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New MacBook Pros Max Out At 16GB RAM Due To Battery Life Concerns (macrumors.com) 319

The new MacBooks Pros have been improved in nearly every way -- except when it comes to RAM capacity. With faster, more energy efficient Skylake processors, faster SSDs, and better GPUs, one would think the amount of RAM wouldn't be capped off at 16GB. However, that is the case. The reason why the MacBook Pros continue to max out at 16GB RAM is due to battery life concerns, according to marketing chief Phil Schiller. MacRumors reader David emailed Apple to get an explanation: Question from David: "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's answer: "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."

For the 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple was able to reach "all-day battery life," which equates to 10 hours of wireless web use or iTunes movie playback. That's an hour improvement over the previous generation in the 15-inch machine, and a small step back in the 13-inch machine. While none of Apple's portable machines offer more than 16GB RAM, 32GB of RAM is a high-end custom upgrade option in the 27-inch iMac.

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New MacBook Pros Max Out At 16GB RAM Due To Battery Life Concerns

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  • Bad Reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by justcauseisjustthat ( 1150803 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @06:49PM (#53172035)
    Give users the option, 16GB is 2011.... Just like spinning down drives and dimming displays, turn on and off banks of memory or something. I'm passing on this MacBook until they get serious about RAM.
    • Re:Bad Reason (Score:5, Interesting)

      by robertchin ( 66419 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @06:57PM (#53172121) Homepage

      Well it's actually Intel's fault for only supporting LPDDR3 instead of LPDDR4 in Skylake. They choose to do this because LPDDR4 memory is more expensive, and from this article, http://www.fool.com/investing/... [fool.com] it says that an increased cost of RAM would result in one of the following:

      1. PC vendors will cut corners elsewhere to accommodate the more expensive memory within a fixed price point, potentially hurting the user experience.
      2. PC vendors will raise prices, which could lead to lower sales and thus reduced processor sales for Intel.
      3. PC vendors' margins will contract.

      Which Intel didn't want to do. That combined with the delays for the release of Skylake and its successor Cannonlake (which does support LPDDR4) leave us with the current situation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PRMan ( 959735 )
      Coming out with 16 GB RAM in 2016 is BRAVE!
      • by ZipK ( 1051658 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:12PM (#53172245)
        It's not just brave. It takes COURAGE.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        When it is also stupid, other terms are usually applied...

        But that seems to be the new Apple strategy: Do utterly stupid things, and then praise them as "brave" and "innovative". I fear that the Apple fanbois will buy these product nonetheless, because they have no actual understanding of technology and hence cannot detect or understand how they are getting ripped off.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ebonum ( 830686 )

      98% of the time people are plugged into wall power. Who cares. Plus, 32 GB isn't always enough. 64 would be awesome.
      The problem is the stats for battery life in reviews. Those don't really matter any way. After 1 year, the battery life will drop by 40% because the batteries are shit. After 3 years, it goes to about 20 minutes.

    • Apple always has been skimpy about RAM for decades, they sell models of computers with half or less minimum amount needed.

  • it's OK.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 28, 2016 @06:50PM (#53172047)

    It's OK, 32GB of laptop memory is $160. [newegg.com], and 64GB is about $360. Since this is a product targeted at professional users, I'm sure I can open the back and swap out the RAM, if I want to give up a few minutes of battery life for it.

    Err.... right?

    • Good luck unsoldering / soldering the RAM.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There's no need for un-soldering; I understand they will be coming out with a special dongle that will allow you to add more memory.

        • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:04PM (#53172169)
          a $25 dongle?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Yes, but don't expect to be able to charge your phone at the same time. You'll need the $75 dongle for that. $90 if you want the one that adds a connector for third party escape keys.

        • There's no need for un-soldering; I understand they will be coming out with a special dongle that will allow you to add more memory.

          Let's hope their 16GB expansion pack doesn't wobble like the old ZX81 (Timex 1000) 16KB expansion pack did... :-)

        • by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:49PM (#53172451)

          No need for a dongle. I don't recall the link, but search YouTube -- you can already find a video on how to add more memory with just a hammer drill, a 1/4" masonry bit, an impact driver, and a 4" x 7/16" lag bolt. The memory is already in the MacBook, Apple just disables it so you don't even have to buy more memory. Check it out -- I tried it on a pre-production model (which was the last rev so it is identical to the production models) and it really works.

          If you can't find the video -- it's pretty simple to do so play around with it a bit. I seem to recall you use the drill to drill/hammer a 1/4" hole 3" deep in the middle of the right edge 1 1/2" from the back and then use the impact driver to drive the lag bolt in to the full depth of the hole. Do be very careful not to drive the lag bolt in more than 3" as that may damage the MacBook. You can then remove the lag bolt (who would be crazy enough to want a bolt head/shaft sticking out of their notebook?). This action will have activated the "enable all memory" switch (it's inside an potted assembly so you can't get to it easily -- hence the lag bolt and drill). You may want to buff out the case where you drilled through it so it looks factory fresh. Really, the only trick is to make sure you drill at right angles to the case.

          • by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Saturday October 29, 2016 @04:04AM (#53174041)

            I hate to reply to my own posts, but I realize I left out an important pro tip.

            There are some reports that people who have done this had some problems.

            Fortunately, I did extensive research and experimentation that reveals that a few people have had problems because they were using inferior drill bits. It's really best to use Monster drill bits -- everyone who uses them has been successful. Yes, Monster bits cost more than Harbor Freight "Warrior" bits, but they are well worth the cost as they insure that you won't have single bit errors on your newly exposed memory. It's possible DEWALT bits would work also, but why take the chance just to save few hundred dollars (pounds for you Brexiting Brits) per drill bit?

    • While I know you're being funny, it is worth noting that there may be a chipset or UEFI limitation capping it at 16GB as well.

  • by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @06:52PM (#53172065) Homepage

    of Apple ramming their design decisions down our throats.

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      Just another example of Apple ramming their design decisions down our throats.

      Yeah tell me about it! USB, Wifi, SSD, thunderbolt, multitouch, all crap! We were doing just fine without any of that. And now just look at what they force us to use!

  • "Try it, you'll love it, it's YUGE."
  • Well then... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @06:52PM (#53172075) Homepage Journal

    Make it one millimeter thicker. Fucking a.

    Now ask me how I think iPhone battery life could be improved...

  • using Macs this seems ridiculous. I'm a Windows guy myself. It could be better but to be honest Win 10 on an SSD is fine and I haven't had a virus since I stopped hanging around abondonware sites when snesorama closed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 28, 2016 @06:56PM (#53172109)

    And this is called "Pro"??

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @06:59PM (#53172133)

    apple needs to have real pro hardware and not this have to make it thinner shit.

  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:01PM (#53172153)
    There seem to be numerous demands for more than 16GB, and I wonder if battery life is the real reason. After all, Apple could sell most of their MBP with 16 GB and answer their more demanding users by selling a few 32 GBs - warning them the battery life is likely to suffer a bit. No, it's likely there are some other technical concerns that will be revealed by iFixit sooner or later, that had Apple take that decision.
    • Re:Dubious... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by yodleboy ( 982200 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:57PM (#53172489)
      the reason is that someone at Apple honestly thinks that device thickness is the number one concern of consumers and to reverse that trend is to admit they were wrong.
    • Technical concerns? Naw. It's marketing. Apple's feeling Intel's blunder: "Tick Tock... oh, crap. 10nm yield rates suck. Uhh... Tock, again, anyone?" The trickle-down effect of poor yield rates in 10nm is burning everybody in the industry right now, so IMHO they are giving a 16GB option just so they can reveal a "groundbreaking" 32GB upgrade next year. The upgrade gravy train is slowing down as physics reminds the computing industry that she's a harsh mistress. Apple's signaling their intent by leveragi
  • I would think the Dell XPS line is probably the nearest competitor to these laptops and the 13 inch comes with 4GB or 8GB of RAM while the 15 inch comes with 8GB or 16GB. So, in this case, I don't really think that Apple has done anything too boneheaded. Though, having said that, my 12.5" ThinkPad from 2011 has had 16GB of RAM since the day it arrived. So, Apple doesn't really deserve any praise for 16GB either.

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:19PM (#53172297)

      > I would think the Dell XPS line is probably the nearest competitor to these laptops


      > while the 15 inch comes with 8GB or 16GB.

      Here's one with 32 gigs of RAM:

      http://www.dell.com/en-us/shop... [dell.com]

      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        And how is battery life compared to the new 16 GB MacBook Pro? I will be surprised if it's as good or better.

        • On some level... who cares? I can plug in rhe xps if it runs low. I cant add ram to the mac.

          Dell precision laptops can run xeons with 64gb ecc if i want. Its nice to have choice so you can get what you need and make your own decisions about weight / battery vs perfomance. Dell has xps and precision so you can get what ylu need.

          Apple just has something like xps... and its less capable then the xps. Its a joke next to the precision.

          And its not like apple even had to make it thinner. They could have added ram

        • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

          Who cares? The point isn't the battery life. The point is that if you are looking at the "nearest competitor", they do, in fact, offer 32 GB of RAM. I'd be surprised if Apple fucked up battery life, or that the interviewee was incorrect about his reasoning. But claiming that Apple's competitors don't go up to 32 GB, which is what the post I replied to was saying, is bullshit.

        • who gives a shit, you don't buy a professionally specced laptop where your primary concern is battery life.
      • Here's one with 32 gigs of RAM

        I'm not sure how I missed that, thanks.

    • The 15" XPS models have a 32 GB option.

    • It compares favorably with the 'nice consumer toy' lines from the various PC OEMs; but the problem is that Apple is selling this as a "Macbook Pro". As in, their punchiest mobile option for those 'creatives' and whatnot who use macs to do work.

      There, the comparison is less flattering. By the standards of consumer laptops, it's undeniably gorgeous and likely to be off well above average quality; and it will be thinner and lighter than the mobile workstations of the world; but that doesn't change the fact
  • by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:07PM (#53172201)

    Broadwell 84 TDP

    Skylake 99 TDP

  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:10PM (#53172227)

    Because the Macbook Pro specs are inferior to top end models from other manufacturers, we can expect the Apple laptops to be discounted appropriately.

    • Funny but what if Apple doesn't sell enough MBP? will they maintain the overprice policy, or "discount appropriately"?
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:14PM (#53172257)

    SSD speeds (and it is really access time we are talking here, bandwidth is pretty irrelevant for paging) is somewhere between traditional disks and RAM, but closer to disk than RAM. This means paging will be a bit faster, but still dog-slow. For Swapping, it is not much better either. You cannot fake RAM well, although countless bad engineers have tried and countless unscrupulous marketeers have tried to sell the inadequate results as the next revolution.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:26PM (#53172349)

    Half of the people I've seen with a MacBook Pro are people too proud to admit that a MacBook is more than enough for them. My company won't buy Macs for developers, but will for a manager pushing around Office documents all day. That's hardly atypical. Apple is doing to the MacBook Pro roughly what Microsoft did to Windows 8 where they relied on the input of the people who left telemetry on and noticed THOSE users weren't using the start menu anymore.

    Ask most technical users of MacBook Pros (including artistic types) and I bet you'd see a strong preference for a thicker, more durable and easily repaired laptop with higher specs than Apple offers.

  • Depressing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:33PM (#53172379)

    I am writing this on an early 2009 17 inch matte screen Macbook Pro. DIY upgrades to a 512 SSD and 8GB RAM cost about $500 total. With a refurbished battery it still gets 8 hours of charge.

    What has Apple accomplished in eight years? A smaller screen that has distracting glare and reflection, removal of the best feature (Magsafe), no escape key, and a modest boost in performance.

    Oh yes, its also thinner because that is the most important feature in a professional tool.

    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @08:01PM (#53172505)

      I have a 17" Matte Macbook Pro also, and a late 2013 15" MacBook Pro with an anti-glare screen - it's not quite as good as the matte but very close, in practical use almost never notice glare on the 15". It's not like matte meant no-glare either, just greatly reduced as with anti-glare coatings...

      I would have loved to see the 17" form factor revived, who knows perhaps in some future iteration we'll see it again. At least the actual screen resolution of the 15" (old and new) is identical to the 17", I just keep the scaling stuff off and have a bit smaller text sizes.

      Also all of the hate over no ESC is totally incorrect. You can get to the traditional FN row (including ESC) at any time just by pressing the FN key in the corner. But the reality is you'd pretty much never need to do that because any key where ESC could be used will leave ESC in the TouchBar.

      It is sad to see Magsafe go though, that I will miss. I like the flexibility of being able to charge from any port but I feel like the safety and usability of Magsafe was worth more than the flexibility gained. A great idea for a USB-C charging cable that had a magnetic breakaway connector in the middle...

      • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

        Also all of the hate over no ESC is totally incorrect. You can get to the traditional FN row (including ESC) at any time just by pressing the FN key in the corner. But the reality is you'd pretty much never need to do that because any key where ESC could be used will leave ESC in the TouchBar.

        I'm using ALL of the functional keys all the time. In particular, F1 is a shortcut to bring up iTerm which I'm using in ALL contexts. So now it'll become impossible.

        It's also not clear what "just press FN" means. Does it mean that Esc will become FN+Esc all the time? Cause that's how I read it.

        • > I'm using ALL of the functional keys all the time. In particular, F1 is a shortcut to bring up iTerm which I'm using in ALL contexts. So now it'll become impossible.

          No. Now it means you'll be able to put a little "button" called "iTerm" where F1 currently is so that it's even easier to recognize that that's what the button does...

          I also use all of my F keys... have each one mapped to a specific task in Emacs. I'm looking forward to making them actually say what they do (and be context sensitive... th

      • But the reality is you'd pretty much never need to do that because any key where ESC could be used will leave ESC in the TouchBar.

        So you're saying that if I run Linux, or Solaris, NetBSD or (even) Windows in a VM on one of the new Macintosh laptops, it will magically know that I am running the vi editor inside the Xterm and give me an ESC key on the glass touchstrip? Or does this only apply if I am running the latest version of whatever derivative version of vi (does Apple even support such a binary?) Appl

        • 16 _GB_ is plenty to run VMs. I run Linux and Windows VMs just fine on my 16GB MBP.

          You'll be able to to configure the touch bar however you want. There will be _thousands_ of utility apps for changing it to do whatever you want. I guarantee you that you can force it to _always_ display an ESC key if that's what you so desire.

          You will definitely be able to tell it to show an ESC key in VMware, X, Termina, etc.

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      What has Apple accomplished in eight years?

      Now it competes with your credit card for thinness.

    • For mobile work I use an early 2011 17" with matte screen. It's now 1TB SSD + 1TB SSHD (removed the optical drive) and 16GB RAM, and I do end up paging rather often. I do marketing work for a dot-com and these days, and in the modern world that involves big data hosted on Amazon, extensive analytics, lots of R programs to cook the data, video production, lots of photoshop work, and many, many browser windows open at the same time.

      I use gfxSwitcher to try to exercise some control over the graphics system and

    • I've just found on the web an €630 PC laptop that comes with no OS (store brand, so the make and model wouldn't be meaningful, it's as if it'd be a Newegg branded laptop).
      Core i3-6100H : same die as in the 13" MacBook Pro, 35 watts version, no turbo clocks. 2.7GHz!
      Intel graphics!
      17.3" 1600x900, matte panel with anti-glare. TN panel though. I've just checked this before posting!
      4GB RAM
      2TB 5400 rpm HDD
      gigabit RJ45 ethernet
      DVD drive! (can be space for HDD or cheap 2.5" SSD)
      four USB type A
      HDMI and VGA

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:33PM (#53172381)

    What is the consumption of 16 GB, 32 GB and so forth? Is it linear growth or something more extreme?

    I can't (with half-serious googling) find actual wattage figures for LPDDR3 RAM,

    I'd wager for some reason 32 GB is more than double 16 GB in power consumption, but not like 10x or anything, and I have a hard time believing the consumption would enough to have more than 15 minutes of battery impact over the device's useful battery life.

    I'd also expect it be actually offset demands for disk I/O through caching and reduced paging, which would reduce its negative impact, although I think the use PCI-E SSDs really would decrease the user perception of paging delays for all but the most extreme use cases.

    • by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @07:53PM (#53172469)

      Look at the take apart photos. The circuit board has NO MORE ROOM. Last I looked (not recently) the 32GB modules have more ICs than the 16GB. I wouldn't be surprised if Phil was confused and misinterpreted something and turned a SIZE constraint which took away battery space into a power usage constraint.

      It makes far more sense as a SIZE problem than just replacing some ICs with expensive ICs. Now if those ICs existed at the time of development then I'm wrong and Apple has their heads up their asses. They couldn't put in 1 normal USB port.... I'm currently looking at alternatives because of this. I get USB flash sticks all the time without warning and I do not want to carry an adapter around all the time.

      The last year GPU is disappointing but the lower heat output would make sense and I can tolerate that... I was thinking of ditching the GPU anyhow because an external GPU on thunderbolt 2 runs about 80%-90% of full speed (easily beating a laptop GPU) so version 3's speed should get close desktop performance.

  • I have a MBP Retina 15" from 2013. Even on a good day, I never get more than 3 or 4 hours on it.

  • As sort of a curiosity, I want to ask you all, what do you need with more than 16GB? Entertain me and others, cite examples of things you do that need more than 16GB memory.

    I'm asking as a person who has 16GB in their desktop machine and.. uh.. I've never seen it all get used..ever. I think I'm rather demanding of my PC too, as I run PC games of all manner, Second Life viewer, compilers, Visual Studio, etc. Not a lot of photo processing, but I do do that too, with GIMP, fussing with 6000x4000 jpg's from

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      At this point, not much. Swapping out to PCIe is plenty fast. The main reason would be longevity of the hardware. If you can prop in 32GB now, you don't have to update 5 years from now. I see people with 7-10 year old MacBook Pros upgraded with memory (more than the max specified) and SSD and they still work plenty fast.

    • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @08:46PM (#53172721)

      As sort of a curiosity, I want to ask you all, what do you need with more than 16GB? Entertain me and others, cite examples of things you do that need more than 16GB memory.


    • by eagl ( 86459 )

      Because I keep my computers longer than one hardware and OS product cycle. I've had to upgrade the RAM on every single computer I've ever owned, long before I retired the computer from use. 16GB was great a couple of years ago, and it may even be "enough" right now. A couple years from now... probably not so much. Macbook pro isn't priced as a disposable or throwaway device. If I want to put up with buying a new computer every year, I'll get a $500 refurb and throw it out / replace it annually, for the

    • Having more than 2 tabs in Chrome (3 maybe?)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Editing very high resolution (RAW) images in photoshop.
      Editing/Rendering 4k video.

      And keep in mind that it is often not just one program consuming it all. There is often a workflow requiring several programs to be open even if they are not running simultaneously all the time.

  • Because 640K ought to be enough for anybody.

  • I beg to differ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @10:59PM (#53173279)

    The new MacBooks Pros have been improved in nearly every way

    Unless you buy the smaller, cheaper Macbook Pro, (that probably should have been called an "Air Plus" or something), the new Pros have no dedicated function keys. (People are already posting instructions on how to configure a physical Escape key [macworld.com]). But you DO get a whiz-bang OLED strip that gives you, (among other things), stuff like emojis and more streamlined online payments. Also, you can't charge an iPhone with the new MacBook Pro, unless you buy a pricey adapter; and then you'll have yet another piece of hardware cruft to be broken, lost, or forgotten. How is this "improved in nearly every way"? For that matter, how does it qualify as "Pro"?

    The new MacBook DOES have a stereo headphone jack though. I guess their 'courage' failed them this time. Apple should get rid of their courage altogether - their products would be the better for it. I've never liked Apple, but mostly I at least respected them. With their latest product decisions, even that respect is gone.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday October 29, 2016 @07:52AM (#53174453) Homepage

    If they kept it 3mm thicker they could have put in a battery that would have allowed 64gb ram, socketed ram and socketed M.2 SSD's AND give you 12 hours of battery life.

    All for the sake of the biggest stupid in computing.

    Thinner and lighter.

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields