questionsif i currently use ddr2 ram, can i upgrade to…

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The form factor is different, so no, you can't. It'll be like a square peg in a round hole ... not going to work.

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The iMac 8,1 can only support 6GB of RAM. You can find upgrades here. They have trade-in offers, so you may be able to recoup some of the cost.

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@narfcake: pssht.. tell that to the Apollo 13 engineers

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@rprebel: is there any other site to buy compatible ram? like newegg? i guess a better question would be, what specs should I look for searching for ram? pins/sdram/ddr2/etc?

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@kernodle: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/6400DDR2S6GP/

You can search newegg for RAM with the same specs, just make sure you get the exact same thing. There's no such thing as "close enough" with RAM. It's either exactly what you need, or it's worthless to you.

I've been using OWC (the link from my earlier post) for 20 years, and they've never let me down.

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DDR? Dance Dance Revolution? People still play that?

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@kernodle & @narfcake: Narfcake has nailed the answer, and the others I see just lead you astray.

DDR3 and DDR2 use different timing cycles, clock multipliers and data rates. They use incompatible sockets to avoid accidentally mixing the two types, because they won't work.

Don't get confused. You can increase RAM to 6GB of DDR2, but that is the only RAM changes allowed, given the existing hardware. However, the 4 GB of RAM should be sufficient for your needs.

One speed option, you may want to consider looking at an SSD and use it for all the system files, logs, swap, etc. The solid state drive might give you a speed boost.

Newer models with a different motherboard designed for DDR3 would be the only way to use the faster RAM.

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@tpscan: 2008 iMacs don't have space for a second internal drive...or am I still leading kernodle astray?

@kernodle: An SSD would definitely give you a speed boost, but since you can only have one internal drive, it'd have to be a large one. Also, from what I've read, swapping hard drives in that iMac isn't exactly easy.

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"I currently own an iMac "

That's your first problem...haha, just kidding. If you only have 4GB now, and your computer can only handle up to 6GB, it's not even worth doing. You won't notice THAT much of a difference unless you are on a 64 bit OS and have multiple programs open. As mentioned above, an SSD drive would help, but I will leave you with another option. Back up all of your data, pictures, music, etc, and do a clean install. And by that, I mean re-install your operating system back to factory settings, reload your data, reload your programs, update everything and you should be good. Some will argue that Macs don't get bloated like Windows machines, but that's simply not true. You computer has a ton of junk on it slowing it down that it's not easy to get rid of. The best and easiest way is to totally reload your operating system. And if you're not running OSX Lion, borrow it from someone or go spend the $30 on the flashdrive with it pre-installed. No serial required.

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@rprebel: Nope, sorry if my post incorrectly implied your advice was anything but accurate. You did note that parts would have to be matched and specified to meet the iMac requirements.

And yes, the 2008 iMacs apparently only support a single drive. Upgrade info can be found at http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/imac/imac-aluminum-faq/imac-intel-aluminum-how-to-upgrade-hard-drive.html.

However, some 2009 models and later did have a second SATA and power connector. That did allow adding a 2.5" SSD, though it also requires the upgrader to design a custom mount.

But yes, HDD upgrades are not for the casual user.

I might mention that you can also pair an SSD with an external drive case that supports USB and Firewire interfaces. The data bandwidth falls short of of the SATA maximum, but the SSD still benefits in lower latency and almost no seek time overhead.

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@tpscan: Nice link, and thank you for the clarification.

@kernodle: tpscan has a good idea, but I would suggest something slightly different. Get the SSD, but use it as your internal drive, as your boot drive. Take the drive that's in there now, and put it in the external drive case. That way, your OS and apps can benefit from the increased speed of the SSD, and all of your docs/music/movies/etc can live on the external.

or...

You can replace the DVD drive with an SSD and keep both hard drives, using the SSD as your boot drive. Not for the faint of heart or those lacking experience, but entirely doable.
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=842548