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50L

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 2, 2014
141
4
Going to buy the Macbook Pro M3 pro 2TB 18GB or 36GB

I'm a fulltime photographer, mostly using Lightroom and Photoshop, sometimes also editing 4K video in FCP

So, do I need 18GB or 36GB, I have no idea, i'm now using an imac with 48GB ram
 

HobeSoundDarryl

macrumors G4
For photography, probably not. For video editing, the general rule of thumb is: the more RAM the better.

If you have a complicated project and it needs a lot of RAM, Silicon Mac will use SWAP instead (which is basically trying to use the internal storage like not-quite-as-fast RAM). It is debatable if using it in this way will wear it out sooner than life of device. Fans will argue that it will be fine but all objective material will generally discourage writing too frequently to SSDs. You may be fine using SWAP or you may not- only time will tell. Nobody here knows for sure either.

If you can afford the extra RAM, get it to minimize the SWAP scenario for your potential uses. If all 4K editing is simple & small projects and/or not that frequent, you may be fine leaning on 18GB and using some SWAP if needed. SWAP usage may never turn out to be a problem, but if it does, you don't have any options other than replacing the entire Mac.

It is how you will use THIS Mac throughout the time that you will have it that answers your question. Since you can't fully know yourself, all you can do is best guess how taxing- or not- your future uses will be. With Silicon, there's no RAM or (internal) SSD upgrades/replacements in the future. So you basically buy for uses that are potentially years from now when you'll be looking to do who knows what with this Mac.

If your existing computer is regularly using above about 14-15GB, I'd encourage you to get the upgrade. If you are rarely using more than about 6-10GB RAM, you may be fine with 18TB (plenty of memory in which to "grow").
 

Mr.Fox

macrumors regular
Oct 9, 2020
158
85
Going to buy the Macbook Pro M3 pro 2TB 18GB or 36GB

I'm a fulltime photographer, mostly using Lightroom and Photoshop, sometimes also editing 4K video in FCP

So, do I need 18GB or 36GB, I have no idea, i'm now using an imac with 48GB ram
I myself am professionally engaged in photography. From my experience I can say that 36GB of memory will be very, very little, especially for deep retouching in Photoshop. Choose a configuration with 36GB and a spacious disk.
Right now I do not have enough 64Gb of RAM memory
 

ignatius345

macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
6,627
10,648
For photography, probably not. For video editing, the general rule of thumb is: the more RAM the better.

If you have a complicated project and it needs a lot of RAM, Silicon Mac will use SWAP instead (which is basically trying to use the internal storage like not-quite-as-fast RAM). It is debatable if using it in this way will wear it out sooner than life of device. Fans will argue that it will be fine but all objective material will generally discourage writing too frequently to SSDs. You may be fine using SWAP or you may not- only time will tell. Nobody here knows for sure either.
I've been probably overtaxing my M1 Air with 8GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD for some time -- basically using it for a lot more graphic design work than I thought I would when I got it. Multiple GB of VM swap space used much of the time, on the smallest SSD you can get. I used DriveDx the other day to check the wear levels compared to my M1 iMac (16 GB RAM / 1TB SSD) which sees much of the same use. The wear levels were pretty similar, honestly. A decent sized SSD will handle the paging better, and frankly I just don't think it's the end of the world from what I can tell.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G5
Jan 5, 2006
12,524
1,606
Redondo Beach, California
What kind of RAM utilization do you see with your workflow?
MacOS will ALWAYS try and use all the available RAM.

Any modern OS will keep RAM "mostly full". The job of the OS is to keep the data that is most likely to be accessed in RAM. Hence "everyone" thinks they need more because their RAM is mostly full. If you add 8GB more RAM then the OS has more space to cache data and it will take advantage of it.

If you are a photographer, cashing more data means the system might feel faster but that depends on how smart the cache algorithm is.

Better than looking to see if the RAM is in use, look at how many swap-outs and swap-ins the system does. This tells you a lot more than looking at how much swap is used. Data that is swapped out and never accessed is not harming performance. You can see this if you run the "top" command in a terminal window.
 

macduke

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,077
19,574
You should have an Intel iMac because I don't think they offer that much on the new ones which are more of a base model computer nowadays. The M3 chip will use more memory because it shares it with the GPU. Do you use software such as Topaz or other AI software to fix blurriness, noise, or upscale your images? If so, more memory could help with that. Do you work on large images that have been stitched together? That can also be a memory hog. And yeah, editing video can use a lot, especially if you're working on that at the same time as you've got other apps open editing photos and are trying to multitask while it's rendering or something. If you're used to 48GB, then I wouldn't go any lower than 36GB, and would even suggest more if you're going to be using it for a very long time.

On my old Intel iMac, I had 48GB for a while, ended up upgrading it to 64GB because it was pretty cheap to do so, didn't end up really needing it. I do a lot of photo editing, occasional video editing, but also a lot of design and development stuff for my actual job since I don't do photography professionally much anymore since the pandemic. Even with all of that running, on my 64GB I have now, it usually only caps out around 42GB on average which is about 2/3 and peak is 48GB which is about 3/4. So I ordered 64GB on mine to account for the GPU and for future proofing for many years into the future. Remember if you had an Intel 5K iMac, you could upgrade your RAM, but you can't do that with these devices, so you're stuck with that forever until you upgrade again.
 
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HobeSoundDarryl

macrumors G4
I've been probably overtaxing my M1 Air with 8GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD for some time -- basically using it for a lot more graphic design work than I thought I would when I got it. Multiple GB of VM swap space used much of the time, on the smallest SSD you can get. I used DriveDx the other day to check the wear levels compared to my M1 iMac (16 GB RAM / 1TB SSD) which sees much of the same use. The wear levels were pretty similar, honestly. A decent sized SSD will handle the paging better, and frankly I just don't think it's the end of the world from what I can tell.

Yes, but in my experience, some of these gauges will report all is fine until it isn't. There are many posts one can find on this website- particularly in reference to Apple's hybrid drives- in which an owner shares that select disk tools showed all is fine and then suddenly it was no longer fine and they are looking for ways to recover potentially lost data. I'm not saying that will happen here but even M1s are generally not old enough yet to see if that happens or not.

I've just read a thread lately about this very issue. When hybrid disc Mac would boot up, the disk tool would read healthy. But the next boot might not boot at all. Then a (lucky) successful boot might again read healthy. User was confused by "good" readings about the drive from their disc tool. Advice to that guy was replace the likely dying drive. Best collective guesses is the SSD portion was worn out. What wears out those Apple SSDs? Too many writes.

Personally, I'm skeptical about modern SWAP. All the time there has been SSDs, the message is always the same: limited number of writes before they wear out. SWAP can be "turbo" writing to this SSD to have it standing in as surplus RAM. Perhaps modern SSDs have overcome that hindrance enough to buy upwards of 7+ years people often expect of their Mac purchase? I don't know (at all). However, what I do know is all who will argue that no one should worry about this right now won't be backing it up if, in 5+ years, low RAM-heavy SWAP Mac owners are posting much like hybrid drive Mac users are posting now (after 5+ years). The MA$$IVE difference will be the remedies of "replace the entire Mac" vs. "replace (only) the (hybrid) drive" IF SWAP does end up "wearing out" like ALL SSD types before it.

I want to believe speculation that "this time, it's different" but none of us really know until M1s get to about 5-7 years old and we start hearing about SSD issues or we don't. Fingers are crossed that all will be fine... but- if me- I'd just buy the extra RAM (which is what I've done with every Silicon Mac purchase). OP doesn't make it sound like the upgrade is out of (financial) reach. If not, I'd probably apply "better safe, than sorry" even at Apple exploitive prices for additional RAM. If nothing else, she'll have fastest memory accessing when working on those 4K videos... instead of slower SWAP pace.
 
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ChrisA

macrumors G5
Jan 5, 2006
12,524
1,606
Redondo Beach, California
Obviously, it is better to have more of everything, more CPU cores more GPU cores, more RAM and Storage, and even more Thunderbolt ports. If you have the budget simply max out the computer.

But if you have a fixed budget then the question is how to allocate a fixed amount. Should you buy the "Pro" or "Max" version of the M3 or should you buy a base model and add more RAM? Or maybe you need to spend more on storage.

So the question of "how much RAM" might be more complex because if the budget is fixed you would have to buy less of something else to get the RAM. Of course not having a budget cap solves most problems.

Most of the time the best value is the base model, then you only have to pick which base model. For photography right now the Mac Studio M2-Max is a great value and sells for about $2,000. Then you need to buy a monitor, or two, or three.

Most of us don't spend hours retouching photos while at Starbucks or at the beach or a venue, we do that kind of work at home or the office. A Mac studio works best for that. Then even a low-end Mac can work in the field and is easier to carry. Some people are using iPads for this because they are even easier to carry.

Now with this more complex setup, a 14" Macbook, several monitors, Macx Studio, and some kind of large storage device (a NAS?) you really have to think about allocating funds.

one example of a hard question is what speeds up your work more, Moving from a Mac Studio M2-Max to the "ultra" or spending the same money on an extra monitor. The monitor might be a "win" because you would never need to fli between a display of thumbnails and one larger image.
 

nathansz

macrumors 65816
Jul 24, 2017
1,198
1,393
Since you cannot add more ram later, get as much as you can afford
 
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antiprotest

macrumors 68040
Apr 19, 2010
3,870
13,090
According to Apple, if you get 36GB of RAM, it will feel like you have 72GB of RAM. That's a lot of RAM.

54377a2a534fd80c2e0f6a7067007217-3_4 Large.jpeg


 
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nathansz

macrumors 65816
Jul 24, 2017
1,198
1,393
That is just an ignorant post. The only point is it will drive apples revenue.

Since OP doesn’t reply what activity monitor says in iMac it doesn’t make sense to answer in that way.

It does if they want to keep their computer longer than a couple year

Ram needs will grow and constant swapping could wear down their drive faster

18 gb of ram is already a small amount. It’s just ignorant to assume it’s enough for video editing even now, let alone in a few years
 
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Ethosik

Contributor
Oct 21, 2009
7,725
6,607
For photography, probably not. For video editing, the general rule of thumb is: the more RAM the better.
Be careful with this suggestion. I was doing basic 1080p video editing years ago and people suggested that. 128GB of RAM did not make it any better than my 8GB of RAM 2010 Mac Pro. I have now dipped into 4k video editing so I need more RAM obviously.
 
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EzisAA

macrumors regular
Jan 26, 2017
106
59
Riga, Latvia
36GB in multitasking will be more stable performance. Lot of apps in background use more ram then CPU/GPU. So with more ram your Mac performance not so much drops.

I remember days when i work on MacBook Pro M1 16GB. Sometime i just restart mac, because ram was full and performance drop. Now on MacBook Pro M2 Pro with 32GB I don't need restart, ram is enough and performanc is stable.
 

briegull

macrumors newbie
Jun 9, 2008
12
4
Going to buy the Macbook Pro M3 pro 2TB 18GB or 36GB

I'm a fulltime photographer, mostly using Lightroom and Photoshop, sometimes also editing 4K video in FCP

So, do I need 18GB or 36GB, I have no idea, i'm now using an imac with 48GB ram
I always (mis) quote Dorothy Parker, who said " you can never be too rich or too thin"
You can never have too much storage or too much RAM.
 

maerz001

macrumors 68020
Nov 2, 2010
2,350
2,238
It does if they want to keep their computer longer than a couple year

Ram needs will grow and constant swapping could wear down their drive faster

18 gb of ram is already a small amount. It’s just ignorant to assume it’s enough for video editing even now, let alone in a few years
Between 18Gb and you recommending to buy as much as OP can afford (128GB) is a whole different story.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
6,627
10,648
Yes, but in my experience, some of these gauges will report all is fine until it isn't. There are many posts one can find on this website- particularly in reference to Apple's hybrid drives- in which an owner shares that select disk tools showed all is fine and then suddenly it was no longer fine and they are looking for ways to recover potentially lost data.
If you're talking about Fusion Drives, they are really a special case and the SSDs get absolutely murdered with wear because data is constantly being shuttled between the SSD and the HDD as it gets actively used. This happened to my own iMac 5K a few years ago. It didn't help that Apple used absurdly small SSDs -- as little as 32GB if I recall. Here's a pretty deep dive into it:

 

smirking

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,692
3,637
Silicon Valley
Going to buy the Macbook Pro M3 pro 2TB 18GB or 36GB

I'm a fulltime photographer, mostly using Lightroom and Photoshop, sometimes also editing 4K video in FCP

So, do I need 18GB or 36GB, I have no idea, i'm now using an imac with 48GB ram

I'm a semi-pro photographer and I work mostly in Capture One Pro for my photos. 16GB works completely fine for me with my M1 Pro.

Zero issues in 2 years. I also spent a couple of weeks only working on 8GB. It had very minor hiccups, but there was nothing I would have noticed without a stopwatch.

I rarely do video, but will occasionally queue a very simple FCP project. Like a few segments joined with cross-fades and a few captions here and there. Fine there too.
 

SkimPappa

macrumors member
Nov 23, 2016
75
131
I really think you should bump it to the M3 Max with 128 GB. That will be snappy.
 

ME Nick

macrumors regular
Jun 15, 2009
106
43
Colorado
I just received the $1,999 stock build of the M3 Pro, MBP 14 inch with 18GB of RAM.
Here is my memory pressure while using the "Develop" module of Lightroom Classic with other basic applications open:
Safari, messages, notes, music.
Image 12-2-23 at 3.28 PM.jpg

As soon as you exit the Develop module and go back to Library within LR Classic, the memory pressure goes back to green.
I do not think 18GB is enough if you plan to be in LR and a video editing software like FCP at the same time.
 

HawkTheHusky1902

macrumors 6502a
Jun 26, 2023
666
489
Berlin, Germany
I just received the $1,999 stock build of the M3 Pro, MBP 14 inch with 18GB of RAM.
Here is my memory pressure while using the "Develop" module of Lightroom Classic with other basic applications open:
Safari, messages, notes, music.
View attachment 2320266
As soon as you exit the Develop module and go back to Library within LR Classic, the memory pressure goes back to green.
I do not think 18GB is enough if you plan to be in LR and a video editing software like FCP at the same time.
AND you're using swap! So even if it is working ok, its slowly but surely wearing out your SSD. Thanks for the info.
 
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