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I have a 2009 MBP with 8GB of RAM. I run Windows under Parallels pretty much all the time (I use Visual Studio for work). I recently installed an SSD to speed it up a bit and its running beautifully. However I could do with having a few extra gigs available to the Windows VM and was wondering if it would be worth buying 2 x 8GB SIMs to enable this. Apple states that the maxiumum for MBPs is 8GB, but I have seen figures online (possibly at OWC) which would suggest that Apple's specs are just guidelines which can be over-ruled.

Does anyone have any experience of 'overloading' their Macs with RAM? OSX can address terabytes of memory so I thought perhaps it was availability of chips which is the limiting factor ...

Update

These are the specs for my Macbook Pro 5,5

  • What size MacBook Pro? Under About this Mac - More Info, you can see the size, year and portion of the year of your specific model. Then you can check a reputable seller like RamJet.com to see if they sell / support more memory than Apple lists as "supported". – bmike Mar 20 '13 at 1:57
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    It's not necessarily just the availability of RAM modules, but also compatibility with the memory controller or other parts of the system. I don't know about your specific model, but this has worked for me in the past. Maybe you could find a store with a good return policy on RAM? :) – jmk Mar 20 '13 at 8:57
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As bmike refers to, YMMV, but...

Yes. I had a 2008 MBP which has a listed 'maximum' of 4GB even though the slots would accept up to 8GB. This machine worked wonderfully for a couple of years. It was replaced though still works.

I am not sure if installing above the supported maximum voids your warranty, but it may be something you want to look into. I just didn't care when I did it.

  • Thanks for your comments. My machine is way past its warranty. I have looked into upgrading to a newer MBP 13 but I'm struggling to justify the expense when the one I have is pretty much perfect for my needs. – 5arx Mar 20 '13 at 14:16
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    I felt that way about my '04 12" PowerBook. – zwerdlds Mar 20 '13 at 15:22
  • I felt the same way about my G4 Powerbook. If Someone in the office hadn't carelessly walked into its pre-magsafe charger and caused it fall to its death on a hard floor I'd probably be still using it. Well, that and Lion, Bootcamp and Intel-facillitated virtualization... You get these things just right and the Apple goes and renders it obsolete. – 5arx Mar 20 '13 at 21:41
  • Yeah based on the link you sent over it looks like your machine has a true max of 8GB. – zwerdlds Mar 21 '13 at 5:12
  • I think you're right :-( - have updated my question. – 5arx Mar 21 '13 at 10:20
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I want to affirm that you can run 16GB of RAM on a 2009 Macbook Pro 13 inch. I just installed 16GB of Ram, a new battery and a 1 TB SSD Hard Drive and the machine runs like a porche, even though the Genius at the Apple Store told me that my 2009, 2011, and now 2013 Macbook pros were a bunch of "Mini-vans."

Here is the caveat- sometimes machines do not "want" to recognize the cards and either gave the 3 ALARM sound on start up, refused to boot, or the 1 Alarm sound at start up. 3 Alarm sounds indicate that the machine cannot recognize the slot and 1 Alarm indicates that the machine cannot recognize the RAM. But, if you put in an 8G RAM stick in the bottom slot and a 4G stick in the upper slot and then boot, it will recognize the two slots. Then, if you add the other 8, it will recognize both, or some combo of this kind of trickery. I have had to play around with the process of swapping out ram sticks until you "trick the machine"to boot.

At any rate, once the Macbook is past warranty and starts collecting dust, why not see what it can do! I am running three MBP's that run like race horses as "frankenmacs"

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I have a MBP you describe myself and there is no point in updating your older Macbook Pro to 16GB. I've tried this myself - but it does not work as the processor cannot handle the speed you want to achieve.

  • Can you tell me more about this please? And does this mean the newer models can handle a lot more RAM than their stated figures? – 5arx Mar 20 '13 at 14:17
  • The speed of a laptop, in particular speaking of a MBP now, is not just based on their RAM. But on more.. example, processor and HDD speed is also relevant. If you don't upgrade all parts, there is no point in just updating from 8GB to 16GB. – Rob Mar 20 '13 at 15:44
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    This is highly use-case dependent. If you're hosting a bunch of VMs, RAM will help quite a bit, for example. – zwerdlds Mar 20 '13 at 16:20
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    @Rob: are you saying that you put 16GB of RAM into a mid-2009 MacBook Pro 5,5 and it recognized all 16GB and worked correctly with it installed? – intuited Jun 26 '14 at 16:08
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    As for there being no point to doing this: I've wanted to put 16GB in a laptop since about 2009. My browser windows and tabs tend to take up about 8GB, since I'm usually researching lots of things concurrently. It's also useful to have lots of RAM available to cache the filesystem, helping to reduce power usage. – intuited Jun 26 '14 at 16:41
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Thanks to everyone for your responses. I'm going to answer this one myself as I've just found an article at OWC which seems definitive. For anyone wanting to do this, it seems the conditions your machine needs to meet are pretty specific. Looks like Tim Cook might well be getting more of my hard-earned ca$h yet ...

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You can with out a doubt run 16gb of ram. A classmate and I were discussing this and he made the upgrade and showed me that the laptop recognized everything. I asked him about a year later if it was still running ok and he said he is still using it and has had no issues. I will be making the upgrade myself as one of my 4gb chips died.

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