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Boost 2011 MBP Performance with 1600MHz RAM

Monday, June 25th, 2012 | Author:

Right now, everybody’s talking about the MacBook Pros announced at WWDC earlier this month. That’s great; it’s always fun to talk about the latest and greatest. However, not everybody can afford to get the newest model every year. Most of us have to content ourselves with getting the most out of what we already have.

It’s in that line that we’ got some great info for those of you who bought a MacBook Pro last year. In an interesting development, it seems that although Apple sold and marketed the 2011 MacBook Pros as using 1333MHz memory, they are, in fact, capable of utilizing 1600MHz memory, just like the current crop of MacBook Pros.

Lloyd Chambers of Mac Performance Guide did some in-depth testing and found that a 2011 MacBook Pro with 1600MHz memory saw a 2% average performance boost over the same configuration with 1333MHz memory.

We’ve long established that adding more memory to your Mac is the most cost-effective way to get the most out of your Mac. For the 2011 MacBook Pros, it looks like using the faster compatible RAM speed can get you that extra little bit of speed you may be seeking.

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    1. JohnoNZ says:

      Does the same apply to a MacMini 5,3? It is specced for 1333Mhz but 1600Mhz RAM is slightly cheaper. Not really concerned about a 2% speed increase – just that can I replace 2x2GB of 1333RAM with 2x8GB of 1600 RAM. Thanks

      • OWC Ben says:

        1600MHz memory should down clock to the computer’s 1333MHz, however we have not tested this for stability. We only recommend 1333MHz memory for the MacMini5,3.

    2. Eli Ben Avi says:


    3. Dawid says:

      I have upgraded my to this 16GB memory set (1600Mhz)for my early 2011 MAcbook Pro thats supposed to use the 1333Mhz, but now my computer when running Adobe Premiere cs6 is seriously unstable.

      I have a standard 2 minute autosave on seeing that it crashes so often ….

      I have also installed the mercury 240gb Electra 3g in the optical bay via Data Doubler and the 240gb Mercury Extreme 6g in the normal hard drive bay.
      I’m booting of the optical bay -Sata 3 …

      When video editing with I also use a belkin single fan laptop cooler to help keep the temp down.

      But still very often I get the black screen that says – your computer needs to shut down …

      This did not happen as often as when I installed this RAM.

      I’m assuming this could be a heat problem – although the standard outside temperature is around 20 degrees celcius in Cape Town South africa at the moment….

      Do I have a bad memory set or memory/harddrive combo? Or is it just working too hard with the memory/graphics card/ 2x ssd’s running at full tilt to give me real time playback of my 1080p h264 DSLR footage?

      Its completely fine when not running premier- but of course nothing pushes it this hard? Photoshop Lightroom uses about a 1/4 of the power …

      Any help? Is this an adobe issue?

      • OWC Chris S. says:

        It’s kind of hard to troubleshoot individual issues in our comments section; that’s something our Tech Support specialists would be best at working out. However, here’s a couple of things you can double-check with.

        1.) Go back to your original RAM configuration – You mentioned that the machine was working fine eofre the memory upgrade. See if the problem goes away after reverting to the original configuration. If your problem still remains, then it stands to reason that the problem is probably somewhere else.

        2.) Run a memory testing application – If you want to test the modules themselves, you can use a program such as Rember to run tests on the modules themselves. You should also be able to do this using Apple Hardware Test (hold down the D key at startup). If a module returns an error, swap the memory in the slots and run it again to see if the problem follows the module or if it stays with the slot.

        3.) Try reinstalling Premiere – Since the only problems seem to happen when you’re running Premiere, try reinstalling it; you could have a corrupted file somewhere – this is especially so if the first two tests don’t show any problems. Or, there could be a problem somewhere else in your system.

        If you try these options and still can’t seem to resolve or at least pinpoint the problem, then you’ll want to get in touch with our Tech Support department and they’ll get you on the right track.

    4. Bryan says:

      When you speak of the 1600MHz memory being compatible, is that the “L” (low power) memory, as used by the new models? And, if so, would someone get better battery life (and perhaps less heat generation) on a 2011 model by switching from the (regular, non “L”) 1333MHz memory? And, would the differences (if any) be negligible or noticeable? All the various cases would, of course, be compared using identical amounts of memory.

      I’m assuming there must have been some reason for Apple to switch to the “L” memory, or is that just what manufacturers are making now? I’m always afraid something will “blow up” when I open the computer anyway, especially with memory, and I had never before seen the “L” designation on memory.

      On a side-note, I want to compliment the instructional videos provided by OWC. They gave me the confidence to add one of their SSD disks, even with my hardware-phobia. :-)

    5. A Gupta says:

      I just upgraded my MBP 2011 with OWC 16GB 1333MHz RAM. Only if this article was published a week back.

      • A Gupta says:

        BTW, I was able to use my 8GB 1333MHz RAM that I took out from my MBP (2011) in my MBP (2009). So you can also recommend 1333MHz RAM for MBP 2009 models.

    6. Robert Nicholson says:

      If I owned a 2011 MacBook Pro I’d probably not be spending any more money on it especially as it looks like going forward the memory isn’t going to be compatible with newer models. It’s simply not worth the cost for that 2% gain.

      • Matthew says:

        Robert for users who haven’t upgraded to have more RAM yet and feel now is the right time, the faster RAM is a very attractive choice. If a user has already upgraded to 16GB (2X8GB) RAM then I’d agree there’s little incentive for most to upgrade again. As RAM prices continue to fall, 16GB (2x8GB) is becoming an increasingly attractive option for those for whom it was previously unaffordable.

      • El Lizardo says:

        “If I owned a 2011 MacBook Pro I’d probably not be spending any more money on it especially as it looks like going forward the memory isn’t going to be compatible with newer models”

        Newer models – as in the new 15″ Retina Display model – have the RAM soldered in, so it’s not an issue of compatibility; you can’t upgrade with after-market solutions on those models anyway.

        People will still want to upgrade their 2011 models. There’s no reason to stop doing that just because a newer laptop has been released.

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