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How to Install RAM into a Power Mac G4


Adding more memory, or RAM, is the least expensive and easiest way to upgrade your Mac. It lets you run more applications and keep more files open simultaneously. Most Macs have more than one slot to install RAM into, but certain laptops and early iMacs have limited slots, so in those cases it helps to purchase the largest memory sticks you can.

How do you know which memory is right for your machine? The simplest way is to check the specifications for your Mac and get all of the gory details. One site that we highly recommend highly is http://www.lowendmac.com/profiles.htm, where you can select your Mac's make and model. From there, you can search for the best price. Here are some of the tricks we've learned over the years:

  • You may end up paying a higher price at a local store, but you'll have the RAM faster by not having to wait for it to arrive in the mail. Plus, you'll have a physical store to return it to if your RAM doesn't work.

  • You can replace the original RAM with a higher capacity RAM and fill the rest of the open slots with more memory, but you can also keep the original RAM module and add any extra, even if they're different sizes. Some earlier models had to have RAM in matching pairs, so check the specifications for your model.

  • Some companies are more reputable then others when it comes to quality. Crucial, Kingston, and PNY are brands to keep an eye on.

This tutorial will focus on upgrading the RAM in the Powermac G4 series computer. Some G4s have a similar RAM slot location on the motherboard, but please check your owner's manual for the exact location on your desktop model.

How to Install RAM in Your Power Mac G4

You should probably get a little $5 device called the wrist wrap, also called a grounding strap (picture below). We haven't had anything short out on us when we've been working on our Macs, but these little devices help ground static electricity as a precaution. Simply attach the velcro end to your wrist and the alligator clip to a metal part in the computer (just not the power supply).

When we open our G4, we can see three RAM slots on the logic board. You may notice the small tabs on either end of the RAM slot. These retract into an upright position when a RAM module is firmly seated in one of the slots. This not only lets you know that a RAM stick is seated properly, it also helps pop out one end of the module out when the tab is pressed back down. Here are our RAM sticks:

You can also see the notches on the bottom part of each stick, which indicate that they only fit in the slot one way.

Looking down at the slots can help you see which way they go. We have the notches circled in red for you:

Adding the RAM is pretty simple. The only roadblocks you may come across are visual guidance and physical force. It's fairly easy to put the RAM in the slot itself, but you may need to guide it softly until you can feel and see that it's not hanging over an edge. From there, you just have to press down on it with a bit of force. In this next diagram, you'll see that one edge fits securely and that we're pressing down on the module with our thumb and index finger. You'll also see that those tabs are now in an upright position.

If you look closely, by the tabs you will also see that two of the slots are labeled. This makes it easier to identify the memory in each slot.

Now that you've inserted the RAM, the next step is to reset the Parameter RAM or PRAM. That's done by pressing the PRAM button on the logic board. It's a small button, so look closely. Many Macs do not have this type of button, so no PRAM reset is necessary in those cases.

Now it's showtime. Boot up the Mac and let it go through the startup process. You may notice that it takes a tad longer to start up, but it's only going through quick RAM tests. If you'd like to double check the RAM yourself, go to the Apple menu and select "About This Mac." If everything is running properly, it will show your processor type and speed along with the amount of RAM installed. If you'd like even more details, click on "More info..." to see the System Profiler. Now click on "Memory" in the sidebar and you'll see the RAM sizes and which slot they're located in.

Now that you've got more memory to work with, you can use your Mac to its maximum memory potential!

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Meet Your Macinstructor

Eric Buczynski says it all started with the Apple II in grade school. Years later, he moved on to a Performa 6360 and then PowerMac G4s. He's still interested in emulation, HTML, and icon design, but these days his creativity goes mostly to Mac hardware hacking and customization.


 
                          





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