Apple’s MacBook Pro can easily run a ridiculous number of ‘pro’ apps simultaneously with 16GB RAM

“Apple’s latest MacBook Pro line is limited to 16GB due to energy (and likely heat) constraints, and that’s gotten a lot of people complaining that it simply isn’t enough for ‘real pros,'” Jonathan Zdziarski writes for Zdziarski’s Blog of Things. “Ironically, many of the people saying that don’t quite fall into what many others would consider a ‘real pro’ themselves; at least based on the target demographic of Apple’s ‘pro’ line, which has traditionally been geared toward working professionals such as photographers, producers, engineers, and the like (not managers and bloggers).”

“I fired up a bunch of apps and projects (more than I’d ever work on at one time) in every app I could possibly think of on my MacBook Pro. These included apps you’d find professional photographers, designers, software engineers, penetration testers, reverse engineers, and other types running – and I ran them all at once, and switched between them, making ‘professionally-type-stuff’ happen as I go,” Zdziarski writes. “The result? I ran out of things to do before I ever ran out of RAM. I only ever made it to 14.5GB before the system decided to start paging out, so I didn’t even have the change to burn up all that delicious RAM.”

“I have no doubt that there will be some edge cases where a user legitimately uses up more than 16GB of RAM, and Apple really should consider refreshing their line of Mac Pros for such needs; the MacBook Pro is designed to be portable and energy conscious first, and I think that makes a lot of sense,” Zdziarski writes. “This is where the MacBook Pro’s migration to solid state storage plays in concert with their RAM decisions. Both swap and file based resources are now much faster than they used to be. Often times, your applications may be swapping (or using a scratch disk) and you won’t even be able to tell with an SSD. Solid state storage has a number of other obvious benefits, and quite frankly, I’d rather have an SSD and 16GB RAM limit over 64GB and a spinning platter disk any day.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup.

SEE ALSO:
Apple significantly lowers USB-C adapter prices in response to MacBook Pro complaints – November 4, 2016
Headphone jacks, MacBook Pros, and the legacy of Steve Jobs – November 4, 2016
Apple places a big bet with the new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro – November 4, 2016
How Apple’s stock apps will use the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro – November 4, 2016
Hands on with Apple new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar: Huge trackpad offers great palm rejection – November 2, 2016
Phil Schiller explains why Apple dropped the SD card slot but kept the 3.5mm headphone jack in new MacBook Pros – November 2, 2016
Phil Schiller: Apple has more orders for MacBook Pro with Touch Bar than for any other professional Mac notebook ever – November 2, 2016
The debate is over: IBM confirms that Apple Macs are $535 less expensive than Windows PCs – October 20, 2016
The key mission of Apple’s new MacBook Pros – October 28, 2016
TIME Magazine: Apple’s new MacBook Pro Touch Bar is an inventive new way to get work done more quickly – October 28, 2016
Apple does touch right and, as usual, Microsoft does it wrong – October 28, 2016
IBT: Apple’s MacBook Pro Touch Bar is the coolest thing ever; will change the way we use laptops – October 28, 2016
Wired hands on with Apple’s New MacBook Pro: It’s a whole new kind of laptop – October 27, 2016
CNET on the new MacBook Pro: Apple’s amazing strip show reinvents the notebook – October 27, 2016
Hands on with Apple’s new MacBook Pro: Looks and feels so good it’s unreal – October 27, 2016
Apple debuts three new TV ads for all-new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – October 27, 2016
Apple unveils groundbreaking new MacBook Pro with revolutionary Touch Bar and huge Force Touch trackpad – October 27, 2016

80 Comments

      1. @Toby or not

        The reality is that Eddy Cue just sold over 300 thousand dollars in Apple stock, leaving him with just 1400 shares, for 35 million dollars.

        Rats leaving a sinking ship?

        Does he know something we don’t, after all, he works with lazy, greedy, incompetent Tim Cook everyday.

        Or maybe he knows what many of us have known for years… Tim Cook creates unbuyable, locked down, crappy appliances that require adapters to use because he’s raked in billions over the last 6-years just playing the adapter game on Apple consumers.

        I think this Macbook Pro scandal will be the end of greedy Cook and apparently so does Eddy Cue.

        1. I haven’t seen Apple do anything that Jobs wouldn’t have done. Apple is pushing USB-C for the future and not today. The 16GB limitation is Intel’s fault. Adapters and changing connections happened under Jobs as well. It’s the normal, Apple pushing forward before the rest of the industry! Although I think they could have left one USB 3 port available on this model for now to ease transition, but who knows, maybe not enough room to do so or there is some limitation with that technology and USB-3 or something.

            1. That’s correct. Apple went with Skylake on this MBPro which uses LPDD3 RAM. This is less energy effecient and 32 GB would have killed battery (granted- some users wouldnt care) Kaby lake (which can use DDR4) was not ready for widescale adoption now (in Apples opionion- but htis could be debated). But next refresh should have Kaby and 32 GB ram option

            2. You’re all wrong. I can’t believe all the misinformation out here. Here is what I have gathered.
              Skylake supports DDR4 RAM. This is absolutely, positively not a problem related to Intel.
              However, Apple wants to use the lower power LPDDR4 RAM which is not yet available in a 16GB x 2 configuration which is the only configuration which will fit in the new MacBook Pro. The LPDDR4 chips are just going into production now (and they’re not coming from Intel). If Apple (read Jony Ives) hadn’t made the MacBook Pro so thin, they would have had room for a 8GB x 4 configuration.
              Ultimately, this is Apples fault for again prioritizing thinness over performance.

            3. @ George:

              You are the one who is wrong and misinformed.

              No one said DDR4 is a problem on Skylake.
              Skylake does NOT support LPDDR4.
              The thickness of the MacBook Pro has nothing to do with this.
              Apple placed priority on battery life over RAM. It was a design choice.

            4. @chefpastry The post right above mine suggests that you have to wait for Kaby Lake for DDR4. Many posts are blaming this on the lack of DDR4 support.
              There is something we agree on. This was an Apple decision; not a problem with Intel.

            5. George,
              Let me approach it from here. Apple is making a laptop for most users that are currently using it and in the future. Apple approached toward memory could have come to something like this, memory < (lightness + longer battery). Most users will benefit from this, though the power users will suffer (like my self) :(. When I look at what my family (wife, kids, brothers, sister, etc…) needs are, something like this would do everything they needs for 5+ years, if not longer. As for myself, well 16 GB RAM limit suck so I'll wait.

              Information (wrong or right) from fans or not, Apple has not said why the limit is a power issue, but that it is. They don't typically throw vendors they work with under the bus, so they are not going to say anything negative about Intel.

              For those intrested, another perspective I would read would be from Horace Dediu about the view into the Mac http://www.asymco.com/2016/11/02/wherefore-art-thou-macintosh/

              Second, it would have gone a long way if Apple had addressed the issue in a way like mentioned by Chug Von Raspach, https://chuqui.com/2016/10/how-apple-could-have-avoided-much-of-the-controversy/

              Finally, reading what you have posted here and below assume that Apple is willing to sacrifice what they have already built on, which they won't. So either it works for you, you compromise, you wait or move on. I've read a lot of the things you mentioned which say it can be done, but no one really does it. Why, cause it's cost prohibitive, filled with a lot of compromises and in general only works for very small niche users.

            6. the post you link to has so much stupidity it’s hard to answer all of it

              it says “The fact is, the Mac product line itself is becoming a niche product, because the days of the personal computer have started the shift back to where computers will be a hobby for the nerd”

              ???

              FACT:
              MACS MAKE MORE MONEY THAN IPAD
              last quarter (even with dropping sales due to Apple neglect and no advertising) it made MORE THAN TWICE the ‘other products’ Category which includes a host of stuff including iPod and Apple Watch .

              so if Mac should be neglected as ‘niche’ should we ALSO DUMP iPad and Watch as they make LESS? Aren’t they from the financial facts SMALLER NICHES?

              always idiots compare Mac to iPhone profits. IPhone is the most profitable product on the planet, EVERY OTHER PRODUCT in the WORLD IS A LOSER COMPARED TO IPHONE. It makes more money than all the cars put out by Ford combined. So should Ford stop making cars?

              Macs make Billions of dollars in spite of the said neglect (slow updates, or no updates like the Mac Pro, emasculated machines like the Mini with glued on RAM, No advertising.. etc) .
              Even as people like the writer espouse that PCs are fading… Microsoft has shipped over 350 MILLION COPIES OF WIN 10! that’s peanuts?
              Macs have about 10% world wide share.

              AND FROM A SHARE HOLDER POINT OF VIEW: it’s total insanity to ignore Mac. One big reason aapl is such a terrible condition , it’s P.E one third Google, lower than Microsoft, less than the AVERAGE of the S&P is because big investors and analysts think it’s a DANGEROUS ONE PRODUCT (iPhone company). If aapl had the P.E of Google the stock would 300 now. That alone is one big reason to keep Mac alive. (note when Samsung had it’s exploding phone problem that divisions profits went down by 90%)

              Lots of people (pros for example) have invested in software, hardware peripherals after LISTENING to APPLE’s SPIEL that they are COMMITTED to the MAC. So is abandoning or neglecting it the right thing for Apple since Tim Cook is ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT DOING THE ‘HONOURABLE THING’. Cook always says he’s concerned for minorities so he only cares for OUTSIDERS and NOT minorities who are CUSTOMERS like Mac Pros (whom Apple cultivated in the first place?) . That’s the ‘honourable thing, that the new ‘Moral Apple’ ‘Cook is always talking about? He even got into a fight with shareholder arguing that ‘Apple does not do everything for the ROI (return on investment) doing the right thing counts more’. So that’s all empty air when it comes to it’s own customers?
              (I doubt if even Mac Pros will lose money if they built a straight forward TOWER)

              i can go on here about other reasons Mac is important as I done before , about ‘ecosystem’ ‘influence of high end pros’ ‘ trickle down technology’ etc, but this post is too long already.

              I just want to end with pix I’ve posted before;

              look at Ive’s lab (pix end of 2015), see all the Macs? Including Cheese Graters under the tables (using Cheese graters probably because the new trashcans can not take specific 3D cards), why aren’t they working from iPads or iPhones if that’s all that’s needed? On side note: seriously for the richest company in the world which builds computers , to have its designers work from machines which are at LEAST 6 years old… (maybe that’s why they work sooooo slowly… ? )

              if macs are fading away… WHY IS THE NEW APPLE RESEARCH CENTRE in India FILLED WITH MACS?

              so from that article quote :
              “a niche product, because the days of the personal computer have started the shift back to where computers will be a hobby for the nerd””

              I’ll like to ask “WILL APPLE EVENTUALLY WRITE ALL IT’S SOFTWARE AND DESIGN IT’S HARDWARE ON WINDOWS MACHINES?”

            7. Great links, H&C! Thoroughly enjoyed reading articles based on reason and moderation. People have some reasons to gripe and Apple can and should do better in communicating and executing its Mac strategy, especially given the extraordinarily long delays in refreshing its desktop lineup and recovering from the trash can experiment. Like the Cube, it was a beautiful blend of art and engineering that failed in terms of utility to its intended audience. But what an artful failure! Innovation involve risks, and risks involve occasional failures. The key is how (and how quickly) a company recovers from those failures.

              The sky is not falling. Dongles are not a terrible issue. Four flexible, high-speed Thunderbolt/USB-C ports are ultimately better than seven dedicated ports. And the next generation MacBook Pro will be even better…whenever that happens…

          1. Sorry cashxx I don’t agree with you. Pushing to use the USB-C connector is fine and I can see Steve using that. What I don’t agree with is the 16GB limit and it’s Intel’s fault. I don’t believe it is. A different chip set could have been used. It was all for thinness and not the professional users. Nor do I think that Steve Jobs would wait so long to upgrade this device and the other Mac desktop computers as the current management has done. I think a case can be made that Apple wants to get out of the computer business entirely over the next few years. There money does not come from this product line. They’ve waited for years to update it. When Tim Cook says, “Apple Loves the Macs”, they don’t. Apple missed another Christmas buying season for the iMac. Users have been complaining for well over a year about the situation but as big as Apple is, they couldn’t find the engineers to upgrade the line for this Christmas. No, I don’t think Steve Jobs would have done this at all. He loved the Mac computers. It was his. There doesn’t seem to be a voice with any power that loves the Macs any more. Apple doesn’t love the Mac any more. Tim, actions speak louder than words.

        2. Selling company stock after the vesting of RSUs is not unusual at all. It is worth noting, and I will continue keeping an eye of the various indicators, as usual. But it is not necessarily an indicator of dire future events.

          But, given your negative outlook, I suggest that you sell any Apple thst you may have right away and keep away from anything Apple-related, such as this forum, for a long, long time.

        3. “…Eddy Cue just sold over 300 thousand dollars in Apple stock, leaving him with just 1400 shares, for 35 million dollars.”

          So he sold 1% of his shares?! Sound the alarm!!!

      1. You are right. Most fools out there want there guitar amps to go up to 11. This is an idiotic focus on ‘more is better’ even though the memory use above 16GB will never ever be used on anything other than testing even by the most pro of pros, they still want it because more is better.

      2. Agreed! I work in creative services — both print and digital — and have a 27″ iMac with 16gb. In all my years working with half a dozen open programs (including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and others) the only time I’ve maxed out my memory is when working on video conversions while retouching large (500MB+) Photoshop files. No one in my office has more than 16GB of memory, either, and we get along just fine.

        I know there are users who push their machines to the max — video editing and 3D animation take enormous resources to work in real-time — but for the vast majority of us, 16GB is all we need for the near-term. Get over the limitation.

    1. Indeed. I just went over to see how much I was currently using, and it was at 16GB in use … and I only had one image open in Photoshop, which was using only 2GB on its own.

      Any seriously large & deep image stack in PS will eat up RAM like candy.

      -hh

      1. Oh, and one other thing:

        In the cited article, the author has a lot of Apps showing compressed RAM – that’s a feature in OS X to burn CPU cycles to compensate for … Yup, not enough RAM. It’s the last gasp before it pages out to disk.

        1. @-hh,
          i’m not sure going to swap is a bad thing now, or at the very least as bad as it was in that past. With the new SSD and PCI-e connections, performance maybe more than enough. If the actual read/write speeds are over 2Gb to the SSD, than it may more than OK to use SWAP. It won’t be known until some performance testing is actually done.

          1. @HobbsAndCalvin:

            Agreed, although we do need to separate & differentiate the key issues.

            The first issue is the simple question of if OS allocations were asking more from the hardware than what the hardware can nominally expect to deliver at full nominal (e.g., non-degraded) performance. The claim was that the system was not being degraded at all, but the objective facts are – – as evidenced by the presence of RAM compression – – that this claim is objectively false.

            The second issue is the question of what the OS does when a resource overcommitment occurs, and the subsequent trade-offs. The technical answer here is that it performs a CPU based, on-the-fly, compress-RAM-back-into-RAM.

            That’s a pretty clever strategy, particularly in comparison to the old school method of swapping memory out to disk storage, and its probably a pretty good performance trade-off, as CPU cycles have become relatively cheap & available and probably consumes less energy (and definitely takes less time) than swapping out to disk (or SSD). But the system is still degraded from the perspective of that it isn’t running at its full potential: if it had more RAM, it would run faster (TBD by how much). Its simply a case where alternative resources {CPU, power, latency} are being allocated to compensate for a lack of a particular resource (e.g., RAM hardware).

            As you allude to, the tricky part to all of this is the question of if it is a good trade-off.

            Well, in comparison to past practices (e.g., swap out to memory), it would appear that the CPU headroom (availability) to result in a relatively small performance hit .. and a general conclusion that its is a good thing.

            But still, the premise of the cited article (and MDN’s comments too) is that no trade off was occurring at all, which is patently false. Its a quite good trade, but it is still a trade nevertheless, and just because something is a good trade-off doesn’t mean that the trade doesn’t exist. It does exist.

            And this brings us to your last point of performance testing.

            Regardless of if we’re talking Pro or Consumer – is two pragmatic factors: (a) how is this performance hit quantified? and (b) If one finds that hit to be noteworthy enough to rectify, then what resources are required to solve it (e.g., raise the bar to better hardware)?

            And therein lies the rub:

            (a): we (the public) don’t know this answer, so it raises uncertainty (FUD);

            (b): for this MBP, there’s not any option for adding more RAM at any price.

    2. Try something as simple as loading VMware or Parallels then Windows 10 then Analytical Graphics’ System Tool Kit with a constellation of a few dozen small sats in low Earth orbit talking to a half dozen geostationary orbit satellites that are talking to ground stations and analyze the movement of the connections, satellite footprints, and data rates.

      See if that fits within 16 GB of RAM without paging one hell of a lot. (Hint: it doesn’t).

      For the true pro that is only ONE program running. It is running ONE simulation.

      Don’t give me this total crap about being able to run lots and lots of programs that manage text or sit idle in the background or at worst load static imagery and call them “Pro” apps. At the VERY least for the Photoshop app he should have loaded five images at different f-stops and had Photoshop merging them into a single HDR image. Just loading pictures without doing anything with them takes little RAM. At the very least he should have loaded FCPX and ran a merge of multiple video clips into a single video stream.

    3. I guess Apple attackers are going back to the old “specifications” comparison instead of the only criteria that really counts: performance. Yawn.

      It is also too light for a truck. Ha ha ha

    4. Is 32-128GB a marketing trick or a myth in the computer business?

      Could 1 big heavy file of any type be opened and edited using 16GB?

      Why other Mac and PC systems had come with 32, 64 and 128 GB capacities for years and why they have the options to upgrade?

      1. I regularly load way more then 16GB of data into Kontakt. This is not user error. This is a common workflow in the Pro Audio world. Swap will not help one bit.

        Wake up.

    1. Kgi111. Are you sure? I think you may have some other system issues that you’re not aware of. I can run about 40 instances of Omnisphere, Trilan and Stylus RMX on Logic ProX and not max out my 16 Gigs of RAM (and these apps are renowned for being RAM hogs).

  1. Completely and totally 100% ridiculously wrong that’s it’s difficult to get into swapping with 16gb. I have a 16gb MBP and have it in “swap” every day of practically every working moment within hours of a fresh boot up. How? Easy, because I work on probably 4 – 10 different projects every day as a developer of software, maintainer of web sites, database admin, and systems admin. I probably have 30 tabs open across 2 or 3 separate browsers all the time – don’t get me started on what certain web sites can do to the memory hole they call Safari or the CPU pig that Chrome can be (and just to be fair, the “interesting” renderings ocassionally from Firefox). I’m in and out of dozens of apps everyday, and in a short amount of time, swap happens. 16GB works today, but I’d buy a Pro Mac portable machine with 32GB – no problem. Especially if it came in 17 again. 👍

    I know I am not the only person that uses their Mac to create and maintain the content and applications which are consumed by much “lighter” weight clients. Based on the vocal “panning” the new MBP has received from people like me, it lets me know I’m in good company.

      1. Probably because like me, BVRoc might be an independent consultant, maybe working from home even, and often needs to go to meet with clients, and lugging an iMac around just isn’t an option.

        1. That’s why I got the nMP (cylinder). Fits in my tote bag. Fly to new consulting job, connect peripherals externally, analyze customer data, propose solution, fly home again. Just one use case, but brings new meaning to mobility.

  2. It’s called “swap” and it allows many applications to run in a small memory. They quickly become swap bound and performance goes to crap. Been there and done that many times. Fast SSDs help, but are still orders of magnitude slower than main memory.

  3. “I’d rather have an SSD and 16GB RAM limit over 64GB and a spinning platter disk any day”

    Duuuuuuuh!
    What about SSD and 64GB RAM – that’s what I call pro user oriented product! Not basic 16GB laptop making memory management gimmicks.

    1. If needing more than 16GB to work, than the job goes on a “truck”, not on a laptop.
      Laptop is to carry work on, so far none would go around carrying one’s cluster…

      1. Dear Almux,
        you are absolutely right but today RAM is dirt-cheap (of course not in Apple Store) so soldering / limitting RAM is just lame excuse, especially in “PRO”-ducts

  4. There is a simple formula “Pros” use to figure out their minimum RAM requirement. It’s a very closely held secret but I’ll reveal it publicly right here. Ready?

    Take the maximum amount of supported RAM and double it. See? If a Mac maxes out at 8GB, wail that 16GB is the minimum requirement. If it supports “only” 16GB, complain that 32GB is the minimum requirement. And so on, and so on.

  5. My rMBP 2014 with i7 w/16GB has no trouble.

    The only reason to have 32GB I can see, is to run multiple instances of VMs – Mac OS or otherwise. Example macOS Server or an older version of Mac OS or even beta testing the next OS update.

    I have not had a situation yet, on the MBP where I ran out of RAM and resulted in constant swapping memory out to storage. It isn’t happening.

    1. My coworker did, and it’s exactly that: multiple VMs to replicate the entire production environment, which has rather complex services and applications across over a half-dozen servers, plus his local development tools. His Memory Pressure stats were constantly in yellow, and it would just stop responding sometimes when he switched programs.

      He had to move to a Windows laptop that supported 32 GB of RAM.

  6. If you are doing heavy graphics or 3D animation work 32-128Gb of RAM is not unusual or overkill. I don’t know why all the hostility for those who want more than 16Gb. It’s an individual (power) user thing, not “YOUR needs should be the same as MY needs” or “this is good enough, like it or lump it!.”

    What is it in the human psyche that causes some to belittle others who need more than they do? Why do you care? More power to you in getting what you need to do the job and may Apple wisely provide it for you.

    1. Because of this thread I just ran up a bunch of things, including having my 3D suite render a complex scene at 12,000×5400 pixels. It jumps up to 2nd place in memory usage at 1.8GB. The #1 memory hog? Safari Web Inspector, weighing in at 2.4GB. Even Photoshop CC 2017 with several 36MP RAW images coming in via Camera RAW was only taking .5GB OS X 10.11.x the kernel is taking up 1.2GB

      1. You’re just not trying hard enough IMO. 🙂 Really.

        After only 7 days of run time since my last reboot:
        [img][/img]

        Check 12M page ins, almost 1M page outs, and 350MB of swap used right now, and a paltry “real” free of only 42MB (because OS X is trying very hard to be efficient):
        [img][/img]

        Why? Because I’m working on a bunch of software right now with ~40 browser tabs on 2 browsers across 2 monitors, 7 virtual screens, emails opened, images, a bunch of terms, spreadsheets (product lists and form permutations if you must know), PDF previews (for docs), web inspectors, code editor, messaging apps (IM, teamwork) and the system has let everything continue to run by swapping pages and doing some nice trickery with memory compression. Thanks for that OS X – keep doing that for me.
        [img][/img]

        I would like to avoid swap. I would to avoid memory compression if possible. I would like to add some additional real work on top of the light load pictured above. I would like more then 16GB. Why is that so hard for some people to accept that there are legit and somewhat common “pro-type” work loads which could use it?

        1. My apologies if you read into my reply that don’t feel >16GB to be legit. Really what I was trying to share was surprise that Safari Web Inspector would feel crowded in a hanger full of Cray supercomputers. Shutting that puppy down made my whole system smile! I’ve switched to WebStorm transpiling for Firefox because of what Safari was doing to my system.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.