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Upgrading your Mac Pro's RAM - five minutes saves £200

by Tarinder Sandhu on 26 February 2008, 08:53

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

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RAM a-plenty

We took a brief look at Apple's Mac Pro right over here and surmised that its bullet-proof construction and high-end specification made it an eminently sensibly choice for the user looking to purchase a capable workstation with room for future expansion.

Apple, though, will happily charge you £320, at the time of shipping, to upgrade your Mac Pro from the standard 2GiB to 4GiB - and the latter is a minimum when stressing the system with large dataset loads typical in a workstation environment.

With the underpinnings firmly in the Intel Xeon trench, the current Mac Pro uses fully-buffered DDR2 DIMMs (FB-DIMMs) operating at an effective 800MHz. The initial Mac Pro used DDR2-667 modules, so please bear this in mind before contemplating upgrading on an older model. Our 'Pro featured the recently-released 800MHz-rated FB-DIMMs.

Here, we detail just how easy it is to upgrade the Apple Mac Pro's RAM with user-sourced, cheaper modules.

Look back to our original overview and you'll notice just how easy it is to remove the side cover.

System RAM is located just below the graphics card, and the Mac Pro's FB-DIMMs are installed in two riser cards, in pairs, for dual-bus operation. There are a total of eight DIMM slots, opening up the possibility of adding 32GiB of RAM (8 x 4GiB sticks).

The riser cards simply come away with a little tug.

Here is one such card in its naked glory. Note the four slots and the original FB-DIMM in situ. There's another one on the corresponding lower board, for dual-bus operation.

Apple uses big-ass heatsinks on the modules pre-installed in the system. Taking a look at the modules, users may be put off upgrading the system for fear of incompatibility or overheating of third-party-supplied modules.

Crucial, however, e-tails the exact modules on its site.

Indeed, it has a drop-down selection-box that specifically lists modules compatible with the Mac Pro, shown here.

Current pricing - as at 22/02/08 - is £187.99 for a 2GiB set (2 x 1GiB) and £336.02 for a 4GiB pair (2 x 2GiB). Compare this with £320 and £640, respectively, for the same sets from Apple - at the time of purchase.