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Upgrade the memory of your 2019 iMac up to 128GB

More on Mac Pro memory

AnandTech has an interesting article “Understanding FB DIMMS”, as part of its discussion of the new Apple Mac Pro (FB-DIMMS are the technical name for the type of memory module used by the Mac Pro).

It’s really an article for nerds, and I confess I’m not nerdy enough to really appreciate it all, but there are a few choice points made which are worthwhile to understand:

  • Filling all 8 memory slots will in theory reduce memory performance over using just 4 slots due to the nature of the serial data transfer in an FB-DIMM—increased latency of 3-5 nanoseconds. Of course, the slots must be filled appropriately in both cases. So the ideal configurations are 4 X 512GB, 4 X 1GB, or 4 X 2GB. For most users, the price of buying 2GB FB-DIMMS is prohibitive. Whether any of this matters in practice is another matter—and the effects are likely to be very small.

  • AnandTech states that each FB-DIMM consumes between 3 and 6 watts resulting in “~40W” with all 8 slots populated. The math varies because, according to AnandTech, “there’s a range is because how active the AMB is depends on how close it is to the memory controller”.

Since heat is a good way to get a system crash or other failure, it seems unwise to buy cheap memory that doesn’t have heat sinks—40 watts is a lot of heat in the small space occupied by the memory modules. I won’t be buying Mac Pro memory without the heat sinks.

Bottom line: stick to 4 or 8 modules, installed correctly, unless you have an unlimited budget. If you really only need 4GB, buy 4 X 1GB and be happy. If you need 8GB, buy 8 X 1GB and be happy. If you need 16GB (first verify that you need 16GB), be happy until the bill comes due.

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