 16GB in Windows test you did, on a MacBookPro 6,2 model? Did it operate ok? OWC says they have tested this and it doesn't work. Commented May 31, 2015 at 12:44
  • I really wish this can be fixed in at least the next version of OS X. It is clear that it is probably the drivers that are probably broken.
    – Yuhong Bao
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 9:28
  • I put 16GB into my Mid 2010 17" i7, and I get kernel panic in Sierra and infinite-reboot in Win 10. Had to downgrade back to 8GB
    – Black
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 10:25

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.

  • 1
    What kind of memory did you use? DDR3-1333?
    – bummzack
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 18:44
  • @erf, what did you use? You seem to have the same model than I but with 16gb ram? I have a mid-2010 17" MacBook Pro MacBookPro6,1 Intel Core i7 2,66 GHz with the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 512 Mo currently running on 8Gb ram. What I can see from OCW's Upgrades page says that MacBook and MacBook Pro 'Unibody' Models OWC tested to support Maximum Memory up to 8.0GB. Only MacBook Pro 13.3" 2.4GHz (Model ID: 7,1 only) Supports 16.0GB.
    – GabLeRoux
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 22:46
  • 1
    OWC have updated their page to say that MacBookPro Mid 2010 13" models can do 16GB, but not the 15 or 17. I have MacBookPro 6,2 which has been tested to a maximum of 8GB. Commented May 31, 2015 at 12:42

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.

  • Can you provide details on what ram you used? and give a bit more details on your unibody 17" MBP? I've posted a comment on @erf post with my specs and still wondering if it's possible to use 16gb. Just like erf, you seem to have sucessfully used 16gb ram. There are lots of threads that says it's impossible for the MacBookPro6,1. The 15" and 17" use a different northbridge (Intel vs. Nvidia MCP89)
    – GabLeRoux
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 22:58

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.

  • 1
    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/… Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 5:07
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 16:31
  • 1
    @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". Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 0:34

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!!!

  • 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
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 14:28
  • @bmike Bruce is talking about something else though, which is related to Biltu's answer. If you install Windows 7 or Ubuntu on the Mac, both OSs can use the whole 16Gb of RAM, unlike OSX. Hence it is a limitation on OSX not a hardware limitation. Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 15:25
  • I understand @PedroMelendez - just not seeing this is shocking. You can add more memory than one build of the OS prefers and there is a switch at boot to make sure the OS can address / handle the hardware when you go past what was tested for that OS. If by software problem you mean change to everyone for the few that need this - I agree it's a software problem. Seems this answer doesn't really help past the excellent answers already given.
    – bmike
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 11:33

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