16GB RAM -- is it a deal breaker for you?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by stagmeister, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. stagmeister macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2004
    Is 16GB of ram something that you really need, personally? Most people will never use that much. But there's something to be said about it, that the trend in Apple computers is non-upgradeability, so you should try to max out ram if possible. I know that this is something to consider personally as I'm looking to buy a new rMBP (Haswell, when it's available, hopefully soon!) to replace my early 2008 Blackbook with 4gb of ram. I want my computer to last for a long time -- another 5 years if not longer. My hope is that a longer battery life will contributed to a long computer life; if the battery goes 25% longer (for example) that means fewer battery cycles = longer battery life before it starts to die. Again an issue of the lack of user-replacable parts.

    To come back to the issue at hand. Whether or not 16gb is "overkill" is a topic that's been covered before, and of course it is related to what you will use the computer for.

    The problem is, 16gb of ram is only available on the 15" rMBP. That means that if one wants 16gb of ram -- for example to work with VMs or heavy-duty XCode projects -- then they are forced to get a 15" rMBP. For me this is a problem because I prefer the 13" form factor. But it's a choice that Apple makes and there's not much I can do about it.

    For you, do you need 16gb? Is it the sort of thing that's a make or break decision, that would push you to get a 15" rMBP over an MBA (regardless of processor power or battery life)? I'm not asking for myself alone (at least not directly) but am just curious what you think about this issue. Personally, I just can't see myself going from 4gb, which I am constantly pushing the RAM limits, adding only 4gb more. Theoretically Mavericks may help with memory compression but no one knows for sure how much that's really going to change things.

  2. cmanderson macrumors regular


    May 20, 2013
    My MacBook Pro Retina has 8GB, but it was the original non-CTO mid-tier model with 2.6 GHz Core i7 and 512 GB Flash storage, before the refresh when the mid-tier was spec bumped to 16 GB RAM and 2.7 GHz. That was a bummer.

    I do need 16 GB for some tasks, which is why, rather than selling the rMBP and replacing with a newer model, I kept it and added a 2012 Mac Mini Server. I ordered it with the same 2.6 GHz processor, opted for the 256 GB SSD, but kept the 4GB base RAM and upgraded to 16 GB with a kit from OWC. I also added a 10 TB LaCie 5big for my "home base" storage needs, and I keep that connected to the Mini.

    Now while I'm at home I can run VM's on both machines, leave a Windows 2008 R2 Domain Controller running in a VM on the Mini at all times, host various services on the Mini with server.app, have plenty of resources left over for more and still get all of my work done.

    I use Teleport to switch between desktops and have a monitor permanently connected to the Mini. That way when I need to leave I can simply disconnect my MacBook Pro from power and go.

    While I'm away, I can still access all my files, remote into the Mini if necessary and run many of the same VM's if they are needed.
  3. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Even if you don't "need" 16 GB, it does improve performance (and these days if you are running 4 GB of DDR3, upgrading to 16 GB is so cheap as to be a no-brainer if your mac supports it).

    I've run OS X with 2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB and 16 GB and even when not running massive applications or data sets, 16 GB definitely improves disk performance (on non-SSD machines in particular) due to caching and improved ability to keep more inactive memory around.
  4. hammm macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Well I'm a developer who does multiple VMs on a regular basis. My current machine has 8GB and I find it close to using up the 8GB quite frequently, so 16GB would be good for me although it won't be a real deal breaker.

    What is a deal breaker though, is the retina screen and battery life. I'm so spoiled with the retina display on my iPad/iPhone that I simply can't stand looking at a regular display. That has really put me off buying the new 13" MBA, although the battery life is absolutely sick.

    I'm still waiting for the new 13" rMBP, hopefully Apple doesn't disappoint.

  5. cosmicjoke macrumors 6502

    Oct 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    yes on my rmbp, because it really is a desktop replacement now... all i have is my server, rmbp, and mba... i do all sorts of stuff with my mba though with just 4gb ram though, so really just depends on how much you're doing simultaneously and what type of things.
  6. ssmK macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2007
    I use an audio application that actually keeps 16GB of samples locked into memory at all times. So yes, I need 16GB RAM :)
  7. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    8 gb is enough for now, but if the new rmbp comes with the Iris Pro with no dedicated vram (which appears likely), I think 16 gb is necessary.

    I'm currently waiting on the Haswell rmbp 15, so we'll see. My current workload uses about 6-8 gb of ram pretty regularly.
  8. locoboi187 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 3, 2012
    I should have spent the extra dough on the 16GB RAM as "just in case" measures (even though not really needed for me) on my rMBP instead of AppleCare. But then again I couldn't wait for the higher end models to be shipped at the time when I purchased the machine. Preferred to walk in the store and get it right there and now, AND make sure I got a Samsung screen. I couldn't take the gamble getting it shipped to me only to find out its a plagued LG screen.
  9. araje macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    Yes, I did 16GB as well I have an early 2012 model 13in non retina. It came with a 4Gb which was just so slow when I was running Parallels.

    Upgraded it to 16GB with vertex OCX SSD and now it flies.
    If you run VMs then 16Gb is best since you can really give 4GB to your VM like a normal laptop.
  10. sofianito macrumors 65816


    Jan 14, 2011
    Mavericks memory compression vs memory swapping, that's an interesting topic.
    I am not sure if mavericks memory compression will increase memory availability without losing performance. The compression/decompression logic will use CPU cycles to reduce memory used by inactive processes, hence increasing CPU usage and latency. The worst case would be to launch a process that need as much as memory hold by several inactive processes... Also, if the compression ratio is not that good, you'll end up losing CPU cycles without releasing a lot of memory...

    Memory swapping implies flushing process memory to the virtual disk memory (swap area). This process involves more I/O operations than CPU usage, hence latency would be increased only during read/write operations on disk. But with SSD or PCIe flash storage compared to old spindle disks, the read/write latency is drastically reduced.

    My guess is Mavericks would probably use a hybrid approach. Whether its memory management is revolutionary or not, I generally would rely more on hardware features/characteristics than software optimizations. Also, resource usage and consumption by Software is generally proportional to hardware improvements. So if you need it and can afford it, I would recommend you to get more physical RAM.
  11. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    My cMBP came with 8GB and I upgraded it to 16GB in short order, I don't use VMs often but I do have multiple apps running on multiple desktops, including FCPX (Not used as often, but the primary motivator in upgrading to 16GB).

    Interestingly, 16GB seems to work out quite well for my typical use. Very few page outs, no swap, and basically fully using 8GB of my 16GB. Had I not upgraded I could be seeing a lot of page outs and that will slow things down, not to mention that would also indicate that I need more memory for what I do...so 16GB seems to be good for me.

    As for "most people will never use that much", that's been said many times over the years by multiple people and they always end up being wrong. Most people don't pay attention to their true usage and know what to look for should their system slow down.

    Running "purge" only released about 500MB, so no, most of my memory usage isn't just file cache ("wired" memory echoes that as well).


    Attached Files:

  12. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    I've bought and upgraded two 2012 MBPs, a 13" and 15", both non-retina, with 16GB. It's only $130 or something like that from Crucial, and so easy to swap in, so it's a no-brainer. Both have SSDs, but the 15" has two SSDs instead of a DVD drive, and it's very nice for editing video.

    I have a Mac Pro with 32GB, which I upgraded because of page outs and swap use. 32GB solved that problem. I've not yet seen page outs or swap on my 15" MBP, but I've also not pushed it as hard, yet. I will put 32GB in the 15" cMBP when it becomes available at a decent price. After Effects loves RAM.
  13. srsub3 macrumors 6502


    Mar 10, 2013
    after buying a 13 rMBP I was a bit worried, since in the previous model I had 16gb mounted. Damn today I watched activity monitor and I had only 1 giga free.... I closed all the programs except of necessary things but memory stayed full.... any suggestion? However I think that for 15 16 gb is a must and should be an available option for the 13 rMBP!
  14. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    Agreed. 16GB should be a BTO on the next 13" rMBP. I just wish there would be a BTO option for 32GB of memory on the Haswell rMPB because it is not upgradeable in the future. That probably won't happen for another year or two though.
  15. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    Open up Activity Monitor and list how much memory is used under each heading, or include a screen cap.

    Then run Terminal and issue "sudo purge" and see how much memory is released. Often times it is file cache and such that sucks up free memory, so only having 1GB "free" doesn't necessary mean you're almost out of memory. You need to look at your "page outs" value and see if you're doing a lot of paging. Paging in is ok as long as you're also not doing a lot of page outs. See my screen cap above.

    A system that utilizes most of its memory without actively paging out is more efficient than a system that has gobs of free memory.
  16. gxtoast macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    I've been searching high and low for a laptop with the size and elegance of the rMBP 15 and the only thing that is remotely similar is the DELL XPS 15. Both the rMBP and the XPS 15 max out at 16GB RAM.

    I need 32GB to run VMs and just wish mainstream laptops, like the rMBP 15, had this amount as an option.

    I do find it strange that Apple hasn't made it an option yet, because there isn't a high performance workstation version of an Apple laptop. The MBP 17 has been discontinued and so the rMBP 15 is the absolute top-of-the-line lappy.

    The only option for me to get 32GB RAM is to go to something like a workstation-class DELL Precision such as the m4700. But, I don't need the size, storage or dGPU capabilities.

    If Apple released a rMBP with Iris Pro Haswell part, no dGPU, and the option to buy with 32GB, I would get it. That would be one sweet laptop.
  17. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020


    May 16, 2013
    Kansas, USA
    I'll add my $0.02 as the "average" user.

    I just put 8 gb in my 2009 MBP to max it out. I was using the original 2 gb before and found I was maxing it out just doing everyday web surfing and the like. I haven't put in an SSD as that would break the college budget, and some have said that older models can't take full advantage of SSDs' speeds anyway.

    So I don't need 16 gb. That's overkill for a college student. I could probably do with 4 gb, but I'm trying to get the most out of this machine before I replace it.

    Apple can probably continue to sell base models with 4 gb and 8 gb. Sounds like many of you would appreciate the option for 16 gb or even 32 gb though.
  18. MacFan26 macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2003
    San Francisco, California
    I thought 8GB would be plenty when I got my new MacBook i7 in 2010. It was a big upgrade over my 5 year old PowerBook. However, seems like I'm usually still always close to running out of free memory. I used to have ActivityMonitor set to show CPU in my dock (back when I had single core :)), now I always have it set to memory. If I upgrade or were to get a Mac Pro, I would for sure go with the 16GB. Having Chrome with a bunch of tabs, iTunes and Mail open seems to take a significant chunk of that, and those are just my "default" applications.
  19. stagmeister thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2004
    Wow, lots of replies.

    I guess the problem I have with Apple's mobile computer lineup these days is that they are asking us to make a lot of compromises when the technology has gotten to the point where we shouldn't have to compromise.

    For example. Want the Retina screen? No Haswell for you. (That may change soon if they release the Haswell rMBP, but if they wait until the fall which some people think they might, that will be a trade off for a lot of back to school shoppers like myself.) Want 16GB of ram? You must get a 15" rMBP, so no 13" form factor no matter what.

    I'm ok with some compromises because apple wants to keep its product line simple and differentiated. But I really think that apple is screwing heavy-duty users who need a lot of computing power. (I don't like the term "pro" users because its so subjective, what it means exactly.) What do I mean when I say that they are screwing us? Apple still makes amazing computers, we can't deny them that. But the base configurations have very limited amounts of ram and SSD/HD space, because most "normal" folks only use their computer for email, Facebook, photos, and syncing with their iPhones, for which 128gb of hard drive space and 4gb (8gb on the MBP's) is enough. I have a lot of friends with 128gb of hard disk space and its great for them because they just don't have that much stuff to store on their computer. So Apple makes computers that work great for the average user, but the BTO and upgraded options gouge us. So if we want a larger HD or more RAM apple doesn't only force us to pay a lot of money for the specific options -- I'm ok with that to a certain extent -- but also pushes us up to a higher level line or larger form factor which we may not specifically want. This not only pushes up the price significantly higher, but forces us to make unnecessary compromises. Personally I prefer the 13” screen because it weighs less and I don't need a huge computer. I can hook up to an external monitor if I need the screen space. But to get 16gb of ram (which I personally really want, "need" is the wrong term here), I need to get it. That just sucks.
  20. Sym0 macrumors 6502


    Jun 6, 2013
    Yes, I needed 16GB at LEAST. I was about to by a Windows 8 custom built laptop for same money with 32GB ram, and 2.9GHz Haswell processor and RAID 0 512GB Intel SSDs, when the WWDC hit and I scored the rMBP with 16GB for $200 less than the W8 laptop.

    I have used as much as 12GB on one processing application on 10 occasions in the last two weeks.
  21. gxtoast macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    Sym0, which Windows PC were you going to buy?
  22. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008

    As I do the majority of my heavy duty work on my MacBook Pro now, I have found the more RAM the better. If there was a 32GB option I would take it.

    My work stuff is on my X1 Carbon. Mostly word processing, emails, and occasional research. Thought I needed 8GB for that, but I don't. I barely break 2GB of use including the shared video RAM. Sometimes I pull up Photoshop or similar, but I think I would have been fine with base model's 4GB option.
  23. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

    Jan 6, 2004
    US of A
    Yes to 16Gigs. VMs, XCode, iPhone simulator, browser with tabs, etc...

    Wish it were 32Gigs.
  24. Pentad, Jun 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013

    Pentad macrumors 6502a


    Nov 26, 2003

    I've said it before, 8 GB of memory on a MBPr is like bicycle tires on a Ferrari.

    As Count Blah said, I too wish it were 32GB. When each VM is 4 GB, memory goes pretty quick...


    True Fact: I quote Count Blah dozens of times per day. :)
  25. stagmeister thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2004
    Agreed. So why is it that Apple only offers 16GB on the 15" rMBP, and not on any of its other computers? Is it just to get potential customers to move up to the 15" line, which has a higher profit margin for Apple? Or is it a matter of space, i.e. that 16GB of ram can't fit in the space on the 13" logic board?

    I could see the items that differentiate the rMBP from the MBA being the ability to upgrade RAM to 16GB and to get quad core vs. dual core. But as it stands the rMBP has the same limitations as the MBA -- 8gb of ram and dual-core. That makes them very different to differentiate, except that the rMBP has the retina display and MBA has haswell. As it stands that makes the MBA a much better computer for the time being, until Apple updates the rMBP line -- MBA has better battery life and similar upgradeability constraints.

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