Apple limits 2016 MacBook Pro models to 16GB of RAM to maximize battery life

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 2016
In an email response to a customer question concerning the 16GB memory cap on Apple's new MacBook Pro lineup, a longstanding ceiling for the notebook series, SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said the design decision stems from a need to prolong battery life.




The memory controllers found in Apple's new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models can only handle up to 16GB of fast 2,333MHz RAM, a definite negative for imaging and video professionals looking for a bulletproof setup.

As Schiller explained to a MacRumors reader who asked about the restriction, RAM allotments of more than 16GB would require more power-hungry controller unsuitable for use in a laptop. Like all cutting edge designs, the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is an exercise in balancing performance and efficiency.

"To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook," Schiller said.

Apple touts its latest top-of-the-line MacBook Pros as having "all-day battery life." Specifically, the company says the notebooks can last up to 10 hours between charges, though that number will fluctuate depending on use case.

According to Apple's MacBook Pro webpage, battery life testing involved iTunes movie playback and common web browsing on standard configuration testbeds with 8GB of RAM, as well as models running the 16GB memory option. Considering the MacBook Pro is marketed toward professional users who run intensive software like Final Cut, Photoshop and similar apps, often simultaneously, the quoted 10 hour estimate is for many wishful thinking.

Considering battery life constraints, a good number of MacBook Pros will likely spend most of their time plugged into a wall outlet. That being said, Apple can't simply bring a laptop format device to market without ensuring the product can perform on the go.

To grab the lowest prices on Apple's new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, see AppleInsider's Mac Price Guide.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 179
    chickenzchickenz Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Not buying a new one until 32gb is an option. Ridiculous.
    duervo1983prismaticsmdriftmeyerbdkennedy1002GenerationYbigmikeMacJedi56hmlongcoSpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 179
    It's really because the laptop is too damn thin that they can't put a bigger battery in it to allow it to have more RAM. All for the sake of thiness.
    ewtheckmanduervorandominternetpersonbaconstangrevenantprismaticsmdriftmeyerappneckbdkennedy1002GenerationY
  • Reply 3 of 179
    What a terrible decision. We buy high end Macbook Pros in our company. We buy lots of them and we max it out with 1TB SSD and a discrete graphics card. Many of our users are video editors for 360 video and our developers need more RAM for their needs. I need more RAM for running virtual machines. This is clearly a case of Apple not listening to their customers. Most of the time our laptops are plugged in. We can live with a USB type C connector as long as there are enough of them. To Phil Schiller. Give us Apple customers the choice in the Pro series between 1. More RAM sacrificing battery life 2. Choice of AMD/ATI graphics vs nVidia. Sorry but a lot of 3rd party tools still only support CUDA and not yet OpenCL. Typically many small developers who tools we use will write for nVidia only. This throws a monkey wrench in our pipeline development This is frustrating. We've been stuck at 16GB for too many years. There is no excuse for the top end Macbook Pro (w discrete graphics card) to be limited to 32GB. At another former company (500 artists) many of our users using Foundry's Nuke or Mari would be using 128GB or 64GB systems from a 1U system with a PCoIP graphics card. Computers were in Los Angeles and the artists were in Vancouver (BC govt subsidies lured the companies there). Apple time to listen to your customers. One shoe , or one max RAM size does not fit all. Sorry. Don't care what the limits are for the Macbook Air or Macbook (which by the way we never buy, has only one port and that too it has to be used for power, why couldn't he Macbook have two USB-C ports?)
    tallest skilviclauyycGenerationYMacJedi56
  • Reply 4 of 179
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,577member
    And who's fault is that?

    2015 15-inch MacBook Pro: 99.5 WHr battery
    2016 15-inch MacBook Pro: 76 WHr battery

    2015 13-inch MacBook Pro: 74.9 WHr battery
    2016 13-inch MacBook Pro: 54.5 WHr battery
    2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar: 49 WHr battery

    The quest for thinness in a "Pro" machine is bringing out the causalities. 
    ewtheckmanpulseimagestallest skildigital_guyrandominternetpersonbaconstangpropodrevenant1983sedicivalvole
  • Reply 5 of 179
    Actually, the company at fault here isn't Apple, but Intel. Skylake doesn't support the needed LPDDR4 that would allow them to go to higher capacities. And Kaby Lake will only have support in the U chips, and U chips aren't mobile quad cores, so the 15" won't be able to get the upgrade even when they do go to KBL. 

    In short, Intel continues to drop the ball. It's hard to imagine Apple isn't getting tired of this kind of crap. 
    adrayvenrob53ericthehalfbeeSolidewmedigital_guyroundaboutnowrevenant1983alphafox
  • Reply 6 of 179
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,577member
    Actually, the company at fault here isn't Apple, but Intel. Skylake doesn't support the needed LPDDR4 that would allow them to go to higher capacities. And Kaby Lake will only have support in the U chips, and U chips aren't mobile quad cores, so the 15" won't be able to get the upgrade even when they do go to KBL. 

    In short, Intel continues to drop the ball. It's hard to imagine Apple isn't getting tired of this kind of crap. 
    Skylake, 32GB, DDR4 

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=1265327&gclid=CjwKEAjw7svABRCi_KPzoPr53QoSJAABSvxf1yU3rDtp8-jlAIBM4e3JGgBPUhGK3pJlr8wRV-c1xhoCKFnw_wcB&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876,92051677802,&Q=&A=details
    edited October 2016 singularity
  • Reply 7 of 179
    mazda 3s said:
    Actually, the company at fault here isn't Apple, but Intel. Skylake doesn't support the needed LPDDR4 that would allow them to go to higher capacities. And Kaby Lake will only have support in the U chips, and U chips aren't mobile quad cores, so the 15" won't be able to get the upgrade even when they do go to KBL. 

    In short, Intel continues to drop the ball. It's hard to imagine Apple isn't getting tired of this kind of crap. 
    Skylake, 32GB, DDR4 

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=1265327&gclid=CjwKEAjw7svABRCi_KPzoPr53QoSJAABSvxf1yU3rDtp8-jlAIBM4e3JGgBPUhGK3pJlr8wRV-c1xhoCKFnw_wcB&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876,92051677802,&Q=&A=details
    DDR4 is not LPDDR4. 
    pulseimagesericthehalfbeedigital_guynetroxbaconstangRayz2016revenantalphafoxirelandmdriftmeyer
  • Reply 8 of 179
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,577member
    mazda 3s said:
    Actually, the company at fault here isn't Apple, but Intel. Skylake doesn't support the needed LPDDR4 that would allow them to go to higher capacities. And Kaby Lake will only have support in the U chips, and U chips aren't mobile quad cores, so the 15" won't be able to get the upgrade even when they do go to KBL. 

    In short, Intel continues to drop the ball. It's hard to imagine Apple isn't getting tired of this kind of crap. 
    Skylake, 32GB, DDR4 

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=1265327&gclid=CjwKEAjw7svABRCi_KPzoPr53QoSJAABSvxf1yU3rDtp8-jlAIBM4e3JGgBPUhGK3pJlr8wRV-c1xhoCKFnw_wcB&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876,92051677802,&Q=&A=details
    DDR4 is not LPDDR4. 
    My bad. Point taken. 
    baconstangRayz2016revenantstanthemanirelandbdkennedy1002[Deleted User]jony0
  • Reply 9 of 179
    mazda 3s said:
    And who's fault is that?

    2015 15-inch MacBook Pro: 99.5 WHr battery
    2016 15-inch MacBook Pro: 76 WHr battery

    2015 13-inch MacBook Pro: 74.9 WHr battery
    2016 13-inch MacBook Pro: 54.5 WHr battery
    2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar: 49 WHr battery

    The quest for thinness in a "Pro" machine is bringing out the causalities. 
    iPad 4: 42.5wh. 
    iPad Air: 32.4wh
    iPad Air 2: 27.3wh

    Guess what? Each successive model was thinner, more powerful and capable, and got the same 10+ hour battery life. 
    stanthemanjony0
  • Reply 10 of 179
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,086member
    Actually, the company at fault here isn't Apple, but Intel. Skylake doesn't support the needed LPDDR4 that would allow them to go to higher capacities. And Kaby Lake will only have support in the U chips, and U chips aren't mobile quad cores, so the 15" won't be able to get the upgrade even when they do go to KBL. 

    In short, Intel continues to drop the ball. It's hard to imagine Apple isn't getting tired of this kind of crap. 
    Yep, it's time for an A-series MBP. Are there any RAM limitations with these CPUs? Intel has been late and underwhelming so time to move on, again. 
    Solipscooter63pulseimagesbloggerblogtmaywatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 179
    rob53 said:
    Actually, the company at fault here isn't Apple, but Intel. Skylake doesn't support the needed LPDDR4 that would allow them to go to higher capacities. And Kaby Lake will only have support in the U chips, and U chips aren't mobile quad cores, so the 15" won't be able to get the upgrade even when they do go to KBL. 

    In short, Intel continues to drop the ball. It's hard to imagine Apple isn't getting tired of this kind of crap. 
    Yep, it's time for an A-series MBP. Are there any RAM limitations with these CPUs? Intel has been late and underwhelming so time to move on, again. 
    The A9 and A10 both support LPDDR4, but the performance curve isn't quite there yet, and they'd lose Windows capability with a switch to ARM. 
    baconstangireland
  • Reply 12 of 179
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    I find this a strange comment, and I really do not believe that line of reasoning. My virtualization machine (a Dell XPS 15 with 32 GB of RAM and UHD display and the same CPU as the entry-level Touch Bar model) runs 6-7 hours when virtualizing a complete MS System Center environment (a total of 13 VMs) with a 84 Wh battery. Maybe using more recent RAM modules (the XPS uses DDR4) would have helped? Just to be clear: the Dell is a true piece of shit, keyboard and trackpad are abysmal, the quality is not remotely on the same planet as Apple's, the display calibration ex factory was unusable (DeltaE was north of 6!) and despite weekly driver and Windows 10 updates galore that thing acts up on just every occasion... and let's not even talk about Windows 10, the OS-equivalent of cancer. I want to smash this thing against the wall almost every time I use it, but 32 GB of RAM and battery life are clearly not a problem. But since they got so cheap that they now even charge you extra for the power extension cord that used to be in every PB/MBP box since forever, spending a few cents more for DDR 4 was obviously not in the cards. I did order the new MBP because I like an awful lot about it, but Apple is not earning any sympathy points here.
    randominternetpersonMacJedi56
  • Reply 13 of 179
    dreyfus2 said:
    I find this a strange comment, and I really do not believe that line of reasoning. My virtualization machine (a Dell XPS 15 with 32 GB of RAM and UHD display and the same CPU as the entry-level Touch Bar model) runs 6-7 hours when virtualizing a complete MS System Center environment (a total of 13 VMs) with a 84 Wh battery. Maybe using more recent RAM modules (the XPS uses DDR4) would have helped? Just to be clear: the Dell is a true piece of shit, keyboard and trackpad are abysmal, the quality is not remotely on the same planet as Apple's, the display calibration ex factory was unusable (DeltaE was north of 6!) and despite weekly driver and Windows 10 updates galore that thing acts up on just every occasion... and let's not even talk about Windows 10, the OS-equivalent of cancer. I want to smash this thing against the wall almost every time I use it, but 32 GB of RAM and battery life are clearly not a problem. But since they got so cheap that they now even charge you extra for the power extension cord that used to be in every PB/MBP box since forever, spending a few cents more for DDR 4 was obviously not in the cards. I did order the new MBP because I like an awful lot about it, but Apple is not earning any sympathy points here.
    The del uses LPDDR3, low power.
  • Reply 14 of 179
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    The del uses LPDDR3, low power.
    No, it does not. It uses DDR4, low voltage. (The old model used DDR3, the one shipping since late 2015 uses DDR4.)
  • Reply 15 of 179
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,270member
    dig48109 said:
    What a terrible decision. We buy high end Macbook Pros in our company. We buy lots of them and we max it out with 1TB SSD and a discrete graphics card. Many of our users are video editors for 360 video and our developers need more RAM for their needs. I need more RAM for running virtual machines.
    Why are video editors at your company using a notebook over a desktop? If more RAM increases the employees productivity why not use an iMac or Mac Pro? The former would even be considerably less expensive for a much larger display, faster CPU, GPU, and more internal storage.
    randominternetpersonbaconstangroundaboutnowrevenantGeorgeBMacmejsricirelandnolamacguyration alpalomine
  • Reply 16 of 179
    Guess I'll be spending $3,000 on a loaded Surface Book instead.

    Oh wait, it only has 16GB RAM as well. Why isn't anyone complaining about Microsoft skimping on RAM? Or releasing an "updated" Surface Book with hardly any changes from last years version?
    Solipscooter63digital_guyroundaboutnowRayz2016revenantjkichlinemejsricirelandtmay
  • Reply 17 of 179
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,270member
    mazda 3s said:
    And who's fault is that?

    2015 15-inch MacBook Pro: 99.5 WHr battery
    2016 15-inch MacBook Pro: 76 WHr battery

    2015 13-inch MacBook Pro: 74.9 WHr battery
    2016 13-inch MacBook Pro: 54.5 WHr battery
    2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar: 49 WHr battery

    The quest for thinness in a "Pro" machine is bringing out the causalities. 
    What about usable battery life of these machines? Is it lower or has Apple decided that they can maintain a realistic battery life per charging cycle while reducing the battery size and making it thinner and lighter?

    Personally, I would have loved to see a 32GiB option, not cared if it only a little less heavier and thicker, and had a longer batter life, to boot, but we need to remember that our specific needs are not what Apple wants as we are not the target market. We are simply individual buyers. If we don't like it we can not by not buying it.

    I do wonder about his comments about affecting battery life and hope this can be tested. If doubling the RAM to 32GiB caused the machine to lose 30 minutes of run time from that 10 hour claim I think I would have gone for it, but if it lost 2 hours, I doubt I would have. I do think they are losing some up-sales from not offering it, but they also know that so we have to ask ourselves why they aren't offering it if they are leaving money on the table. In any regard, all we can do is speculate so no one should be getting emotional about it.
  • Reply 18 of 179
    Guess I'll be spending $3,000 on a loaded Surface Book instead.

    Oh wait, it only has 16GB RAM as well. Why isn't anyone complaining about Microsoft skimping on RAM? Or releasing an "updated" Surface Book with hardly any changes from last years version?
    Most likely because this site isn't called microsoftinsider.com, and Apple customers are some of the more "passionate" ones out there.
    baconstangireland
  • Reply 19 of 179
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,461member
    I'd like the option to go to 32GB and make the choice when to run plugged in.  I'll be waiting for iMac and then macsales.com for 64GB for the price of Apple's 32GB.  Running multiple VMs at 2GB to 4GB a chunk takes its toll.  
  • Reply 20 of 179
    Guess I'll be spending $3,000 on a loaded Surface Book instead.

    Oh wait, it only has 16GB RAM as well. Why isn't anyone complaining about Microsoft skimping on RAM? Or releasing an "updated" Surface Book with hardly any changes from last years version?
    Because no one is buying them, ultimately. 
    baconstangpulseimagestallest skilewtheckmanpalomine
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