I'm glad I went for 16 GB (2017 MacBook)

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by EugW, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #1
    Clean install, fresh out of the box.

    [​IMG]

    Only things loaded are the App Store, iTunes (with no music loaded yet), Calculator, Messages, Mail, and Safari (no extra tabs). Note the memory usage.

    [​IMG]

    Remember, I haven't even installed any productivity apps, and haven't even launched other iLife apps (besides iTunes) or iWork apps.

    Guys and gals, if you can swing it, get the 16 GB, especially if you plan on keeping it a few years.

    ---

    The keyboard is way, way better than the keyboard on the 2015/2016. Still not my favourite keyboard, but I really disliked the keyboard on the 2015.

    Trackpad still isn't as firm (on the firm setting) as the one on the MacBook Pro. I don't notice any difference vs. the previous model MacBooks.

    It actually feels faster for navigating around the OS and surfing than my quad 2.93 GHz Core i7 870 iMac, but then again, that machine is using a FireWire 800 SSD. (The internal HD is even slower.) Meanwhile, here is my MacBook's 256 GB SSD (which shows as 250 GB):

    [​IMG]

    Of course, it feels tremendously faster than my old 13" 2.26 GHz MacBook Pro from 2009 (with SSD), but it also is noticeably faster than the 2015 MacBook m3 (from my limited testing in-store and with friend's machines).
     
  2. bigjnyc macrumors 603

    bigjnyc

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    #2
    That doesn't seem right at all... I mean I bought the 16gb because I kept my last laptop for 8 years so i don't know how long I'll be keeping this one.... But your number seems off to me, there must be something going in the background, indexing or something.
     
  3. EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    #3
    May be indexing but it still does go to show you how much RAM requirements have gone up over the years.

    On my iMac, I'm up at 6 GB with only one window of Chrome loaded and not too much else.
     
  4. DrDan99 macrumors newbie

    DrDan99

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    #4
    I'm using 8 gb of 16 with 10 windows open in Safari and Mail. Along with some misc. extensions.(Weather Bug, dropbox, iCloud is uploading, clipboard extension and a few others.) I know I'm a memory abuser but that's why I went with 16
     
  5. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #5
    The "Memory Used" number is misleading. You'll note almost 7GB under Cached Files. You can find the explanation for that on Apple's support page:

    "Cached Files: Memory that was recently used by apps and is now available for use by other apps."

    What's happening is that MacOS keeps recently used application files in memory even after you closed them or quit the apps, so they load faster if you decide to open them again. But that memory is available and will simply be freed up if needed. It's just one of the ways MacOS opportunistically uses available memory to optimize performance. Unused memory is really wasted memory.

    If you want to gauge if the installed physical memory is enough for your tasks, the best indicator is the memory pressure graph. As long as it remains green, you have plenty of memory left. If it turns yellow, the OS is starting to compress memory. If it turns red, it starts swapping out to disk, which is where performance often starts to really suffer.
     
  6. EugW, Jun 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    #6
    I'm not sure your description is accurate. Why do I say that?

    Because currently on my iMac I have 5.54 GB used and 5.61 GB cached, and no swap file. (Total physical memory 12 GB.) By your explanation above, I am using 5.61 of memory cache, and effectively using -0.07 GB of memory for everything else.

    What would make sense here is that the iMac is actually using 5.54 GB and has an additional 5.61 GB cached memory, for a total of 11.15 GB used (out of the 12 installed). If this is correct, then my screengrab of the MacBook above would be 9.03 GB used and 6.81 GB cached, for a total of 15.84 GB (out of the 16 GB installed). That would make more sense, but correct me if I'm wrong.

    ---

    BTW, I just closed everything down on the MacBook and now just have Activity Monitor running, after a relatively recent reboot. Memory used is 2.59 GB and cached files 3.91 GB. Under your explanation, I am effectively using -1.32 GB. Under my explanation, I am using 6.5 GB, but with 3.91 GB recoverable.

    That's actually not that heavy for multitasking. In fact, I'd say that's rather typical for a light to moderate non-pro user. And yet you're up to 8 GB already.
     
  7. lookatchu macrumors regular

    lookatchu

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    #7
    Interesting. Today I was at the Apple Store trying to figure out what color I want (silver vs space gray) as well as the configuration - would the base be ok or should I upgrade the processor and/or RAM. This wouldn't be my main work computer, rather one I can travel with as well as do some work (power point, word, excel) as well as emial, browsing, watch movies and occasional youtube video, etc.

    Still, I wanted the best bang for the buck, so I spoke with a few Apple reps and played around with their base display macbook (m3, 8GB RAM). Here is where the reps were split.

    One out of 3 reps said that the jump from m3 to i5 would be significant; the other 2 said for my purposes I wouldn't notice a difference at all, even at 8GB RAM. So, I decided to put their display model though its paces. I opened up the activity monitor and the fun began:

    I opened up every application, including iMovie (and played sample clips), Pages, Numbers, Safari (had at least 10 tabs open with memory intensive websites i.e. ESPN, CNN (with video) Fox Sports (with video) as well as running two separate youtube tabs, running clips in both. I also had iMessage, Maps, got directions via Maps and a bunch of other apps going.

    I periodically looked at the RAM usage in the Activity Monitor and the highest memory usage was 5.71GB, and this with all of the above apps running, something I wouldn't do in real life. For real life situations, the memory usage was 4GB and less.

    I believe that Apple manages RAM depending on how much is built into the device. In your case, you have 16GB so it utilizes as much as it can. Same with my late 2015 3.3 GHZ iMac with 16GB of RAM. It's constantly using close to half (8GB) much like yours, with far less apps running than the Macbook I tested.

    Afterwards, I went to the Apple rep who insisted that the m3/8 GB base model would suffice and thanked her for her honesty....I told her about my test. She smiled and said, "Told you so!"

    That said, it certainly can't hurt to upgrade to 16GB to play it safe for the future, though, I think 8GB would be enough for at least a few years.

    As for the color, I came in favoring space gray but will probably get the silver. The space gray looks too PC-like, like the Dell XPS I dread using in the office (needed for our VPN management system). The silver is classic mac. Only problem is that under their florescent lights, there was some glare on the keyboard, whereas the space gray was softer. Still, the color looked way too much like a PC laptop for my liking.

    I would have purchased the base model right there at the Apple store from that honest salesperson, but had to come home to think about the RAM upgrade, which must be ordered online. I'm sill debating on whether or not it's a waste of $200.
     
  8. EugW, Jun 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #8
    Yes, I suspect the OS is compressing RAM much more heavily when presented with an upper limit of 8 GB. With 16 GB, it doesn't have to. The other thing is even if the computer does have to hit the swap file, on a 2017 MacBook the IO is fast enough so it wouldn't be the end of the world.

    So yeah, with these two factors in play and with light usage, 8 GB is probably enough... for now. And truthfully, I could use it just fine too... for now

    But with 16 GB I have very little need for the (admittedly relatively small) overhead of RAM compression. Furthermore, I tend to keep my laptops a very long time, and as mentioned, it seems that RAM requirements have been doubling every 4-5 years roughly (just as a guess). My previous machine was a MacBook Pro from 2009, with an SSD upgrade. However, that machine only had 4 GB, and I was determined not to spend more money to upgrade it to 8 GB, when I could jump straight to 16 with a new faster machine. However, with 4 GB, even with light usage in El Capitan (which also includes robust RAM compression), I was sometimes getting the SBOD, which is really annoying. I presume that's when compression failed to solve the problem and it had to hit the swap file. It wouldn't take much more usage to hit the ceiling in High Sierra with 8 GB too.

    Imagine just editing one large file in Photoshop. This memory can't be cached, and suddenly you're into swap file territory with 8 GB. With 16, no such problem.

    P.S. One unrelated by curious coincidence: The weight of the MacBook package, including the box, charger, and beige cardboard shipping box is just about exactly the weight of my 2009 13" MacBook Pro. The shipping label on the box was 2.1 kg. My MBP is 2.04 kg. :D

    P.P.S. My guy friends were trying to get me to buy Space Grey. I too am not enamoured with that colour option and the fact it chips didn't help. So I stuck with silver. However, if had chosen a colour, it might just have been Rose Gold. ;) That distressed my friends.
     
  9. palmwangja macrumors regular

    palmwangja

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    #9
    16GB is a way to go if you are using some sort of VMs someday. VMs have been primarily for devs in most times, but who know?
     
  10. lookatchu macrumors regular

    lookatchu

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    #10
    LOL @ distressing your friends.

    Forgot to congratulate/wish you luck on your purchase.

    I pulled the trigger and purchased the base rMB (m3/8GB RAM) not long after my post last night. And, oh yeah, in silver!

    I might kick myself in the future for not upgrading to 16 GB, but I based my decision on my above (though admittedly limited) hands-on experience with the base model at the Apple Store. Also, this is one of the few times that I didn't get carried with all the bells and whistles when ordering any Apple product, so it kind of felt good to resist temptation! I kept telling myself that this will be my travel, relatively light-use laptop (email, word, excel, movies, power point, web browsing) and not my workhorse computer to convince myself. I already have an iMac to do that. This will pretty much replace my iPad Air 2, which to me wasn't much more than a bigger version of my iPhone 7 plus. I prefer the Mac OS to iOS and typing on a keyboard, so this macbook satisfies that.

    In short, this was more about my trying to be more practical (a first) than cheaping out. In 3 years I just might post about my "mistake" for not going with 16GB.

    Enjoy!
     
  11. Rigby macrumors 601

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    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #11
    Even the new fast PCIe SSDs are still an order of magnitude slower than DDR4 (and have much higher latency). Extensive swapping (memory pressure graph showing red) should be avoided.
    Photoshop works fine with 8GB in my experience. PSD files are limited to 2GB size anyway and PSB files can grow much larger than even 16GB, so they have to be memory-mapped anyway.

    Of the popular standard applications, I think VMs and video editing are probably the ones that benefit most from more than 8GB. But running a couple of small Linux VMs or Docker for Mac (which also starts a VM under the hood) is actually fine with 8GB (I do this quite often on my old 11" Air when traveling).
    The feather weight is definitely one of the killer features of the Macbook.:)
     
  12. EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #12
    To tell the truth, for most of us I think 8 GB would be OK for the next couple of years. However, I am biased because I kept my last machine 8 years, a MacBookPro5,5. :eek: In fact, I'm still keeping it, since it still works fine... after I swapped out a dying fan and put in an SSD. I was considering also getting a new battery for it, but there isn't much point right now as going forward it would be used more as a guest desktop machine. I won't bring it to 8 GB any time soon though, unless I can find DDR3 PC8500 2 x 4 GB on clearance somewhere for uber cheap. Interestingly though, apparently the High Sierra beta works fine on this machine with no issues. It's just a pain working around the installer restrictions to get High Sierra installed on unsupported hardware.

    Some time after 3 years though, that 8 GB on the MacBook 2017 is really going to be restrictive, even with memory compression with our light to moderate usage. I'm going to try to keep this thing at least 5 years.

    I strategically buy my laptops. The reason my 2009 MacBook Pro has lasted this long is because I made sure it had hardware h.264 AVC decoding support. The reason I think it may be realistic to keep this 2017 MacBook a long time too is because I made sure it had hardware 10-bit h.265 HEVC (and 10-bit VP9) decode support. And to my pleasant surprise, it seems Apple is building the entire iOS and macOS ecosystem around h.265.

    Oh I agree, which is why I went with 16 GB. However, I was just saying that swapping to this SSD wouldn't be anywhere near as bad as swapping on older machines was.

    Yes but what I was saying is that if you are multitasking and then throw Photoshop of a file of say a couple of hundred MB on top of that (which seems realistic on this type of machine), then that would push you over the 8 GB mark.

    True dat. I used to use Parallels, but on this machine I personally won't be using any VMs. However, coders like that sort of thing, and I've seen several posts here and in the other forums from coders asking if the MB 2017 is a feasible device to use as a primary work machine in that context. Mind you, if I were a coder, I'd personally would likely buy a MacBook Pro... preferably in 2018 with 32 GB, unless I also had an iMac or something to fall back on.

    I'm not sure I would want to edit video on it either. In fact, a family member is going to film production school soon (and has already worked as an assistant on some documentaries), but wants to keep costs down. I have suggested she get a Kaby Lake 13" MacBook Pro with ample storage and max out the RAM. Unfortunately, maxing out the RAM right now means 16 GB. It's unfortunate that in 2017 the maximum RAM on the ultraportable office warrior machine is the exact same as the maximum RAM on the pro film editing laptop.
     
  13. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #13
    If the notebook had 32Gb of Ram the OS would look to populate it, that's how it works as unused RAM is simply wasted RAM. In no shape or form is the OP's system "needing" this much RAM usage, rather the OS is caching applications for future use. 8Gb is adequate for most and will remain so for some time to come.

    Q-6
     
  14. mmomega macrumors demi-god

    mmomega

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    #14
    I've found AJA System Test Lite a better SSD speed tester than BlackMagic lately.
     
  15. bill-p, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017

    bill-p macrumors 65832

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    #15
    Even though I have an i5/16GB MacBook now, too, and I'm all for it, I think it's safe to caution against reading into the "Memory Used" tab too much.

    As stated, MacOS keeps things in memory even after they are closed... and only until another app requires this memory that it's freed up for those apps. Otherwise these things just sit in memory.

    You can see this from a quick gander at the "App Memory" + "Wired Memory" + "Compressed" space on the right.

    "App Memory" = memory currently in use by apps (whether they are active or not active/already closed down)
    "Wired Memory" = persistent memory used all the time by the system
    "Compressed" = memory being compressed by the OS because these are things that are not used very often but will still benefit from being in memory rather than having to be read back in from storage.

    You kind of have to subtract the total memory usage by active processes in the list of running processes from the "App Memory" amount in order to see how much of "App Memory" is used by inactive/closed down apps. But here's a quick calculation for your current tab:

    Total memory usage (from Messages process to CalNCService): 1.50GB
    Total app memory usage as reported = 6.32GB
    Total memory being used by inactive/closed down processes = 4.82GB

    "Real" memory usage = 1.50GB (from active processes) + 2.27GB (wired memory) + 454.3MB = 4.21GB

    That's give or take, since I haven't taken into account the rest of the running processes yet. But it's a far cry from the 9GB reported by MacOS.

    Or here, let's analyze this on a 8GB MacBook:

    [​IMG]

    With some real processes running. Here's memory usage with Safari (3 tabs) + Firefox (2 tabs) + Microsoft Word (1 document), just the "usual average usage", I guess.

    Total active process memory = 2.93GB (oh?)
    Total app memory usage as reported = 2.82GB (oh??)
    Total memory being used by inactive/closed down processes = 2.82 - 2.93 = -0.11GB (oh???)

    Approximate "real" memory usage: 2.93GB (as calculated above) + 1.48GB (wired memory) + 0.29GB (compressed) = 4.7GB

    So what's going on here? Why would I have "negative" memory used by inactive/closed down processes? Well, that's because the total active process memory calculation takes into account everything, so it would actually include some "system processes" as well, which are not reported in "app memory" (Apple makes a very clear distinction of this in their documentation). In short, this is because I'm "overestimating" memory usage by the system.

    But you can see that the memory usage of a 8GB MacBook with browsers and Word running is actually not much more than your MacBook with 16GB of RAM. Even with overestimation of system process memory use.

    And that's normal, because if more memory is needed, MacOS doesn't try to compress that memory or use swap, but instead, it would purge some of the processes that are active but not in use, until those processes are needed again. This is the better solution than compressing (takes time also to decompress) and using swap (page file/virtual memory).

    On a MacBook with 16GB, the OS just goes to town and leaves everything in memory indefinitely. Considering the "negative" range of inactive app/process memory usage I calculated above is in the 100MB, I'd say 8GB is "just about enough" for MacOS right now. Whereas 16GB is just too abundant (evident by a whopping 4.82GB reported by the OS that's not in use by the processes). Launching and resuming apps should probably be much faster with 16GB RAM too, as can be seen by how much memory is still in use by apps that are not open. But then, it's not like you're missing out on much with 8GB of RAM. If nothing else, the 16GB memory looks like it'll always be in use (due to the way the OS works, as detailed above), and that means a 16GB MacBook will always draw that much more power from the battery compared to a 8GB MacBook. 8GB should be better for power consumption. (and by the way, I think this gives a hint into why Apple is reluctant to include more RAM - 32GB - with the MacBook Pro, too, as all of the RAM will be in use all the time with this mechanism)

    This also should show that for most users, 8GB should be enough. With some tabs in Safari + Word, there's still enough memory for other things before swap is engaged. 16GB is just too plentiful. I don't think you'll run into swap with 16GB at all unless you do data analysis, but in which case, you would not look at the MacBook to purchase in the first place.

    And that's that! I went 16GB, too, knowing full well its benefits and drawbacks, but then for the occasion that I need that much memory, the 8GB MacBook will feel a bit cramped.

    ^ also this is to debunk those trying to say "oh, MacOS is such a memory hog!". It's not. MacOS just adapts and optimizes its operations based on how much resource is available. I think that's very clever. Windows and Linux should learn from this.
     
  16. EugW, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #16
    App memory alone was 6.3 GB.

    A difference in my case is that there was minimal RAM compression.

    But I defer to Bill's explanation.

    --- Post Merged, Jun 20, 2017 ---
    Thanks bill-p, for the detailed explanation.

    I would agree with you for some of our usage, 8 GB is enough right now. I've even said as much in this thread. However, it seems to me a good rule of thumb would be find out what you need now, and then get twice as much, unless you can upgrade later, at least if you plan on keeping the laptop for a long time. If 8 GB is just enough now, after 3 or 4 updates to macOS (and the software), it won't be.
     
  17. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #17
    It will do that, be assured both the 2014 rMBP & 2015 rMB on this desk have massively more memory load 7-10 desktops, nether are struggling. Not saying don't opt for 16Gb, just it's not strictly necessary for average use. Even the compression wont make any difference to the user experience until very high levels. Memory compression on my comparable rMb is just over double what your system indicates, yet 7 fully populated desktops with multiple windows, with over 10 days uptime.

    Just saying, more can be better, equally not absolutely necessary...

    Q-6
     
  18. Esquire1 macrumors member

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    Jun 4, 2010
    #18
    OP, be happy with your purchase. I don't think your listed stats is really representative of actual RAM usage on Mac OS. 16 GB is overkill for 95% of the MacBook target audience.

    I'd have gone for the 16 GB RAM option for longevity tomorrow but it's not needed for me today. I passed on it, though, since I believe a redesign will happen within the next two years. I'm happy with my 2016 model for now.
     
  19. EugW, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    #19
    FWIW, on my 4 GB 13" MacBook Pro running 10.11 El Capitan, it's pretty easy to hit the swap disk, just with light-moderate usage on this older and likely less memory intensive version of OS X. So I decided to do a bit more of lookatchu's testing in 10.12 Sierra myself, on my 12 GB iMac after a fresh reboot. I set the thing up to use a number of browser windows (nothing crazy) and MS Office (which I use often), as well as applications I may keep in the background like like Mail, iTunes, Calculator, Photos, vlc, and a second browser (for compatibility with banking institutions). I also loaded up a single small image in Photoshop.

    Memory used was initially around 6 GB and change, but then I logged into my wife's account at the same time. (My wife often does this. She logs in and then never logs out so the account remains active in the background.)

    Total memory usage was over 7 GB, with App Memory being over 6 GB and Wired Memory over 1 GB.

    So, yes, this is still within the 8 GB window, but it's getting really close, and too close for comfort IMO. I hadn't even loaded up any of the other iLife applications (like iMovie, which can use up a fair bit of RAM).

    ---

    So again, I agree that 8 GB is probably good enough for many MacBook users... today, but it's now no longer like the olden days when 8 GB was a big luxury. IMO, 8 GB is the minimum recommended these days.

    For the record, when I got my MacBook Pro, it shipped with 2 GB RAM, on OS X 10.5. This was considered at the time adequate, but 4 GB was preferred for heavy users. Fast forward to 2017 and I'm not infrequently paging out with 4 GB in 10.11 El Capitan, and thus 8 GB is truly the functional minimum recommended IMO. It's no surprise that even the lowly Broadwell MacBook Air - a line which is currently on life support - comes with 8 GB minimum in 2017.

    ---

    BTW, when I configured my MacBook, I had thought to myself that if 12 GB had been an option, I would have gone for that, because that would have given me some breathing room without the extra cost of going to 16 GB. But it wasn't an option so I went with 16 GB.

    What this exercise also re-emphasized to me is that my choice of 24 GB (2x4 + 2x8) for my iMac will be sufficient for some time to come. I do use it more heavily than I would a MacBook, but with 12 GB on my current iMac I only infrequently page out. I had considered going with 40 GB (2x4 + 2x16) right off the bat, but that seemed like true overkill for my usage. Furthermore, I wasn't concerned so much since memory on iMacs is upgradable, and as an added bonus, memory cost usually decreases over time. Unfortunately, memory on MacBooks is not upgradable after purchase.

    It should be noted that this was an edu purchase in Canada. Canadian pricing for the memory upgrade is $216, or about US$163. The US non-edu pricing for the memory upgrade on the MacBook is US$200, which is less attractive obviously.
     
  20. EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #20
    I just received my 2017 iMac on Tuesday, so I've been playing with it quite a bit of course. This is an 8 GB system. My other 16 GB I ordered from Crucial hasn't arrived yet.

    After my last reboot, with moderate usage (Office, Mail, Safari and Chrome with a number of tabs, vlc, Photos, Photoshop with one small image at a time, Messages, iTunes, Calendar), I hit the swap file. My swap was only 118 MB, but I hit the swap nonetheless.

    24 GB on this machine will be plenty though. Even if I decide to have a 4 GB virtual machine, that'd still leave me with 20 GB, and of course, this is user upgradable up to 64 GB.
     
  21. wishxmaster macrumors newbie

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    Turkey
    #21

    I ordered macbook 2017 rose gold 16 gb ram and 512 gb
    When subject is macbook ı am always confuse about somethings. first ı was consufe about colours than ı start to confuse about 8 gb or 16 gb ram. and after give order now ı see macbook 13 pro toucbar price is exatly same price. ı am confused about ı should buy touchbar 13 macbook pro or macbook 12 inch again? cuz ı used macbook 2016 already. for do something new :))
     
  22. EugW thread starter macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #22
    You already had the 2016 MacBook 12"? If so, it seems rather soon to be upgrading.

    As for the MacBook Pro 13", yes it's in a similar price category and is much more powerful. However, despite being fairly portable, it's still much less portable than the MacBook 12".
     
  23. evec macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    #23
    16gb will be faster that 8gb because you get more space for caching and most important for the "Virtual machine" but not mean "for future".
    For modern laptop that have 8gb or more and with fast SSD, the bottleneck on CPU,
    if the program hungry of memory so can't run in 8gb system, don't thing the MacBook 12 CPU can handle this software well.
     
  24. wishxmaster macrumors newbie

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    Jan 15, 2017
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    Turkey
    #24

    I will use Macbook for watch videos, social media, read e book and manage travel photos. wanted to use long years without change again. but for these missions its not ok about future too?
    choosed 16 gb ram cuz ı thought it can be good for future at least better than 8 gb. but ı dont have technicial information, dont know rams or cpu much. Do you think ı did mistake with buy i5/16/512? Thank you
     
  25. maerz001, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017

    maerz001 macrumors 6502

    maerz001

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    #25
    Well u just spent too much money on upgrades u don't need for your use case.

    People want to play save when they think they will use the mac for years and tend to upgrade too much. But forget that it's always cheaper to buy what they need now.

    Let's assume u might need the extra 16GB RAM first in 5years, it will be standard by than for same price as the entry level now. or buy the same MB u bought now than used with that configuration for a fraction of the costs.
     

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