Like you I opted for the 14" version for portability. I really appreciate more screen real estate but since Covid I am most often connected to an external monitor anyway so I think the 14" will be a better balance for my needs. I run a lot of graphics intensive workflows and need a lot of storage space so I went with the Max processor and 8GB SSD. I think the sweet spot for most pro users will be the 24 core GPU and 32GB unified memory.
I don’t know if I can offer good advice on your particular use case (I don’t deal with PDF files that large) but I can talk through my own buying decision:
Honestly, I could probably get by with one of the original M1 based laptops. My main justifications for the 14” is dual monitor support and the HDMI port. That said, once I committed to getting a M1 Pro/Max powered notebook I wanted to optimize it for my needs. I do some big data analysis work, which requires good CPU speeds, benefits from a decent amount of memory and can take up a fair bit of space. I went with the 10 CPU core, 14 GPU core processor, which gets me the fastest CPU, but doesn’t spend any extra $$$ on GPU. No reason to go for the M1 Max, since other than some additional memory bandwidth, most it’s benefits seem to be media/graphics focused. While I could probably get by with 16GB, I went with 32GB because there are some data analysis tasks that would benefit from it. 1TB of SSD to let me keep my full Photos library on-device and still have plenty of room for big datasets.
Yes, more RAM would help with that. I can’t give a solid answer on 16 vs 32 for your use case, but at least for me, 16gb has been more than enough for my heavy workloads (software development/photo editing/etc).
There is a 14 day return policy so if you buy a 16gb RAM MBP and then find out the PDFs don’t load well then you can return and buy a 32gb RAM MBP. But how convenient that is also depends on where you live.
When you’re required to read War and Peace 15 times.
Just kidding! But I’m also curious what kind of PDF documents these are.
I work with UX and UI and with 32GB RAM on my 16" MBP, Sketch can come to a crawl when your document has more than a hundred artboards. So I think, Apple was telling me Sketch is better on the new MBP when they highlighted the app.