How To Upgrade Your New iMac's RAM to 32 GB

In this episode of Hardware from PRO EDU, I take you through the super simple steps of upgrading the RAM in your 2013 or later iMac using third party RAM. Upgrading your RAM on your own is easy and can save you $300 in the process as opposed to doing it through Apple at the time of your purchase. Below is second video on how to change the RAM in your 2011 version iMac.

Before I even begin this article I want to say for the record that PC's are cheaper than almost any Apple computer and I fully understood this before I spent thousands on my Mac. In every sense of the word, PC's are cheaper. I get it and I don't care if you can custom build your own PC for a bajillion dollars cheaper and in theory you say it's faster. 

Having said that and having worked many a moons for Apple at the genius bar I can tell you that 1.) I am far from a genius and 2.) it's just not a best practice to upgrade your RAM through Apple. Unless of course you simply don't care about money then this article doesn't apply to you. Getting third party RAM is a much better option and should be done by more people looking to work more efficiently. The third party RAM you can get from OWC or similar providers also comes with a lifetime warranty and is almost identical to the RAM that Apple is selling you. At the very most, the RAM from Apple comes with a 3 year warranty. After this grace period you are essentially out of luck if the RAM needs to be replaced. Upgrading RAM on Apple's website on a new iMac to 32GB costs $600 extra, which is about $300 more than getting ram from OWC. Also in many cases, especially with older models, you are able to max out your RAM and put in more RAM that what Apple says you can. I won't go into detail here on why this is possible, but if you are a photographer looking to expedite your workflow and work more efficiently within your Lightroom catalogues and PSD files, then having more RAM in your machine gives your computer a better ability to do so.

Remember that RAM is your computer's ability to multitask media and having more RAM will expedite your ability to scroll through media in catalogues or in finder. If your expereince in culling at the moment is super frustrating, consider upgrading the RAM in your machine. If you are wondering what the "appropriate" amount of RAM is for your machine, I always recommend maxing out your RAM as a first step and then installing a solid state drive as your primary drive with your operating system on it. If you follow these two steps, you can most likely extend the life of an older machine as opposed to buying a newer machine.

If you were curious on the differences between a 2013 and 2011 model iMac, here is a video on changing the 2011 iMac RAM as well: 

For more videos like this make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel where we make all sorts of radical stuff about photography and Photshop.

Log in or register to post comments

17 Comments

Jan Iveta's picture

Did this to my late 2009 Imac a year ago. Went from 4 to 16 gb. I guess it's the time for a ssd drive :)

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

It will make such a big difference. And most likely your model iMac has an easily detachable screen.

Rob Barnes's picture

If it's not an apple ssd drive, ssd performance degrades over time because apple disable trim on third party drives. If you stick with an older OS, you might be ok.

Jan Iveta's picture

Well, that doesn't sound promising :(. I guess getting OWC made drive would be good though?

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

Rob I've been replacing my HD's in my MBP and iMac for years and I've never once noticed or had any issues whatsoever. In fact it's been terrific. Unless you have actual experience in the arena here I would say what you've ready is bs.

Rob Barnes's picture

Maybe the make/model of drive you use has garbage collection(trim) managed by the controller on the ssd. This is a "sponsored" link but explains a bit. The reply from the seagate rep explains a little further.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/os-x-yosemite-and-third-party-ssds-heres-wh...

And this too

http://www.macworld.com/article/2849366/mac-wont-boot-about-yosemite-and...

J J's picture

I just gave up on my late 2009 - but just a couple of happy notes - target screen mode works wonderfully (it's now the 27" monitor for my new machine) and you can remove the front glass and replace the bezel with a nice metal one for fairly cheap. Becomes almost a matte screen. Costs nothing at all if you don't mind the bits on the side showing (the glass is just held in by magnets). Of course take all normal precautions before handling glass / opening your comp.

Tony Roslund's picture

"I don't care if you can custom build your own PC for a bajillion dollars cheaper and in theory you say it's faster" - Well said.

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

I had to preface with that. Every time all the PC users chime in and think these videos are some personal jab at them. I don't care what machine you use or if you think it's faster. I'm using a Mac for the operating system and cause it looks sexy (hardware and software).

Joshua Boldt's picture

Just hope you don't have an iMac like mine that doesn't have a little door on the back and you have to take off the entire front screen and remove the motherboard to get to the ram. :(
(21.5-inch, Late 2013)

Or that you aren't the poor saps with the new $1099 iMac that came out last summer (the 1.4GHz processor ones) that has the memory permanently soldered to the board.

I believe of the current models, only the 27 inch ones have the trap door on the back now.

Anonymous's picture

That's what happens when you get all wild and crazy and start thinking you are going to upgrade your Mac by any means that doesn't involve buying a brand new Mac.

Joshua Boldt's picture

:)

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

I think he should "refresh" his knowledge about static electricity. It is not a good idea to work on a plastic table. Plastic is a good insulator; therefore, it stores static charge very well.
http://www.ralphs-pugh.com/engineering_data/conductivity_of_plastics.html

Joe walkins's picture

How about upgrading the RAM on the 2014 model? 8gb just isn't enough. Thanks!

Rhiannon Drury's picture

Hi, I'm in NSW, Australia and have the late 2013 iMac (Model ID: iMac 14,2)
I looked on the apple site and it says

"Memory is not user-removable on iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2012), iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013), and iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2014) computers. Memory replacement for these computers must be done by an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider."

Is that true?
I got excited I could upgrade my pathetic 8GB myself. I work in Ai and run out of RAM all the time. So frustrating!

What can I do?

p ericson's picture

I am about to purchase the new iMac 2015 retina......does this have the back trap door in it so I can do as you suggest and buy the Ram for less dollars and install myself???

Bill Lothian's picture

Hi Gary, just loved your instructional video on how to install DDR 3 Ram onto my late 2013 iMac 27". It looked relatively simple to upgrade from 8GB (two 4's) by adding a further 8GB (two 4's). I was getting on fine but no way could I get the Ram to "seat" in their respective sockets, until I simply turned there Ram around - and installed to the direct "OPPOSITE" as you were suggesting - ie the labels UP and the notch to the RIGHT....all clicked into place perfectly and now my "About This Mac" clearly shows as having 16GB of Ram. WHY should this be as I have watched and rewatched your video and it simply SHOULDN'T fit that way. I set my machine on a table EXACTLY as you have it and did EXACTLY as you suggest but the RAM would NOT seat with the labels DOIWN and the "notch" to the left........do I have a "rogue" iMac....???? LOL