13" Retina MBP: 16GB Ram or 256GB SSD?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by helix21, Aug 31, 2014.

  1. helix21 macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2009
    Hi all,

    I'm in need of some advice. I can either get the 16GB RAM (with 128GB SSD) or 8GB RAM (with 256GB SSD). My budget just cannot stretch for both.

    What I plan on using the machine for: I don't plan on doing any music/video editing or any prolonged Photoshop/InDesign work. I'll run Windows in BOOTCAMP for some gaming and some proprietary software.

    I intend on keeping this notebook for 5+ years (and have given up waiting for Broadwell) so my inital feelings are to go for the RAM upgrade, even though I can't see myself right now using 16GB at all.

    How I plan on tackling the storage issue - I'll be using a Nifty minidrive with a 126GB SSD card, which will serve as a common depository access by both Windows and Mac for large video files.

    I have a 2TB external hard drive, but know from experience that I *hate* manually transferring things to and fro... I currently am using a 256GB SSD.

    My only concern is if there are any limitations to using the Nifty MiniDrive as storage (costing £50) vs £200 for the built in solution?
  2. TheIguana, Aug 31, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014

    TheIguana macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2004
    Given you want to keep it for 5 years I think you would be absolutely bonkers to buy anything smaller than the 256Gb model.

    SD card storage is an option, but keep in mind that it is significantly slower than the built-in SSD and also that SD cards aren't as robust as the SSD's in a Mac - so keep a good backup of anything on there.
  3. Sheza macrumors 68000


    Aug 14, 2010
    Cambridge, UK
    Consider Parallels for Windows, I'd hate having to reboot to change OSes all the time - just run the apps you want to as if they were Mac apps straight on OSX.

    Both options take up a lot of space though. With BootCamp you're gonna have your Windows half and your OSX half. That's maybe 90GB OSX, 40GB Windows give or take?

    90GB OSX doesn't sound like an enjoyable time.
  4. illusionx macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2014
    Brossard, QC
    I vote for 256gb SSD. In the long run, 8gb will be a viable option unless you absolutely a lot of ram.
    8gb in a couple years is like 2gb ram today.
  5. blooperz macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2013
    8gb is more than most people need today...and will be more than most people need in a couple of years...you'll be starving for space a lot sooner than you will be starving for more ram. Plus if i recall the 256 SSD is faster than the 128?
  6. helix21 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2009
    Thanks for the comment. Is the rationale between 128GB being too small that it is application storage space will expand more rapidly (and my use of the machine) before I ever come close to using 16GB RAM (say 3 years down the line?)

    The more I think about it, the 60 MB/s (20/30MB/s randoms) limited SD card slot won't really solve my problems.
  7. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    What is your reason for considering the ram upgrade?
  8. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    From the usage you stated, you don't need more than 8GB of RAM. Go with the 256GB SSD because it'll be more useful in the long run.
  9. helix21 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2009
    Purely for future-proofing as I will certainly use this machine for the next 5 years, possibly more.

    From what I gather, 4GB is now minimum, 8GB is quickly becoming standard, who knows how long until 16GB is required for optimal performance? I don't want to regret not being able to multi-task 3/4 years down the line.
  10. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2012
    Not only do I suggest 8GB/256GB, but I have exactly this. I did it for the same reasons also, future proofing. I'd be fine with 4GB right now, but it makes me uneasy for the future.

    128GB storage just isn't enough.
  11. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    the minimum is 2gb. 2gb have been the minimum since 2011 and they will also be the minimum for Yosemite.
    At this pace 16gb ram will be the minimum in maybe 10 to 15 years. Making acurate spec predictions 10+ years ahead is pretty much impossible. Your fear of 8gb ram not being enough is completely unfounded.

    2009 macbook airs with 2gb can still handle your described workload easily and probably still could a few years from now.
  12. helix21 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2009
    Thank you both and everyone who has commented. I'm going to pull the plug and order the 8GB RAM 256GB version.

    For future reference if anyone searches this thread and is placed with a similar debate as me, two further things swayed me away from 16GB:

    1. This Macworld article showing how (at least in 2013), 16 GB really gives you minimal returns.

    2. The fact that the new PCE-e SSD is so damn fast, any paging that does occur won't be an issue.

    3. Finally, my realisation that my GPU/CPU will probably be a limiting factor far before RAM when it comes to getting multitasking (10 tabs in Safari, Pages, Spotify and all my utilities running).
  13. TechGod macrumors 68040


    Feb 25, 2014
    New Zealand
    8GB is a lot. Like ALOT

    Also with the compression feature 8GB RAM becomes 12GB RAM(In theory) trust me get more storage, my cousin has a 128GB 2012 model and now he only has 2-3GB's left.
  14. Dameatball macrumors member


    Feb 7, 2014
    San Francisco
    Easy- Get the bigger SSD. Adding ram later is much easier and cheaper should you decide to do so. The SSD will make the bigger impact.
  15. illusionx macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2014
    Brossard, QC

    You cannot upgrade the ram of a retina MBP.
  16. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    RAM isn't upgradeable. It's permanently soldered to the logic board.
  17. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    I disagree

    I think if you want the computer for 5+ years, you go do some heavy lifting for $10 an hour for two days and raise the extra money for the 16GB of RAM in addition to the 256GB SSD.
  18. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you're choosing between a configuration of 8GB/256GB and 16GB/128GB. Get the 8GB/256GB configuration. your machine will work well with that, most people don't need 16GB of ram now, but if you run out of storage then you'll not be able to do what you want.
  19. acctman macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2012
    CPU chips, Operating Systems and Programs are a lot more efficient than they were 5-10yrs ago. You no longer need an insane amount of ram anymore. I remember when I had a desktop with 32gb ram and knew people with 64gb ram.

    My suggestion... go hard drive 512gb, with a 1tb external. this is what I purchased last week. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G2KMIAM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 saved $89... i'm loving it.
  20. acctman macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2012
    Nifty Drive is a rip off... you can get a much better SD card for cheaper. The Lexar Professional 128gb 600x $94 runs circles around the Kingston 128gb SD. http://www.amazon.com/Lexar-Profess...F8&qid=1409580165&sr=8-1&keywords=lexar+128gb you can get the fancy adapter for $40 from Nifty but I wouldn't buy a SD card from them.
  21. littlepud macrumors regular


    Sep 16, 2012
    The sweet spot is 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD.

    On a 13" MBP or rMBP, you're constrained to a dual-core processor, whether you opt for the base i5 or the upgraded i7 (the i7 only gives you additional clock speed, turbo boost, and cache -- not worth it IMHO). Any "heavy lifting" tasks like rendering, virtual machines, video, image editing, pro audio, etc. that would be RAM-limited by 8 GB would likely be CPU-limited at 2 cores as well. Going to 16 GB won't do you much relative good.

    As for the SSD, I find that 128 GB is too limiting. A typical install of OS X plus applications and "regular" data (excluding large photo/video/music collections) is probably 80-100 GB. Up that by another 50-100 GB if you plan on running just 1 or 2 VMs from the SSD (versus an external drive). Throw in another 40-60 GB for Boot Camp and you've easily tapped out the base storage without giving yourself any headroom for growth. 256 GB will give you that additional buffer for data growth over a 3-5 time span.

    Personally I went with the top-end 15" (late-2013, bought new old-stock) because the quad-core, 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD represents another sweet spot. In summary, the way 8 see it there are only 2 really viable "bang-for-your-buck" models:

    13" dual-core, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD
    15" quad-core, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD

    The dGPU is optional on the 15", but when you look at the price (and lead time) between a BTO iGPU-only model versus a stock dGPU one, the higher end stock model is the way to go.
  22. illusionx macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2014
    Brossard, QC
    I got a microsd adapter on eBay for 5$. Waiting to see how it is in quality.
  23. iBook_Clamshell macrumors member

    Aug 27, 2013
    If you're planning on using this laptop for 5+ years, you are going to need the 16GB of RAM. You can't upgrade the RAM, but you can always get a bigger SSD and put it in.
    Anybody remember the old days when Macintosh put out the first compact Mac? It had soldered-on RAM. It was a huge advance when the Plus came out with upgradable RAM. Now Apple is going back to non-upgradable computers.
  24. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I find it not advisable to by an upgrade now because you might have use for it over half a decade later.


    all :apple: stock models are truly well balanced and offer the best bang for the buckt.
    Any bto upgrade should be considered with care because chances are you don't need it if you have to ask.
  25. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    No 8GB isn't a lot, especially if you're virtualizing. RAM compression can only do so much.

    I have an advice completely opposite here. Sure 128GB SSD is tight. But the SSD is user-replaceable, the RAM isn't. So of you happen to run out of storage space, you could always put a larger SSDs down the road as their price have been steadily coming down. If you run out of RAM, you're screwed.

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