GRAM: 4 or 8GB?

I admit to being quite tempted by the new 16" MBP.

Question: 4GB of video RAM or 8GB? I am not sure how the upgrade in VRAM size would impact performance.


For most folks, if you don’t already know you need it, you probably don’t need it :slight_smile:

What will you be doing with the laptop? High-end Graphics or Video? Gaming?

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Could you provide more information regarding this? In this case, it’s $100 to get 8GB of VRAM. For some that might be a no-brainer as it could offer some level of future-proofing especially if one keeps the laptop for a long time.

I’m still looking for something that explains why 4GB (vs 8GB) may be enough for most people. For example, is it application-based that drives the usage? Or, is it I have 4 5K monitors so I need 8GB of RAM to properly support all those screens?


I’m not pro enough to answer what exactly requires 8GB over 4GB, but Apple’s site seems to imply that the 16" has a set external display limit regardless of what graphics card is in it.

My iMac has 4GB of VRAM and with what I do (data entry and research, with the occasional dabbling in games and video) that’s going to last me for years. Unless your work/hobbies are directly dependant on VRAM I’d probably stick with 4GB unless you have a really good reason.

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I found this on the page where one can customize a MacBook Pro:

It’s still vague on what constitutes large assets and images.

My current iMac (mid-2011) has 512MB of VRAM. With that setup, I haven’t found anything I couldn’t do with the currently installed software. I do produce videos ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour and that does take some time. Also, I edit photos from time to time without issue with Pixelmator though I can’t run Pixelmator Pro.

I do dabble with a raytracer that I wrote. Currently, the CPU handles all the work though I would like to shift the shading computations to the GPU. I haven’t had time to explore how to do that yet. I’m still working on some other functionality at the moment.

Based on that, I doubt the 4GB VRAM on the new MacBook Pro will limit me.

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It all comes down to how you’ll use the machine. For example, if you use Photoshop heavily, you’d want to make a visit to the Photoshop GPU info page.

I can’t really speak to the multiple screens question. I have an iMac Pro (5k) and an external 4k monitor. IStat Menus says that RAM usage on my GPU (8GB) averages about 90%. I don’t do anything graphics intensive, other than creating neuroimaging figures, which doesn’t use the GPU for processing. So I don’t know why usage is at 90%. Usage of the GPU processor itself is very low, around 5%. So if I had a hypothetical 4GB, I think it would still support the internal and external displays. Perhaps things like window drags would be a little less smooth. Hard to say.

To your point about four 5k monitors, if you were rocking that, $100 would fall under your “no brainer” umbrella :slight_smile: