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Rudolfensis Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

While the 2011 MBP ships with 1333MHz RAM, some say that 1600MHz may not be supported in.


Others say that it is backwards compatible (going down to 1333MHz when installed).


But even some have suggested (and tried in a Mac mini; see last post) that the system profiler reports the full 1600MHz being accessible by the chipset.


Apple officially said that my MBP only supports up to 8GB, but this has been proven to be untrue. So could Apple be wrong about this? The i7 chipset might support 1600MHz.


If so, will 1600MHz increase performance?

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.5)
  • saturnotaku Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)

    I have run my late-2011 MBP with 1600 MHz RAM, and the system profiler shows it correctly. The only real noticeable performance difference comes in synthetic benchmarks. You won't see a tangible improvement in everyday usage.

  • Rudolfensis Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    Interesting. Thanks!


    Does a higher MHz rating mean more battery use or less?


    Any other metrics like that to address? In other words, why do companies make higher MHz RAM as time goes by?

  • OGELTHORPE Level 8 Level 8 (37,475 points)

    Apple support says that RAM with a higher frequency when installed in a MBP designed to run at a lower rate, will down clock the the RAM to the level of the MBP design parameters.  No advantage is gained in installing RAM that has a higher clock speed than what the given MBP is designed for.  I conducted this experiment in my 2010 MBP by installing RAM from my late 2011 MBP and verified the result.


    RAM speeds are constantly being increased but the problems that must be over come are stability and reliability.  Given two identical numerical groups of RAM, one with a 'low' frequency and one with a 'high' frequency, the latter group will have a larger failure rate.  As these issues are addressed and the reliability and stability reach acceptable standards, then they are put into production.  Ex.  Examine the history of RAM in MBPs over the years, 667 Hz in 2006, 1600 Hz. today.



  • Rudolfensis Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)



    That's interesting about RAM history. So what about 1333MHz vs 1600MHz — will the high frequency increase potential stability and failure rates noticeably?


    Also, does branded/expensive RAM reduce these?


    Or can cheap RAM, provided you're lucky and get one without faults, be just as good? (In other words, is it all about quality assurance?)

    OGELTHORPE wrote:


    Apple support says that RAM with a higher frequency when installed in a MBP designed to run at a lower rate, will down clock the the RAM to the level of the MBP design parameters.

    No advantage is gained in installing RAM that has a higher clock speed than what the given MBP is designed for.  I conducted this experiment in my 2010 MBP by installing RAM from my late 2011 MBP and verified the result.


    I'd normally agree with you, but Apple support would also say that my MBP supports up to 8GB, when in fact the Intel chipset supports 16GB (in fact, up to 32GB).


    The Intel chipset also supports 1600MHz... but what does that mean for MBP? Will it work, or clock down?


    Then there's the question of latency... even for a 1333MHz, what latency do I buy? Can any of them be trouble for a Mac?

  • saturnotaku Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)

    You're kind of all over the place here, so I'll break things down a bit:


    1) 1600 MHz RAM works fine in the 2011 MacBook Pro, but it provides no tangible benefit for everyday use. I said this in my initial reply to you.


    2) RAM is RAM, at least in the vast majority of cases. Modern Macs, 2011 vintage and onward, are not nearly as picky about memory as they have been in the past. I've tested ADATA, G.Skill, Crucial, Samsung, and others, including 1333 and 1600 MHz, and with one or two exceptions, all have worked just fine, passing memory test software run over the course of 12 continuous hours.


    3) The whole idea of faster speeds resulting in instability is probably true when a new RAM specification comes out, for example when 1600 MHz modules started appearing. As time goes on and production practices mature, this becomes less and less of a problem. I would consider it a non-issue at this point.


    4) Latency. Like the actual speed of the memory, you won't see any noticeable difference in everyday use.


    As for exactly what you should buy, I've had the best luck with Crucial and G.Skill memory. I'm currently running 16 GB of Crucial 1333 MHz because 1) I was lucky enough to pick it up on sale for a very cheap price and 2) it runs at a lower voltage than most other RAM (1.35v vs 1.5 v).


    I'm not going to make any sort of claim that having the lower voltage memory has made a difference to my battery life or anything like that. However, if there's any way I can save a bit of power some place, I'm going to take advantage of it. The quad-core i7 CPU and AMD Radeon GPU in the MacBook Pro can be power hogs. Get the system going hard enough, and the standard 85W AC adapter will start working as hard as it possibly can. If Razer, a much smaller company, can design a slim-line (and very attractive looking I might add) 120W AC adapter for its Blade notebook, surely a corporation with billions in cash in the bank can do the same for its products.

  • OGELTHORPE Level 8 Level 8 (37,475 points)

    If Apple has started to use 1600 Hz RAM, it means that the RAM designs are such that it will be sufficiently reliable.  Note that most RAM vendors offer a lifetime guarantee on their RAM.  If it failed all the time, they would be in the poor house.


    The truth is that RAM is RAM.  If it works you will be all right.  Cheaper RAM usually means that the RAM is checked less frequently and/or the manufacturing tolerances may not be as rigorous.  Personally I always recommend OWC and Crucial as third party sources.  They are two of the best, especially in those very rare instances should you get a faulty chip.


    The story is that when the 2011 MBPs were in development, 16 Gb RAM was not available.  Once the model is released, the specifications are then set in stone by Apple.  Others have shown that 16 Gb RAM can work in the 2011 MBPs.  I do have 16 Gb RAM in my late 2011.  I have yet to see where 32 Gb has been successfully installed in any MBP.


    You should find that installing 1600 Hz will clock down in a 2011 MBP.  Only 2012 MBPs can take advantage of the faster RAM.


    In regards to latency, I have not really looked into that in any great detail.  I suppose theoretically one would want the fastest responding RAM possible but I suspect that in the whole processing chain, the differences between the various brands would be so small that it would not be noticeable.


    The bottom line is, if the RAM meets this criteria:  204-pin PC-10600 (1333 MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM  and works, your in business.



  • Rudolfensis Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    Thanks for your replies guys.


    I found that my chipset supports 1600MHz — which implies it shouldn't clock down and will be able to use it no better or worse than a Mac on sale now?


    I Googled around just now, and OWC say that 2011 MacBook Pro's can support 1600MHz — it also mentions a 2% performance increse.


    What do you make of it?

  • Rudolfensis Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    If the RAM works right away (and it doens't have any failures), does that mean it'll work for the coming future?


    Obviously it can fail unforseeably, but I understand that most compatibility issues will be clear right from the start? What about quality issues (concerning cheaper RAM brands)?

  • OGELTHORPE Level 8 Level 8 (37,475 points)

    If it works properly from day one, the odds are it will outlast the rest of your MBP.  As I stated earlier, if it works it works.  Now there are brands that have shown to be problematic.  For that reason I recommend OWC and Crucial because both have good reputations and are customer friendly. 


    What I try to avoid is getting the least expensive product that theoretically will do the job only to find that it must be returned and exchanged.  For me that is a hassle that I don't want to experience.  If the price difference is large enough, I may opt for the low ball.  If it is just a few dollars, I'll go with the known vendor.



  • Arnaud Apiwork Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    I have a problem, when I put new memory sticks in my MPB 2011 (2x8GB at PC12800 DD3 1600 Mhz).

    The MacBook beep 3 times and does not start ...


    Why your Mac Book Pro 2011 is compatible and not mine ?


    Thanks a lot




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  • OGELTHORPE Level 8 Level 8 (37,475 points)

    The specifications for a 2011 MBP RAM are:  204-pin PC-10600 (1333 MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM.  It may not be seated correctly or it simply is incompatible with your MBP due to the frequency mismatch,.



  • Arnaud Apiwork Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    I found the solution, the MacBook Pro is not around 2011, but Mid-2009 ... bought in feb 2010.


    The RAM may not be compatible with the MDP.






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  • John-Paul May Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    Hey guys,  For what it's worth .....


    Hopefully this will help.  With a late 2011 17".




    (1) I have a very late 17" macbook Pro.  (It is actually the somewhat rare 2.5 quad model.)  One of the very last ones made.


    (2) It came with 1333 ram


    (3) I swapped in 1600 ram




    (Indeed, it runs 1600 / 1333 = 1.20x faster on all memory operations - it's just that simple and obvious. I am somewhat surprised some are suggesting there will be "not much difference".  The difference is VERY SUBSTANTIAL -- like 20%.  Again, I tested it back-and-fore swapping in and out the slow/fast ram.  the difference was extremely obvious in everything from startup to XCode, etc etc)


    I did A NUMBER OF TESTS back-and-fore swapping the slow and fast ram.


    and it is very, very obvious, the speed difference.


    Most operations on computers are just memory bound - everything from startup to rendering and the like is quicker - obviously and clearly quicker - with faster ram.


    (5) I have had utterly no problems running the faster ram. It reports and runs the ram utterly normally, no problem.


    (6) These machines cost thousands, and ram cost a few dollars - there seems very little reason you wouldn't do this.


    (7) I do have one of the very last 17" mbp.  (It was "old new stock" - I bought it unused in March 2013.)  So, it's possible that OLDER 17" mbp will not run 1600 speed RAM.  But, I mean it costs like $100 to try, on a fantastic machine worth $1000s, so it's a huge win at low cost if it works.


    I hope this report helps someone !!



  • OGELTHORPE Level 8 Level 8 (37,475 points)

    John-Paul May, greetings;  I would be interested in knowing what protocols and test equipment you used to make the comparison.  I have doubts about your assertions simply because technical staffs at highly respected firms such as OWC would be offering same if that were indeed the case.


    I too have a late 2011 17" 2.5 GHz CPU with 16 GB 1333 Hz RAM.  Unless someone with a proven track record of technical competency gives a definitive approval of installing higher frequency RAM, I will retain what I have.  Until that time, I suggest others not to venture forth in installing improper and untested RAM in their MBPs.



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