Apple says 8GB of RAM on M3 MacBooks is similar to 16GB on Windows PCs

Daniel Sims

Posts: 1,288   +43
Staff
Why it matters: Apple's new M3 products push the emerging Arm PC sector to the next level, but the cheapest MacBook in the lineup is a $1,600 notebook with only 8GB of unified memory. Many consider 16GB the current standard and arguably the minimum for intense workloads, but Apple thinks its RAM is different.

Apple has defended its decision to continue releasing new MacBook Pro models with only 8GB of RAM. Apple's VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Bob Borcher asserts that Apple's efficiency gains make 8GB in its products equivalent to the performance of 16GB in other systems.

The cheapest M3 MacBook is the 14-inch MacBook Pro that features 8GB of unified memory but costs $1,599. Meanwhile, PC users can easily find more affordable notebooks with 16GB of system RAM and additional VRAM. While unified memory offers some advantages over socketed RAM, 8GB is still a smaller pool for the CPU and GPU to share.

Borcher's comments came in an interview with content creator Lin Yi (above). The executive suggested that Apple users shouldn't worry about the base M3 notebook's capacity for heavy workloads because it manages RAM more efficiently than Windows products.

While he didn't mention specific applications or performance numbers, Borcher asked customers to look beyond system specs. Testing his claims would likely require deep-dive benchmarks comparing specific memory-intensive applications on the 8GB Macbook Pro versus a roughly equivalent 16GB Windows notebook.

One ingredient of M3's "secret sauce" might be Dynamic Caching, a feature Apple unveiled in its M3 presentation last month. Unlike traditional GPUs, which allocate memory based on the neediest tasks, Dynamic Caching allocates RAM in real-time, giving each application only the exact amount it needs.

Apple designed Dynamic Caching to increase GPU utilization, particularly improving game and rendering performance. It also helps with hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which makes its Mac debut with M3 and is known to require significant amounts of GPU memory and bandwidth.

The interview also broached Apple's approach to AI and machine learning (ML), which has been more cautious than initiatives from Google, Microsoft, and other Big Tech companies. Borcher said Apple focuses less on talking about the technologies than on the tasks they might enable for users. The M3 processors include hardware dedicated to AI and ML, and the company is currently spending millions on developing AI projects in-house.

Permalink to story.

 
Apple engineer reveals themselves to be totally tech illiterate.

Doubly so because the M series use iGPUs. Any windows machine with a dGPU has far more overall memory to work with, while the mac shoves it all into the same pool, and you can only optimize that so much.

8GB macs run like trash if you try to do anything other then go to facebook.

"While he didn't mention specific applications or performance numbers, Borcher asked customers to look beyond system specs." Translation = "trust me bro".
 
How sad that they think their customers so dumb to make such an excuse for less overall RAM (and know they'll parrot the ignorant talking point).
They're clutching their profits so close that they just can't spare adding an extra 8GB on the base model for the good of their customers...
 
Cough BS cough.

Lower the price another $300 and then maybe that base spec would have merit, but this is a Macbook Pro not Air, so yeah nah. In Australia that base spec MBP is like $2.5K and to have just 8GB is criminal. I even consider 16GB delusional now.
 
That's honestly kind of the wrong answer to give: You might not technically need 16 gb of ram on macos but an extra 8gb of sodimm ddr5 for a laptop is like 30 bucks retail price. Let's say it costs apple 60 bucks to get a much faster, integrated and just overall better ram solution at cost so being waaaay generous with how much it actually costs them to put another 8 gb of ram but for the sake of the argument.

With all that it is still just under 4% of the price they're asking. Do you really think it's a good use of your time to have engineers and PR teams having to answer constant criticism for something that's probably way less than 4% of the total price of your product?

It's almost as if it's not really about the ram, but about getting Apple consumers to accept that they will always be wrong and Apple will always be right and only they know what the consumer actually wants. Like it's more important for them to stubbornly dismiss criticism and eat a big excrement sandwich every time this is brought up than to actually admit the consumer might want something different than what they're offering.
 
He might have had at least a conceivably valid argument if he had said MacOS was inherently more memory efficient than Windows and therefore 8GB on MacOS was less constrained than on Windows, but to say that Apple Silicon somehow makes the computer more memory efficient is just garbage.

And that is before we talk about how much Apple charge for memory (and storage) upgrades. But unless people vote with their wallet, Apple will never change.
 
So why again SSDs die easily on Macs? Killed by sharing the burden with RAM?
They are wrong no matter what arguments they use. This is not 2010.
Everything got bigger, and 8GB ram somehow also expanded?
Another thing I noticed is that cheapest mac price. 1600, really? With 8GBram it is indeed an entry level device. And the funniest thing is that those extra 8GB ram would be dirty cheap.
This is the most obvious attempt to upsell RAM at x20 times its worth.
 
And all of us that moved to 32GB ram or more are stupid and using our devices wrong. Not that app's consume huge ammounts of resources both disk and ram. Just look at a browser with more than 1 tab opened.

Memory swaping is bad for performance no mater how fast a SSD is.
 
Entropy: 8 gb < 16 gb, so... nope.

There may exist some optimisations which allow having many applications open at the same time and spend less memory space with boilerplate structures or increased allocations. But for a single application (let's say blender), having 16+ gigs will certainly increase proficiency.
 
How sad that they think their customers so dumb to make such an excuse for less overall RAM (and know they'll parrot the ignorant talking point).
They're clutching their profits so close that they just can't spare adding an extra 8GB on the base model for the good of their customers...
The argument can be made that the majority of their userbase is that stupid. They pay those prices and anchor themselves to all things Apple for most of their computers and devices and then celebrate this like it's a good thing.

Mac can only potentially be more efficient in the OS' use of memory. There's limits to what they can affect with the applications running on them. That being said, there's zero chance of his statement being truth. This is just exec/marketing speak to justify driving their users towards the higher price point, much like AMD did with the 7900 XT and 7900 XTX.

I'm not going to trust overpriced hardware with the engineering record that Macs have (even if I didn't already hate their UI and walled garden mentality). 50v power line right next to a CPU-direct data line anyone?
 
This explains a lot. Everything on Apple machines is worth twice as much as they are on Windows machines. That's the reason why you have to pay twice as much for Apple hardware.
 
Ahuh, and 4GB on iPhone is similar to 8GB on MacBook, because, ahem, iPhone is smaller. LOL.
Well duh! the screen is smaller, so all that memory needs less space!.
> Dynamic Caching allocates RAM in real-time, giving each application only the exact amount it needs.

What if I just happen to be working on a dataset that's 12 gigs in size in memory and my app needs to constantly access different parts of it...?
Or if I dare to open more then 1 tab in Chrome?

Hell, even if it WERE somehow true today, that doesnt mean it would be in 4 years. Programs get heavier all the time. I have an installer for chrome 76, and just out of curiosity running it, it pulls MAYBE 1/3rd the RAM that chrome does today. Images are bigger, security programs take more resources, EVERYTHING is unoptimized now because the world is a moving target.
 
Back