A bad Powerbook memory

Over the years I’ve slapped extra RAM into various machines (PC and Mac) without problems. Well, except for one Dell where I ordered the wrong chips, which wasn’t very smart. However, I’m rapidly losing patience with my 15″ Powerbook after *months* of unsuccessful memory upgrades. I’ve tried repeatedly to upgrade the RAM to 1Gb using Crucial and Kingston chips – the correct ones, based on both firms’ memory finders and Apple product number equivalents – and on each occasion it’s been a disaster. Booting up means a 99% chance of a Kernel Panic, and in the 1% of occasions when it doesn’t go tits-up on boot it freezes solid once all the desktop icons have appeared. I’m only able to write this because I’ve reverted to the OEM chips once again.

Doing various web searches I’ve discovered a possible fix (tweaking Energy Saver settings – it doesn’t work) and lots of people saying “yeah, it’s a problem with the 15″ Powerbooks, they’re really fussy about the RAM”. But does anyone actually know how to fix it without paying Apple’s comedy prices, or am I doomed to an eternity of ordering chips, testing them, sending them back, getting replacements, sending them back… until I go mad, smash the Powerbook to pieces and order a Dell Inspiron instead?

Any bright ideas would be appreciated…

17 thoughts on “A bad Powerbook memory

  1. Stephen says:

    Please don’t smash the Powerbook! You might hurt yourself. Being the selfless type that I am, I would be more than happy to pop round and take it off your hands; I’ll even give you a Dell laptop that my girlfriend hates with a passion, out of the goodness of my heart…

    Seriously, I tried one “non-Apple” RAM upgrade in my 15″ PB, which froze after a few seconds. Then bought an Apple chip which has never given an iota of a problem (PB has never since frozen, KP’d or anything like it). Course I only upgraded one chip, so not the full gig; bit cheaper. Plus I sold the old chip on eBay.

  2. David says:

    Gary didn’t mention this but I’ve been the one buying these chips (long story but I owe him memory) so I’ve had more dealings with the suppliers and memory companies.

    So far I have to applaud eBuyer in Sheffield, Simply Computers in London and Kingston Memory (wherever they may be) for their (so far) helpfulness and general niceness. Crucial, however, can kiss my arse.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Have you solved this? I’m exactly the same position and would love to know what memory works OK. Apple’s prices are way overboard on RAM.

    creationrobot at mac dot com

  4. Gary says:

    It’s not solved yet, no: the situation right now is that I’m waiting on a returns form from Kingston (who have, as David says, been very pleasant to deal with) so I can return the current chips and get replacements. It’s very frustrating, particularly as the companies concerned have such a good reputation for their chips – and the problem, judging by the various Apple forums I’ve looked at, is specific to 15″ Powerbooks.

    I’ll blog when/if the whole thing gets solved.

    I’m convinced Apple’s memory prices are set by Bill Gates or Michael Dell with the specific aim of encouraging people to buy PCs instead.

  5. David says:

    Crucial reckon that this part No. CT6464X335AP (it’s 512Mb) works with the apple powerbook G4. Then again they said that the CT6464X335 worked. As I said – they can kiss my arse. (Especially since they charge an extra £20 to fix *their* mistake)

  6. ddd says:

    I had the same problem with Crucial. The first version of the memory they’ve sent produced effects (crashes) similar to what’s been descripted here.
    However, after calling them up and complaining, they’ve sent me two 512KB sticks that worked flawlessly.
    Not sure how they were different though…

  7. Gary says:

    I suspect the problem’s one of tolerances: a very, very slight deviation from the norm in a chip won’t affect other machines, but seems to cause the 15″ PB to scream blue murder. Glad to hear you’ve sorted it out too.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi, this is George from http://www.Memory-UP.com. Just want to put my two cents here. So far for the Powerbook G4 15″ with PC2700 512MB module size, we only have luck with Elpida and Samsung chips. Infineon and Micron will give users lots of kernal panics even though modules run absolutely fine on any other laptops. As for the PC2700 1GB module size, Elpida/Samsung/Infineon all will work. We still do not recommend Micron chips to be used with this Powerbook series though. They just don’t like each other. If you have any input on this annoying compatibility problem, please kindly share with me at george at memory-up.com. Thanks.

  9. Gary says:

    Hey George, thanks for the info and sorry for the slow reply. I’ll definitely let you know if I hear any more about the problem.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have a Powerbook 15″ 1.25 GHz machine and it came with the 512MB RAM in the UPPER slot. Intending to upgrade the memory, I moved the memory from the upper slot to the lower slot and found the machine DOES not recognize the memory in the LOWER slot.
    So I bought the Samsung 1GB stick, which works fine in the UPPER slot but does not work in the LOWER slot.
    Any body have such problems and how do I find what the problems is or how do I get the memory in the lower slot to be seen by the machine. Thanks a lot.

  11. David Leonard says:

    Im responding to your ram problem with your 15″ powerbook. Did you ever get it fixed im having the same problems, whats happening with me is that the powerbook does’t seem to be reading the lower memory slot at all.

    Any tips?

  12. Gary says:

    Hi David. There were actually loads of comments on this article but when I switched to this comments system, I lost all the old ones. Arse!

    In the end I got Kingston chips that worked fine; it seems to be that the 15″ powerbook is very, very intolerant of the slightest imperfection, so you might need to try and try again. Certainly in my experience kingston were very helpful and keen to sort the problem out, and I’m happily running on a pair of Kingstons now without any problems.

    Only other thing I’d suggest – which I’m sure you’ve tried – is making sure that your PB reads the lower slot OK with the original Apple chips. If it doesn’t, your problem isn’t the memory chips :(

  13. danny says:

    hi i have a powerbook g4 15inch 1.5ghz i upgraded to a 1gb of ram from apple. the computer only recongize only 512mb of ram. i try diffirent slot and only is reading a 512mb ram. can any body help me with this.

  14. Gary says:

    Hi Danny. Assuming there’s a stick of RAM in there already (512MB?) it sounds like either the new RAM isn’t being installed properly (you need to give it a pretty good shove) or it’s faulty.

  15. Wales says:

    So what is the verdict on Crucial vs. Kingston? I am about to upgrade my 2x512mb ram to 2 x 1 gig. I was recommended crucial by a friend but he has only recommended it on the basis that he got a 512 to work.
    if anyone would like to buy 2 perfectly working genuine apple 512mb chips please let me know.

  16. mupwangle says:

    In my experience I don’t think that there is much between them product-wise, but I was the person dealing with crucial in this whole debacle and they pissed me off mightily.

    There is a certain argument that you can judge how good a company is by how they deal with you when things go wrong. In this instance Kingston are way ahead of Crucial, IMHO.

  17. Squander Two says:

    I’m now having this same problem trying to upgrade my Macbook to 2GB. First lot of chips caused crashes; Crucial replaced them impressively quickly; second lot causing the same problem. Grr. The really annoying thing is that, before it crashes, the Mac runs beautifully fast — it’s clearly using the memory successfully. But eventually it freezes.

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