8GB vs 16GB RAM?

BurntPotato

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 3, 2017
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Hello all,

I'm currently a college student and I plan on getting the 2017 nTB MacBook Pro this summer. I am choosing between 8GB and 16GB RAM. Here are my general uses: web browsing, video streaming, occasional light picture or video editing, light gaming such as League of Legends, and I do plan on installing windows to play some Windows only games as well.
Any input would be appreciated. Thank you!
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
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Perth, Western Australia
Do not spend the money you need to spend on a macbook pro and gimp it with 8 GB of RAM in 2017. You're saving a couple of hundred bucks (i.e., 10% or less off the purchase price) to significantly cripple the machine and reduce it's useful life, moving forward)

Whilst you might not need it today, it's not that difficult to get memory pressure up on an 8 GB machine with today's applications, and it's likely you'll keep the 2017 machine for 3-5 years. By that point 8 GB will be extremely limiting.

Having 16 GB in the machine will make it much more relevant and useful in the coming years for (relative to purchase price of the machine) not a lot of additional outlay.
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
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You don't need it by the sounds of it and unless you insist on keeping every app you use open and a plethora of tabs open in your browser you will likely never need it. I have had 8gb of RAM since 2010 and never needed it and my memory pressure is at least as good as it was 7 years ago, my needs just haven't changed.

16gb is a huge amount of RAM its that simple really. If it will make you feel better go for it but I doubt you would ever know the difference.
 

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
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8 GB is what you need now.

8 GB is what I need now too but I plan on keeping my 12” MacBook 5 years or more and I’m sure I’ll want more later. 8 GB already can be a bit tight now, at least if my wife logs in as a secondary user and doesn’t log out. (She does this all the time on our computers.) That alone eats up about 2 GB.

Also, if you ever plan on running a Windows VM, you will want to allocate 4 GB or more to it.
 

No. 44

macrumors member
Oct 29, 2016
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OP, IMO you should go with 16GB, if at all possible. As stated earlier, it will almost certainly come in handy in the future.
 
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raqball

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Sep 11, 2016
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Hello all,

I'm currently a college student and I plan on getting the 2017 nTB MacBook Pro this summer. I am choosing between 8GB and 16GB RAM. Here are my general uses: web browsing, video streaming, occasional light picture or video editing, light gaming such as League of Legends, and I do plan on installing windows to play some Windows only games as well.
Any input would be appreciated. Thank you!
For your intended used 8GB is more than enough.. Heck you could probably get by with 4...

Future proofing is always thrown out there as a reason to spend more than you need to but these new machines are not repairable so in a few years they will be out of circulation anyways..

How long do you realistically plan on or anticipate keeping the machine?
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
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You don't need it by the sounds of it and unless you insist on keeping every app you use open and a plethora of tabs open in your browser you will likely never need it. I have had 8gb of RAM since 2010 and never needed it and my memory pressure is at least as good as it was 7 years ago, my needs just haven't changed.

16gb is a huge amount of RAM its that simple really. If it will make you feel better go for it but I doubt you would ever know the difference.
Not sure what you do with your machine, but if you are in any way working with multiple applications, or even javascript heavy web pages, 8 GB is starting to become a limitation. I've seen various web page tabs consume up near 1 GB of memory for a single tab.

If 8 GB works for you, great.

But 8 GB will not be fine forever, and as RAM prices fall, content becomes higher definition, and new OS features are baked in (more sandboxing, application virtualisation) consumption will only increase.

Saving a tiny fraction of the purchase price on a brand new machine today, to essentially cripple the machine in future just doesn't make sense. RAM will be the limiting factor in any machine you buy today moving forward. Storage can be added externally. Processing speeds have been fine for most for a decade. But RAM is not upgradable.

A machine that is actually useful in 3-5 years time with 16 GB will be actually worth money if you go to sell it down the track. 8 GB not so much.

If this was a Macbook Air purchase, or some cheap netbook, my opinion would be different. But you're spending a lot of money on this purchase; don't gimp it (rendering all that other money spent on the machine useless prematurely) for minimal savings.
 
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leman

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Oct 14, 2008
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The trend in software right now (at least on the Apple side) is reducing RAM requirements, not increasing. This is because the new programming tools are more efficient bOf course, at the same time, we have new tech such as AI which might push RAM needs. All in all, I think that 8 GB is sufficient for a couple of years at least.
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
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The trend in software right now (at least on the Apple side) is reducing RAM requirements, not increasing. This is because the new programming tools are more efficient bOf course, at the same time, we have new tech such as AI which might push RAM needs. All in all, I think that 8 GB is sufficient for a couple of years at least.
Sure.

But DATA is exploding. And new features are coming. Optimisation has a hard floor with regards to the reduction that is possible (i.e., you can't optimise down to zero - and a lot of the legacy garbage has already been cut out now).

I'm sure that people commenting that 8 GB is plenty for the next 3-5 years have never used a machine that is not starved for RAM, or do very little with their machine.

Even 3 years ago, even not really running much on the machine, I noticed a significant difference even in base system responsiveness with 16 GB in my 2011 vs. 8 GB. Definitely worth the minimal extra $ for 16 vs. 8, even back then. RAM is cheaper now.

In my 30 years using, building and buying computers, i've never regretted having more RAM. I have regretted not having enough.
 

jerryk

macrumors 601
Nov 3, 2011
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The trend in software right now (at least on the Apple side) is reducing RAM requirements, not increasing. This is because the new programming tools are more efficient bOf course, at the same time, we have new tech such as AI which might push RAM needs. All in all, I think that 8 GB is sufficient for a couple of years at least.
Maybe. But with the explosion of using data in all subjects in school, students need to be able to handle large sets of data. My daughter uses 1.2 TB datasets in her biology research. A decade ago 1 GB would have been considered very large. Welcome to the world of AI and Machine Learning.
 
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willmtaylor

macrumors G4
Oct 31, 2009
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Here(-ish)
Hello all,

I'm currently a college student and I plan on getting the 2017 nTB MacBook Pro this summer. I am choosing between 8GB and 16GB RAM. Here are my general uses: web browsing, video streaming, occasional light picture or video editing, light gaming such as League of Legends, and I do plan on installing windows to play some Windows only games as well.
Any input would be appreciated. Thank you!
There have been quite a few discussions on this previously. They might be of some help.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/8gb-vs-16gb.2022625/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/thoughts-on-8gb-vs-16gb-on-mbp.2022193/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mbp-13’-late-2016-with-8gb-or-16gb-ram-256gb-or-512gb-ssd.2020438/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/going-for-16gb-or-8gb-for-new-mbp-13.2009383/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/8gb-or-16gb-ram-for-2011-macbook-pro.1978835/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/13-macbook-pro-8gb-vs-16gb-ram.2011815/
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Feb 23, 2009
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I bought a MacBook Pro with 8 GB RAM back in 2013. In 2015, I was already regretting that I did not purchase it with 16 GB.
 
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EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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For your intended used 8GB is more than enough.. Heck you could probably get by with 4...

Future proofing is always thrown out there as a reason to spend more than you need to but these new machines are not repairable so in a few years they will be out of circulation anyways..

How long do you realistically plan on or anticipate keeping the machine?
4 GB is not enough. Even with light to moderate usage, it's really easy to hit the swap. And my 4 GB MacBook Pro isn't even my primary machine. IMO, in 2017 the functional minimum for macOS is 8 GB, unless you don't mind watching the spinning beachball of death.

I kept my last MacBook Pro 8 years. I upgraded from 2 GB to 4 GB and then was considering upgrading to 8 GB, but decided to wait it out until I bought a new Mac instead.

I plan on keeping my m3 MacBook 5 years minimum (unless it breaks beforehand) so I got 16 GB right off the bat. I find that 8 GB is the sweet spot, but if my wife logs in then 8 GB is quite tight and I can occasionally hit the swap even with just moderate usage. A second user that doesn't log out adds about 2 GB of RAM usage.
 
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Mefisto

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Mar 9, 2015
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Reading the replies here I'm thinking people are doing some really serious data crunching on their machines. I really don't presume to know what people do or don't do, or much about RAM usage in general (other than that for me personally, 8 gigs is enough), but I find this a very interesting read: https://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=6355
 
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raqball

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Sep 11, 2016
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Saving a tiny fraction of the purchase price on a brand new machine today, to essentially cripple the machine in future just doesn't make sense.
8GB to 16GB = $180 (plus tax) on a $1500 machine.. That's not a tiny fraction that's about 13% of the entire cost of the computer just for RAM that the OP will probably never need.

No doubt if $$$ are not a consideration then spend away.. Heck the same can be argued about SSD, processor ect... I don't see spending an additional $13% for piece of mind that may never come as being financially responsible..

When do you anticipate that 8GB of RAM will be obsolete????
 

EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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8GB to 16GB = $180 (plus tax) on a $1500 machine.. That's not a tiny fraction that's about 13% of the entire cost of the computer just for RAM that the OP will probably never need.

No doubt if $$$ are not a consideration then spend away.. Heck the same can be argued about SSD, processor ect... I don't see spending an additional $13% for piece of mind that may never come as being financially responsible..

When do you anticipate that 8GB of RAM will be obsolete????
For some people, 8 GB is already insufficient. However, for basic usage, it is usually enough.... now. The rather telling thing though is that the BASE RAM for ALL of Apple's laptops is 8 GB now. That alone has to tell you something, which is that 4 GB simply isn't enough. 8 GB is fine for most people today though with light to moderate usage.

In a few years, most people still won't need 16 GB to avoid the pageouts, but the argument isn't that we will need 16 GB. The argument is that we will need more than 8 GB. Even today, if you have two users on a computer, 8 GB is limiting because the second user with minimal apps loaded will still use up about 2 GB RAM. With only a single user, I currently use about 4-6 RAM usually with moderate usage but sometimes it's a little bit more. Do you really think in 5 years, having another 2 GB RAM will be enough to avoid page outs?

To put it another way, I think for most people, several years from now, 12 GB will be enough, but the thing is you can't buy 12 GB, so 16 it is.

BTW, I'd say in the time I've owned my MacBook Pro, the required RAM almost tripled. It shipped with 2 GB but that was just adequate. 3 GB would have been better. So, I upgraded to 4 GB which was OK for a while, but is no longer OK. Now it needs 8 GB. So from 3 to 8 GB after 8 years. Using that as a guide, perhaps we can say that currently a user needs 6-8 GB. So in 5 years, expect a doubling, to 12 to 16 GB. And even if it isn't, and it's just an increase by 50%, that's 9 to 12 GB. So either way, that's still more than 8 GB. Again, 12 GB would have likely been fine, but you can't buy 12 so we buy 16.
 
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dukebound85

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Jul 17, 2005
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Reading the replies here I'm thinking people are doing some really serious data crunching on their machines. I really don't presume to know what people do or don't do, or much about RAM usage in general (other than that for me personally, 8 gigs is enough), but I find this a very interesting read: https://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=6355
That blog post is.....cute. Applications just being launched isn't a good test. For instance, matlab itself doesn't need a lot of ram to run but when you are manipulating data, ram is needed. I could have easily benefited from 100+GB of ram
 
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raqball

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Sep 11, 2016
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For some people, 8 GB is already insufficient. However, for basic usage, it is usually enough.... now. The rather telling thing though is that the BASE RAM for ALL of Apple's laptops is 8 GB now. That alone has to tell you something, which is that 4 GB simply isn't enough. 8 GB is fine for most people today though with light to moderate usage.

In a few years, most people still won't need 16 GB to avoid the pageouts, but the argument isn't that we will need 16 GB. The argument is that we will need more than 8 GB. Even today, if you have two users on a computer, 8 GB is limiting because the second user with minimal apps loaded will still use up about 2 GB RAM. With only a single user, I currently use about 4-6 RAM usually with moderate usage but sometimes it's a little bit more. Do you really think in 5 years, having another 2 GB RAM will be enough to avoid page outs?

To put it another way, I think for most people, several years from now, 12 GB will be enough, but the thing is you can't buy 12 GB, so 16 it is.
Okay I am confused... Are you answering to the OP for his / her posted usage or generally going on a RAM tangent?

I agree with much of what you said of which, none apples to the OP.. I was responding to the OP based on the stated usage...

Sure there are others who need more than 8. There are some who need more that 16GB but the OP is neither...
 
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EugW

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Okay I am confused... Are you answering to the OP for his / her posted usage or generally going on a RAM tangent?

I agree with much of what you said of which, none apples to the OP.. I was responding to the OP based on the stated usage...

Sure there are others who need more than 8. There are some who need more that 16GB but the OP is neither...
The point is if the OP is going to keep the computer for a while, then 16 GB is recommended. But currently the OP only needs 8 GB. I already said that in my first post in the thread.

Also, one of my subsequent responses was to your post claiming 4 GB probably is OK. It isn't. In 2017, even with relatively light usage, it is pretty easy to hit the swap with just 4 GB. 4 GB was fine a few years ago, but today it's really inadequate. Today, 8 GB is the new 4 GB. And in a few years, 12 GB will be the new 8 GB.
 
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raqball

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Sep 11, 2016
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The point is if the OP is going to keep the computer for a while, then 16 GB is recommended. But currently the OP only needs 8 GB. I already said that in my first post in the thread.

Also, one of my subsequent responses was to your post claiming 4 GB probably is OK. It isn't. In 2017, even with relatively light usage, it is pretty easy to hit the swap with just 4 GB.
And when exactly do you forecast that 8GB will be insufficient? OS's and programs are managing RAM better than ever before and are getting better day by day...

16GB of RAM for the OP is beyond overkill for the stated purposes..
 
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EugW

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And when exactly do you forecast that 8GB will be insufficient?
3-5 years.

And if you had read my posts more carefully, I already said 8 GB is fine for now, but more is recommended if you want to keep the laptop for a long time. In my case, I said 5 years, right in my post.

OS's and programs are managing RAM better than ever before and are getting better day by day...
Uh, not really. They are gradually getting bigger with time. The last time memory management got better in macOS was with Mavericks, when they introduced memory compression. That was back in 2013, or four years ago. Real memory requirements have almost doubled since then, or at least gone up 50%. Back in 2013, 4 GB was OK for light usage. In 2017, it's 6-8 GB. Even if we are conservative for the next 4 years, a 50% increase in memory usage will be 9-12 GB. Sound familiar? I said that right in a previous post. No, that's not 16 GB, but like I said, that's more than 8 GB.

Now if the OP upgrades every 2-3 years, then 8 GB is probably OK.
 

Sterkenburg

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Oct 27, 2016
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Maybe. But with the explosion of using data in all subjects in school, students need to be able to handle large sets of data. My daughter uses 1.2 TB datasets in her biology research. A decade ago 1 GB would have been considered very large. Welcome to the world of AI and Machine Learning.
Bingo. I guess most people saying there is no need for more RAM do not need to use their machines to solve number crunching problems where the memory gets eaten up just because of the sheer size of the data you are dealing with.

In those contexts, the quantity of RAM can be a hard limitation on which problems you can tackle and which ones you can't. Some will argue these are fairly niche usage cases, I'll reply that these days it's not so rare at all, for a professional engineer or scientist (or even just a student in these fields), to need/want to deal with large datasets on a personal computer.

Back on topic: 8GB is still totally enough for a moderate use, but in a few years it won't be hard to hit the limit. if I were buying now I would not hesitate to get 16, especially on a MBP. As someone else said, you'll never regret having too much RAM, you'll easily regret not having enough.

Your CPU is a bit slow --> Wait a bit longer
Your drive is too small --> Plug in an external drive
You don't have enough RAM --> You don't have enough RAM :)
 

Adamantoise

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2011
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8 GB is what you need now.

8 GB is what I need now too but I plan on keeping my 12” MacBook 5 years or more and I’m sure I’ll want more later. 8 GB already can be a bit tight now, at least if my wife logs in as a secondary user and doesn’t log out. (She does this all the time on our computers.) That alone eats up about 2 GB.

Also, if you ever plan on running a Windows VM, you will want to allocate 4 GB or more to it.
Lol, this is such a bad argument.

Most people have a fairly constant use case when it comes to computer (i.e. what they do with their machines doesn't change that much over time), your use case doesn't just get more demanding overnight. I believed that rubbish once upon a time; but not anymore.
[doublepost=1499138083][/doublepost]
That blog post is.....cute. Applications just being launched isn't a good test. For instance, matlab itself doesn't need a lot of ram to run but when you are manipulating data, ram is needed. I could have easily benefited from 100+GB of ram
You probably need a workstation with code that runs on a GPU in that case.
 
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