MacBook Pro 16” 16/32/64 GB RAM?

I run a solo law practice and I am a photographer. Looking to get the new MacBook Pro 16” but not sure if 16 GB RAM would suffice or if I should make the next step to 32.

I usually have the following apps running during the day - Chrome (at most 10 tabs), OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, Word, Pages, Excel, Acrobat Pro, Reeder, Fantastical, Byword/NVAlt. I do use Photos, Lightroom and Photoshop but I usually don’t have all the other apps running - with the exception of Chrome.

Is 16 GB enough or should I upgrade to 32?

I can’t recall - is the RAM user upgradeable? Even if it’s a little bit of effort? If you can, I’d save the money on the RAM and don’t pay Apple’s prices.

However, if not - upgrade the RAM if you plan to keep the computer for any reasonable amount of time.

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RAM is not user-serviceable on any current Apple notebook.


I bought the 16” with 32 GB RAM and am very happy I did. I previously had 16 and always found myself worrying about the number of apps I had opened. I don’t have that concern anymore. One thing less to think about. If you have the money, definitely get 32. Heck, if money is not a concern, 64 would be good. I expect to use my new 16” for a long time and I’m sure apps will get larger and more memory hungry in the years ahead. Hope this helps.

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I just replaced a 2011 15" MBP with a new 2019 16" MBP. The older one had 8GB of RAM. I used it for Aperture (yes!) and Photoshop, as well as Final Cut Pro, and ran Windows under Parallels. Since I had no RAM issues (ever) I went for the 16GB RAM model.

Note that I don’t use Chrome, and whenever I’ve heard about people running out of RAM, they are Chrome users. It has very bad memory management.

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Use activity monitor to see your current memory usage. Best to check after working for a few hours so you get a good idea of your typical usage.

When I used to run Parallels more memory was a big performance boost. After I dumped Windows, my 16gb was more then enough.

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Always buy the most RAM and largest hard drive/SSD you can afford. I have only ever bought one machine that wasn’t maxed out and I regretted it.


How long will you keep the computer? If it’s only for 3 years or less, then this advice is less important:

  1. I completely agree that buying as much RAM and storage as you can afford is vital. My upgrade priority would be: 32GB, 1TB, 64GB, 2+TB. I run a lot of VMs and keep my computers for a long time, so I opted for 64GB, 2TB.

  2. I also agree with watching your current memory usage via Activity Monitor, but in my opinion the number that’s most important is your swap use. RAM should always be nearly 100% in use, but if you’re using swap, that’s the sign that the computer could benefit from more RAM.


Thank you all so much for your responses. I’ll be watching Activity Monitor and I’ll likely get 32 GB just to be safe!

Next question - 1TB or 2TB? Current set up is 1TB SSD and I’m just over 1/2 full. I think 1 TB would be fine long term using Dropbox’s Selective Sync? Am I missing something?

How do you edit and store your files? I’ve had issues with Lightroom catalogs corrupting with both iCloud and Google Drive File Stream (more or less selective sync).

Since you are a photographer more SSD space might be needed depending on how many pix you take and how well you cull the cruft. How has your photo library grown over time? Extrapolate that over the planned life of the machine and see what your minimum is.

In my own case I currently have a 512gb ssd with just under 400gb used but plan on my next machine to have a 1tb ssd. I don’t see any scenario that would require more than 700-800gb.

Thanks, for that. I haven’t been shooting too much RAW files lately - mostly iPhone shooting. But your approach makes total sense. I need to go and do some math!