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Does the current non-retina MBP support 16GB RAM?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I'm about to order a non-retina MacBook Pro for my wife, and we're trying to make some decisions around which "upgrades" to buy as BTO options from Apple and which to do ourselves with aftermarket components.

 

I've now spent two hours trying to figure out how much RAM to order and can't find a definitive answer.

 

Buying from Apple, the maximum RAM is 8GB, but OWC and Crucial both list the maximum as 16GB. Does anyone know for sure that the machine can actually utilize 16GB? Is there some reason for Apple not to offer a 16GB upgrade option?

 

Thanks for your help!

post #2 of 30

Yep.

post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Yep.

 

"Yep" it can support 16GB or "Yep" there's a reason Apple only offers 8GB?

post #4 of 30
Originally Posted by v5v View Post
"Yep" it can support 16GB or "Yep" there's a reason Apple only offers 8GB?


Oh, sorry, yep to 16. Apple has often shorted the max RAM for reasons of availability in the past.

post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Oh, sorry, yep to 16. Apple has often shorted the max RAM for reasons of availability in the past.

 

Cool! Thanks a million for the help!

 

I know a lot of people on AI have preferred vendors for RAM, do you? I've always used Crucial and haven't had any problems, but I'm open to suggestions.

post #6 of 30
Originally Posted by v5v View Post
I know a lot of people on AI have preferred vendors for RAM, do you?

 

I always check OWC's RAM prices before moving on to Newegg and others. I don't have a preferred brand, myself, but Crucial is usually competitive.

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I always check OWC's RAM prices before moving on to Newegg and others. I don't have a preferred brand, myself, but Crucial is usually competitive.

 

Thanks!

 

I always start with OWC too, but for some reason always seem to wind up buying from Crucial, probably because in addition to coming from a known supplier, it's usually a little cheaper.

 

In case it should ever come up, and for the benefit of others who may read this thread, I don't recommend that Canadians make Newegg their first choice. Despite having a .ca web site, the product comes through American distributors which may result in warranty headaches. I was not able to get service in Canada for an item I bought from them. They did eventually replace it, but there was some confusion and hassle involved. Suppliers that have provided painless service include Crucial, OWC, B&H, NCIX and Apple.

post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I always check OWC's RAM prices before moving on to Newegg and others. I don't have a preferred brand, myself, but Crucial is usually competitive.


Crucial seems to get fewer complaints of bad sticks no matter what you compare. Given that it's a crucial component, I always test it prior to placing the machine back in service. Memtest typically works well, although they were having problems with Ivy. I'm not sure if those were ever resolved. Apple doesn't officially support 16GB. If the machine ever has to go in for service, I would suggest the OP replace the upgraded ram with the original factory ram prior to taking it in for service. 16 obviously works. Intel certifies the chipsets for 16GB. Some people go as high as 32 on certain windows notebooks as a few using the same chipsets can take 4 x 8GB sodimm configurations.

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

I'm about to order a non-retina MacBook Pro ....

Why non-Retina?  Price?  Or is there something else about the Retina MBP that you don't like?

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post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

I'm about to order a non-retina MacBook Pro ....

Why non-Retina?  Price?  Or is there something else about the Retina MBP that you don't like?


I would say storage expense and current limit. Massive drawback. You can put 2TB of storage in a non-retina, or even use a combination SSD and 1TB hard drive to make a very decent Fusion drive option.

post #11 of 30
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post
Why non-Retina?  Price?  Or is there something else about the Retina MBP that you don't like?

 

There's plenty of reason to still buy the old-style model, not the least of which being aftermarket RAM expansion and cheaper (and wider) aftermarket storage expansion.

 

I'm sure eventually you'll be able to put a 2TB SSD in the retina MacBook Pro, but you'll be selling kidneys and lungs for the first few years it's even physically possible (it isn't yet). But you can put a 2TB HDD in the other one. 

 

Those are still certainly valid reasons, but they'll fade away as time passes.

post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Why non-Retina?  Price?  Or is there something else about the Retina MBP that you don't like?

 

1. Price of the machine. With 16GB RAM and 750GB storage, the Reitna costs half-again as much -- around $1000-ish more.

 

2. Price of storage. She liked the idea of SSD until she found out how much it costs.

 

3. Ports. The non-Retina model still has Firewire and Ethernet. Not deal breakers, but handy for our situation.

 

4. She seems to think she'll use an optical drive (she won't) and prefers having it built in over using an external.

 

5. The Retina display doesn't really matter to us. Sure, it's a little better, but not so much better that it overcomes other considerations.

 

6. Many of the apps she uses are not Retina-optimized, so they'd look blurry and annoying on a Retina display.

post #13 of 30
It's probably a good time to buy the older model because the new ones should be along in June at the latest and they might not keep the old models. NVidia just launched their 'new' GPUs:

http://www.geforce.com/hardware/notebook-gpus/geforce-gt-750m/specifications

I love how they use the Intel HD 4000 as the baseline now and claim it's 6.3x faster. They are saying the 750M is up to 75% faster than the 650M but the spec is just a 15-30% faster clock speed so there should be very little difference. They are rebranding the GPUs this year.

Intel says they are on track for Haswell:

http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2013/04/01/intel-rebuffs-jmp-warning-about-haswell-on-track-and-on-time/

although 'on track' was supposed to be April. IDF is on April 10th so they must have something to show off but here there's a mention of Web TV:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1302291-intel-something-big-is-coming-in-april

The last full refresh of the MBP was 294 days ago, which is near the end of the cycle. If Intel launches Haswell for sale at IDF and NVidia is good to go, there would be nothing stopping Apple refreshing the lineup this month, which would at least break up this whole 6 month period where Apple hasn't had any updates at all. I suppose Apple could update the Apple TV with some Web TV feature though.

The big feature for Haswell is battery life. Intel claims it's the biggest jump they've ever made from one generation to another in terms of power saving. Graphics performance is supposed to be double too.

If Apple keeps the old model in, it might be worth waiting for but if not, you'd be stuck with having to take their small SSDs and maximum 8GB RAM. Maybe there isn't enough room for 16GB in the 13" models as soldered RAM isn't stacked like the DIMMs. Once they move to DDR4, they'll manage it.

I definitely think the old model is the better option for upgrades. You can even get fairly spacious SSDs at affordable prices now:

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Electronics-SATAIII-2-5-Inch-MZ-7TD500BW/dp/B009NHAF3I

It's not as much space as the 750GB HDD but 5-10x faster.
post #14 of 30

My daughter is going to buy a Macbook Pro this summer. She is not getting the Retina display because she DOES use an optical drive.

post #15 of 30
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post
My daughter is going to buy a Macbook Pro this summer. She is not getting the Retina display because she DOES use an optical drive.

 

Sounds like a waste, to me.

post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 

So when my wife gets her new Mac, my intention is to restore from a Time Machine backup of her old machine, but now I'm wondering if that's a good idea. Is any of the Time Machine image hardware-specific? I remember years and years ago taking a system drive out of one computer and dropping into another and it barfed because it was trying load files for hardware that didn't exist and failing to load files for hardware that did exist and overall it just didn't go at all well.

 

Do those issues still exist? Do they carry over into Time Machine? Anyone tried it?

post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

Do those issues still exist?

If you do a restore there can be issues. If you restore from an OS that came out before a new machine, it can't have the hardware drivers, most importantly graphics drivers. In some cases it won't boot because the new machine's minimum OS would be the one it shipped with.

For all its faults, Migration Assistant is generally the easiest way. Just stick an ethernet cable between them, open Migration Assistant on both, choose what you want to move and book a week's holiday. It'll likely be halfway done when you get back but you might get lucky. You can use Firewire target mode too. The best way to work with Migration Assistant is copy over as few items as possible and do the rest manually.
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

[...] Just stick an ethernet cable between them, open Migration Assistant on both, choose what you want to move and book a week's holiday. It'll likely be halfway done when you get back but you might get lucky.

 

LOL! Nicely phrased! Thanks, Marvin!

 

Does it need to be a crossover cable or will any ol' ethernet cable do?

 

I've never used Migration Assistant. Sounds like... um, "fun."

 

What I'm hoping to avoid is the week or two of moaning associated with "Aw dammit, I had it set up JUST the way I like it before and now I have to do it all again..." and "Password? This has a password? Damned if I remember what it is..." and "It wants to know the incoming server name for my other email!" Restoring from Time Machine neatly solves all those problems, though as you say, it'll probably just introduce new ones ("It keeps saying it can't start something-or-other and everything on the screen is HUGE!").

 

Add to this the compounded joy of replacing the hard drive the day it arrives (have you seen how much Apple charges for a BTO drive upgrade?) and I anticipate a couple days of loudly uttered sailor words.

post #19 of 30

First, I would like to thank the several posters who confirmed my suspicion that non-Retina MBP sales were mainly driven by price -- especially price of storage.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

It's probably a good time to buy the older model because the new ones should be along in June at the latest and they might not keep the old models.

I think it's a safe bet that Apple will drop the non-Retina MBPs when the Haswell MBPs ship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

My daughter is going to buy a Macbook Pro this summer. She is not getting the Retina display because she DOES use an optical drive.

I suggest buying one soon then.  The non-Retina MBPs might not still be available this summer.


Edited by mcarling - 4/2/13 at 9:54am
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post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

Does it need to be a crossover cable or will any ol' ethernet cable do?

If they are both Intel Macs, any cable will do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

What I'm hoping to avoid is the week or two of moaning associated with "Aw dammit, I had it set up JUST the way I like it before and now I have to do it all again..." and "Password? This has a password? Damned if I remember what it is..." and "It wants to know the incoming server name for my other email!"

That should be ok. The Migration Assistant moves the home folder and all those settings are in there. Just make sure not to make a user on the new machine manually with the same name if you happen to set it up when you get it because it tries to create a user with the old name when it migrates. You can always delete it again before migrating if you happen to do this though.

It will copy the Keychains, login passwords, user settings like desktop backgrounds, application preferences and so on. You will need to authorise the machine in iTunes and de-authorise the old one if you plan to sell it. It can also migrate applications over but anything more than a small home folder contributes to slowdown in the migration so it's usually best to reinstall applications (like I say, the preferences should still be in tact). If the music folder is large, it's best to move that out of the home folder (not to the Desktop as that's still in the home folder) but it can go into the /Users/shared folder. Then once you migrate the home folder, login on the new machine as the migrated user and manually copy the large files into the appropriate places. That makes sure they have the right permissions. You can do this using firewire, an external drive or just mount the old machine over ethernet.

There's a program called Diskwave here:

http://diskwave.barthe.ph

that lets you see which files use the most space and those would be the ones to try and collect in one place to move manually.
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

Add to this the compounded joy of replacing the hard drive the day it arrives (have you seen how much Apple charges for a BTO drive upgrade?) and I anticipate a couple days of loudly uttered sailor words.

The old style MBP is fortunately one of the easiest machines to do a drive replacement in:

http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+MacBook+Pro+15-Inch+Unibody+Early+2011+Hard+Drive+Replacement/5895/1
http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Unibody+Early+2011+Hard+Drive+Replacement/5119/1

(The 2012 models are the same layout.)

They were kind enough to put 10 screws on the base plate though, all of which are the kind of screws that get destroyed if the screwdriver so much as slips a fraction of a mm. If they were able to do it, a panel that slides on and locks would have been nicer. Just have a small philips screwdriver and T6 Torx to do the upgrade. The spudger is just to unhook the battery, which you can do with your finger.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling 
I think it's a safe bet that Apple will drop the non-Retina MBPs when the Haswell MBPs ship.

I'm not sure how they'll manage the entry 13". I could see them cutting the dedicated GPU from the entry 15" to get the price down, possibly even make it 128GB but the entry 13" has to fall $300 and no hardware changes possible. They have to do it eventually though so it's probably just a matter of when they want to suck up the margin drop.
post #21 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

[...] It can also migrate applications over but anything more than a small home folder contributes to slowdown in the migration so it's usually best to reinstall applications (like I say, the preferences should still be in tact). If the music folder is large, it's best to move that out of the home folder (not to the Desktop as that's still in the home folder) but it can go into the /Users/shared folder. Then once you migrate the home folder, login on the new machine as the migrated user and manually copy the large files into the appropriate places. That makes sure they have the right permissions. You can do this using firewire, an external drive or just mount the old machine over ethernet.

 

Thanks Marvin! I appreciate that info!

 

Just wondering... any idea why "migrating" large files is slower than copying them? Not that it matters, it is what it is, but I'm curious.

post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

Just wondering... any idea why "migrating" large files is slower than copying them? Not that it matters, it is what it is, but I'm curious.

I have no idea why but it's pretty much guaranteed to grind to an insanely slow pace the more things it processes.

Flounder here tried to do just 90GB:

http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/156507/game-recommendations

It took 31 hours. I don't think it's just migrating applications that causes it either - that would make sense as it has to check all the dependencies - but I've used it in the past without applications and it just takes far longer to copy anything than a direct Finder transfer. You're welcome to find out first hand though. 1biggrin.gif It would be interesting to see how long it took to do over 500GB.

Best case for a mobile hard drive direct would be about 50MB/s sustained write so to do 500GB, it would take around 3 hours. It's not likely to maintain 50MB/s for 3 hours and there will be a lot of files to move so the average speed is likely to be under half that. If you add in processing overhead for every file, you can see how the time can balloon quite rapidly. The good thing about doing the large files together is that it's not jumping between writing large and small files through the whole process.
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I'm not sure how they'll manage the entry 13". I could see them cutting the dedicated GPU from the entry 15" to get the price down, possibly even make it 128GB but the entry 13" has to fall $300 and no hardware changes possible. They have to do it eventually though so it's probably just a matter of when they want to suck up the margin drop.

I disagree with the premise that the entry-level price of the Retina MBPs must match the current entry-level price of the non-Retina MBPs.  Also, if we look at the prices the resellers are now charging, it seems the costs are coming down as the yields are rising.  I don't expect any large margin drops, either soon or farther into the future.

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post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I disagree with the premise that the entry-level price of the Retina MBPs must match the current entry-level price of the non-Retina MBPs. 

It's a matter of whether they want to keep the same price points. Demand isn't entirely elastic, and they arrived at the current pricing model for a reason. I don't expect the cMBP to go anywhere unless they can both produce enough machines and get within $100 of the current cost of entry at their desired margins.

post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

I'm about to order a non-retina MacBook Pro for my wife, and we're trying to make some decisions around which "upgrades" to buy as BTO options from Apple and which to do ourselves with aftermarket components.

 

I've now spent two hours trying to figure out how much RAM to order and can't find a definitive answer.

 

Buying from Apple, the maximum RAM is 8GB, but OWC and Crucial both list the maximum as 16GB. Does anyone know for sure that the machine can actually utilize 16GB? Is there some reason for Apple not to offer a 16GB upgrade option?

 

Thanks for your help!

 

Out of curiosity, why does your wife need 16GB?

post #26 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yazolight View Post

Out of curiosity, why does your wife need 16GB?

 

Excellent question. She doesn't. I just noticed that the difference in price between 8 and 16 is small enough that as long as I have the machine open anyway I might as well pack it full. Same reason we're going with a 750GB drive when 500 would probably be fine.

post #27 of 30

I understand, but I think you should ask confirmation whether it's a good idea or not. I heard that packing over 8GB of RAM is useful for photo/video editing, but can make the computer slower at boot and for internet browsing. So maybe she would actually be more comfortable with just 8GB.

post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yazolight View Post

I heard that packing over 8GB of RAM is useful for photo/video editing, but can make the computer slower at boot and for internet browsing.

It doesn't. If it's set to hibernate, it uses up more space on the drive and it can write a lot of data to the drive if a lot of RAM is in use when it's put to sleep but it's not slower using 16GB vs 8GB. If the machine uses less than 8GB then it'll behave as though it had 8GB in it. The ideal scenario one day will be to have 128GB+ of non-volatile RAM and that will mean zero boot times. If they partition it, it could mean being able to switch back and forth between different operating systems without rebooting. For now, especially with HDDs, the more RAM the better as there's less chance that anything gets paged out to disk.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

I'm about to order a non-retina MacBook Pro for my wife, and we're trying to make some decisions around which "upgrades" to buy as BTO options from Apple and which to do ourselves with aftermarket components.

 

I've now spent two hours trying to figure out how much RAM to order and can't find a definitive answer.

 

Buying from Apple, the maximum RAM is 8GB, but OWC and Crucial both list the maximum as 16GB. Does anyone know for sure that the machine can actually utilize 16GB? Is there some reason for Apple not to offer a 16GB upgrade option?

 

Thanks for your help!

Yes, any current Macbook Pro will support and use 16 GB of RAM.  I've had several that have had 16 GB in them. 

 

I'd be inclined to get a non-retina and to upgrade the RAM myself - it's about $100 and is very easy to do. 

 

Apple doesn't offer 16 GB RAM for reasons that only Apple knows.  I tend to think it's because it simplifies their inventory and because they are trying to push people who think they need 16 GB to a retina.

post #30 of 30

I believe the most 'on-point' answer would be: the retina MacBooks are NOT supposed to be user-upgradable.  The RAM is supposed to be soldered on the MB and the SSD is causeless and looks like a custom form-factor.

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