Upgrading a MacBook (13” Aluminum, Late 2008) – Part 1 (RAM)

I love my MacBook. It was the first 13” aluminum unibody notebook from Apple and although it was launched as part of the MacBook range it has since migrated to the MacBook Pro range.

I run my MacBook through a 24” Samsung SyncMaster T240 and use the wired keyboard and wired mouse. This gives me a nice desktop setup and when I need to be mobile the 13” form factor is perfect.

Lately I have begun to feel the limits of the stock 2GB RAM and the 160GB HDD. So it is time for an upgrade. I will be embarking on a 2 part project to upgrade both the RAM and the HDD of my MacBook.

RAM Specifications

Clicking on Apple > About This Mac showed that 2GB of RAM was installed and clicking on More Info … > Hardware > Memory showed that each of the 2 available memory slots had 1GB DIMMs.

About This MacMemory Slot information

According to the memory specifications at Apple Support my MacBook can take a max of 4GB RAM with the following specifications:

  • Double Data Rate Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module (DDR SO-DIMM) format
  • 30mm
  • 1 Gigabyte (GB) or 2 Gigabyte (GB)
  • 204-pin
  • PC3-8500 DDR3 1066 MHz Type RAM

After looking at the price of Apple RAM I decided to rather purchase 2 x 2GB modules from Kingston (KTA-MB1066/2G). These are reasonably priced and are compatible with my MacBook.

Upgrading the RAM

Apple provide detailed instructions via their support site on how to upgrade your RAM. I shut down my MacBook and disconnected it from the power adapter. I had my new RAM, some precision screwdrivers and was ready to begin.

DSC_0122

Opening up the MacBook

Turn the MacBook over and push down on the door latch to release the access door. Remove the access door and the battery. The battery has a handy tab on it to make lifting it out of the bay easier.

Remove access door and battery

Next remove the eight screws that secure the bottom case of the MacBook. The screws at the top of the picture have slightly larger heads than those at the bottom and are easier to get out. I used a 1.4mm flat screwdriver on the top screws. I tried a #00 philips precision screwdriver on the bottom screws but my precision screwdriver was obviously not good enough. I finally resorted to a 1.2mm flat screwdriver to get the bottom screws out. You may notice that I only have 7 out of the 8 screws out. I couldn’t manage to get the final screw out and eventually gave up after stripping the head.

Removing the screws

Thank goodness the screw I couldn’t get out was a corner screw. I carefully pivoted the bottom case open around the remaining screw. Finally ! I was in.

Making a plan ...

Removing the old RAM

Touch a metal surface inside the MacBook to discharge any static electricity from your body. Then push the ejection levers on the sides of the memory modules outwards to release the first memory module from the memory slot. The memory should pop up at an angle. The first image in the sequence below shows the first memory module popped up at an angle with the second memory module still clearly visible below it. Remove the memory module from the slot remembering to hold the module by its notches and not the gold connectors.

Repeat the steps to release the second memory module.

Removing the old RAM

Installing the new RAM

Touch a metal surface inside the MacBook to discharge any static electricity from your body.  Align the notch on the gold edge of the module with the notch in the lower memory slot. Tilt the memory module and push it into the bottom memory slot. Use two fingers and push down the memory module with firm even pressure until it is level. The first two images in the sequence below show the first memory module tilted and then pushed level under the second (top) memory module.

Repeat with the second memory module. The last two images in the sequence below show the second memory module tilted and then pushed level above the first (bottom) memory module.

Installing the new RAM

Closing up the MacBook

Reverse all the steps from Opening up the Macbook. Replace the bottom case making sure it is sitting flush. Then replace and tighten the screws. Place the battery back into the bay and then replace the access door. Press it down gently until the latch moves to the closed position.

Confirmation

Switch on the MacBook and make sure it boots. Clicking on Apple > About This Mac now shows that 4GB of RAM is installed and clicking on More Info … > Hardware > Memory shows that each of the 2 available memory slots has correctly installed 2GB DIMMs.

About This Mac Memory Slot information

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5 thoughts on “Upgrading a MacBook (13” Aluminum, Late 2008) – Part 1 (RAM)

  1. I used your site to upgrade my MacBook (same model as yours) to 8gb! (I took the time to blow a little dust out of the fan.) Of course, you need a 64 bit version of OS 10X to get the 8GB. Bought the sims off eBay for 44.00 bucks!

    What a difference in performance. I mostly web surf, watch a little DVD, and this machine still has all the power I need. Looking forward to an external display soon.

  2. Thispage has saved my butt. Thank you so much for the information. My hard-disk is going beatifully, and I am now planning to upgrade to 8gb ram, as suggested by Basil. Hopefully I can juice some more time from this faithful machine!

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