Upgrading the iMac Memory from 4GB to 16GB

By default, the Apple iMac comes installed with 4GB of DDR3 RAM. Depending on the model you buy, the RAM can be 1066MHz or 1333Mhz speed. Apple charges an insane amount of money for memory upgrades. For my 27″ iMac I wanted to increase the RAM to the maximum 16GB but I didn’t want to pay the $1,000 upgrade price.

What I ended up doing was buying four 4GB sticks of Corsair 1333Mhz DDR3 memory from Amazon.com for about $70 each. This is a massive savings over paying $1,000 and I get to keep the two 2GB sticks that came with the iMac. I should be able to sell those for $50 and recover some of the upgrade cost.

The one downside to this is you need to install the memory yourself. For someone who has never done that before, it can be quite intimidating. However, changing memory on an iMac is one of the easiest upgrades you can do. In fact, it’s so easy that even a 4 year old can do it. Don’t believe me? Watch the video below and see Sally Chow upgrade the memory on a $2,799 27″ Core i7 iMac.

69 thoughts on “Upgrading the iMac Memory from 4GB to 16GB”

  1. 16gb of Ram. Now that is epic. πŸ˜€

    1. d3so says:

      Definitely. I wonder why John needs that much.

      1. John Chow says:

        I don’t need that much. But the iMac has 4 slots and I wanted to fill them all! πŸ˜€

        1. PPC Ian says:

          That’s the way to go! I have the exact same mentality with my computers.

          1. Haha, you guys will be in the top 100 of PC. lol

        2. d3so says:

          I guess it’s go big or go home right? But you’re already at home πŸ˜›

        3. Harshad says:

          While using the iMac on 4 GB, how different was it from using the Macbook pro with your Dell monitor? Apart from the LED effect, is there a drastic performance change?

          1. John Chow says:

            The different is HUGE. My Macbook Pro was a few years old and only had a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo. My new Macbook Air is faster. As a test, I put all three machines through an iMovie test. This is how long it took to process a 6min and 35second movie in 720P.

            Old Macbook Pro: 25 min 26 sec.
            New Macbook Air: 20 min 50 sec
            New iMac: 7 min 50 sec

          2. Robin Gupta says:

            Through this way you can save your huge time and in our profession time is money.

            Now that’s I call a business man decision.

            Normally when you are going to upgrade this machine in near future.

          3. Yes for us time is always money.

            Infact if you get paid on hourly basis than its always money.

        4. Abhik says:

          lol!! Even if you don’t need them??
          Rich man πŸ™‚

          1. Well said Abhik Johnchow is a rich person and he can take what he want even if there is no need.

        5. Jia Jun says:

          LOL ! I like your answer. “I don’t need that much. But the iMac has 4 slots and I wanted to fill them all! ”
          perhaps not much people can reach that level of ”
          I just want to do it cause I want to~, not I need to~ ” πŸ˜€

          1. Hey John,

            Cool video. Even I could add memory to iMac after watching it.

            Question: can a person add more memory after having used the computer without affecting anything on it as long as there are some slots available?

            I think one can do that but just want to make sure.

          2. John Chow says:

            As long as you have empty slots available, you can add more RAM.

          3. I just commented and the comment doesn’t show up.

            I appreciate the video showing how to add memory and saving a bundle.

          4. Its ok … sometime technical fault appear.

  2. d3so says:

    Changing RAM is so easy even a kid can do it!
    That’s a lot of RAM though. Never used that much myself.

    1. Robin Gupta says:

      I am sure this will help John to get his job done very fast compare to his old mac machines.

      That means every time he use this machine he will earn more.

      1. Now that what we call a statement from a busy person who knows the value of time.

  3. I’ll be upgrading to a 6-Core AMD with 8GB..but your right John…if the price is right..and it’s all all gravy, don’t be a bear….be a GRIZZLY! πŸ˜‰

  4. Frank says:

    Hey John,

    I’ve been thinking about getting that same iMac. Is that your primary desktop computer? How do you like it? I’m thinking about taking the plunge.

    1. John Chow says:

      Yes, this is my primary desktop and I love it. I highly recommend it.

      1. d3so says:

        Though, I don’t have one I’ve used one before and I would recommend it as well.

        1. Robin Gupta says:

          John why not two monitors.

          Your task will be more easy and more time saving.

          1. John Chow says:

            I rather have one big monitor instead of two smaller ones.

          2. Robin Gupta says:

            But through two monitors you can save your time.

            Imagine all windows in one monitor and also distracting you.

            You can start your social media on one monitor and in one computer your main work can going on …

          3. How many monitors do you use Robin ?

            two or three ?

  5. Linn says:

    umm, I don’t know if you are going into virtualization, because you can’t just use 16GB for your normal everyday computing LOL

    with 16GB, I would run, Apple OS, Linux, Windows 7 together.. even with my 4GB, I run those.

    1. John Chow says:

      True, you won’t use 16GB of RAM in everyday situation. However, it come in handy when editing 1080P HD videos. πŸ™‚

      1. d3so says:

        16gb does come in handy when do you production. It’ll even help with gaming.

        1. Yes as John is going more and more towards the video so he will need that one.

          Good move – you should invest in the right tool so that your can be more smooth and fast.

          1. Yes John is adding too many videos with the HD options … so he need RAM but however 16 GB … huge.

  6. Joe says:

    John, lol, changing your memory on the carpet? The static could zap the RAM and your motherboard.

    1. John Chow says:

      The iMac is actually sitting on a T-shirt. πŸ™‚

      1. Robin Gupta says:

        John I think you should kept the URL of your post as Upgrading the iMac Memory.

        Through this way you could have optimise your post more with SEO.

  7. David says:

    Heh RAM not video ram, big difference πŸ˜‰ And why not just buy 2 4gb and leave the other 2? That’s what I’ll do.

    1. David says:

      oops you said DDR ram. Sorry John, tired… But feel free to shoot me πŸ™‚

    2. John Chow says:

      I could have done that but I wanted to max it out. πŸ™‚

  8. What’s the reasoning for not keeping the existing 4GB of RAM in the iMac and just added 12GB? Is it bad to mix two different brands of RAM?

    1. John Chow says:

      The existing RAM are not 4GB sticks. They are 2GB sticks. I could have add two 4GB sticks to get 12GB of total RAM but I felt like replacing the two 2GB with two 4GB as well.

    2. Harshad says:

      It’s always recommended to have identical sticks.

      1. Robin Gupta says:

        Yes to avoid any kind of conflict … you should use similar configuration.

  9. John says:

    staring at those sticks makes me drool so much..I’m wonderng on how fast can a 16gb render a 1080p video.

    I have a 4gb RAM and 1080p editing is pretty much superb.

    1. d3so says:

      I have 4gb of ram as well and I think my notebook still runs slow.

      1. Harshad says:

        Are you using Windows ME? πŸ˜€

      2. John says:

        How come? What’s the specs?

        1. Robin Gupta says:

          @ d3so

          I think you should defrag your notebook regularly.

          Delete unwanted added programs and files. Keep your mother drive free and I am sure this will help you to get the fast speed.

          1. Harshad says:

            Cleaning up startup programs helps a lot.

  10. Eddsstudio says:

    I laugh so much when i saw your daughter was changing it πŸ˜€

    anyway nice toy you have there πŸ™‚

  11. Harshad says:

    John now that those 2 Gig RAMs are of no use to you, please send them across to me. I’ll use one of them on my MB Pro. :D:D

    1. I think those 2GB RAMs can be used for backups.

  12. PPC Ian says:

    Oh BTW do you remember when Microsoft claimed that 64KB memory would be enough for any use? πŸ™‚

  13. i just have my sufficient enough ram for my operations ! i have read a lot of these posts but i can guess some people need it so well done sharing it πŸ™‚

  14. fas says:

    How come this is so cheap? Please put a speed test video in comparison with ur macbook air please.

    1. John Chow says:

      It’s not cheap. That’s the average price of RAM now. Apple just believes in ripping people off on memory upgrades.

      1. Robin Gupta says:

        That’s why many people do not prefer mac.

  15. foredi gel says:

    I like using imace, that will be huge memory.

  16. John says:

    Well, I really think most applications could fully utilize 16GB of RAM, unless you are really rendering 3d stuff and would love to multitask while at it.

  17. Fernando says:

    16, that’s a lot man!

  18. Blogging says:

    Oh my god
    Ram in my computer only 512MB

  19. Hey John,

    I left 2 comments because the first one didn’t show up nor did I get a message that it’s waiting for moderation which happens sometimes.

    I then left a second comment which also didn’t show up.

    This is my last attempt.

    I was saying that I liked the video.

    1. Hi John,

      I don’t know what was going on but after the comment above the previous 2 finally showed up.

    2. Yes I have also noticed that sometimes comments are not getting published automatically saying awaiting moderation.

  20. Robin Gupta says:

    John you always know how to save money and also give us right advice to save valuable hard earned money.

  21. This was my main worry with the mac. Problem solved!

  22. So, how fast can you blog now?

  23. Wow you are revealing such a great posts to save more on our investments on the gadgets to try more options to proceed and it is also not the act of making a miser of ourself.

  24. cobart says:

    Interesting article of good technology.
    But why do you install 16GB ?

Comments are closed.