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Hardware: Review: PNY DDR333/400 512 M RAM Kit for iMac G5

19 February, 2005 (14:26) | Hardware | By: Lyle

Description: Blister pack with 2 256 M DDR RAM modules packaged for Apple after market upgrades. Purchased at CompUSA for $130 with iMac G5.

In researching the recent Apple computer purchase I asked around about whether the installed 256 M RAM was enough for the computer. The rationale was wanting to make sure the computer would be usable for 4 or 5 years, as we seem to get a lot of life out of the “main” computer in the house. The biggest disappointment with the Dell Dimension 8100 was the 256M RAM which originally seemed like a lot seemed like too little over time.

The opinions I got ran all over the map. Some thought the pre installed RAM was fine, some though any machine should have about 1 G. Some thought that you can’t compare the Apple’s to Windows machines for rules of thumbs since the Unix kernel of the machine makes much better use of memory than Windows. More RAM is needed for some apps, most commonly mentioned was Garage Band and Virtual PC. Since Garage Band is of interest, we decided to get some more with the computer from the beginning.

I kind of wanted to get the 1G upgrade, but the cost would have been around $320, which was steep on top of the unit already. The 512M upgrade was relatively afforable, and the PNY product was recommended by the sales person. I knew that the iMac had 2 slots, with one filled with a 256 module. I thought the PNY package would have had a single 512 unit bringing me up to 768M. However, I found out that you need to add them in matched pairs, which doesn’t make sense to me since there’s a single SIMM in the machine originally.

However, I thought I could change it easy enough later, and extra RAM modules are easily sold or reused later. So, no big deal.

Putting the modules in, of course, is a separate adventure. Before the iMac was plugged in for the first time, we added the RAM to the unit. I was a little worried about this since I had never seen the inside of one of these before, but the Apple saleperson assured me that if I was comfortable putting them in a PC I would be OK with this.

Opening the iMac is quite different from Intel cases, as to be expected. We placed a towel down on the desk to protect the iMac, not wanting to blemish that work of art. You lie the iMac screen down on the desk, with the bottom of the unit facing you (there is a grill across the bottom for air intake and speaker output. Three Philips Head screws are visible, one on each end and on in the middle. You unscrew them, and they stay attached to the case. Once all three are loosened, you can lift up the bottom of the back and rotate up as it clips into the top. The “foot” which holds up the iMac makes a convenient handle to grab this by. Set it out of the way.

On the 20 inch iMac the SIMM slots were on the right. They work like any other, you pop open the clips on the side which pries out any installed ones, and you press in the new ones until they seat in the slot and the clips pull back in and hold them. All seemed to work fine, and the back is placed on the unit top first, then set the bottom in and tighten the screws. Not too tight, of course.

During the boot up, we checked the “about this computer” panel and all the RAM was seen. There’s also a utility to perform diagnostics on the whole system, and the RAM test ran fine. So, simple to do and worked without a hitch.

Of course, I’m not able to compare the performance before and after, because there was no “before”. I also don’t have enough experience with the iMac to know whether its running smooth or not, but all the app launching, switching, and rendering sems to go fine, so I guess its running great. We’ll continue to monitor this and see if RAM ever becomes a problem.

Overall: Features: A, Value: B (probably could have found it cheaper, and I have this spare SIMM to figure out).

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