16GB of RAM should be plenty for most folks buying a new MacBook Pro

Planning to buy one of those new MacBook Pros and deciding whether to fork out an extra US$400 to upgrade to 32GB of RAM? My advice: save yourself some cash and go with 16GB instead.

That’s what I’ve used in my various Macs (desktop and laptop) over the years, and it’s served me just fine. With 16GB of memory and Pages, Safari, iTunes, Mail, Calendar, Photos, and Pixelmator Pro usually all open at the same time, there’s almost never a hiccup in performance.

My experience has led me to conclude that 16GB is a perfect amount of RAM for pro work and most demanding games. While it’s true that a Mac with more RAM feels noticeably faster, that’s only true up to a point. For example, if you upgrade from 4GB to 8GB or 16GB, you’ll feel like your Mac has been turbo-boosted and turned into one of the best laptops for Sims 4 and many other titles.

However, for most users, if you upgrade from 16GB to 32GB, you won’t notice much of a speed increase.There are, of course, some caveats to my 16GB recommendation. You can never have too much memory, so if money is no object, sure, go ahead and spring for 32GB. That amount is good for enthusiasts and workstations.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.


  • While I agree with that assessment for Intel-based Macs, the M1/Pro/Max SoCs are a horse of a different color… especially as you move into the Max choices. Do a web search for “best gaming GPUs” or something similar. The results will show you GPUs with anywhere from 8 to 24 GB of dedicated GPU RAM. Well, the M1 GPUs need RAM, too. And, while there’s certainly not a direct correlation to memory usage on a discrete GPU to a unified memory architecture, those GPUs are going to need memory, too. And while the M1s of last year rocked 8 GPU cores, the new MacBook Pros have 14, 16, 24, or 32 cores. And they are all going to need RAM.

    I initially ordered a 16-inch with the M1 Max/10/24 and 32 GB of unified memory. After the purchase, as I considered that the memory will not be upgradable over the life of the Mac, it’s also going to be shared between all those CPU, NE, and GPU cores. That might make 32 GB feel like, say, 22. This mental exercise scales down to the 16 GB unified memory with the base 8/14 M1 Pro, too. And all those memory-hungry cores could easily make 16 GB feel like much less.

    My existing 2018 MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM regularly uses about 75% of its memory just putting up with my day-to-day nonsense. I’m buying a non-upgradable computer to take along for the next 3-4 years. After thinking about it for a day or so, I canceled the order for the 32 GB machine and re-ordered one with 64, While I felt uncertain about the 32 GB, I am confident this will work great.

  • If photoshop or any multimedia is in your daily activities, these suggestions are going to paint you into a ‘can’t upgrade after the fact corner’. You need 24gb AT LEAST if you are what is typically referred to as a ‘pro’.

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