Do I need more RAM for my next MBP?

gjr74

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 23, 2017
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44
PA, USA
Hi everyone,

I'm currently using my 2013 MPB with SSD and 16GB of RAM, and considering moving to a 16" MBP. My only holdup (besides waiting for some of the bigger issues many are having with the machine to be resolved by Apple) is figuring out if I need to bump up to 32GB. See the attached screenshot of my usage in typical situations. I don't do a lot of video editing or motion graphics but I do quite a bit of 2D design work with the Adobe suite.

I haven't run into prolonged slowing down of the system and I've never seen the "memory pressure" go up into the yellow let alone red zone. Is that just because the system is swapping RAM and I'm not noticing it? Thank you!
 

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hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
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on the land line mr. smith.
Tuff call. Looks like 16GB is adequate now. The big question is what to expect over the next few years?

One one hand, traditionally software is tweaked to use all the resources (reasonably) available, so we might expect RAM usage to continue to creep up.

On the other hand, internal SSDs are getting so fast than occasional swap space use is not nearly as painful as it used to be with HDs.

Lastly, RAM is not upgradable.

It used to be that one could upgrade the SSD; since that no longer seems to be the case, storage is a big consideration too.

If I were expecting to want to stretch a new Mac for 5 years or so, I would strongly consider 32GB to help future proof, but might prioritize about 500GB of storage first, and then 32GB of RAM second.
 
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gjr74

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 23, 2017
75
44
PA, USA
Thank you for your reply, it gives me some assurance that the extra $400 :eek: may help me hold on the computer longer if nothing else.
 

theluggage

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2011
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If I were expecting to want to stretch a new Mac for 5 years or so, I would strongly consider 32GB to help future proof, but might prioritize about 500GB of storage first, and then 32GB of RAM second.
The 16" starts with 512GB of SSD (major step forward from the past) which is more than adequate for anything other than video, and it's easier to shift rarely-used stuff onto external storage than it is to deal with a lack of RAM.

The 16GB non-upgradeable RAM (and usurious 400% markup on BTO upgrades) is probably the worst feature of the 16" MBP. As you say, @gjr74 doesn't need more than 16GB at the moment, and may or may not need it in the future... the reassurance of upgradeable RAM would probably be enough, but without it you're under pressure to take a $400 punt. Well played Apple.

Problem with 'prioritising' is that you need to know in some detail what you're prioritising for - if you just want unspecified 'future proofing' then the answer to 'should I prioritise CPU, GPU, RAM or SSD' is 'no' because, generally speaking, they're all interconnected and a bottleneck in any one of them will slow down the system. A CPU with more/faster cores can potentially use more RAM and SSD bandwidth to keep them fed, and generate more work for a GPU.

I think that, if I had to take that decision today, the choices would be:

(a) If budget matters, the lower-end i7 model - it will definitely do the job today, and it's not going to turn into a brick simplye because it only has 16GB. If your workflow changes substantially over the next few years then all bets are off and you might be forced to upgrade to a SomethingNotInventedYet anyway.

(b) Hang the budget and get an i9/1TB SSD/32GB RAM model, just in case I felt the urge to try a bit of video or audio sometime in the next few years.

(c) If budget really matters... the existing system is still doing the job and/or if you're only using Adobe CS you can get more bangs-per-buck in a PC (which will probably come with 1TB SSD and 32GB RAM as standard before you get up to MBP prices).
 

MacGizmo

macrumors 65816
Apr 27, 2003
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I use basically the same apps, and probably do the same thing as you (print design - based on the fact that you're running InDesign). I would absolutely get 32GB of RAM. I wouldn't consider buying any computer without at least 32GB. If you can get more, I would get more (the 16" allows you 64 GB RAM)

The thing is, with Adobe apps, it takes more than processor power. RAM is used to load document/page previews into RAM so the swap disk doesn't need to be used. Yes, the SSD makes that faster, but it's still nowhere near as fast as RAM.

I have the 16" MBP, and have been using Adobe CC apps for years—generally with iMac 27", various Apple laptops, and a few various Windows-based boxes. No matter what computer I've run Adobe apps on, there are a few things I've learned about getting the most out of the apps when it comes to hardware.

1st Upgrade: get 32GB of RAM
2nd Upgrade: Get the absolute highest-end Video Card you can
3rd Upgrade: Get the largest storage drive you can afford, starting with at least 1TB

The thing is, you can plug-in an external SSD storage drive if you start running out of space, but you can't add RAM or upgrade the video card later. The upgraded RAM and video card will help with a variety of things, particularly if you have a laptop plugged-in to an external LCD screen work with extremely large PSD files in Photoshop, or InDesign documents with lots of graphics placed in it.

COULD you get acceptable performance with 16GB of RAM and the stock video card... but in my opinion, it's barely acceptable performance. I make a living with my equipment, and I've found that making the largest investment up-front pays off in the long run.
 
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gjr74

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 23, 2017
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44
PA, USA
Thank you all for your thoughtful and helpful responses! Yes, I'm mostly print design, and you're right, Adobe programs seem to eat up most of the resources. I have two or three of them open at all times. It sounds like the i9 32GB 1TB is what I'll go with. No sense in trying to save money up front and then being hindered trying to make a living!
 
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