Mac Hardware forum

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How to upgrade the memory RAM on an old iMAC?

by b8375629 / January 27, 2008 11:43 AM PST

I remember awhile back I saw a link somewhere on how to do this, including extensive pictures on how to take it apart, but I can no longer find it even through google

Does anybody know of a good site on how to do it properly?


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I could help but first, tell us what iMac you have
by tleMega / January 27, 2008 12:56 PM PST

Can you tell us what model it is? Is it a PowerPC iMac or does it use an Intel processor? There have been many different iMacs since the original G3, so you need to be more specific. There are plenty of sites that offer memory installation guides. Google would be a good place to start.

Apple actually has some on their support site, so feel free to look there. It shouldn't be too hard though. The newer models have an enclosure that comes out, and I know that the G4s had their memory under the base plate (or on top, depending which way you look at it).

With some more info, you'll be able to install some RAM in no time.


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It's an iMAC PowerPC
by b8375629 / January 28, 2008 2:04 AM PST

It's about three years old. Which means it uses the Motorola - IBM chip. I just need visual instructions on how to take the back off without breaking it. Once I do that and find the RAM slots, I'll be OK.

So do you know a good place?

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Do NOT remove the back off the iMac!
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 28, 2008 3:53 AM PST
In reply to: It's an iMAC PowerPC

NOTHING is removed when replacing RAM.
Just confirm for me that your iMac has a slot in which to slide CD/DVD's and NOT a tray that pops out.

If it is a slot, turn the computer off, unplug everything and place it, screen down, on a soft surface. A towel on a table will suffice.
On the bottom of the iMac you will see a panel with a slotted, circular piece in it. It will have a two padlock symbols next to it. (one locked and one unlocked.) The circular piece has a pointer which would normally be pointing toward the locked symbol
With a screw driver, turn the circular piece toward the unlocked symbol. Open the panel.
Inside you will see the two RAM slots. They both may be occupied. At both ends of each slot you will see a white clip. Push down both ends to release the RAM module. (you can do one end at a time)
To insert the RAM, make sure the slots in the RAM module are correctly oriented with the guides in the slots, push down firmly at both ends, preferably at the same time, until the white clips snap up into place.
Shut and lock the panel.

If your machine has a CD tray, let us know. That is a whole different ball game.


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If you really need pictures,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 28, 2008 3:55 AM PST
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Ooops, that's not the one.
by b8375629 / January 28, 2008 6:31 AM PST

It's the white flat-panel one-piece with a white stand and a slot on the side that you load DVDs into.

It doesn't have any chrome on it like the new ones.


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Here's a pix of it at the top of this page
by b8375629 / January 28, 2008 6:40 AM PST
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That picture could be either a G5 or a Core 2 Duo iMac
by tleMega / January 28, 2008 6:52 AM PST

We need some specifics. Read my other post below. Again, look up About This Mac and tell us what it says.

If this machine has a PowerPC chip like you said, then it would be a G5 with iSight after all, if that picture is any indication.


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So I can assume that this is a G5, correct?
by tleMega / January 28, 2008 6:49 AM PST

Seeing that you made the comparison to the newer aluminum models, I think that we are dealing with an iMac G5. Go to About This Mac (Click on the Apple on the top left of your screen to find it) and tell us what PowerPC chip it says it has, just to make sure.

Now, supposing that it is a G5, does it have an iSight Camera built into the screen? It would be right on top of the screen in the white area. If that's the one, here are the instructions on how to add or remove RAM.
If it is a G5, but pre-dates the iSight models, instructions may differ, but I doubt it. The models with the iSight camera will have 512MB of RAM soldered to the logic board, so you'd only have one slot to work with. The max you could add into it would be a 2GB stick, totaling 2.5GB of RAM.

Hope this helps,

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Win some, lose some,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 28, 2008 8:17 AM PST

Now you see why it is important to read, and follow, the RED instructions on top of every post you make

No worries,


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Sorry about the confusion
by b8375629 / January 29, 2008 12:34 AM PST
In reply to: Win some, lose some,

It's for my mom's machine and I don't happen to have it here in front of me at the moment. Next time I go out to her house, she wants me to install the RAM for her. Since I've never cracked one open so I thought I'd ask here first.

Yes, it is an all-white, plastic flat-panel one piece iMac PowerPC with 512MB of RAM already installed, running OS X Tiger. It looks similar to the picture I posed eariler. I don't know what iSight is.

When she bought the machine new, it already had OS X Tiger on it installed. Since Apple doesn't put their model numbers in plain sight, I didn't make note of it while I was out there.

I think it's the correct machine. (?)

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Even more confusing
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 29, 2008 1:06 AM PST

iSight is a camera that is positioned in the middle of the top of the front case. Small round hole.

Here is what we would like you to do. Phone your Mom and, while you have her on the phone, tell her to go to the Apple Menu (little Apple at the top left of the screen) and select "About this Mac" (or words to that effect). When the winodow pops open, tell her to click on the More Info button.
Tell her to read, out loud, everything she sees on the first page, tell her to read slowly as you will be writing this down.
Post here what you wrote down.

If this turns out to be a iMac G5 with no iSight installed, replacing the RAM involves removing the rear cover and stand. Instructions Here
if it is an iMac G5 with iSight installed, your task is easier. Instructions Here


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Here's what she told me
by b8375629 / January 29, 2008 6:13 AM PST
In reply to: Even more confusing

iMAC 5.2
512MB of RAM
Core 2 Duo (I thought it was too old to be that)
1.83GHz processor

So much for believing there are only a couple of models of this.

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Oh, and it does have a built-in camera (NT)
by b8375629 / January 29, 2008 6:27 AM PST


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iMac 5.2?
by tleMega / January 29, 2008 7:18 AM PST

Not sure what you mean by that... Just a note, but try refraining from saying MAC or iMAC. MAC means Media Access Control and is related to networking. A Mac is an Apple branded computer.

Here are instructions for working with those early C2D iMacs. You can install up to 3GB of RAM. You can put in 4GB of RAM, but it will only use 3GB. Most people will only need 2GB, so if it has just 512MB right now, replace the 512MB module with a pair of 1GB sticks.

Follow the instructions on the provided link and you'll be good to go. RAM is really cheap right now, except for Apple's RAM prices. Then again, most manufacturers charge more for memory than what you can get it online. You can get the same Samsung sticks for much less all over.


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Yeah, 5.2
by b8375629 / January 29, 2008 9:15 AM PST
In reply to: iMac 5.2?

That's what she said.

I know she's been complaining about how slow her iMAC is, so when I get a chance to get at her machine, I'll probably just go to Crucial's website and do an online scan and see how much I can put in there.

They have an online Apple scan tool now, and I've had good luck with Crucial RAM for PCs for a number of years now.

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Ahh, an Intel Mac, who'd a thunk it?
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 29, 2008 9:19 AM PST


We came a long way with this one.

Guess there is a job for BMF and I at the IRS.

At least you have the easy machine to change RAM on


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Well thank you all...
by b8375629 / January 29, 2008 10:05 AM PST

(laughs) :^D

Yeah, that's what happens when I haven't seen mom for a few months. I could have sworn she bought the machine in 2005 and not 2006.

Oh well, a Core 2 Duo is a pleasant surprise.

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Well that would be fun
by tleMega / January 29, 2008 11:00 AM PST

Or not :P. So we went all the way from a G3 to a 1.83Ghz iMac? That's a short jump isn't it?


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Sorry to ask the same
by Guitarman72 / September 18, 2009 7:45 PM PDT
In reply to: Well that would be fun

I wanna upgrade to the max my 97 Imac 5.2 with 2x512 RAM and a core 2 duo processor, and still I'm not sure about how much I can upgrade it. I probably didnt read the previous posts carefully.

Question one: what is the maximum of RAM i can put in it?

Two: Is it worth changing the processor at this point to be able to run it with even more RAM?

Thank you very much and sorry about having you repeating things

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To Guitarman72
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 18, 2009 11:42 PM PDT

wanna upgrade to the max my 97 Imac 5.2 with 2x512 RAM and a core 2 duo processor, and still I'm not sure about how much I can upgrade it. I probably didnt read the previous posts carefully.

Question one: what is the maximum of RAM i can put in it?

Two: Is it worth changing the processor at this point to be able to run it with even more RAM?

Thank you very much and sorry about having you repeating things

I'm not sure that you actually have an 97 iMac as Apple did not make them then.
So, to be able to help you, we will need to know what sort of iMac it is.
Choices are:
1. Teardrop shape, color other than white, Optical drive has a tray. (sticks out the front when open)
2. As above but the optical drive has a slot. (in the front)
3. White, has a half ball base and an LCD monitor on a chrome stand (G4 processor)
4. White, slim, all in one design. Looks like it is just a monitor. (G5 processor)
5. As above, screen fills most of the front. (Intel processor)
6. Aluminum (silver), black Apple logo on the front, looks similar to #5, (Intel processor)

Go to the Apple menu (top right of the screen) and select About this Mac. In the next window, choose More Info. Copy the hardware overview section and paste it into your reply.
REMOVE the serial number before you submit the post.

Oh yes, it is not feasible to change the processors out on these machines.


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Im sorry, model mistyped
by Guitarman72 / September 19, 2009 6:50 PM PDT
In reply to: To Guitarman72

Thanks for the trouble i meant 2007!!! SORRY

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by Guitarman72 / September 19, 2009 7:00 PM PDT

5t's me again, I should have started there. Anyway, these are the specs.:

PROCESSOR NAME: Intel Core 2 Duo
Processor Speed: 1.83 GHz
Number Of Processors: 1
Total Number Of Cores: 2
L2 Cache (per processor): 2 MB
Memory: 1 GB
Bus Speed: 667 MHz
Boot ROM Version: IM52.0090.B09
SMC Version: 1.6f0
Serial Number: xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thank you

Message was edited by: admin to remove serial number.

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That iMac
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 20, 2009 2:04 AM PDT
In reply to: MODEL SPECS

will accept 4GB of RAM, it sold with 1GB as two 512MB sticks.

You cannot easily, if at all, change the processor.

The HD can be upgraded, no easily though.

Putting serial numbers in these posts is not a good idea. I did ask you to remove it before posting.

I'll get it removed.

Anything else?


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Ram Capacity
by tleMega / September 20, 2009 2:13 AM PDT
In reply to: MODEL SPECS

Technically, you should be able to put in 4GB of RAM, like Peter said, but know that your particular iMac might only recognize 3.3GB of the total amount. Memory prices from third-parties aren't too bad these days, so if you think your iMac is a good computer and worth a small investment, I say go for it.

You'd have a tough time trying to swap out the CPU; they don't use off-the-shelf parts and your iMac is already a bit old. In fact, iMacs contain a lot of laptop components, usually very similar or identical to their MacBook equivalents. Prices for the chips themselves would fetch a pretty penny. And then considering the cost of the memory sticks, you'd probably have a decent sum of money that could be better spent on new peripherals or maybe even a new machine in the future. Go for the RAM upgrade. Good luck.


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by Guitarman72 / September 20, 2009 2:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Ram Capacity

I'll just go for the RAM upgrade then. Thanks to you both.
I'd appreciate if you could have the serial removed from the post. Slipped my mind, I know.

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(NT) Serial removal request has been made
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 20, 2009 2:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks
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