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Memory problems causing MacBook crashes?

updated 02:05 pm EDT, Thu October 30, 2008

RAM and MacBook crashes

Issues with RAM may be behind problems affecting some MacBook buyers, anecdotes indicate. Select MacBooks, including ones newly-received from Apple, appear to be crashing within minutes or hours of booting. The lock-ups also appear to ignore the intensity of whatever software a user may choose to run, and diagnoses made using Apple Hardware Test reveal no discernible hardware errors.

The root of the dilemma may lie with expanded RAM options, whether from Apple itself or third-party companies such as Crucial or OWC. Systems with the default 2GB of RAM are said to be stable, but introducing another 2GB may lead to crashing. Some users report a fix after replacing a notebook's RAM entirely, but Apple is also known to be accepting returns of MacBooks with crashes, so long as the official return time window is in force. The company has not responded with an explanation or solution to crashes.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Ted L. Nancy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ...this may explain the crashes I experienced the first couple of days after receiving my 2.0/4GB from Apple, but I haven't experienced these crashes since.

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ram Crashes ...

    Ram caused crashes can be a b****, all it takes is one register in the memory to cause a crash and sometimes its just a stuck register that corrects itself after a few uses causing crashes for a few days and none later. I've seen that with new ram a few times. I generally do a burn in on new ram to force out any issues with it. I would say 1 stick out of 10 suffers crashing when first used and 1 stick in 50 that never works.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rev.A is BETA

    Rev. A, stay away.

    Every time I bought a Rev. A Mac, whether desktop or laptop, there were ALWAYS hardware related problems.

    It's EXTREMELY tempting to pull the trigger an buy the first of a new, redesigned line, but it's better to either buy the LAST of a mature line, like the older MacBook or MacBook Pro and wait for all the problems to get ironed out.

  1. Eccent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    3rd party RAM

    Most of those having issues are 3rd party RAM users. The general feeling I get from reading the thread is that you accept the risk that 3rd party RAM may or may not work.

    If you want to take that risk(time and money), be sure the company you're buying from has good return exchange policies.

  1. OS2Guy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No problems here

    I used my machine for the a week before the new 4g arrived from OWC. I had no problems during that week and after replacing the 2Gig with the 4Gig still have had no problems. In fact, I'm replacing a Black MacBook (now on eBay) and find this machine faster then the equivalent Blackbook. Very happy with this machine and the upgrade was well worth the time/effort.

  1. nebby

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Click, bang

    I couldn't help myself. Pulled the trigger.

    There are the best looking laptops I've ever seen.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Good Advice

    While there is something to be said for buying later revisions to a newly introduced product line, I think it is OK to buy Version A Macs. I, however, think it is sometimes wise to wait a few months before pulling the trigger. Reality is that with completely new hardware designs it takes a bit of time for unanticipated manufacturing kinks to be worked out and workers to get comfortable building the product. Moreover, there are always things that come to light from real world use. Apple continually refines the manufacturing process. Products made a few months into Version A are likely improved over the same product coming off the line initially. REV A, B, and C are likely that much better build.

  1. OWCLarry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Memory in Unibody

    OWC owns multiple units covering all of the MacBook and MacBook Pro Unibody model/processor options. With our own testing, customer feedback, as well as feedback observed on the Apple forums – we are confident that the memory is not the issue.

    As is the norm, when you have more memory in these systems (4GB or 6GB vs. 2GB), they offer a higher level of performance. This performance is due to a greater utilization of the processor and GPU cores as there is not the bottleneck/slowdown from memory paging from the hard drive which occurs when less memory is available. If a glitch in the system is going to occur, it’s most likely to occur when the system is able to operate at its best level of performance.

    It is possible that an Apple firmware update may eliminate the problem. But – Apple has also replaced systems (including for a customer of ours). In this case, whereas the original system had issue with 4GB of memory installed – including a new set (and the original set confirmed tested A-OK as well) - the new system Apple provided worked without any repeat issue with our 4GB memory kit.

    Again, although a firmware issue may resolve the matter – it is also possible that there could be a physical hardware issue with the machines experiencing problems which only a replacement will correct.

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