What amount of RAM and what amount of SSD?

Hello super smart friends!

After 10+ years of hard work by my MacBook Pro it is time to reinvest… I need your brilliant advice please! :slight_smile:

Here are my typical work needs…

Podcasting and music recording needs (likely gonna use Garage Band unless you advise learning Logic)
Basic photo editing
Basic video editing
Multi tabs on Safari and Chrome
I use the Notes app across all devices
Pages and possibly Word
Can’t wait to be able to use airdrop
Must be a laptop due to travel…

I think I cannot go less than 32G RAM and 1TB SSD. I’d love more. I think. I’m also considering refurbished for :dollar: reasons but that new 16 inch screen is :star_struck:.

Thank you for any and all thoughts. I never thought I’d considered refurbished until I read through all the comments yesterday. Wow. That could really help the budget. But I do like to keep my devices (except for the iPhone which has completely sucked me in).

Hope your day is fabulous and I look forward to hearing your advice. Many thank yous!

Welcome @Chicksinger !

From what you’ve said, it sounds like you’ll be fine with 32G and 1T.

Have a look at https://refurb-tracker.com/ which will keep an eye on refurbs for you.


I’ve maxed out 16GB on my laptop, on occasion, so I think 32GB is a good idea, especialy if you’re going to keep the laptop for such a long time again. On the storage front, TB3 is so fast that you can really offload everything but the OS and essential files; 1 TB is certainly fine. Down the road external SSDs should only come down in price, and some of them RAID’d are nominally faster than internal storage.

Conventional wisdom will say “get the 16” – the screen is larger, and the keyboard is supposed to be much better. You have to balance that vs. the deals a refurbed 15" will present – apart from VRAM it is not a slower machine.

Get the new MacBook Pro 16’’ since that model is the first great Apple notebook after many years of mediocrity and problems. RAM should be at least 16 GB, but 32 GB is of course better for the future. The one thing you can save is HDD. I would not go over 512 GB. External SSDs are very fast and affordable.

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@JohnAtl thank you for this! I just went to the tracker and have like $10k in my cart lol! I’m so happy to see all these choices. :slight_smile:

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@Timo You’ve brought up some great points. Thank you so much! Much to consider. Yes to “conventional wisdom” thoughts.

@TheMarty oh my gosh that’s the 3rd time I’ve hear this in as many days. :flushed: so the new 16 inch laptop is just a better overall machine?? I guess I need to go put my hands on that baby and see for myself. Thank you for your thoughts on this. :slight_smile:

How important is it to get 32GB RAM do you think @TheMarty ? Is it ok just to stick with 16, if one is not editing and so on, like me really. Asking for a friend :slightly_smiling_face:

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That really depends on your needs :slight_smile: I consider 16 GB as optimal right now and think it will be still ok next year. I use Gaming PCs as a “benchmark”. The bare minimum for such PC is 16 GB and 32 GB is optimal. When you start seeing Gaming PCs with 64 GB, its time to upgrade :slight_smile:


First: name a hard budget. All good answers flow from there. :slightly_smiling_face:


8 GB right now is baseline.

16 GB is good and gives you room to grow in the future.

32 GB is overkill for most people.

However, since you cannot add it later, I would recommend getting as much as you can afford after you have upgraded the SSD to at least 512GB.

Obviously “more” is always better if you want to keep a Mac longer, but assuming that you don’t have unlimited funds, at a certain point there will be trade-offs.

32 GB + 1 TB SSD sounds like an excellent Mac that will last a good long time. I bought a 16 GB + 512 GB MacBook Air because money.


OK @tjluoma you know your stuff. Nicely condensed and coherent reply. Let me add another question and none of this ‘it depends’ :shushing_face:. I have mostly academic type use, some streaming. My current plan is to get an iMac 27" and make it last a decade if I can. I know there are contingencies. I take your point about 512 SSD, that is what I will do for sure, I am convinced. How much RAM should I get? I take it you will say 32GB? Or can I settle for 16GB?
I was tempted to change my mind since the new 16 inch macbook but I think iPhone and so on now does enough for me away from my desk and expense dictates I stay course.
I will say I am sorry to hear you have to economize on your specs though! really.

To get 10 years out of your old MacBook Pro you have done really well!

If you are not familiar with the keyboard issues of the 2016-2018 (2019?) I would do some research on it so you can make an informed decision. The mid 2018 added a silicon membrane under the keyboard to try and keep debris out of the keyboard. The 2019 changed the metal parts on the butterfly switch to eliminate fatigued keys.

For your needs as of today, 16 GB and 512 SSD would be fine. If you play on keeping this MacBook for a long period of time like your old one, I think the 32GB and 1TB drive are worth it since they are not upgradable. The comments on adding an external SSD are spot on, but you say you travel, so that may not be convenient for you to travel with and not lose long term. Cloud storage (iCloud/Dropbox) might be a more workable solution with a smaller drive.

For me, I would buy the 16" for future proofing. Apple has finally replaced the keyboard and that is the deal breaker for me. Apple does have an extended warranty on the butterfly keyboard, but it only lasts so long and you have the inconvenience of brining it in for repair.

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If you are going to go for a decade then I would look at 1TB drive if possible

But you can definitely go for 16 GB to start with, because with the 27" iMac you can upgrade the RAM later!

Verify this yourself at https://www.apple.com/imac/specs/ (just make sure you select the 27" not the 21.5" because you can’t upgrade the RAM on that model for some reason).

I have spoken.

That’s a Mandalorian reference, in case anyone hasn’t seen it.


Got you, thanks for that info, I didn’t know and assumed that 27 inch was fixed, I would not have checked probs.
You spoke @tjluoma and I listened.:smiley:
Really thanks for your time. I know you are really busy. Guess I need to watch Starwars too at some point.

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How long will you keep the computer? If it’s more than 3 years then get more RAM than you need. If it’s under 3 years then go with 16GB. You will never, ever be sorry that you got more RAM.


I’ve got 16GB and 512GB in my MBP and it is more than enough for my Xcode, productivity, browsing, Logic, Final Cut needs.
I can only keep my more recent projects on it, with others on an external SSD, but that’s never a problem (plus I only do songs, not podcasts).

I did also buy a Mac mini recently with 32GB and 1TB for these reasons:

  • I like to have all my cloud documents fully synced on one machine, and it’s simpler if that’s internal
  • I bought and installed cheap ram myself
  • I could afford to splash out

With Apple prices, I say stick to 16GB, and you should be able to judge if you need 1TB really.

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You should be more than fine with 16Gb and maybe a 512 SSD. External SSD’s are cheap, and can add external capacity quickly. I would invest in the processor and maybe memory to make sure the machine can last a long time.

I would look at it in this way:

machine item user upgradeable recommendation
Macbook processor no max out as far as you can
memory no max to budget
ssd yes to budget or add external ssd
iMac processor no max out as far as you can
memory yes max to budget or add extra
ssd yes add external ssd
Mac mini processor no max out as far as you can
memory yes max to budget or add extra
ssd yes add external ssd

Well my opinion is to max out both RAM and Disk on whatever model of machine you buy. You can never have too much of either IMO.

I’ve never had a problem of too much RAM or too much disk space. I don’t do anything with video but I consider 1TB hard drive to be the minimum I will consider in any machine I use regularly. I have to work to get my typical set of stuff to fit in that with enough room for swapping etc. As for memory, it’s not usually easily user upgradeable so again I’d buy as much as will fit in the machine initially.

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As of today, after the new MBP announcement, my reasoning for a “last a decade” production machine (for video, photo and audio editing, albeit light) would be to go for the new one (maybe after a couple of keyboard review / opinion, just to be sure :wink:) and play with the budget keeping in mind what everybody else already said: you can never have too much ram or disk space…

that said the new machines start at 512GB for the i7 and 1TB for the i9 of disk space, so you should be ok with either of those. I’d go for 32 gigs of ram on any machine you choose.

I’d not buy a refurbed “butterfly” keyboard model, too many problems…

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