Installing PowerBook 500 Series Memory

How to install memory into a PowerBook 520/540 in 20 (easy) steps

Last Updated: 5/22/2000 JE

Do this at your own risk! I take no responsibility for actions of others that I cannot control. Do this at your own risk.


I get this question ALL of the time: (someone else's instructions!) : Powerbook 500 Series PRAM Battery Installation.


First, you need to get your memory. I suggest purchasing RAM for all microcomputers from TechWorks. I'm in no way advertising for them - but I love their service and prices.

For parts, etc. try these sites:


1. First, you need to order the RAM.

2. Second, you'll need a good torx 8 wrench. In fact, it's a good idea to have a size 9, and 10 as well. There are also some torx sets at the local discount stores that work just fine, and also include more sizes - be sure to get the TORX set, though.

3. When working with any static sensitive electronics, you should be using an Anti-Static Pad that includes a wrist strap. In this case I've shoved the metal contact button that usually attaches to a flexible wrist strap under my watch.

4. Memory dealers ship their memory in anti-static bags (Below, left). A good memory company will also ship some kind of wrist strap - and in this case, TechWorks shipped a disposable wrist strap (Below, right). I won't need to use this, as I'm using my anti-static pad and Wrist strap.

5. Locate the PowerBook to install memory into... :-) REMOVE ALL BATTERIES and do NOT plug in the AC Adapter. You don't want the PowerBook to accidentally power-on while installing the RAM which could possibly short out the daughter card! (ie, a BAD THING).

6. Close the PowerBook, and take out all batteries. Turn the PowerBook over. Using a Torx 8 Wrench, unscrew the left middle keyboard screw.

7. Do the same to the other keyboard torx screw. Remember what kind of screws go where! (It will matter later.)

8. Turn the PowerBook over. On the backend of the Powerbook, there are two little screws. Each screw is on either side of the Serial Number label. The picture below is fuzzy, but you get the idea. Remove the screw to the left of the serial number sticker.

9. Remove the screw to the right of the serial number sticker.

10. Lift up the screen. Pop up the keyboard; reach under it with your fingernails or a knife blade. Pull the keyboard towards you (trackpad direction), and place it out of the way without disconnecting the cables.

11. Pop up and lift out the gray cover bar beneath the screen, which was held in place with the two flat head sheetmetal screws by the serial number sticker. This gives access to the third screw that holds down the heat sink (see next step).

12. Remove two sheetmetal hold-down screws on either side of the perforated metal cover plate (actually, a heat sink) over the CPU bay. Also remove the third screw, under the screen.

Third Screw removal->

13. Lift off the perforated cover plate (heat sink). Make sure you don't lose the third screw! You are looking at the CPU bay and the motherboard/CPU daughterboard. It's not pictured below, but you'll need to remove the gray plastic bar ("retainer") that the sheet metal screws attached to - it covers the interface for the RAM module.

14. Carefully hold the RAM module ONLY BY THE EDGES.

15. Orient the RAM module so its back edge will plug into the rear alignment slots as shown. Then align the connector on the RAM card with the connector on the daughterboard, and press it in place gently but firmly.

16. Pull the retainer as far back onto the RAM card as you can. The screw holes in it will have to line up with the screw holes in the heat sink.

17. Put back the heat sink (CPU bay cover plate). Carefully place all of the feet of the heat sink INSIDE the CPU bay (the heat sink plate will not lay as flat if one of the metal feet isn't tucked in correctly), and check to see that the screw holes line up. Then pop the graybar back in. This is a test of persistence and luck. Then slide the keyboard back in.

18. Hold the keyboard in place...

19. ...and put back the screws in the outside bottom of the 520. Also put back the two screws by the serial number.

20. Replacing the screws on the under side...

If you notice that any of these instructions aren't clear (gasp!) please feel free to write Justin Elliott.

After years of having our department PowerBook 520c's, I'm convinced that these were some of the best PowerBooks that Apple has ever made.


Last Update: 8/25/2000 jde