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Apple Explains Why 15-Inch MacBook Pro is Limited to 16GB RAM

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In case you’ve been wondering why the new MacBook Pro is limited to 16GB of RAM despite featuring more energy efficient Skylake processors, faster SSDs, better GPUs, and new thermal architecture, the answer is fairly straight forward, according to Apple at least. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing says that more than 16GB RAM would “consume too much power and have a negative impact on battery life”, MacRumors reports.

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In reply to an email sent by a Mac user, Schiller explained that in order to put more than 16GB of RAM, it would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn’t be efficient enough for a notebook. It must however be noted that although the MacBook Pro is aimed at professionals who may occasionally feel the constraints of being limited to 16GB, most average customers likely couldn’t utilize 32GB RAM anyway.

Below is the email communication:

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.

Other than a high-end custom upgrade option of 32GB RAM in the 27-inch iMac, none of Apple’s portable Macs offer more than 16GB RAM.

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  • SOB

    Hate to see what price the Macbook Pro would be at 32GB RAM. The price at 16GB is crazy expensive already.

  • Steve

    Most pple who use the MBP would be professionals and they would plug this laptop in a power outlet. Apple just provided a lame excuse. 16GB is the medium end of most laptops, especially for pros.

  • Dehop

    “most average customers likely couldn’t utilize 32GB RAM anyway”

    FFS, “most average customers” will not be sinking over $4000 for a friggin’ top of the line pro laptop!!!

    Anyone who sinks that much money into a laptop deserves the right to piss away battery life if they want!

    That is among the most pathetic excuses I have ever heard for crippling a pro machine.

    Next thing he’ll say is that “most average customers” don’t want or need a Mac Pro, hence the utter lack of updates for three years!

    Following SOB’s earlier comment, I imagine the *real* reason is that they don’t want the spotlight on the sticker shock an upgrade to 32 GB RAM would be. With an 8 GB upgrade for the 13″ costing $200 USD, I’m sure the 16 to 32 GB upgrade on a 15″ would be about $500 USD.

    I like Macs, but I don’t like being ripped off. Thank goodness I got one of the last user-upgradable MBPs Apple ever released.

  • Shameer Mulji

    I bet these get 32GB support the minute Apple shifts to LPDDR4 RAM, which is fast and power efficient.

  • raslucas

    16GB ram with a computer with fast flash storage is plenty for laptop users. The battery life concern is a real thing FYI. I think it’s reasonable to say if users need more ram they should use the iMac… for now. I think people are used to old spinning hard disks, where if their computers run out of ram, it would slow to a crawl, moving data from ram to flash is much faster.

    I think the only way I’d be pushing that 16GB limit is maybe if I’m running virtual machines.

  • Delphin Amethyst

    My thoughts exactly. What happened to computers being user-upgradable? I already upgraded the RAM on my Macbook Pro 2012 to 16GB, for (wait for it) 70 dollars. If I got one of the newer models, it would’ve costed 360 dollars. 360. 360! That’s a little over 5 times the cost for virtually the same amount of labour! Dang you, Apple! Resurrect Steve Jobs from the dead!

  • Dehop

    “I think the only way I’d be pushing that 16GB limit is maybe if I’m running virtual machines.”

    Um, EXACTLY. A coworker couldn’t use an MBP anymore because he couldn’t run all the VMs needed for his development work. He now has a Win laptop

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