I'm buying a Mac mini with 16 GB of RAM on board. The other Mac I have is a 4 GB MacBook Pro. I'm wondering if it would be possible to shuffle the memories between both of them, so I have a single 8 GB RAM stick in the MacBook, and in the mini I would put a 8+2 GB RAM?

The specific models in question are:

  • a Mid-2010 model MacBook with 2x2 GB of DDR3@1067Mhz.
  • a July-2011 model mini with 2x8 GB of DDR3@1333Mhz.
  • 3
    We'll need to know the versions (model years) of both the Mini and the MacBook to answer - different models may use different types of RAM. – Dan J Oct 18 '12 at 18:13
  • I am fairly certain that the macbook will not take 8GB sticks. You would have to buy two 4GB sticks. – davis_m Oct 18 '12 at 20:11
  • 1
    @davis_m, I can confirm that this macbook will not take 8GB sticks. I have a macbook pro 15" mid-2010 and 2 x 4 GB works but 2 x 8 GB doesn't. I tried it and it will boot but will immediately throw you a kernel panic. – Chrisii Oct 18 '12 at 20:26

The answer to the general question is yes - Macs have never required paired RAM although many machines get a 5 to 15% speed boost if you pair the RAM. In some integrated graphics applications on the 2007/2008 era designs, this could be larger a speedup for some graphics operations.

As long as your Mac doesn't exceed the total RAM the CPU/logic board wants to handle, you can split up the banks in any way you choose.

For your specific models, I would look at a reputable RAM seller like Ramjet to see if people have been reliably making more RAM work in your specific models. Often Apple will say the maximum RAM is 4 GB but 8 will work well if you have top of the line chips with the correct timing. Also - be aware that mixing speeds of RAM (1066 vs 1333) can be problematic or cause the system to fail to start up. Normally, permanent damage is not done to the memory or the computers when you place the wrong RAM in, but it can lead to aggravating crashes, video glitches and slowness.


Go to apple.com/support and type your serial # in the search bar. If your RAM is above the recommended maximum amount of your machine, you stand a greater chance of getting errors. However, a kernel panic usually indicates a bad stick of ram rather than improper amounts. As a matter of fact, some larger sticks of ram are designed to only use the maximum amount allowed by the computer no matter what the size of the RAM. It's just nog widely publicized.

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