Skip to main content

PSA: While Apple limits the new 27-inch iMac RAM to 32GB, you can double it to 64GB


With most Macs these days, soldered memory chips mean that whatever RAM you want, you have to buy it from Apple when you order the machine. But the new 27-inch iMac still uses plug-in RAM, so you’re free to add your own RAM after purchase. And while Apple limits you to a maximum of 32GB, OWC (just like in years past) has just announced that it will shortly offer upgrade kits for 48GB and 64GB RAM … 

Adding RAM is usually one of the best ways to boost the real-life performance of a Mac, though you’d probably need to be doing some pretty heavy-duty work to take advantage of 64GB. It won’t, however, be cheap: the 48GB kit will cost $729, while the maximum 64GB will cost a cool $1195. But if the price doesn’t put you off, check out our how-to guide to see just how easy it is to do.

Laughably, the upgrade option means that your brand new iMac could actually end up with more than twice as much RAM as it has flash storage.

Sadly the new 4K 21.5-inch iMac uses soldered RAM, so unless you’re extremely handy with a soldering-iron, you’re stuck with 8GB or 16GB, depending on the spec you buy.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    I’ve purchased from OWC before and find their prices on the high side – especially when they are the only game in town (higher capacity SSD for my 2011 MacBook Air as my example) but to charge $1195 for 4 sticks of 16 GB RAM – that’s really raping the dog, IMO.

    Bide your time and I’m sure that someone will come out with a less expensive option. YMMV

    • Crucial is also an option, OWC isn’t necessarily the only game in town. Crucial also is a bit cheaper.

      • Brad Yundt - 7 years ago

        Crucial doesn’t offer any RAM that they certify for use in the late 2015 27″ Retina iMac. Nor do they offer 16 GB RAM for use in the previous 27″ Retina iMac.So you might be waiting quite a while for Crucial to save you some money. Meanwhile, you could pay OWC’s price and be productive on your new iMac from day 1.

      • Derrick Morin - 7 years ago

        OWC really let me down. I didn’t mind the price of the upgrade for the late 2015 iMac, but it didn’t work. Maybe just a bad card, but I didn’t bother exchanging. Crucial came through again for me though, and for a better price. I’ll just go with Crucial first from now on.

  2. sar2607 - 7 years ago

    I absolutely hate this soldering bullshit apple has going on for them since the last few years. It’s just about absolute control – the basic philosophy of ‘if it breaks’, give us the money to fix it. This ‘don’t do it yourself’ bullshit is pathetic for a company such as Apple. They really need to reflect on this.

    • tinman8443 - 7 years ago

      That’s silly. The soldering is for space savings so they can offer thinner and lighter products. The 27″ still has changeable slots because the extra size means more space for components. More room for brackets and screws and access ports. Simple. There is no one at the top laughing maniacally about their ultimate power and control. If that were the case they could just as easily solder the memory to the main board on the 27″ as well…

      • sar2607 - 7 years ago

        You may be right about the changeable slots in the iMac (btw I assume with memory you mean RAM). I’m not very knowledgeable about the iMacs, since I don’t own one. In the macbook pros, however, once you’ve gotten your laptop, you cannot upgrade the RAM yourself. Maybe ask apple to do it, but as we all know apple and its absurd prices aren’t the best option always.
        I never said Ive or Cook are, as you put it, ‘maniacally laughing about their ultimate power’ – but you’d be hard pressed to argue that they’re doing everything they can, at leas with the laptops, to make sure the customers can change as little as possible themselves once they’ve bought the laptop. Plainly said, they want control. Whether you think thats okay or not is a matter of opinion. I personally don’t think its ok, which is why I’m still on my 2012 macbook pro, where they didn’t solder the RAM on to the main board. But you may have a different opinion.

        But hey, calling my comment silly. You almost hurt my feelings there.

      • mahmudf2014 - 7 years ago

        For god sake, isn’t the old iMac has the same design with the 4K 21.5 Retina iMac? So, what changed now? And it doesn’t have dedicated graphic card for serious work. Also, who cares if it’s a milimeter thinner or not. When it breaks and you forced to buy the new thing, you understand that. Last but not least, this is not a portable computer, if it would be then it could be important to be thinner and lighter. This is the machine that would be on your desk, not where else. Why is Apple forcing their customers to get the bigger and pricey 27″ iMac for getting serious work done or to have upgradeability even if they don’t want to have big monitor ? And like always, the answer is: Profits. There is no other explanation.

      • Tyler Cameron - 7 years ago

        Tell me again, why thinness matters in a desktop?…
        If the desktop is too thin to replace memory, then it is too thin. Period. Another consequence of the iMac’s design is they thermal throttle pretty bad. Particularly the 27″ one with a dedicated graphics card.

    • macnificentseven48 - 7 years ago

      Apple isn’t going to change the way they do business. Apple wants to control everything. Apple is trying to make low-end devices look less attractive to consumers so they’ll choose something high-end. They’re not looking to cut consumers a break. Apple will continue to cut corners on low-end products so there’s nothing for them to reflect upon. They’re cutting corners on low-end products deliberately because that’s how they choose to operate their business. If consumers are expecting some price break then they probably shouldn’t be buying Apple products. Doing it this way is the only way Apple can remain profitable while other companies struggle. It’s the Apple way. It seems like a smooth bait and switch operation. Anyone buying an Apple product would be wise to know exactly what they’re buying and the alternatives.

      • sar2607 - 7 years ago

        ‘Doing it this way is the only way Apple can remain profitable while other companies struggle’. That’s simply not true. Doing it this way may be the only way to make the absurd kind of profits that they do, but in no means would they make a loss if they did otherwise – offer customers some freedom. They’d still make huge amounts of profits, just somewhat less than they do now.

        Everyone knows the alternatives when they’re buying an apple product – doesn’t mean we as customers can’t try to show apple or at least express our opinions when Apple is in the wrong. That’s all I was doing with the original post; I feel a company with Apples’ stature should sincerely reflect upon giving the customers the ultimate experience vs. making huge amounts of profits.

        And I know my opinions on a comment on a blog will make no difference whatsoever; but Apple DID change its Apple Music policy once Taylor Swift protested on twitter. Basically, if someone well known criticises what they’re doing, they might find it in themselves to reflect upon their policies. Here’s hoping someone important reads my comment as well.

    • You don’t have to like it. You just need to accept it. As much as I hate it…it is what it is.

  3. kijijigod - 7 years ago

    All us Mac Pro users have known for years… Anything less than 64 GB on a desktop is for pussies!

  4. macnificentseven48 - 7 years ago

    That’s a terribly high price to upgrade memory to that degree. I suppose only professionals will need that amount of memory. I haven’t been following memory upgrades lately so I thought memory prices had dropped, in general. I was wrong in thinking that. No matter, I can get by with 16 GB so this doesn’t concern me at all.

  5. BDKennedy (@BDKennedy) - 7 years ago

    A 16GB stick of Crucial, which I’ve been putting in my Macs for over 10 years is $140.

  6. bradmacpro - 7 years ago

    The new model 21.5″ iMac uses soldered to the motherboard memory. The older design used sockets but were not user accessible. A technician could open up the (older) computer and increase the memory and reseal the case.

  7. Paul Allen - 7 years ago

    Is it only the very latest iMac’s you can add Ram to 64GB i have a Late 2013 27 inch iMac with 32 GB Ram in it.

  8. I just brought my Late 2015 27″ iMac up to the “32GB max” – purchasing 2 8GB sticks from NewEgg. This is the first time in 25+ years that I haven’t used OWC. They used to have low prices, but that no longer seems to be the case. NewEgg’s RAM was from CMS (Computer Memory Solutions) and the white sticker on the RAM is from MICRON. They are made and tested for the Mac. Their price was $68 ($30 less than OWC), and I had addition discounts that saved me an add’l $9. RAM is now being sold from a variety of manufacturers on Amazon. Prices are similar to the price I received at NewEgg. By the way – the MICRON works with no problems.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear