back to article Apple exec defends 8GB $1,599 MacBook Pro, claims it's like 16GB in a PC

Eight gigabytes has been the standard RAM load out on new MacBook Pros for the better part of a decade, and in 2023, Apple execs still believe it's enough for customers. With the launch of Apple's M3 MacBook Pros last month, a base 14-inch $1,599 model with an M3 chip still only gets you 8GB of unified DRAM that's shared …

  1. karlkarl Silver badge

    Why is an Apple exec spending any of their precious time defending their products?

    the twits were going to buy it anyway.

  2. chuckufarley Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    With 8GB of RAM...

    ...It would be a real shame if customers had to pay more to run workloads in Cloud, wouldn't it?

    1. Dagg Silver badge

      Re: With 8GB of RAM...

      ...It would be a real shame if customers had to pay more to run workloads in Cloud, wouldn't it?

      Can't use a cloud in Australia if you are with Optus... Just gotta love that single point of failure. Ha Ha

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: With 8GB of RAM...

        It's only a single point of failure if you let it be a single point of failure. I run a business that relies on working Internet connectivity, so I have two 100% diversely-routed Internet services. Simple, really.

        GJC

  3. Scotthva5

    Insult to injury

    8gb? Okay, maybe MacOS is more frugal than most. What I find inexcusable is the fruit vendor charging $200 to upgrade to 16gb. And no, you can't add memory at a later date, just from the factory.

    Fool, money, etc.

    1. navarac Bronze badge

      Re: Insult to injury

      Yep. Friut-Fan-Boys have always had more money than sense.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Insult to injury

        It’s quite funnY to see dull-boys shitting themselves over the price of Apple stuff. Companies buy them, and expenses. They don’t care.

        I have a max spec M2 Air which cost me zero as it is supplied by the company and is mere bagatelle compared to the home working set up costs they have afforded me.

        If somebody does by one with their own cash, then I’m sure they will get a chunk back when they upgrade and sell it on.

        1. keithpeter Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Insult to injury

          "If somebody does by one with their own cash, then I’m sure they will get a chunk back when they upgrade and sell it on."

          I'm interested in the resale price of old computers and in the viability of 'refurbished' computers generally. Just from a 'lets keep stuff out of landfill if it is any use" perspective.

          How will the current generation of tightly integrated Apple hardware fare in the aftermarket? Anyone got any informed ideas?

          1. Lazlo Woodbine

            Re: Insult to injury

            Dunno about current kit, but last year I sold a 2011 i7 MacMini server with 16gb RAM and 2x500gb hard drives for £280, it was on eBay for 30 minutes before I sold it.

            I can't imagine an 11 year old M2 based MacMini will retain value as well, but it will still sell for more than a similarly old Windows box, if only because they're much better built.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Insult to injury

              The resale value argument cuts both ways. I bought two laptops over the past 6 months A Dell Precision 7420 with i7-1185G7 3.00GHz 32GB DDR4 for $325 and a DYNABOOK PORTEGE with i7-1165G7 2.80GHZ 32GB DDR4 for $275. Both units were in excellent like new condition.

              I couldn't care less what their resale value is. No sense in paying thousand of dollars too much for equipment because they have great resale value. Instead I wait a year or two buy used and I am no worst off for it.

              I can understand companies buying new gear but cannot understand how any sensible person pays the kind of prices Apple and other manufacturers charge for new gear.

              I just bought a USED Dell Precision 7920 for $485 with Dual Xeon Bronze 3206R 128GB DRAM and Nvidia M6000. I wanted to replace the processors with a Xeon Gold model so I went online to look at the listed configuration from Dell. I was shocked to see that the list price for the configuration I had just purchased was $5169 and on sale for $3097 with only 64GB Dram and a less capable graphics card.

              1. Lazlo Woodbine

                Re: Insult to injury

                The £280 I sold it for was exactly £280 more than I paid for it.

                It had been humming away silently for 9 years or so acting as a print and file server for the iMacs in our graphics classroom. When they swapped the iMacs for HP workstations (a BAD idea) I helped myself to a couple of the 2012 iMacs and the MacMini server...

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Insult to injury

                  Cool. I hope you paid tax on that benefit you received.

                2. jgarbo

                  Re: Insult to injury

                  "...helped myself..." sounds suspiciously like theft...

                  1. ITMA Silver badge

                    Re: Insult to injury

                    Helping oneself to company property, even old retired kit, without something in writing (or electronic) which is effectively a "transfer of ownership", does sound an awful lot like theft.

                    1. fandom

                      Re: Insult to injury

                      It is, but then the company would have had to pay someone to remove the kit from the premises and recycle it proporly.

                      So he saved them money really.

                      1. ITMA Silver badge

                        Re: Insult to injury

                        True - but then depending on what might be on said kit, they may have a policy on safe (from a privacy point of view) disposal of IT kit, such as approved methods of wiping drives.

                        "Helping oneself" sounds like it probably didn't go through any such process (assuming it exists). Which is also a no no.

                        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                          Re: Insult to injury

                          I don't know what's happening to the el Reg commentariat these days.

                          All he has to do is put in an appropriately sized expense claim for secure disposal of redundant IT equipment.

                          1. ITMA Silver badge
                            Devil

                            Re: Insult to injury

                            Playing Devil's Advocate here...

                            What if they are not allowed to do that?

                            Because there may be a set process for secure disposal of IT equipment which they've not followed.

                            That could then be two things - theft of company equipment and putting in a false expense claim.

                      2. doublelayer Silver badge

                        Re: Insult to injury

                        Or a different option: they planned to erase it and sell it themselves, earning the money he ended up with. Without context, we don't know this, and I mean that in both directions. This easily could have been theft, but it could equally likely have been that they wanted the equipment disposed of and didn't mind that he took it. I've gotten plenty of hardware by being willing to take it away when the former owner wanted it out of this closet today, please, and I don't care what happens after that. Don't jump to the conclusion that this machine was stolen, nor the conclusion that he did the former owners a favor. Both are possible, and a few intermediate options are as well.

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Insult to injury

                "I can understand companies buying new gear but cannot understand how any sensible person pays the kind of prices Apple and other manufacturers charge for new gear."

                I have no problem paying what might be called a high price if it holds some sort of advantage. If I'm editing photos and video and can shave 15-20 minutes off of each job multiplied by 100 jobs/year, the added cost is giving me back the one thing that money can't buy, time. If the bottleneck is not me waiting on the computer to do something, I see a big gain every time I improve my skills and find new techniques to do things faster which wouldn't mean much otherwise. If it's costing me $1,000 more of Apple hardware that gives me back a week of time every year, I don't have a problem with that. Just paying the money to have a device with the logo on it holds no value for me. In the same way, I'd never own a top spec watch. My phone is referenced back to an official atomic clock and adjusts automatically. I have several clocks in the house that pick up the broadcast time signal and I never have to adjust them. I could get a cheaper clock from Ikea, which I have, but that one needs to be adjusted at least once a month depending on my tolerance for it being off.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Insult to injury

              They're really not built better though.

              They're about the same quality as any other "premium" level machine.

              1. Sampler

                Re: Insult to injury

                No, no, the exact same factory they're coming out if in Shenzen owned by Foxconn are putting more care in to the mac line than their other customers, like, totally...

                1. SCP

                  Re: Insult to injury

                  Careful, we are well into fanbois territory here so Poe's Law applies, like totally!

          2. Lurko

            Re: Insult to injury

            "I'm interested in the resale price of old computers and in the viability of 'refurbished' computers generally"

            In the early aftermarket it will do well, as Apple hardware always has. With the concern about WEEE, then the focus needs to be on the attrition rate of the hardware, and that's going to be driven by all-factors - suitability to meet user demands, economics of consumable replacement (batteries, specifically), failure rates across all components (keyboard switches, sockets, soldered joints, individual components or sub-assemblies), plus accidental damage. And then there's cosmetics and keeping up with the Joneses. All of which is why "right to repair" is a waste of time. Whether there's any good data on any of that I don't know, but I'd assert that fixing one problem like limited and non-upgradeable RAM is not going to make any material difference to the average asset life, and more effort should go into capturing WEEE at point of sale. There's strong take-back rules for WEEE and municipal recycling arrangements in the UK and the EU, but recycling rates aren't where they could be, and fixing that's more important than extending the average Macbook's life by a couple of days.

            An interesting observation about WEEE is that the highest per-capita generators of e-waste in Europe are perhaps not always the countries you'd expect: Top comes Norway, followed by UK, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands and Iceland. Whenn it comes to recycling we're definitely in the could do better category, we're fairly middle of the pack compared to EU recycling rates, and at the top end of reported recycling rates by country you can see figures that imply careful data management to get a good score.

            1. keithpeter Silver badge

              Re: Insult to injury

              @Lurko

              https://www.gov.uk/electricalwaste-producer-supplier-responsibilities/take-back-waste-in-store

              Thankyou for a considered and thoughtful reply.

              I have actually seen notices about bringing old things back to the shop within 28 days locally. Now I know why.

              1. Lurko

                Re: Insult to injury

                Most large companies run decent DTS schemes (and those that don't will find they get a visit from the regulator that enforces such things).

                Unfortunately, distributor take back doesn't apply to online retailers like it does to bricks and mortar sellers. So buy from Argos, they need to have their own physical take back scheme. Buy from Amazon, they're allowed to use the Valpak DTS scheme which isn't a takeback scheme at all, simply a buy-out option. Fair enough for smaller retailers who aren't big enough to run their own take back scheme, but vermin like Amazon? No way. That's not Valpak's fault, it's poor government policy.

                In theory the money Valpak raises from fees is used to support local recycling, in practice it's nowhere near enough to cover costs, so you're paying through your council tax for WEEE recycling via the local tip, and that's yet another subsidy to Amazon or other large online-only retailers. Incidentally, AO do have their own takeback scheme for white goods, showing it can be done.

              2. SusiW
                Happy

                Re: Insult to injury

                Thanks! I didn't know that.

                Apart from being able to deposit an old item of the same type that you have just bought from them, regardless of size, you are entitled to do the following - -

                According to the regs, if a seller of electrical goods has a floor space of greater than 400m2 and sells a type of goods, you can dump an item for free of said type that has a dimension of "less than 25cm on its longest side."

                You *DO NOT* have to have bought anything from them!

                I'm going near PC Currys World later today. This could be fun.

          3. Necrohamster Bronze badge

            Re: Insult to injury

            Ask any recycler about how iCloud lock, activation lock and MDM enrolment have killed the sale-ability of second hand MacBooks and iPads.

            1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

              Re: Insult to injury

              This.

              I haven't seen much discussion of this, but this is a HUGE problem, essentially making it risky to buy ANY used M1/M2/M3 equipment (and iPads and iPhones). You can have a Mac that has been factory reset -- but if the previous owner didn't log out of iCloud first, you CANNOT use the machine for anything until you log back in with that previous owner's iCloud credentials.

              Even read about cases where places that do "rent to own" would repo one of these Macs, of course iCloud locked; there's a procedure for Apple to reset that but (even with paperwork showing they owned the machine) apparently could not get Apple to unlock the machines.

            2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: Insult to injury

              Mostly stolen ones.

              I've bought many macbooks and ipads on auction, and never had an issue.

              1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

                Re: Insult to injury

                >>I've bought many macbooks and ipads on auction, and never had an issue.

                Our local importer of used iThings even says "Do NOT factory reset these devices as they may be managed"

                I used to have issues until I stopped using him... or, rather, refused to bend to the will of the person who works here whose husband ran the firm....

                1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                  Re: Insult to injury

                  Your local importer bought stolen stuff?

                  Or did I misinterpret that?

                  1. Necrohamster Bronze badge

                    Re: Insult to injury

                    People buy things in good faith, and an activation lock or MDM profile on a MacBook may not be apparent to a buyer until they try to factory reset it

                2. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: Insult to injury

                  Not a good person to buy from then. I don't recycle electronics professionally, but I do and have handled them for quite a few people. If they're trying to get rid of Apple equipment, I have them reset it beforehand. Whether I'm selling them or more likely giving them away, that is my responsibility to do to make sure they work. If someone is not bothering to do it, it suggests that they're treating their eventual customers quite badly by giving them equipment that might or might not be effectively broken, and if they're doing other checks, it suggests that they might be accepting stolen equipment. Either way, find a better supplier.

          4. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Insult to injury

            "How will the current generation of tightly integrated Apple hardware fare in the aftermarket? Anyone got any informed ideas?"

            So far, each new iteration of every OS requires more HP to run as it doesn't seem as any vendor is spending any effort to get more performance from existing hardware. Windows and MacOS more than Linux, but still to some extent with Linux unless you want to compile your own. I will go out on a limb and suggest that this will continue until increasing hardware performance hits a wall or the cost of hardware becomes so onerous that not even companies with deep pockets are going to see much advantage in upgrading.

            We may start seeing systems take a step back to where users are issued something that acts more like a terminal where simple things are done locally and more complex tasks will be sent to some big iron as it will make more sense to max out a mainframe rather than issue everybody a very powerful box that doesn't get pushed very often.

            If hardware a few years old has zero upgradability, it won't run the latest OS and applications and will become yet another word processor and email checker since that's all it will be good for. The problem is that most of us have plenty of those already.

          5. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: Insult to injury

            Second hand value is very good, as long as the machine doesn't die. I only buy second hand. An M1 Air is my newest machine.

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: "fruit fan-boy"

        "We said at the time "it's almost 2024, and Apple is still shipping PCs with 8GB of RAM," which got us some stick from readers who felt that capacity was more than enough."

        Because corporate apologists. The gifts that never end.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Insult to injury

      At work, we use workstations with 128GB of memory, and sometimes that's not enough for our CAD package... I can't see us ever moving to apple computers, even if they are more memory efficient

    3. rajivdx

      Re: Insult to injury

      No MacOS is not more frugal than most.

      No ARM architecture is not more compact than x86.

      The one place where x86 really shone was in code size as it had all the legacy crap that required single byte instructions etc - which made everything else so complex and cumbersome.

      Windows due to the amount of low end PC's it needs to run on has been optimised to be as frugal with RAM as possible.

      And you can't control the users - they will keep opening as many Chrome tabs as they can. And a Chrome tab will take pretty much the same amount of memory on a Mac or anything else.

      And yes I have an M1 Mac Studio, and it runs Windows in a VM faster than it runs MacOS.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Insult to injury

        It's probably the RAM compression they are thinking of. Well, that would be the explanation, anyway.

        1. Malcolm 1

          Re: Insult to injury

          Windows has had memory compression since the introduction of Windows 10 (in 2015) - so the Mac is hardly unique in this regard.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: Insult to injury

            I think Mac introduced it in 2013. No surprise MS did so a few year later.

            But yes, some Apple managerial types probably aren't up to speed on much.

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Insult to injury

        I'll inform my son that when he is downloading a 120GB game from Steam it is actually a really small thing, thanks to X86 compact instructions...

        (Point being that there's tremendous amounts of stuff, even in RAM, that has little to do with instruction sets.)

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    *Placed*

    The reference to unified memory refers to the fact that Apple Silicon Macs' memory is placed next to the system-on-chip die within the processor package rather than being soldered to the motherboard or connected using SODIMM modules.

    Hmm how do you *place* that memory? Hmm blue-tac? tape? superglue?

    No! It's soldered.

    1. Catkin Silver badge

      Re: *Placed*

      The key part isn't the connection method but the location: it's on the same chip package as the CPU. Soldered or socketed is more to cover both main ways RAM is connected to a motherboard.

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: *Placed*

        Technically, as the RAM is integrated into the SoC, and the SoC is soldered to the logic board... the RAM is soldered to the logic board. So, the OP was right, in the sense of falling down in the outhouse and coming out smelling like roses.

    2. FIA Silver badge

      Re: *Placed*

      Hmm how do you *place* that memory? Hmm blue-tac? tape? superglue?

      No! It's soldered.

      Is it? Is that how multi core SOCs are assembled? I always assumed they were just bonded?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: *Placed*

        The memory chips are soldered though. Only difference it makes it that they are closer to the CPU, so you have shorter traces and you can achieve higher bandwidth more easily.

        But you can definitely desolder the memory and replace it on Mx chips.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: *Placed*

          Not exactly an end user 5 minute upgrade, is it.

          Replacing chips in a multichip module is none trivial. It's a long way removed from desoldering a chip from a PCB.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: *Placed*

            It's not "a long way". It's very much the same process. Plus the chips are close together so you can do them in one go.

            Only issue is that you can't buy new chips that would have balls applied to them, so you have to reball the sourced used chips, which is a bit of pain.

            But that's entirely Apple fault.

            If you had access to new chips, then it would be very much 5 minute job (excluding disassembly and assembly of the laptop)

            1. bazza Silver badge

              Re: *Placed*

              Well if the chips aren't available, that's even worse, isn't it? To upgrade from 8G to 16G, first source a 16G machine, desolder its memory chips, etc.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: *Placed*

      Hmm how do you *place* that memory? Hmm blue-tac? tape? superglue?

      1. Find a dictionary.

      2. Look up the many definitions of "place.

  5. aerogems Silver badge
    Gimp

    I was gonna say...

    Thankfully, El Reg got to it for me. The physical placement of the RAM doesn't mean shit as far as capacity goes. Sure, with the tight vertical integration Apple has, with extremely limited hardware support, maybe they can be a bit more efficient than Microsoft or Linux or whatever where a lot of stuff will get loaded "just in case." But, 8GB is still 8GB at the end of the day. Someone using Photoshop or Final Cut Pro is probably still hurting when they need to edit larger files if they believed this load of bullplop.

    Sort of sad reality is, there's a lot of Apple fanboi types out there who will just blindly believe whatever some marketing material from Cupertino says. They could say the sky is purple, and they'd probably twist themselves into all manner of knots trying to say how it's real. It'd be enough that even the fake moon landing and lizard people conspiracy theorists would think they're crazy. That tribal mentality doesn't just stop at left vs right politics, it extends to things like operating systems and beyond.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: I was gonna say...

      The gain of a shared/unified memory architecture is also speed, as nothing needs to be copied betwixt CPU and GPU. (Though it often needs swizzling)

      But it also means you have less memory overall, because a significant part of that 8GB is used by the GPU, and cannot be made available for anything else.

      Plug in a 5120-by-2880 "Retina" display, and at 24bpp you've already lost 540MB just for the front and back buffers. This cannot be swapped, it's system reserved.

      So with one display, you've got under 7.5GB. Add a second display, and there's less than 7GB before you've even turned it on!

      Now load macOS, and start some applications that also have their own GPU buffers, and now there's 6,5,4,3GB for your actual work...

      The GPU on my amd64 desktop has 8GB for itself. Yes, some of that is mirrored in main RAM (eg during copy operations), but most is not.

      That said, as long as you're not touching swap the Mx Macs are really fast.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: I was gonna say...

        So best not to run a big database server or a few concurrent VMs on it then.

        1. Gordon 10

          Re: I was gonna say...

          On what planet are you on where you are running a big DB on a laptop? The 90's called and want their shonky development methodologies back.

          1. Blitterbug
            Facepalm

            Re: I was gonna say...

            The point is, it's a Pro. Field engineers often run offline copies of a live DB on pro-grade lappies, Apple or otherwise. This is not about 'only 8GB', it's about 'only 8GB on a Pro.'

            1. Necrohamster Bronze badge

              Re: I was gonna say...

              Get with the program. Nobody does actual work on a MacBook Pro, specially field engineers.

            2. RAMChYLD

              Re: I was gonna say...

              Can confirm. I once ran a two VMs including a trial database on SQL Server 2008 on a laptop to simulate our production server so we can have a live demo of the software at a venue. Needed 16GB of RAM and even then it's slow as molasses.

            3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: I was gonna say...

              So, get the 16GB version then...

              What's the problem?

              Pro users need to get the correct tool.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I was gonna say...

                Exactly. You buy the machine for what you need it to do. If you’re going to use it for jobs that need more memory, get the model that has more. For general “office” tasks 8GB on an Mx is sufficient, so paying for more RAM is wasted. Of course, if you drink the Google kool-aid and run Chrome you will need more. My M1-Pro laptop has 16GB and rarely uses more than 8GB - the extra is only noticed when editing in DV Resolve* or running a Windows VM.

                *My videos don’t need a lot of FX, mainly colour grading, cutting and transitions (and just 4k or HD), and I’ve never seen free memory drop below 3GB.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: I was gonna say...

            "On what planet are you on where you are running a big DB on a laptop?"

            Here's one case where you absolutely would: local training of a machine learning model. Normally, that kind of thing gets outsourced to some big servers running Linux, often in some cloud provider's DC, but the point of the discussion the article covered was to show off doing it locally, and people sometimes do. You know what they need if they're going to? A lot of training data and something in which to store it. Quite frequently, that's a database of some description, not just a really big directory.

            The point was not about databases, though. That's just one example of something that takes more RAM. There are many such things, from running a virtual machine or two to working with some high resolution video, something Apple's been popular for for some time. That's the kind of work where buying a Pro makes sense, and the entry level Pro is likely to have some problems doing that well.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: I was gonna say...

              "Normally, that kind of thing gets outsourced to some big servers running Linux, often in some cloud provider's DC, but the point of the discussion the article covered was to show off doing it locally, and people sometimes do."

              Outsourcing can be a good way for small companies to reduce costs until they get some growth, but it means accepting the risk to your company of having to rely on somebody else that does not care at all about your business and if it survives. If they have a problem, you can't even throw money at them to get you back up and running again as quickly as possible.

              When I had a manufacturing company I outsourced a bunch of machining since buying CNC lathes and leasing a bigger building to have room for them wasn't in our budget. There were plenty of local machine shops that could do the work so If one was booked, I could use another even if they charged a bit more or their turn around time wasn't as fast as our first choice. Once material was delivered, it would be like hosting data or using off-site computing. To change at that point would mean having to hire a truck to pick up the material and move it to another shop unless the reason was the shop that had the material was shut for one reason or another and there was no access.

              I find it preferable to keep things important to keeping the company working in house or have multiple suppliers I can switch between instantly.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: I was gonna say...

                Outsourcing doesn't just mean to another company. In my comment, it meant running the software on a different machine, which might be rented from a cloud provider or owned by the same company. If you meant your comment apply to using the cloud provider's server, it's not the same as outsourcing since you can easily reserve capacity from a cloud provider to guarantee its availability and, if you're using it for temporarily using a more powerful computer than you want to buy, it's quite easy to move that task to any other provider of big computers or your own. This is compared to the difficulty moving things from a cloud provider if you've put publicly-accessible resources there, which is much harder.

          3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: I was gonna say...

            What is big today? If it fits on an USB stick then it's not big. These days running 1TB database on a laptop shouldn't raise eyebrows.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: I was gonna say...

              What would raise eyebrows would be comparing the spec of the laptop with that of servers one which we used in the past to support the database and the applications served over terminals to multiple users. A Pi will have more memory than those old boxes did. These days it's not the basic task that's the problem, it's the bloat.

    2. Dave K

      Re: I was gonna say...

      One advantage of additional RAM that Apple overlooks is caching of data to speed up operation. My newish work laptop has 16GB of RAM, and whilst my previous 8GB laptop performed OK, the additional RAM in my newer machine means more regularly used applications and data are cached by the OS into spare RAM. You do notice the difference when launching applications that have been cached by the OS as they start considerably faster than having to load from disk/SSD.

      Put simply, more RAM is good and will benefit performance. It's a shame Apple are penny-pinching on a $1,600 laptop, then desperately trying to come up with excuses for it. In reality, we all know why they're doing this - to gouge customers by charging $200 more for a 16GB model.

      1. rg287

        Re: I was gonna say...

        One advantage of additional RAM that Apple overlooks is caching of data to speed up operation.

        I'm not sure they've overlooked it. They're counting on the fact that their SOC architecture can hypothetically give much better storage latency than SATA storage (or even NVMe). Notwithstanding that they've mucked about with that in recent editions.

        Consequently, the perceived performance dip when something wanders off to swap or has to be retrieved from storage is much lower, and the whole system "feels snappier".

        And on entry level systems, doing more with less because of that architectural decision is not awful. The average Macbook Air user won't notice.

        But to be shipping any "Pro" branded hardware with less than 16GB these days is woeful, because it's not a matter of occasional swapping or start-up performance for a browser. Whether its a local DB, build processes or media wrangling, you need GBs to work. Yes, maybe the OS is a smidge more efficient, but obviously the moment you start loading images or video into LightRoom or FCPX you immediately run out of RAM.

        As we all agree... having very fast access to storage is no substitute for having enough memory for the workload. But they haven't overlooked that. It's very much by design. It's just that design decision (whilst passable for Airs) is inappropriate for Pro machines and exists only (as others have said) to suppress the "From" price and let them mark up sensible configurations.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: I was gonna say...

        With that said, macOS does make use of several tricks to optimize memory utilization, including caching as much data as it can in free RAM to avoid running to and from slower storage for stuff

        Wouldnt you need more memory for that , not less?

      3. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: I was gonna say...

        I don't think it's necessarily gouging so much in this case. The RAM is on the SoC die, so they have to choose how many of which type to fab, and no doubt higher density DRAM chips cost more. But considering we're talking laptops here, if the die grows a couple millimeters to allow the use of lower density chips, so what? They've got the room to absorb that. The only other place they use the Mx series of chips is the iPad Pro, which, again, could probably afford a couple extra millimeters of space for the SoC if they really needed to. Admittedly that will mean fewer chips per wafer, but considering Apple is among the first to go 3nm, that should help compensate a fair bit.

        They could also go back to adding a SODIMM slot where people could add additional RAM. It wouldn't be as fast as the on-die RAM, but it'd still be faster than trying to use even a SSD for swap.

    3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: I was gonna say...

      I find that most pro mac users know all about needing RAM and buy accordingly.

  6. Crypto Monad Silver badge

    Looking at Activity Monitor on my old (Intel) 16GB Macbook Pro right now:

    - Wired Memory (system) is 2.63GB

    - WindowServer is using 1015MB

    - kernel_task is using 693MB

    That means over 4GB is being used just in the background, so an 8GB machine would have less than 4GB available for applications. I wouldn't expect the ARM processors to be significantly different in their usage; both are 64-bit processors.

    IMO, the purpose of the 8GB machines is to be able to make the headline "From" price lower. They're still usable for basic browsing / word-processing etc.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      How have we got to the point where 8GB is "usable for basic browsing / word-processing etc."?

      (Not having a go at you BTW... just the lazy, bloated state of the industry today.)

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        By routinely keeping open a ton of applications and lots of browser tabs, each with pages with lots of graphics, downloading stuff in the background, and wanting to be able to return to applications later without waiting. Don't get me wrong, memory waste has increased significantly, but when memory was at a premium, we kept things in it less. It was not common to keep programs running when you weren't planning to use them soon, and even if you did, they would be more aggressive about writing things back to disk and evicting them from RAM.

        A simple example: I used an audio editor from the 1990s. It could run in a few megabytes of RAM, and most things were fine. If you ran a complex operation on it, though, you'd have to wait a while for it to complete whereupon it would let out a loud ding to alert you that you could stop looking at your email now. It did this, not just because the processor was slower, but because all the data you were editing was stored in huge temp files on your hard drive, which if you were unlucky wouldn't get deleted and you had to go find and clear them. Some operations would limit your ability to use the undo button or would make the undo process another long wait because they would require making another copy of the file and that would use up too much disk space. A modern audio editor uses a ton of memory, but this is because it keeps all that raw data in RAM, including the old data you discarded a while ago, for speed. If you're low on RAM, it trusts your OS to swap for it. This wasn't just audio editors. Anyone remember Office files of the form ~$ocument.tmp? They were hidden by default, but you could unhide them. That was the hack to use the disk as RAM so that the software itself would use less. We have abandoned those hacks and started telling the truth about how much data is being used.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        I'm reading this on a Linux desktop with 8GB and it's just fine unless I do something ridiculously memory hungry, like video editing or browsing the web with Firefox.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          My last work provided laptop had 8GB of memory. It was fine until they stopped using Sametime as the IM tool, and switched to Slack. This (along with deploying a very hungry background backup process and the mandatory AV software) pushed my system into paging as soon as I tried to do any actual work.

          Because it was in the middle of the lockdowns, and they were not doing laptop refreshes, I replaced the memory with 16GB of my own memory in order to keep it usable.

          I finally got a replacement (they actually told me to have a replacement as my old one was missing CPU features that their security suite wanted to use and was past it's asset lifetime anyway) and that came with 16GB. As I type this, with Firefox and Chrome (to run Webex, another memory hog - the Linux native Webex tool unaccountably has missing features), Evolution and almost nothing else on the system, I see just 6GB 'free'.

          My 16GB of memory is now sitting in my own personal T420 (the last normal Thinkpad with a 'proper' Thinkpad keyboard - you didn't think I would send the old work laptop back with my memory in it did you?) and that very rarely goes above 40% memory used unless I'm doing some audio or video editing, so I could work in 8GB.

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            My 16GB of memory is now sitting in my own personal T420 (the last normal Thinkpad with a 'proper' Thinkpad keyboard

            Coo. I thought that was the X220, what i have got one of. Will now investigate the T420 too.

            1. esque

              X220 and T420 are the same generation, just different sizes.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I only recently became informed that running several add-ons on firefox is a cause for seeing...several browser processes running. I'm counting... 8 x Firefox in apps and 10 x firefox in background. processes. SEVENTEEN instances of opera. Every little un-helps.

      3. FIA Silver badge

        How have we got to the point where 8GB is "usable for basic browsing / word-processing etc."?

        The boring answer... media.

        That's the one thing that was, is and always will be 'large'.

        I can word process a nice colourful document in as much memory as I could in the 90s, but once I start to add media to it, then the memory usage rises.

        Pretty pixels cost memory. (As pointed out above somewhere, a 4K frame is around 30 MB... back in the 90s I had 2MB of video memory...)

        1. Binraider Silver badge

          4k frame with a double or triple buffer... Get those multipliers ready!

      4. aerogems Silver badge
        Joke

        Back in my day, we had to walk 15 miles, uphill, in the snow, barefoot, both ways! If we were cold we had to kill a bear and skin it to make a coat!

        But you know how it goes... someone makes a 10% more efficient CPU and developers write 20% less efficient code.

  7. doublelayer Silver badge

    The quantity is fine, but the price is not

    I don't really disagree with Apple that 8 GB is enough for some use cases. There are certainly many for which more is helpful, but there are many people who don't do that much with their computer who won't benefit from it. My problem with this spec is that they're pretending it's still high-end and charging accordingly. Sorry, Apple, but 8 GB of RAM is now the basic amount that computers come with once you get out of landfill range. You get a few points for the speed, but the quantity is not only not special, but it's not even average. I'm convinced that the only reason they have that option is to be able to say their MacBook Pro starts at a lower price of $1599 (US, and I'm using USD here because it's the one Apple starts with and doesn't involve calculating any tax rates to compare it), which is a lot of dollars. You can get a lot more performance for the same price elsewhere.

    While Apple's always been somewhat expensive compared to the market, they usually weren't this crazy about it. In fact, they still aren't in many cases. For instance, the Mac Mini still starts at $600 for the same 8/256 GB pairing, although they haven't put the M3 in it yet. They are telling us that the laptop part is a lot more expensive than we know it to be and then overcharging for each small increase in specifications above that mediocre starting point. I won't disagree that 8 GB is enough for some people, but don't pretend it's amazing when it's not.

    1. NATTtrash

      Re: The quantity is fine, but the price is not

      I won't disagree that 8 GB is enough for some people, but don't pretend it's amazing when it's not.

      True, but then it is all about use case isn't it? I mean, picturing people who use their computers like that, would most likely also be very fine with a 8/ 256 GB Vostro for a third of the price.

      And there we go: in the end it is the same thing like those trainers the chavs need to have, the thick watch the pub blagger wears, and that car that was parked deliberately in front of your local hotel.

      It's not about the innards, it's all about that aluminium body and that glowing Apple on the lid that, since there is a bite out of it, will push its Snow White user into a brain coma...

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: The quantity is fine, but the price is not

        Why does every purchasing decision have to be made solely on price and perceived value?

        Why isn't it okay to buy something simply because you like it?

        Why are people making different choices to you 'idiots'?

        I'm not badly paid, and I can't afford a lot of the high priced apple stuff, so the idiots must be doing something right.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: The quantity is fine, but the price is not

          I don't object to someone buying a Mac because they like a Mac. I've made that decision before, and last time I made the equally defensible decision to buy a non-Mac because Apple had annoyed me with what they did to the Mac it replaced. Either way makes sense. What I find harder to accept is when Apple has two types of laptop, one specifically labeled the Pro model and sold at a price that should come with some pretty impressive professional specs, and it's no better than the base model MacBook Air. Anyone can choose to do whatever they like with their money, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't judge Apple for overcharging those people or tell them that, if they're the kind of person who can use 8 GB of RAM, then they probably want a MacBook Air because the Pro is giving them nothing of value.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: The quantity is fine, but the price is not

      The use case where 8GB is fine is someone using it as a Safari Book (like a ChromeBook, except with Safari instead of Chrome). That is a MacBook Air, not a MacBook Pro.

  8. WarpedTrekker

    8GB is a joke for any Mac or PC in 2023. Shoot, even 16GB is a joke for that price. I've had 64GB in all my PC's for years. Next one will have 128GB or 256GB for my needs. Forget measly 8GB and the high priced RAM upgrades. If my PC laptop vendor would've offered more than 32GB, I would've bought it. But even this vendor thinks 8GB is fine for Windows. LOL!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Have you actually ever used a Mac? The last Macbook I bought (the last Intel one they made, haven't replaced it yet) I bought with 32GB of RAM, the idea being that I would run a few VMs on it. Without those, actual memory only now starts to hit 8GB.

      That said, I do agree with the general tone of the article, I think they now ought to come with 16GB as standard but more because then you can also run Windows in a VM and that is *far* quicker than on an Intel box. Sadly that doesn't fix the many, many, MANY usability probllems with the Microsoft approach to UI (it's more a running awaf from than approach IMHO), but at least you then get around their inefficient coding.

      That said, I rather stay with MacOS as it's simply more efficient in both resource use and UI intelligence..

    2. Gordon 10

      You are confusing your geeky needs with general use cases - they are not the same thing.

      You *want* 16Gb coz you are willy waving. Coz bigger in better innit. Do you own an SUV?

      I agree with the general tone of the article but the reality is there are tons of use cases where 8Gb is plenty.

      Even on Windows - ironically have at 2012 MBA with 4Gb comfortably running basic browser and office tasks using Win10 Bootcamp.

      1. IvaliceResident

        What you call "geeky needs" is actually pro needs that a pro laptop is supposed to have for real work. The bioinformatic R script I ran today won't run on 8GB but it just about works with 16GB ram.

        Then there are users of photoshop, video editing, etc... all people who would buy the pro laptop.

        Sure maybe the average Apple fan would be okay with 8GB Ram + 256 GB SSD as they just want to check Facebook, Youtube and some basic MS Word/Excel but for actual professional work the "pro" laptop needs more ram.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          If you run Word on a Mac it's the equivalent of adding 400kg of cement to a Porsche. LibreOffice is *far* less a drain on resources and, to be honest, their Apple M chip compiled variant is one of the fastest bits of software on the Mac. For presentations there's Apple's own Keynote which in my opinion the only presentation package worth using (and the only part of the Apple Works suite worth keeping) as it runs rings round Powerpoint. Excel is about the only argument for ever having Microsoft code on MacOS, and even then you best get something like Little Snitch firewalling installed so you can kill the connectivity for the telemetrics agents that that brings along.

          I can see why Windows users would opt for 32GB of RAM, if only to utterly avoid swapping on Windows because that's just *painful* when it happens, but for an M chipped Apple Macbook 16GB is in my opinion the best future proofing. MacOS is undeniably getting bigger and gets more features (IMHO too many) which does have an impact on available memory, but it can get by with 8GB. Even if it runs out, swapping is quite efficient on a Unix platform but it's still best avoided - hence 16GB.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Said the Apple Exec…

    …probably used to running the very latest, best and highest spec equipment.

  10. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Bollocks

    The days when OS X 10.6.8 was (relatively) frugal with memory are long gone. Then the recommended memory was 1GB and you could get 6GB or 8GB machines, now it's at least 4GB and they're trying to sell the same 8GB machines.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks

      10.6.8 needed 1.5 Gbyte of RAM to stop it paging, but yes, it would work in 1 G. But then, so would Windows 7, and surprisingly, even Windows 10 can be run in 1G of RAM (but only 32-bit; 64-bit needs 2G) - handy for VMs, but you’d need to up the RAM if you were trying to do work with it.

      Don’t get me wrong: I was almost exclusively using a Mac at this time, and I loved 10.6. I’d hoped that Apple would keep improving the memory use and performance of the OS in the next release. When we actually got that release, it was a step backward in pretty much every way.

      The switch to ARM will have cause in increase in program memory requirements (compact instruction code is one of the few remaining advantages of the x86 ISA), but honestly, even doubling the size of the instruction code wouldn’t be a significant increase in RAM use overall, given that resources account for the majority of most applications’ footprint.

  11. wolfetone Silver badge

    8GB is plenty. I mean if it's not enough for you, just go out and buy some and fit it to it?

    *checks notes*

    ... oh. Turns out you can't.

  12. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    8GB is plenty if your walled garden is small enough

    People think they're power users the moment the shiny new tech lands in their hands. They have no idea what a difficult computing task is and they have no idea whether it's running locally or in the cloud. Tell them 8GB isn't enough and suddenly they're an expert in how it magically is.

    My personal server is running various things for me and other groups that I donate CPU time to. It sometimes consumes up to 40GB for just the filesystem cache. Yeah, it need a cache because it has a mix of SSD and spinning rust because nobody in their right mind buys 26TB of flash for a personal system.

    1. Hubert Cumberdale

      Re: 8GB is plenty if your walled garden is small enough

      Much as I agree with the thrust of the article and that an 8GB baseline is dumb (and damned cheap of them, considering the price), you're comparing apples and oranges there (and, if I'm not mistake, maybe boasting a little about the size of your load...)

      1. MSArm

        Re: 8GB is plenty if your walled garden is small enough

        8GB is perfect for running Scrivener, Ulysses app, Bear and Vellum. And guess what - I can run them all simultaneously. So stop assuming you know what people need.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 8GB is plenty if your walled garden is small enough

      "My personal server"

      I'm not sure what sort of form factor your personal server is running on but most people don't chose a laptop for that purpose. And for a many people's requirements a personal server may well be NextCloud on a Pi.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Linux

        Re: 8GB is plenty if your walled garden is small enough

        My personal server is called Jenkins.

        "Jenkins, bring me another gin and tonic please."

    3. FIA Silver badge

      Re: 8GB is plenty if your walled garden is small enough

      ... It sometimes consumes up to 40GB for just the filesystem cache.

      But that's because you have 40G of free memory. Any decent OS should use all available spare memory (and possibly more) for it's filesystem caches, however it doesn't mean they're needed.

      (My personal server has gone from 96GB to 32GB, and uses much less memory for a FS cache as a consequence... I've not noticed the difference...)

  13. Alan Bourke

    I see they've invented

    path tracing too

  14. mpi Silver badge

    What a great idea!

    >Borchers suggests customers test the machines out for themselves, presumably at the Apple Store

    Question, will the Apple store allow me to run my custom code, or inference on a custom ML model? Can I try out how my data aggregation system runs? Aka. seeing how it would perform under the actual workloads I actually do, rather than playing some YT vids and showing a Keynote presentation?

    Because, if the answer is "No", then so is mine., and I will buy my hardware elsewhere.

  15. Binraider Silver badge

    Obligatory reminder that you can do an awful lot with 4k let alone 8GB. Consider who this machine is for - yummy mummies that need a status symbol with a keyboard to write a few emails and browse asos.

    For that, it'll do just fine.

    But yes, relative to the competition the 8GB Macs are dire. We went for a 32GB setup on our most recent Mac chiefly because we expect the system to be useful for 8 to 10 years, the 16GB variant would be unlikely to last that long.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @Binraider

      4K? Are you still using a basic VIC-20 for your main system?

      (Apologies to the VIC-20. I know it had 5K, but it's the closest system I could get to a well known computer with just 4K of memory without going back to a Pet 2001)

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: @Binraider

        Wow.... I grew up in the 8 bit era (ZX-81 -> Commodore +4 -> Acorn Electron), and I never registered that the VIC-20 only had 5K....

        It's rare you learn something new about old stuff at this age.

        Thank you.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: @Binraider

          Of course, if you remember the ZX81, you also remember systems with just 1K.

          Just a throwaway, when you plugged a RAM pack into a ZX81, it disabled the internal 1K of memory. I put an extra bit of address decoding logic in my Sinclair RAM pack using a single 74LS00 quad NAND gate that instead of disabling it, moved it to another part of the address space, and loaded 1K of machine code subroutines to do things like report how much real free memory there was, together with some line-drawing routines.

          1. Binraider Silver badge

            Re: @Binraider

            Did you also keep two bags of frozen peas on rotation to provide cooling?

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: @Binraider

              I never really had a problem with heat on my ZX81. The biggest source of heat was the power regulator. But then I didn't touch it that much, as I also built an external keyboard, so the ZX81 was some distance away fro me, and not jostled all the time when I was typing.

          2. FIA Silver badge

            Re: @Binraider

            Of course, if you remember the ZX81, you also remember systems with just 1K.

            I do, although as I got a second hand ZX81 in the Spectrum/C64/Amiga era it also came with a memotech memopak 64K. This meant wobbly ram upgrades were just a thing of legend.

            It also came with a good stack of old Sinclair Users too, I used to covet the various keyboard expansion options available.

      2. Binraider Silver badge

        Re: @Binraider

        I do keep a C64C around, mostly for the SID and MSSIAH. I would struggle to go back as far as the VIC-20 or a PET!

        4k of Python or C is plenty enough to write interesting programs. The assembly demoscene has a wonderful archive of stuff coded to fit in tiny spaces but still look amazing. Don't mention how much RAM they consume with all the procedural generation employed...

    2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
      Windows

      4 KB RAM

      The first computer I used was a DEC PDP-8e with 4 KW core memory. They were 12-bit words, so 4 K*12 == 48 K bits, / 8 bits == 6 K bytes.

      We had BASIC, assembler, and of course, machine language. My first PC was a VIC-20 (with roughly 3KB free for BASIC programs after the display hardware took its chunk of RAM). Walking to and from school, barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways, blah-blah-blah. ... :-)

      (Icon for old dude)

  16. Annihilator

    It's tricky - because I tend to believe the whole "8GB in an OSX environment is equivalent to a 16GB Windows ecosystem". I'm doing very little on this 16GB laptop currently, and a quick glance at task manager suggests 12GB is occupied. I've got Teams, Outlook, Excel (with a very basic spreadsheet) and Edge open currently - arguably, nothing.

    I'd be interested to see benchmarks between the 8GB and 16GB models, to see if it holds up. And also, any rough equivalent benchmarks against similarly specced x86 machines. Most use cases quoted here seem to be Photoshop/Premier large projects, so it should be fairly easy to do a comparison.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      The problem with that is that most of that is caching of some sort or another. If you have a lot of memory, Windows and applications will preload stuff to make things faster. If you start using more, you'll quickly see many of those processes and the system use evicting it to leave more room for your work. Mac OS does the same thing. This means that merely looking at Task Manager or Activity Monitor doesn't give you a great picture of how much RAM is necessary to do a task, since much extra space is and should be used by caches, only some of which is shown to you as caches. The only way to know your memory needs at the moment is to start paging before you're comfortable with it or go through a more laborious profiling of each of your typical tasks.

      1. hardboiledphil

        You can check memory pressure in activity monitor - much better view on how much memory is being "used" than what you might be used to using over the last 20 years of task-manager or htop

    2. hardboiledphil

      There are loads of videos on youtube comparing speeds of different memory M1/M2 at jobs such as Photoshop and running VMs (check out Alex Ziskind for instance). Surprisingly the tail off in speed was pretty minimal on M1s even with 8Gb. I don't though disagree that 8gb is pathetic these days.

      1. hardboiledphil

        MaxTech has just released a video comparing exactly same M3 machine with 8Gb and 16Gb. A few activities it made little difference but overall I think the verdict was don't buy one and if you're going to upgrade the memory then you might as well go for the next spec up and get 18Gb and a few other things for not much more than the memory difference from the 8gb

  17. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Where as 8GB is probably enough for a lot of people now, the fact is you are stuck with 8GB for the lifetime of the laptop with no means to upgrade it down the road when maybe you will need 16GB.

    Plus charging an extra $200 at purchase to double the RAM is ridiculous when you can buy 16GB RAM DIMMS retail for $50 so it maybe its actually costing Apple $30 extra to manufacture 16GB machines over ones with 8GB.

    Don't get me wrong its not just Apple who are pulling these sort of tactics either, more and more x86 laptops are coming with RAM soldered to the board with no option to add extra down the line, i eventually can see a time where you will have just a couple of high end pro models in a range of laptops with socketed RAM and the rest will all be fixed size at purchase.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Perhaps you might like the Framework laptop: https://frame.work/gb/en

  18. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It all depends on what OS the laptop is running.

  19. 43300 Silver badge

    I was told by a commenter on the previous thread about this that 8GB is sufficient because it could swap to the SSD as the fruity flash is very fast now. And that external drives are a great option for storing data if you don't want to entrust it all to cloudy services. And that faster CPUs make up for it. And you can get higher spec Macs at increased price (which rather ignores the point that the "entry level" Macbook Pro is woefully under-speced for its price). Or something.

    Seems that the fanboi approach is to start from the fixed belief that what Apple does is fantastic, then try to come up with convoluted arguments to justify that viewpoint.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmmm, where did we hear that behaviour? Oh, wait, religion!

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Yes, for some people, Apple really is a religion. I don't understand it myself, but then I did work there, and the aphorism about law and sausages goes double for Apple products.*

      When I worked there Apple was still a computer company, and had not yet become the consumer electronics behemoth that it grew into after iPhone, and, frankly, when I was there nobody thought Apple would last another five years. So, an also-ran, niche-brand computer maker: But even then there were the Faithful. I became wary of telling people where I worked after a couple of occasions of being cornered for a whole evening by some bizarre Apple cultist who wouldn’t take “it’s like any other job” as an answer...

      It has only got worse since then.

      ___

      * often misattributed to Otto von Bismarck, but actually the words of the American poet John Godfrey Saxe: “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion [to how well] we know how they are made”

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "And that external drives are a great option for storing data if you don't want to entrust it all to cloudy services."

      That sounds reasonable, at least as a backup.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        As a backup, yes, but not as main storage because the SSD isn't big enough!

  20. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Depends what you want to use it for. If you do a lot of work with VMs or Machine Learning, ideally you need as much ram as you can throw in there. Compression isn't going to do much at all.

    But ,he is right, in normal use, Macs do seem to be more frugal with memory than Windows.. Not as efficient as Linux, but not as inefficient as Windows.

  21. GraXXoR

    Nothing wrong with 8 GB and 256 GB of storage On the laptop.

    My problem is that by calling it “pro” and charging pro prices.

    They are either basically being borderline disingenuous or diluting the meaning of the word pro.

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      The term 'Pro' has long since been devalued! 'Airpods Pro'? Do they allow users to listen to hop-hop in a professional manner, whereas those using the ordinary Airpods can only do so in an amateur, home-user sort of way?

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      The "Pro" moniker is indeed a marketing strategy as well.

      The Pro macbooks use active cooling (fan) so can theoretically run faster at high loads. My Air M1 is fast enough for me. I just wish it was 16GB, but on the second hand market the premium isn't just $200 -it's more like $400 because buyers were stupidly stingy when speccing their macbooks (so there are few 16GB models around, and even more so for the Air models).

    3. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

      The return of the Grunt master 9000...

  22. Richard Pennington 1

    Mac system requirements

    I am retired, but still have enough of an active brain to do some serious computing (requiring serious computer firepower) on my home machine. I use both Apple and Windows.

    I will disregard my current Windows machine, as it is seriously showing its age and is up for replacement.

    My current Mac is a 27-inch-screen + 24-inch second screen iMac running OX 10.11 (which is the most that that system will run). So it is three versions behind the current system and now obsolete. It also has a 1TB internal HD (the SSD part of the original Fusion drive has failed) and an aftermarket-upgraded 32GB of RAM.

    The reason I have slipped several Apple models is that they cannot match the HD (now, SSD) and RAM of my current system. A 256GB SSD is simply not enough. And 8GB of RAM (not upgradeable)? A mere abacus, even if does have an Apple logo on it.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: Mac system requirements

      You realise that 8GB RAM and 256SSD is only the entry level model, right? There are more options available.

      1. hardboiledphil

        Re: Mac system requirements

        Do people still really use HDD for system drives these days? Can't imagine how slow that must be....

      2. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: Mac system requirements

        Yes, but those specs are too low for the entry level model of a machine claimed to be for the 'Pro' market - especially as they can't be upograded later.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Mac system requirements

        "You realise that 8GB RAM and 256SSD is only the entry level model, right? There are more options available."

        Yes. And if you order that or even something more at a massively inflated price that fits your needs today, what happens when a critical piece of software gets an upgrade and is an even bigger memory hog? Do you sell your one year old machine and buy a bigger one? What do you do if it's not just one machine but a few pallets worth that have to be replaced because some software that the company has built its entire comms around requires an OS upgrade and more resources for that application?

        I'm self-employed so I can continue on with lots of software long past its end of support date and often do. I'm exhausted by having to upgrade the OS and track down all of the broken bits only to find out I'll need to part with another few thousand for upgrades and new peripherals and come away with nothing that benefits me. I have some ancient software that works really well for what it does and is why I keep some old boxes around to run it. I have a Mac Mini strapped to the underside of my desk that I use for audio stuff. I don't need to spend more money for software that does more than I need just to have something that is compatible with the latest OS. The monitor on the desk has multiple inputs and I can switch the KB/Mouse that's already there, no itch.

    2. Blue Pumpkin

      Re: Mac system requirements

      You need to go here https://dortania.github.io/OpenCore-Legacy-Patcher/

      And you'll probably be able to run something more recent.

      Am currently running Monterey on a 2015 Air. - with only 8GB.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple's computers can get away with less memory

    there are many, many benefits of this, and I'm SHOCKED they didn't mention how much weight this saves, how many trees left uncut, little Chinese (?) children unslaved. Not to mention a huge boost to a rotten apple from those who _will_ pay through their green nose for the other stick.

    p.s. my son's 2014 mac pro comes with 16gb ram, positively obscene :)

  24. Blackjack Silver badge

    My 15 year old laptop has 8 GB of ram and it definitely cost way less that $1,599 even using an inflation calculator. Oh and it has a dedicated video card.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeHs9eGzsB8

  25. BenMyers

    SSDs wear out more quickly with less RAM, like only 8GB

    A couple of years ago, I serviced a MacBook just weeks out of warranty. Client complained system, with 4GB memory, would no longer boot. I replaced the SSD with a new Apple proprietary one, installed MacOS and the computer worked perfectly again. My analysis? Especially if one is in the habit of running many apps at once, the small amount of memory forces MacOS (or any other OS) to swap apps to the SSD to make room for the app newly brought into focus. The regular swapping of apps causes lots of write operations to an SSD. It is well-known that repeated write operations wear out an SSD. The only saving grace here is that newer SSDs, maybe even Apple's, become read-only SSDs when they are worn out, instead of simply bricking.

    So now, let's extrapolate my MacOS repair experience to the current 8GB Macs. No way is 8GB enough, except if you are Apple and you want systems to wear our prematurely, so unwitting Mac fanatics can buy another one and and another one. The beat goes on for Apple. Design systems so they fail sooner rather than later.

  26. Joe Gurman

    Interesting edge case

    Just what percentage of buyers of laptops, “pro” or others, Apple or others, is using the laptop to run ML code?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting edge case

      AWS or Microsoft servers.

      We tried a bit on laptop, mine has 16GB of RAM and latest CPU but only to test out the cose with a tiny model. I tried a large model and watched my laptop hamg for several minutes. Just no point with anything larger.

  27. MrDamage Silver badge

    8GB = 16GB

    The only other time I see math like this, is on toilet paper packaging.

  28. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Twice as good

    Apple: "We're twice as good as our nearest competitors so we only need half the DRAM!"

    Screw Apple. They're starting to believe their own lies.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Twice as good

      Hang on now.. This discussion is getting out of hand.

      Many (most?) PC laptops come with 8GB as default too. And it's poverty spec on those too. But it works if you are an average user. Just like the Macbooks.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Twice as good

        This is not about that. This is about Apple claiming their 8GB is equal to everyone else's 16GB. That's simply BS.

        A 8GB difference is absolutely humongous. No architecture or operating system could make up for that.

  29. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    I use both

    and 8 gigs at that price is infuriating.

    Guess who uses macs? People who work with a lot of MEDIA.... like video and sound and photos and stuff..... Ya know, the stuff that eats ram? I'll wait for the prices to come down. They will surely upgrade the chip and put 16 gigs in it soon enough. Looks like I'm riding my intel macs and old pc's for a while longer.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also, how much SSD?

  31. Ashto5

    iMac 5k 32gb

    2013 model boots into windows and flies along running VS2022 and Sql 2019.

    The screen is a 27” 5k and looks amazing

    Current eBay price £250 i paid £1200 all that time ago

    Who cares about resale grab one and enjoy

    $1500 company BETTER be paying for it

  32. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    8GB? No thanks!

    I’ve used a MacBook Air M1 with 8GB, for work, and I can confirm that it’s just not enough. I had to have 3-5 chrome tabs open, a couple of safari tabs open, and a remote support suite.

    I’d get frequent “spinning colour circles” while it paged heavily. It ended up being unusable after a few hours of work. The system itself would be taking up 3-4GB so only leaving 4-5GB for my work.

    I ended up getting a 16GB MacBook Pro and that extra RAM made all the difference. Now it would have 12-13GB space left for my work, so about 2.5-3x as much usable RAM.

    Now I very rarely have to wait while it pages, even with parallels running a windows 11 VM.

    Just from my experience alone, I’d never recommend an 8GB Mac for all but the least demanding workload. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine for general use but if you’re spending north of a grand on a new laptop, you really ought to make sure it’ll be good for most things you’ll throw at it.

    A machine marketed as “pro” should not have any less than 16GB. However the prices Apple charge for having 32+ GB are just outrageously high. Probably won’t stop me getting a finance agreement for one.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: 8GB? No thanks!

      I suggest you check just what the heck your apps are up to...

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: 8GB? No thanks!

      Yes. The apologists go on about “nobody will be doing AI training on these”, without considering the memory impact of opening a dozen Chrome tabs.

      As businesses have moved to using online services over VPN, it’s not unusual to see managerial types with forty to fifty browser tabs open, each hosting live documents, plus web-based collaboration tools. Previously, they’d have had that information served to them by local, native email and office applications, with have a much lower memory usage, but now it’s all hosted in a browser, with the huge memory footprint this entails...

      Video editing really isn’t the issue - a typical GoPro produces around 20Gbyte of data per hour, so unless there‘s some horrible Javascript video-editing tool out there consumer-level video-ending is certainly doable in 8Gbyte of RAM.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: 8GB? No thanks!

        "it’s not unusual to see managerial types with forty to fifty browser tabs open"

        There's the problem. Their attention span is well exceeded so they can't work out which to close down.

  33. Mostly Irrelevant

    Bull, it's unified RAM so it's both your main and graphics RAM. You need MORE of it, not less.

  34. Mitoo Bobsworth

    Myth Vs Wallet

    Bye bye, Apple - wallet wins from now on.

  35. CheesyTheClown

    Symbian all over again

    Symbian destroyed Nokia (let's be fair, Nokia destroyed Nokia, but...)

    Nokia made ridiculous blanked statements about how users didn't really care about what ran on their devices. What mattered was that they wouldn't have to charge their phone every day. Nokia bashed Microsoft Pocket PC over the insane system requirements that were of course battery hogs. They laughed that Pocket PC needed 100Mhz processor and 16MB of RAM but Symbian only needed 16Mhz and 2MB of RAM.

    Well, long story short. So long as Nokia could dictate all the media and applications used on the phones, this was perfectly ok. After all, if you ran a large number of static applications where the content was closely controlled, there was no issue. You could optimize all the content to the specific device and it would work just fine.

    On the other hand, as soon as you introduced a web browser where the web pages dictated the content on the screen... you had to have enough CPU to respectably run the Javascript, decode the images, and of course store the decompressed images. If your device only had 2 megabytes of memory and a downloaded photo decompressed to 4MB... and of course there was no swap space, well you see where I'm going.

    Nokia honestly spent millions on teams of people who would contact website by website to attempt to convince them to alter their websites to be mobile friendly.

    Pocket PC devices on the other hand increased CPU performance and RAM to support the content.

    Then Apple came around and made a phone which had a pretty much full web browser, LOTS of CPU and LOTS of RAM. And Nokia kept insisting that Apple and Microsoft were stupid because if they used Symbian, they could somehow magically display 20MB of data on a device that only had 2-8MB or RAM and that it was better to have a phone that you didn't have to recharge than a phone which was actually useful for something.

    Now we're in a world where most people will be working on high resolution media (even if just to look at the pretty pictures), HDR pictures and videos, etc... the Internet expects computers to have enough RAM to support this. I can understand buying a $200 PC from AliExpress with 8GB of RAM, but I would never consider buying any machine that I would need to be productive on with less than 16GB and if I want to keep the machine longer than a year or two, then 32GB.

    Let's go one step further. When Apple enters the AI market, they'll be forced to do everything in cloud and almost nothing on the edge because the models won't fit on the laptops they're currently selling.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Symbian all over again

      Agree with most of it, but Apple isn't peddling 2GB and 4Gb models. The entry level is 8GB. So pretty standard for decent laptops.

      The M* line will get more RAM soon, for sure. It's just a bit more complicated than the separate RAM approach.

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Symbian all over again

      Your chronology is all over the place there. PocketPC was dead before Apple arrived - Blackberry killed it. And it was apps, not websites that determined the success of phone platforms.

      It really wasn’t websites that killed Symbian. Nobody with a brain tried to use the web on a mobile phone before about 2009/2010 (except to show their friends that their phone did “internet”), because it was only then that sites started to produce “mobile” versions, with all the JS and heavy media removed. Also, the iPhone’s specifications were pretty much in line with Nokia’s high-end Symbian devices - Nokia’s N95 launched just before iPhone used a 366 MHz dual-core Arm11, with 64 Mbyte RAM (128 Mbyte in the “8Gb” model); iPhone was a single-core 412 Mhz part, 128 Mb RAM.

      What killed Symbian was the difficulty of writing applications software for the OS. The OS was super-efficient, and was a true RTOS, but it used its own heavily #defined version of C++ and it was never really designed for “application” processes - apps were, technically, DLLs that the system linked at runtime to add functionality to the main shell. There were very few developers who had any level of skill in it, and most of them worked at Nokia. Apple originally pushed the idea of using mobile-optimised websites rather than native apps, but its existing population of MacOS X developers lobbied heavily, and eventually Apple relented (seeing how badly those websites performed on iPhones was also a factor in that decision) and produced an SDK - iOS wasn’t MacOSX’S Cocoa, but it was close enough that a MacOS X dev could be up and running with it in a couple of days.

      Nokia did address the developer issue when they acquired Qt, but by the time Qt was mature on Symbian (late 2012) it was already too late to save the platform, which was a shame, because writing apps with QML/QtQuick on Symbian was so much easier than using UIKit on iPhone, and the results were every bit as smooth and responsive.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Symbian all over again

        I had the N95, and it was lovely! Still miss it a bit. Used it for sat nav in the car too.

  36. Pugnacious Possum

    They’re exceptional

    I’m a PC guy through and through. Massively powerful desktop at home (work and gaming) and a more modest one in the price as I’m rarely there these days.

    For my laptop (which is exclusively used on the move and for meetings / conferences) there’s just no substitute for a MacBook. Battery is nuclear powered, it’s fast and bulletproof. Just need the 8GB M2 MacBook Air.

    1. breakfast Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: They’re exceptional

      This is something I notice with a lot of these comments "on my PC 8GB would be eaten instantly" and I get it, I'm mostly a PC guy too but I had an M1 MacBook air for work a couple of years back and to my surprise the basic 8GB model pretty much always flew along, even when I was using it for medium-heavy tasks like app development. My colleague found it wasn't up to the job for video editing, but my experience in practice was that it never felt limited.

      That's not to endorse the nonsense in this article, but a theoretical guess at what can be done with that amount of memory is not the same as the experience of using it.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: They’re exceptional

        "and to my surprise the basic 8GB model pretty much always flew along"

        It's really, really fast at swapping to SSD. Unfortunately this will take its toll on the SSD eventually. Hence pay the $200 for 16GB. It pays back in the long run, not to mention second hand value.

  37. Paul Floyd
    FAIL

    Nah

    Generally I would expect compiled code on the amd64 architecture to be smaller than anything ARM based.

    I don't think that Apple can claim with any honesty that current macs have the same or less bloatware than previous generations (my rough estimation of bloat based on the number of processes that are running after booting is that it has quadrupled over the last 15 years).

    It could be that Windows and the Unix-likes are horribly ineffecient and that the super smart Apple engineers have managed to fit a quart in a pint pot. But I don't believe that either.

    My theory is more prosaic. Apple can't be arsed with the cost and effort of modifying their designs and are happy enough overcharging for their current offer.

    Phones and tablets are a diferent story but you can't extrapolate from a phone to a desktop.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Nah

      "Apple can't be arsed with the cost and effort of modifying their designs "

      They just moved from Intel to M1, M2 and so on. With massive effort put into Rosetta 2.

      Your description of laziness sounds a lot more like MS and Intel.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have 2 laptops and a PC here.

    One of the laptops is a Core i7 from several years ago now. That has 16GB or RAM

    The other laptop from 5 years back has 16GB of RAM

    The PC has 32GB of RAM

    16GB is the minimum standard. Apple applications, like Logic Pro, struggle on 8GB of RAM. I'd expect the 3D and Graphic Design apps to be similar.

    A Crucial 16GB (2X8GB) DDR5 PC5-38400C40 4800MHZ Dual Channel Kit is only £59.99. Apple are being cheap and maximising profits.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bait and switch

    The one thing Macs have always needed is more memory. The MacOS VM subsystem is horrible - they would have benefited from hiring some of Sun's kernel engineers.

    Under specing and promoting small memory configuration is a sales ploy - it keeps "Start from" price down, but more importantly, it forces you to prematurely buy a new system as your usage expands because you can't upgrade the memory in their systems.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pointless penny-pinching

    I'm generally a huge fan of Apple's Hardware and Software platforms but they've always done this - squeezed the entry level models too hard and too long and charged through the ass for an upgrade.

    It's a real shame because they do make decent products, they just leave them underpowered. And while a lot of their performance improvements via the Apple Sillicon SOC are great, they don't just make it expensive to upgrade after purchase, they make it impossible.

    I think the entry level storage is equally nerfed in terms of capacity these days too.They don't need to do it and it's disappointing.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Pointless penny-pinching

      Yes, but can you blame them? Most average users are fine with the entry level products, and why destroy the upper end where you can make a bit more margin?

      Just cough up the $200 and be done with it. It's expensive anyway, why cheap out on crippling the Mac?

  41. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward

    Had an 16Gb iPad.

    It filled up real quickly, and was useless.

    Same with Android phones.

    Nowadays I look for a phone with at least 64Gb RAM, and an SD card slot.

    The SD card do help a lot with extra storage space.

    1. Piro Silver badge

      OK so you're mixing storage and RAM

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      16GB iPad? That would be the flash memory then. Nothing to do with RAM.

  42. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Just one more thing..

    Applications are very much to blame. Single web pages using 500MB+ for example.

    My current instance of Excel with 3 tiny spreadsheets open, using 2GB of RAM! Never, ever releasing anything until you kill it dead.

    Throwing more RAM at that sort of thing just makes developers even more lazy.

  43. ThereBePirates
    Joke

    8GB is perfectly fine

    for those sitting in the coffee shop, "working" on their movie scripts.

  44. Piro Silver badge

    They can make up whatever they want

    8GB RAM soldered, non-expandable, in a $1600 consumer PC in 2023 is unacceptable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They can make up whatever they want

      That's why the 2012 Mac Mini's and MBP's are still popular as you can replace the RAM.

  45. Plest Silver badge

    One reason....

    So people complain, ask about upgrades to 16gb and Apple can then say you can't upgrade RAM but you can upgrade the whole laptop for only £3000!

  46. Jason Hindle

    I think the price point is more of a problem than the memory

    Can you even buy a Windows laptop, with 8GB, at that price point? Of course, it would be a pleasant enough thought that sales figures might adjust attitudes but it's not about sales of THIS laptop.

  47. b1k3rdude

    That exec has never had to deal with regular users, once you have have some instancesof Chrome and office application or two open your done. 8GB hasent been enough on Mac's since OSX 10.9. But sheople and IT depts keep buying thier sh*t, so Apple will keep taking the piss.

    As we say here in London " what a complete and utter cnut, they and their company can fcuk off and do one "

  48. stewwy

    Built in Landfill ability

    With 8Gb it's not going to take much for it to page to SSD, which means the SSD is going to wear out quicker, and I'm willing to bet It's got just enough life in it to exit the warranty.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the 16/32GB models page out to SSD as well (for some "apple" reason).

    Is the SSD soldered ? 'Cause that would be extra++ evil

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Built in Landfill ability

      Not only is the SSD soldered, but it is used in such a way that if the SSD fails, the computer dies. The bootloader needs to access data on the SSD to run, which means if the SSD isn't working, you are also unable to boot to external media. This means that, even if you have access to the tools needed to remove an SSD from the board and put in another one, you probably can't do it and have the computer still work because you need to somehow prepopulate the chips with the code for the bootloader. Since the computer can't do it itself, you'd have to create a board to accept the chips, solder them to that, write the code, remove them from that board, and resolder them to the Mac.

  49. schafdog

    8GB works fine.

    I bought a Macbook Pro M1 8GB in Dec. 2020 when they had just came out. It was on sale to same price as an Air (which I would preferred at that time), but they were not available. Yes I would have preferred to get it with 16GB but that would be to regular price and no wasn't available either.

    I am backend developer and I am running both docker, databases, and IDE (IntelliJ java-based). I am not hitting memory limit. Sure it is using swap. But It is hell much faster than my 2012 retina with 16GB and without the fan spinning up.

    Yeah. I would not buy 8GB today, but to say it doesn't work is wrong. Even if you do more than browsing.

    1. Ignazio

      Re: 8GB works fine.

      You're not hitting memory limits with docker and intellij AND databases?

      You forgot the lie icon. It'd blow past 8 GB with Hello World.

  50. Ignazio

    Come and try in the shop

    So in their opinion I come to the shop, install all the stuff required for the typical builds I do during the day, THEN complain that 8 gig aren't enough for my needs, when I know the builds will take more than that and memory compression can't get far enough?

    "We are much more efficient in memory use", yes but zipping data has limits not even Apple can break and not all the software I use is written by Apple, especially that which is written by me, and making all the changes needed to be the best M3 native app, with the lock in that brings, is a bit much when all I needed was 32 gigabytes of RAM.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like