How to Fix: MacBook Pro Beeps 3 Times and Won’t Turn On

If you go to start up your MacBook Pro and all you are getting is 3 beeps, you definitely have an issue that needs to be dealt with. This indicates that your system has some type of RAM problem. This can be serious since you can’t get your Mac to turn on.

There are a few things that can create this issue and the good news is that a couple of them are very easy to fix. The bad news is that you could have some bad RAM or even a bad motherboard, which might need to be replaced.

My name is Eric. I am a software engineer who also has a degree in Electrical Engineering. I’ve been troubleshooting and fixing computers since I was a kid and memory problems are a common problem I have seen many times before. 

If you would like to see some solutions I have found to this problem, keep reading below, and hopefully, it can help to solve yours.

What is RAM?

As I mentioned above, the 3 beeps tell you that the system has a problem with its RAM or random access memory. This is where your system temporarily stores data and it is where your applications run. Without it, your computer cannot function. 

The physical RAM inside your computer is usually a group of microchips and the amount of memory your system has will vary depending on the size and number of chips. Some Macs, especially older ones, have removable RAM which can be upgraded or replaced.

Many newer systems have their chips soldered into the logic board making it much harder to replace or upgrade them. Removable RAM can sometimes come loose if the system is jarred. They may also be improperly seated during an upgrade or replacement.

The soldered-in variety has much less of a chance of coming loose but it is also much harder to upgrade or replace them if one or more of them fail.

MacBook Pro Beeps 3 Times And won’t Turn On: Possible Issues & Solutions

Now that you know the 3 beeps from your Mac detect a problem with your RAM and you know what RAM is, let’s look at some possible issues and their solutions. Not all of them will be a problem with the chips themselves but could be a simple software issue.

1. NVRAM/PRAM

Non Volatile Random Access Memory ( NVRAM ) or Parameter Memory ( PRAM ) are locations in memory where your Mac stores settings and other important parameters so that it can access them quickly. Sometimes this area of memory can get corrupted.

If it has been corrupted, there is a chance it could cause your RAM issue. If so, you may be in luck because a simple reset can often clear up this problem and it is very simple to do. Just follow the quick steps below to try it.

Note: This only works on some MacBook Pros. For ones with an Apple Silicone chip, it is reset automatically every time you reboot and the data is rebuilt on startup.

Step 1: Shut down your Mac.

Step 2: Turn it back on and immediately press and hold down the Option + Command + P + R keys all at the same time until you hear the startup sound.

Once your system starts back up, the NVRAM/PRAM will be cleared and may fix the problem you are experiencing. You can read more about this from Apple Support.

2. Loose or Improperly Seated RAM

Many newer MacBooks have their RAM soldered to the logic board, so you are unable to upgrade, remove or install the RAM yourselves. In this case, it is unlikely that this is your problem unless you have dropped or jarred your laptop hard enough to knock it loose.

If you have a system with removable RAM and you have recently installed new RAM or for some reason, you removed it and then plugged it back in. There is a chance you may not have seated it properly. 

This means that when you plugged it in, the contacts on the chips may have been misaligned or loose and they are not making the proper connection. To fix this you will need to open your system back up and look at the RAM.

Gently push on it to see if it could be loose. Try removing it and then reinstalling it again. Once you have it back in place and your computer back together, try starting it up and see if you are still getting the error.

If your system does not have removable RAM or you are just not comfortable with taking it apart, this may be something that you need to have a professional look at, especially if you have dropped it and feel that may be the cause of your issues.

3. Bad RAM

It is quite possible that one of your RAM chips or modules has gone bad. This happens every once in a while. Even if you just installed new RAM, it could have been damaged from static discharge or something else. 

If you have the removable type you may want to open your computer up and try removing each RAM module one at a time and then booting up to see if you can detect which one may be bad.

Remember you will need to have at least one module plugged in or you will still get the 3 beeps indicating an error. You can try different combinations of modules and try them in different slots to see if you can pinpoint a bad RAM module.

If you attempt this, be sure to take precautions so that you don’t cause any further damage through accidental static discharge. If you are not comfortable opening up your machine, then you may want to take your system to have a professional look at it.

If you or a technician find that one or even all of your RAM modules are bad then you will need to have it replaced. Once it has been replaced, it should fix your problem.

4. Bad Logic or Motherboard

If none of the above solutions have fixed the problem, then it could be that your computer has a bad logic board (also known as a motherboard). While this is not an overly common problem, it happens sometimes.

The motherboard is the main board in your computer that everything connects to, including your RAM. Motherboards can sometimes get cracks from hard impacts and they can also be damaged if they are overheated. I have also seen them crack with age.

A crack or other damage to the logic board will often create breaks in the circuitry and cause it to malfunction. If that crack happens to be in a place where the RAM is connected or seated it would cause a problem such as this one.

Replacing a motherboard can be quite complicated and while it can be done if you have a good working knowledge of MacBooks, this may be something you need to have a tech look at, especially if you have an Apple Care plan.

If you have an older system it may not be cost-effective to replace a logic board and you may be better off purchasing a new MacBook. In the end, you will have to choose the option that is best for you.

Final Words

If your MacBook Pro is beeping 3 times and does not turn on, then it is trying to tell you that there is a problem with your RAM. There are a few different scenarios that we have covered above and hopefully, they can help you to determine your problem.

Let me know if you know of other RAM issues that could cause this problem. As always, I would love to have your input and hear your ideas as well.

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