This is how easy it is to add RAM to the 2019 Mac Pro

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Mac Pro ram
I want a Mac Pro, just so I can ram in some RAM.
Photo: CC iFixit

The whole point of the new Mac Pro is to make it easy to add more stuff inside it. Well, that, and to keep everything cool without sounding like a washing machine on spin cycle. The modular, standard nature of the Mac Pro’s design also means that you don’t have to pay Apple’s prices for RAM and storage upgrades. You can just buy them from somewhere like OWC or Crucial, and pop them in yourself. And I mean “pop.” It’s hard to imagine how adding RAM to the new Mac Pro could be any easier.

In fact, the hardest part might be unplugging all the cables on the back, so you can lift off the lid.

Open up the Mac Pro

Step one is to unplug everything from the back, including the power cable. Just like the previous “trashcan” Mac Pro, the new model features an outer casing that can be lifted off to reveal the insides.

On both models, this casing has a rectangular hole which reveals the I/O panel, the part where you plug in power, USB, and anything else you have aded to the machine. Also on both models is a bar across the bottom of this hole, which makes it impossible to lift off the lid without unplugging everything first. Once that’s done, though, you just flip up the handle on the top of the case, twist it, and then lift. Then, just like removing the lid from the box of a new iPhone, you gently pull the cover off, trying to keep it aligned for a smoother exit.

RAM covers

Once you’re inside, it’s plain sailing. Just slide the covers off the RAM DIMM sockets (there are two sections, or banks). If you’re installing RAM into empty slots, just push it in until it clicks home. If you’re removing DIMMs to make space for newer, bigger sticks of RAM, then press the eject buttons on either end of the old modules to free them, then pull them out.

No tools are needed to install RAM on a Mac Pro.
No tools are needed to install RAM on a Mac Pro.
Photo: Apple

You may have noticed that zero tools are required to do this upgrade. Unless you count your fingers and thumbs as tools, which is totally legit. Either way, you won’t have to hunt down a torx wrench just to get inside your computer.

One tool you should take a look at is Apple’s Mac Pro RAM configuration guide. On your Mac Pro, go to the Apple Menu, and click About This Mac. Then click on the Memory tab. You’ll see something like this:

160GB RAM! 160!
160GB RAM! 160!
Photo: 160GB RAM! 160!

This guide not only shows you where your RAM DIMMS are installed, but it will recommend that you swap them around if it detects that they could perform better in different slots.

Still not the easiest Mac to open up

Apple’s tower computers have always been pretty easy to open up. I used to own the original cheese-grater PowerMac G5, and getting inside that was as easy as flipping a catch, and lifting off the side panel. Doing so would cause the fans to spin up to maximum, immediately (the same thing happens on the new Mac Pro if you plug it in and power it up with the lid off).

Even some of Apple’s MacBooks have offered easy hard drive and RAM upgrades. The original unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro, for example, let you swap in a new hard drive just by opening up a panel on the bottom of the machine, and removing the battery (yes, you could also remove the battery yourself in those days).

But today, if you want ultimate easy upgradeability, then you’re going to have to pay for it.