You probably don’t need 32GB of memory for your new MacBook Pro

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

That’s what I’ve used in my various iMacs over the years, and it’s served me just fine. With 16GB of memory and Pages, Safari, iTunes, Mail, Calendar, Photos, and Pixelmator Pro usually all open at the same time, there’s almost never a hiccup in performance. (And my AWT compadre, Marty, says the most he’s ever had in any computer he owns is 8GB. “I game and do all I want,” he says.)

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My experience has led me to conclude that 16GB is a perfect amount of RAM for pro work and most demanding games. While it’s true that a Mac with more RAM feels noticeably faster, that’s only true up to a point. For example, if you upgrade from 4GB to 8GB or 16GB, you’ll feel like your Mac has been turbo-boosted. However, for most users, if you upgrade from 16GB to 32GB, you won’t notice much of a speed increase.

There are, of course, some caveats to my 16GB recommendation. You can never have too much memory, so if money is no object, sure, go ahead and spring for 32GB. That amount is good for enthusiasts and workstations. 

If you run multiple virtual machines, you may need 32GB. If you do intensive video work or AV/VR development, you may need 32GB. 

However, for most of us, 16GB will be fine.