Apple says new MacBook Pro has only 16GB of RAM to save battery life

Much has been said about the cost, trade-offs, and compromises involved with purchasing Apple’s new MacBook Pro. Apple unveiled the device, which comes in three new iterations, yesterday at a press event, and people pouring over its spec sheets and purchase options have complained that its limiting 16GB memory option is severe given the price tag. Apple has now come out and explained that any more RAM in a notebook of its size would have a detrimental effect on battery life.

The answer comes from up high. When a MacRumors reader emailed a general Apple line about a 32GB RAM option, he got a surprise response from marketing chief Phil Schiller himself. Here’s the exchange:

Q: The lack of a 32GB BTO option for the new MBPs raised some eyebrows and caused some concerns (me included). Does ~3GBps bandwidth to the SSD make this a moot issue? I.e. memory paging on a 16GB system is so fast that 32GB is not a significant improvement?

Schiller: Thank you for the email. It is a good question. To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook. I hope you check out this new generation MacBook Pro, it really is an incredible system.

So this would seem to undermine any speculation as to whether the new MacBook Pro’s performance upgrades mean a bump in memory isn’t neccesary. Now, Schiller didn’t really answer that part of the question, so there remains the possibility that the improved bandwidth does in fact go a little ways toward making up for the lack of RAM. But Schiller’s reply does point a more concrete finger at battery life, which Apple tends to prioritize over other benefits in its notebook lines.


Shouldn’t have made it so thin then… A little extra thickness for a better battery and more RAM wouldn’t have hurt

Then you’re adding weight, and possibly enough heat to merit a bigger fan, which means more noise and a slightly larger battery for the bigger fan.

A bigger fan usually means less noise because it doesn’t need to spin that fast to displace the same amount of air. Also, a fan barely sips energy.

It’s easy to armchair this when I’m sure Apple has a hundred prototypes in their labs that have varying degrees of thickness and volume and internals.

What they’ve released is what they think the best mix of tradeoffs, advantages, and disadvantages.

There is no perfect product.

It’s easy to armchair this

I’m def no apple apologist, but I think we all forget this.

A lot.

People get tunnel vision far too often. They see this machine with 32GB of RAM, that machine with 64GB of RAM & don’t even bother to consider the many factors like the design & optimization of these products that don’t even come close to Apple level. At best they poorly mimic it.

The previous MBP got it right (except for battery life which was normal) and they could’ve gotten it right now too but they don’t want people to use the laptops long term any more.

They want to sell it like iPhones… Hence the 6th gen so they can bring out updated versions next year (or the year after).

The optimization of macOS is pretty much nonexistent these days. It’s why people get better performance on their MacBook (you know, the Core M one) on Windows 10. Metal is still a shitshow.

Lol.. Talk about tunnel vision..

Then they should include the option and specify that it will have inferior battery life. The market for 32GB RAM isn’t the market for long battery life, so Apple were just being lazy honestly.

Since when has apple cared about the industry trends? They’ve never been the fastest build of spec’d out laptops (or all in ones or desktops) on the market. What they are is the best built laptops on the market. Say what you will but no one makes hardware like apple. It’s not even close. You either buy into that or you don’t. Most PC manufacturers still haven’t even caught up when it comes to design, trackpad (still garbage on windows), calibrated displays, etc. RAM isn’t the upgrade that it used to be and all specs all the time isn’t the best option.

Let’s not forget apple has always charged huge upgrades when it comes to memory so if they could have put a 32gb option in the new laptops they sure would have considering they would have been able to charge a pretty penny for it. It’s easy to sit back and point out what is wrong with all tech (we can do it on every laptop or any hardware on the market). They all have their upsides and downsides. I feel the PC gaming market is always trying to compare Macs with premium built gaming machines and they aren’t in the same market (not saying you are any of these things)

1: What do you mean trackpad is still garbage on Windows? That’s a hardware component. If you don’t like the trackpad on a Dell, Lenovo etc you should take it up with them and not the Windows software. Even if you want to compare software, the Windows 10 Creator’s Update will make gestures completely customizable too, something Apple will likely never do. Also, the only trackpad you could make a direct comparison to is on the Surface 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and the All-in-One Media Keyboard – because those are made Microsoft themselves.

2: This is RAM. Not a different type of display, not a specialised component. Choosing the CPU is more complex than choosing the RAM. Apple is lazy.

3: The people who want 32GB RAM aren’t the gamers. No game will use more than 4GB RAM and 4GB on its own. In a gaming machine, you’d have a better time overclocking 16GB of RAM than installing 32GB. This is not a question.

4: The people who want 32GB of RAM quite literally do a lot of multitasking. You know, the people who wish they could replace 2-4 smaller computers with a single MacBook but won’t be able to because the RAM maxes out at 16GB and is soldered to the mainboard.

Honestly, who needs 32Gb RAM? Genuine question…

I’m running an original Surface Pro with 4Gb and it’s absolutely fine for music/photo creativity and modification (and DJing with an external controller)

I’m just a home user so don’t get into things like CAD, is that an example of where such a beast of a machine is needed?

Virtualization! I have a Macbook Pro running Parallels with Windows 7, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012, and others. Having more memory would let me run more of them at the same time. 16GB is serving me well, but having more RAM to throw around would be nice.

I do. Sometimes I run over dozen of servers on late 2013 MBPr with 16GB RAM which sometimes is just enough. I would be happy to upgrade to new Macbook but no point if I would get just prettier laptop, bit faster but which can have only as much ram as Macbooks made 5 years ago.

This is allegedly machine intended for professionals but some of them would have to move to another platform away from macos to do their job.

Oh god, I sure do. Between development and setting up virtual environments for build/testing, I can consume 32GB no problem.

Wow. The rationalizations here to justify what amounts to a very professional un-friendly decision is stunning. Let’s just cut to the chase. The limit and the sad justification by Shiller are lame — Apple is so focused on light and thin its making them blind to the larger trends in the industry.

"Professional un-friendly"

What authority claims, and on what ground, that 32GB RAM is the requirement for a product to be considered "pro friendly"?!?!?

Go to and look through all the XPS and Latitude configurations offered and tell me how many 32GB RAM configuration you see.

Fact of the matter is that most people can perfectly work with 8GB of RAM. A much smaller percentage of people require 16GB of RAM and an even much smaller percentage absolutely need 32GB.

There is absolutely no reason to believe Apple did not do their market research and weight the pros and cons of 32GB support. They concluded that the compromises with a 32GB support are not worth the tiny users base they could potentially capture, compared to the users base potentially lost.

Go to and look through all the XPS and Latitude configurations offered and tell me how many 32GB RAM configuration you see.

Dell XPS 15 inch option to get 32 GB Ram.
Why you would compare the Latitude with the Macbook Pro is beyond me.

They concluded that the compromises with a 32GB support are not worth the tiny users base they could potentially capture, compared to the users base potentially lost.

The Dell Precision 5510 (XPS 15-equivalent) with 32GB of RAM gives me 8 hours on High Performance running VirtualBox VMs and an IDE, and 9 hours on Power Saver. And, guess what? It has a 4K touchscreen.

Not according to any of the reviews out there. Most were struggling to get 5 and one got as low as 3.5

Is it possible the Precision has a different battery than the XPS?

the larger trends in the industry.

What trends would those be? Crap battery life by using unoptimsed parts?

So true. I’d love to get my hands on the prototype with a RX 480 or GTX 1060 though

I’m not armchair thinking here a windows laptop is a generation ahead thinner, faster, and cheaper .

View All Comments
Back to top ↑