The real reason Apple limited the new MacBook Pro to 16GB of Ram

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by OldSchoolMacGuy, Nov 9, 2016.

  1. OldSchoolMacGuy macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    There's been much talk and complaint about the 16GB RAM limitation (mostly from those that have no real need for 32GB and they'd complain instead about price even if it was an option) but almost no one seems to have caught the real reason Apple isn't offering a 32GB option.

    Ben Slaney highlights the real reason for the 16GB limit in the new MacBook Pro.
  2. JTK28 macrumors member

    Mar 1, 2008
    Interesting read. Thanks.

    personally, i think that FAA rule is dumb, but its not like i can do anything about it.
  3. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    This is not true however. The Dell XPS 15 (and some other thin and light laptops) support 32GB. I haven't seen benchmarks of those models though — given that the XPS with 16GB RAM hits below 6 hours mixed battery usage, the 32GB version will probably be really bad.
  4. fs454 macrumors 68000

    Dec 7, 2007
    Los Angeles / Boston
    With all due respect, there's a lot of generalization here. Another 16GB of RAM isn't equal to a GPU or a CPU in power consumption. It's more, but it's a few watts. It's not the reason that >16GB of RAM laptops are huge and weigh 17 pounds, and it's not the reason the XPS 15 has below 6 hours of usage. The RAM is a small, but noticeable power draw whose hunger could have been easily quenched by the original 99.5wh battery. They wouldn't have had to go over, they'd just needed to keep it the same.
  5. Nick11Mac macrumors 6502


    Jan 20, 2011
    "Although this is technically true, there is a little-known legal obstacle to this: The Federal Aviation Administration has capped the maximum allowable size of laptop batteries on flights to 100 watt-hours. That explains why Apple’s 2015 pro model contains precisely a 99.5 watt-hour battery. Although the recent MBP release only contains a 76 watt-hour battery, due to the fact that there is no low-power RAM available in greater than 16GB capacities for Intel’s latest mobile CPU it can be argued that Apple are still working within that 100 watt-hour ceiling, and that they are using the best components that they can given that ceiling."

    So all manufacturers have to design their notebooks with this FAA rule in mind then. Makes it easier to see why there's the 16GB capacity.
  6. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    Seems a very strange reason to me. I actual don't believe it.
  7. spacebro macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    If apple wanted to build a 120 watt battery, the FAA would change their rule to 120 watts. Just another bs excuse.
  8. Ma2k5 macrumors 65816


    Dec 21, 2012
    This is not the reason. Last years models had 99.5w, this years have 75kwh. If they kept it at 99kwh, with the reduced 30% energy requirement of the display, they could have easily accommodated the extra ram and more.

    However, they prioritised thinness/lightness.
  9. judahde macrumors member

    Apr 14, 2015
    Uh... no the FAA wouldn't. I don't specifically know about this limitation but it makes sense to me. I used to work at the FAA Technical Center in NJ, where this would have been defined. The limitation would be derived from some limitation on max BTU's transferred over a period of time. That would be affected not only by the size of the battery but the ability (materials) to contain heat transfer from a runaway process. Given the focus on thin and light, any type of fire-retardant enclosure would be difficult at best.

    Yes the FAA might change its rules, but it's not an easy process, requiring a LOT of engineering time and testing.
  10. spacebro macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    So you're telling me that they came up with the number 100.0 in a scientific way where that is the ideal number and not just pulling out a reasonable number out of their ass?
  11. judahde macrumors member

    Apr 14, 2015
    Yes. I burned a LOT of aircraft seats in my time; once blew up an aircraft (that was not intentional). There is a certain BTU transfer rate that can cause ignition or enough charring to create other issues. That is of course affected by the battery container, or lack thereof.

    I'm not saying that's how the number was derived or even if that number is real. I'm saying I can understand that a number probably exists and "know" how it would be derived.

  12. spacebro macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    It would be cool if this FAA regulation weren't treated as if it were a ban on all larger batteries. Consumers should be allowed to decide if they want a bigger battery that they have to check. BTW the seats are so small now that you cannot open a 15" laptop on an airplane anymore so this whole "reason" only applies to the 12 and 13" laptops.
  13. Capt T macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2010
    You are limited by what you can check battery wise as well...
  14. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005

    Article has been posted here before but this fundamental part of his argument isn't even technically correct.
  15. Karnicopia, Nov 9, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2016

    Karnicopia macrumors 6502

    Mar 27, 2015
    I don't think the issue is the additional 16 GB of ram it's that they have to move from low power draw RAM to high power draw desktop RAM for all of it. So not only is it that there is an extra 16 GB of ram, it's that all of the RAM becomes really inefficient desktop RAM. I mean the reasons are pretty clear, the current processors don't support 32 gig of low power laptop RAM. The only way around this is to use a desktop RAM which would kill the power spec of the laptop and probably most importantly cause them to have to come up with a comlplete separate design to support desktop memory for a very very limited number of users. They just aren't going to do that because it makes horrible business sense to sink R&D, production and manufacturing for something that will benefit an extremely limited base of users

    I really don't think Apple has ever tried to compete with the lenovo's or gaming laptops of the world anyway so they let this go in order to keep the battery life and a great laptop experience. And this goes back to the fact that Lenovo isn't really making great laptops with those things, they are making horribly compromised laptops pretending to be desktops but not really great at that either. I don't think Apple has ever been interested in competing with that. If they were able to integrate the low power RAM in 32 gig I'm sure they would have loved to do it and make tons of cash off the upgrade and I'm sure they will once that opportunity becomes available. I doubt they were willing to create a different design machine around drastically different power constraints though to keep a few percent of their user base happy. Sucks but that's business. If there is a problem here, it's with intel.
  16. spacebro macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    I keep hearing all these reasons and don't believe them. You can get a 15" skylake thinkpad, 32gb ram, for $1200. 22 hours of battery life on wifi and web browsing. Macbook pros are morphing into netbooks with their weak battery, weak ram, and they are charged from a usb cable just like $200 netbooks.
  17. BeefCake 15 macrumors 65816

    BeefCake 15

    May 15, 2015
    near Boston, MA
    I can't fathom what one would do with 32gb of RAM except an extreme minority group of people.
  18. happyslayer macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2008
    Glendale, AZ
    I just specked this out on Lenovo's site. This is with 32GB of DDR3 sodimms, (slower and not as power efficient) not the low power stuff Apple is using. Also, no quad core CPU available. Only 256GB nvm drive (half the speed of new MacBook. And the only bigger drives are SATA3--way way way slower) Also, to get that battery life it uses 2 batteries. And it weighs 1-2 pounds more, is plastic, and no TB3 ports. A perfectly good laptop, but not a real competitor to the new MacBook Pro. And per the site, all of the Lenovo laptops that use the same RAM as Apple (like the new X1 carbon and some of the Yogas) are maxed at 16GB.
  19. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    I have seen this same quoted article a few times and still can't get around the logic of it.

    The 99.5 watt hours battery was not only possible, but was used as late as just the previous gen of MBP 15 by Apple itself. How ever much RAM Apple likes to put in the next model, they could have kept the same battery capacity even if the rest of the computer utliizes energy more efficiently, thus granting a longer battery life. At 76 watt hours, Apple apparently *chose* a thinner and lighter form factor above all else, and *then* comes the necessity of LPDDR3, if and only if.

    One would make a wild assumption to say if 32GB SO-DIMM DDR4 were to be used on the 2016 MBP that it would exceed 100 watt hours for this to make sense, and the author of the quoted article didn't. The fact that 32GB is present on other manufacturers' workstation / desktop replacement is also a glaring counter argument.

    So not only did Apple decide that 16GB is good enough for you, but also 76 watts? I don't doubt that the 2016 MBP design does turn out to hit a sweet spot between power, battery, and form factor, as evidenced by the strong sales Apple claims. The question is whether or not such a configuration is not pushing hard enough in the traditional "Pro" sense. Remember, the maxed out 15" model is currently the most powerful Mac you can get from Apple, they are not giving us much options despite all those compromises.
  20. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    You mean the T560 which weighs 5lbs (nearly 5.5lbs with the larger battery you quote), a slow SSD (or more likely a platter drive at your $1200 price point), a considerably less powerful processor at 15w TDP, Intel Graphics 520, a screen that gets to all of 220 nits brightness (vs. 500) while only covering ~60% of sRBG? In reality that laptop will get 10-12 hours of battery life, even with the extended battery, while only having a fraction of the processing and graphics power of the 15" MBP.

    As I've said repeatedly here, the MBP has always been about balancing all of these attributes, and as you can see above, when you look at the competition it's pretty easy to find the compromises they've made even if they 'outdo' a MBP on one spec or another.
  21. Capt T macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2010
    Does it run OSX?
  22. Ataricade Suspended

    Nov 6, 2016
    LOL no you cant. Not low power DDR4
  23. Deanster macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2005
    Please configure this on Lenovo's site, copy the config here and let us see what you actually get for that figure.

    I'll bet cash you don't, because you know that the answer is either that it's not possible to have those attributes in one machine, or that when so configured it's a total dog.

    Talk about an actual specific configuration of an actual machine you can buy, or take your butthurt for a walk, please.
  24. spacebro macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    Go there yourself and configure a base thinkpad 15". Its like $850 with the i5-6200u and 1600mhz ram. Select the dropdown for ram and select 32gb, now the price is $1200. Sure its only dual core, but so are most macbooks, sure its got 1600mhz ram but so does the 2015 macbook pro and nobody says that is a "total dog". The thinkpad is not supposed to be a premium laptop! Configure an alienware and you will wreck the macbook pro on every performance metric for significantly less money.
  25. cvmeyer1 macrumors newbie


    Nov 10, 2016
    Brazil, Brasilia-DF
    [/QUOTE] I Agree with you, FAA rules for bateries in-flight it's bull shitt, it would never crash an airplane, it is apple for Christ sake, it isn't a SamSung Galaxy note 7 with exploding bateries!!![/QUOTE]
    --- Post Merged, Nov 10, 2016 ---
    I Agree with you, FAA rules for bateries in-flight it's bull shitt, it would never crash an airplane, it is apple for Christ sake, it isn't a SamSung Galaxy note 7 with exploding bateries!!!
    --- Post Merged, Nov 10, 2016 ---

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