My Mac Keeps Freezing, Is It Bad RAM?


Steven writes: I just bought a MacBook off eBay. I got the MacBook yesterday and powered it on. It came on and took me to the intro screen.

While the video was running, the computer froze and a screen telling me that I needed to restart my computer popped up. I tried to reset the SMC and the PRAM .

This error then happened twice while trying to install Snow Leopard. The computer just locks up and I can do nothing but turn it off. I did some research and it sounds like this is a kernel panic, which means the cause could be anything. What can I do next?


Sorry to hear about this, Steven. To me, it definitely sounds like a hardware issue. If you have the original startup disc that shipped with the MacBook you can try the (mostly useless but occasionally telling) Apple Hardware Diagnostics. That’s a good first step.

My gut says your issue is RAM, but it’s certainly possible it’s the CPU. Try using Rember to test your RAM, too. It’s a wrapper for the cross-platform (terminal- based) “memtest” app, and is something I’ve found to be *very* reliable over the years.

If either test does indicate bad RAM, try removing one of the memory chips and testing again. Then swap with the other. At some point you should be able to narrow down which chip is bad (hopefully only one!) and replace it. Note that many (most?) third-party RAM vendors warranty their memory for life, so you may even be able to get it replaced for free if you know who originally sold it.