written by: LE•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 12/9/2009
Apps running a little slow on your eMac? Adding RAM may help. Most Macintoshes support more RAM than what is factory standard, meaning you can upgrade and boost your speed.
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Adding RAM to Your eMac
You'll need a basic flathead screwdriver, a small towel, a sturdy desk, and of course your 50 pound eMac. First, unplug your eMac and gently and carefully flip your machine face-down, preferably on a soft towel placed on a sturdy desk. You'll see that there is a square panel that is affixed with a metal screw enclosure. Open it. It's very easy. Next, you'll notice two slots. These machines come with 256MB RAM standard in each slot. You'll want to remove these. There is click-latch mechanism on either side. Apply gentle pressure to the small levers on each side and the RAM chip will pop out. Be careful not to force it though, because it is after all a small delicate computer component. The other thing to remember is to remove any stray static charge before handling or touching any metal parts on your computer. This is because those little static zaps can foul up a computer chip and cause it to malfunction.
512MB of total RAM used to be enough to get decent performance out of your machine. Maybe back in 2004 that was enough for most apps, but these days you want to do things quicker and faster, and an extra gig-and-a-half of RAM will help that immensely. What you want to do is soup it up, hot rod it, right? Well, don't tell anyone, but you can actually add up to 2GB, or 1GB of PC2700 RAM side-by-side, in each slot giving you a nice and juicy full 2 GB of RAM to play with. Your video editing effects will render faster, and your Photoshop filter effects will now render instaneously upon your command. (After some scouring on the Internet on places like Lowendmac.com, in the forums I found a thread that says 512MB in each slot is the maximum upgrade, but the unofficial Mac hot-rodders have confirmed pleasing results with the full 2 Gigs--or 1 Gig in each slot.) It also helps if you have the Mac daddy of all eMacs, the administrative top-of-the-line for its time 1.42 Ghz model like the one I have. (I've seen some as low as 800Mhz that would be pretty hard-pressed and slow to run advanced graphics applications like Photoshop and Fireworks, even with the extra RAM.)
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I'm happy to say that Macromedia MX Studio runs downright breezily with the added RAM. My vector animation program (Flash) runs handily through all of its functions. And this is all after sacrificing 1 Gig of RAM to another machine. You can play with the options of parallel slots, or replace just one side. It is recommended that you use the same brand and type of RAM (Identical even) on each side to optimize performance. For example, PC2700 of 512MB RAM on each side, giving you 1 full Gig, or just one 1-GB RAM chip on one side like I have right now. (The other backup machine has the the two 512's in it and it runs fine.) In fact they both run fine with just one Gigabyte of RAM each.
Once, I start getting into more advanced imaging such as AfterEffects and other complex processor-intensive apps, I'm going to be shopping for something Intel multi-core with around 2.4Ghz and 4 Gigs of RAM though. But some of us don't have the money for that kind of hardware right now.
No matter what type of your computer, PC or MAC, desktop or laptop, chances are there is a way to upgrade to more RAM to boost performance. So I suggest looking into it right now. Macs are great because they make these tasks relatively easy for the average to intermediate user. Most RAM replacements can be found on websites like eBay, Amazon, Tigerdirect and Newegg. This type of RAM can be bought for around 20 to 40 dollars a piece.
Lowendmac is a great website to go to, to read forums about souping up and hot-rodding old Macs (which are still quite great and hold their value like any other well-made product.) I am one of these who have switched to Mac and never gone back, so I swear by them and I think they are great machines. And no I don't work for Apple either.