There are DDR3 RAM modules sold on Amazon (branded by KomputerBay) where it is specified that they are "PC only" and not for Mac. They cost around £41.99 ($68).

The same company has modules with the same exact technical specifications on Amazon, called "for Apple" RAM. They cost significantly more £53.99 ($87).

Apart from the $20 price jump, what could be different? Is this a scam to make Apple users pay more?

Here are the specifications of both the "PC only" and "MacMemory" RAM from KomputerBay:

  • PC3-12800 (1600MHz)
  • Gold leads
  • Supports Dual Channel
  • DDR3
  • 204 Pin
  • Laptop memory upgrade
  • Non-ECC
  • Non-Parity
  • Unbuffered
  • Density: 16GB (2x 8GB SO-DIMM)
  • Timing: 10-10-10-27 (1600 MHz)
  • Speed: 1600MHz CL10
  • Pin Out: 204 Pin
  • 1.5V
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Go here... crucial.com/uk Use the memory configurator in the middle of the page. Crucial are the best.
    – unom
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:45
  • 2
    Thanks but I am not looking for recommendations on where to buy — how can I make the question clearer? Also, Crucial don't have the RAM I talking about (DDR3 PC3-12800/DDR3-1600) listed on their site.
    – Baumr
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:48
  • It's not a scam... it's "insurance" ... you want to be "sure" the someone has tested it for you... to in"sure" it works... that's why it's more expensive. If you have the time you can state your the exact make and model of your mac and i can help you choose "non"tested memory that "sure"ly works. :)
    – unom
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:52
  • So why aren't there specific RAM modules individually "insured" for all other manufacturers like HP, Dell, AlienWare, Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, Asus, etc.?
    – Baumr
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:53
  • They are... every top manufacturer sells their "own brand" ram but compatibility is better and most aftermarket ram just works on PCs, so as an "hp" owner you'd be rather "stup*d" to buy hp ram at double or triple the price if Kingston works. Apple is "special" since it tries to make big money on giving people less of a headache and the best performance, in turn they make "less" compatible parts. For people living in the Apple ecosystem it's less obvious that there are cheaper alternatives.
    – unom
    Dec 12, 2012 at 21:01

4 Answers 4


Since Apple is using the same CPU and mostly intel logic boards, as long as you get the CAS latency and other details exactly perfect, it's hard to imagine you would buy the wrong memory.

Perhaps it boils down to support and testing. If the vendor literally spends more money testing and supporting the Mac memory, it's their privilege to sell it for more. If they don't and are just looking to maximize profit, that happens too. Look at Amazon charging different price based on who they think you are, what you have bought, etc... Same with airlines that charge different prices based on cookies set from previous flight searches.

In the end - all that matters is you understand the return policy and how to test things once you get the RAM. Then it's just a calculation, you estimate how much is your time is worth and you minimize your transaction cost - pay more for an easy buy that saves you time or spend more time looking for and researching a bargain. Perhaps the seller has decided Mac users value their time more highly and you can score a deal by saying you are buying PC RAM.

Happy RAM hunting.

  • 1
    Thank you, so both of those are "10-10-10-27" — does that mean their CAS latencies match?
    – Baumr
    Dec 12, 2012 at 21:22
  • 1
    Yes - those look to be some sort of CAS latency timing specifications. I always check ramjet.com before buying any third party memory just to be sure I'm speccing things correctly. They also get my business far more often than not, but I know others have different $/hour sensitivities. I'm also in the US - so often exchange rates make buying here a very bad idea for some.
    – bmike
    Dec 12, 2012 at 21:29

All ram modules are non Apple, as apple does not make ram modules.

There are three types of ram modules.

  1. Apple branded, they come in new macs and you buy them from apple at a higher price, guaranteed to work (sometimes they mismatch the type and don't work :)

  2. Other manufacturer branded "mac-compatible"... they are tested by the manufacturer (OWC, Crucial, Corsair, Kingston etc...) and work in macs (sometimes they work in some macs and don't in others)

  3. Other manufacturer branded... untested in macs... MOST work, some don't. Apple uses very tight specs... so some memory does not pass the tests.

How to choose which one. Select 1. if you have money and no time to bother and look around. Select 2. if you don't have that much money but you have a little time to spare and read the manufacturer's spec. Select 3. if you actually read forums and search around for what other people like you bought and tested and it works. Cheapest option.

Conclusion: If you have money you probably have no time to read about "sh*t" like mac memory compatibility.

  • Thanks, but please take note of the question: same company, same specs, just different prices for the Mac-compatible and regular ones. What could be different?
    – Baumr
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:43
  • 1
    There are some things that are not in the specs. The CAS Timings are just some of about 6-7 types of timings are a memory has. If it's not tested it's not guaranteed to work. It might not even start or it might just work.
    – unom
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:50
  • "Apple uses very tight specs... so some memory does not pass the tests" — what specs do you mean? And if the two modules are from the same company, wouldn't it be odd for them to have different timings?
    – Baumr
    Dec 12, 2012 at 21:07
  • There are some specs the manufactures don't publish since most PCs are compatible. Apple checks MORE than the published data to ensure compatibility. For example some motherboard northbrige chips made by nvidia and used in macs are very picky when it comes to memory. Also the actual structure of the memory differs depending on the type of technology it uses... one example is FBGA chips. See here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_timings
    – unom
    Dec 12, 2012 at 21:15
  • 1
    It's ok to choose OWC or Crucial... they are big manufactures and are reputed to make good compatible memory that adheres to standards and will work 99.9% of times... If cost is such an issue you can just buy that memory... test it... if it doesn't work... return it.
    – unom
    Dec 12, 2012 at 21:25

Nothing is different. Tat particular set of RAM chips you quoted is just a scam for gullible Mac users who don't know jack about computers beyond telling the difference between a mouse and keyboard. Buy the cheaper ones.


To answer the actual question as it was asked and spare you the BS, I've done a bit of Internet trawling and the non-Mac stick will fit into a non-Mac machine, and vice versa. Macs are more choosey about the RAM that is fitted whilst non-Mac's are more forgiving.

As the other person said, Mac assigned modules are tested on Macs to ensure compatibility, but, if as you illustrated above the "PC only" and "MacMemory" RAM, have the exact same specifications (DDR3 PC3 SODIMM 204 pin 1600MHz Non-ECC Non Parity Unbuffered Latency CL10 voltage 1.5v - then they are the same modules/RAM sticks - whatever you want to call them.

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