New MacBook Pros Max Out at 16GB RAM Due to Battery Life Concerns

Despite featuring more energy efficient Skylake processors, faster SSDs, better GPUs, and new thermal architecture, Apple's revamped MacBook Pros continue to max out at 16GB RAM.

Many customers have been wondering why Apple didn't bump up the maximum RAM to 32GB, including MacRumors reader David, who emailed Apple to ask and got an explanation from marketing chief Phil Schiller. According to Schiller, more than 16GB RAM would consume too much power and have a negative impact on battery life.

macbook_pro_2016_roundup_header

Question from David: The lack of a 32GB BTO option for the new MBPs raised some eyebrows and caused some concerns (me included). Does ~3GBps bandwidth to the SSD make this a moot issue? I.e. memory paging on a 16GB system is so fast that 32GB is not a significant improvement?

Schiller's answer: Thank you for the email. It is a good question. To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook. I hope you check out this new generation MacBook Pro, it really is an incredible system.

While most average customers likely couldn't utilize 32GB RAM, the MacBook Pro is aimed at professionals who need more computing power and who may occasionally feel the constraints of being limited to 16GB RAM. There will undoubtedly be customers who are disappointed that Apple has not offered a choice between better performance and battery life.

For the 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple was able to reach "all-day battery life," which equates to 10 hours of wireless web use or iTunes movie playback. That's an hour improvement over the previous generation in the 15-inch machine, and a small step back in the 13-inch machine.

While none of Apple's portable machines offer more than 16GB RAM, 32GB of RAM is a high-end custom upgrade option in the 27-inch iMac.

Update: Apple provided a bit more detail to Dan Frakes of The Wirecutter, noting that Apple elected to use LPDDR3 RAM, which is limited to 16 GB per chip, due to its performance/energy ratio. A reddit commenter notes that Intel's Skylake chips do not support the faster and more efficient LPDDR4 standard.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
52 months ago
Don't make the freaking machine so thin... allow a slighter larger battery!

Another consequence of Apple compromising functionality over Form.
Score: 124 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
Ridiculous and false reasoning. Had they used LPDDR4 instead of LPDDR3 they could have stuck 32GB in that machine at an even lower voltage level.

EDIT:// Also Samsung is selling LPDD4x a new off-shoot which goes down to 0.6v (compared to 1.2v of LPDDR3 and 1.1v of LPDDR4). They definitely could have got some from Samsung but chose not to.

The CPU used in these computers supports both DDR3 and DDR4 and the Samsung LPDDR4x is materially identical to LPDDR4 in compatibility, it just lowers I/O voltage.
Score: 116 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
ddr4 uses less power...

but apple has the courage to over charge its best costumers.
Score: 97 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
This shouldn't be called Pro machine then.

Sorry. Apple you have confused direction.
Score: 95 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
That's ridiculous. They should just give the option anyway, at our own risk. Most of us are connected to an outlet 99.99% of the time.
Score: 89 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
Guys, let us vote with our wallets and not buy this garbage. I for one, will look elsewhere.
Score: 80 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

'A New iOS Update is Now Available' Popping Up Repeatedly in iOS 14 Beta [Fixed: New Beta Available]

Thursday October 29, 2020 6:11 pm PDT by
Many users running iOS 14 beta are reporting that they are seeing a dialog box pop up repeatedly asking them to update from the latest iOS 14 beta. Threads in our forums, Reddit, and Twitter are reporting the issue. The dialog has been appearing for a few days now, but as of tonight has started appearing more frequently, every time an iPhone is unlocked. There's been further discussion in...

Apple Seeds New iOS 14.2 Versions Which Stops 'New iOS Update Available' Alerts

Friday October 30, 2020 1:09 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded "Release Candidate" versions of upcoming iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 updates to developers and public beta testers, 10 days after seeding the fourth betas and a month and a half after releasing the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates. iOS and iPadOS 14.2 can be downloaded by developers through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper developer profile has been...

Apple One is Now Available: Save Money by Bundling Apple Music, iCloud Storage, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and More

Friday October 30, 2020 7:47 am PDT by
Apple One bundles are now available in the United States and over 100 other countries, allowing customers to subscribe to multiple Apple services through a single plan, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud, and more. To sign up for Apple One on an iPhone: Open Settings App Tap on Your Name at the top Tap on Subscriptions Tap on Apple One The prompt for Apple One...

Black Friday Spotlight: Best Buy Kicks Off a Month of Apple Deals and More

Friday October 30, 2020 10:02 am PDT by
We've begun tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....

Apple Launches AirPods Pro Service Program for Crackling/Static Problems and ANC Issues

Friday October 30, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple today announced the launch of a new service program for AirPods Pro sound issues, which is designed to address AirPods Pro units experiencing static or crackling sounds or problems with Active Noise Cancellation. Faulty AirPods exhibit the following problems, according to Apple:Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone ...

Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'More Exciting Things' in Store For This Year

Thursday October 29, 2020 2:20 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2020 (third calendar quarter), Cook said that while he doesn't want to give too much away, "this year has a few more exciting things in store." Cook is likely speaking about the Apple Silicon Macs, as Apple has previously said the first Apple Silicon Mac will be coming before the end of 2020. There are rumors of a third fall event ...

Hands-On Comparison: iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 Pro

Friday October 30, 2020 2:29 pm PDT by
For those still trying to make a decision between an iPhone 12 or an iPhone 12 Pro, we picked up both models and in our latest YouTube video, did a hands-on comparison between them. Our video highlights the similarities and the differences so you can which one is the best fit for you and whether the iPhone 12 Pro is worth an extra $200. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...

Apple One Service Bundles Set to Launch Tomorrow, Fitness+ Coming This Quarter

Thursday October 29, 2020 1:39 pm PDT by
Apple in September announced Apple One, a new series of services bundles that will let Apple device customers purchase several services together in one package instead of separately, saving money for those who use multiple Apple service products. Ahead of Apple's earnings call, Apple CFO Luca Maestri told Bloomberg that Apple One is set to launch on Friday, October 30. Apple One Bundle...

PSA: Apple One Premier Bundle Only Available in US, UK, Canada, and Australia

Friday October 30, 2020 2:39 am PDT by
Apple's new Apple One series of services bundles launches on Friday in over 100 countries and regions, but the top Premier tier will be limited to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The limited rollout of the $29.95 Premier tier is down to the fact that Apple News+ is currently only available in the above countries. Apple News+ is exclusive to the Premier tier,...

Apple Says Record 2020 Mac Sales Attributed Primarily to MacBook Pro

Friday October 30, 2020 12:24 pm PDT by
Apple on Thursday reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of the 2020 fiscal year, including Mac revenue of $9 billion, a new quarterly record. Apple ended the year with annual Mac revenue of $28.6 billion, an all-time high. In its annual Form 10-K report [PDF], filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today, Apple said increased Mac sales in fiscal 2020 compared to fiscal ...