Why doesn't the new MacBook Pro have 32 GB of RAM?

For some, Apple failed to put the "Pro" in MacBook Pro, and it started with the limitations on RAM: 16 GB tops. Why no option for anything more? Why not 32 GB?

A MacRumors reader wrote Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, and asked. The reply:

To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook.

There's been some speculation about what Schiller was talking about, one of the more educated guesses has been well encapsulated on Reddit:

The true reason behind the lack of 32gb or ddr4 is intel. Skylake does not support LPDDR4 (LP for low power) ram. Kabylake is set to include support, but only for the U category of chips. So no LPDDR4 support for mobile until 2018 I think.

So, even if Apple used Kabylake instead — which, because of the specifics and integration Apple requires, is months away from being ready for primetime — it wouldn't support the memory Apple needs for the power efficiency they want in the new MacBooks Pro.

When I asked on Twitter how many pros really needed more than 16 GB of RAM, the answers were as extreme as you'd imagine. Most pros outside of video pros seem OK with 16GB. Video pros do not.

See the replies here:

Why not throw power efficiency out the window and make a 15-inch MacBook Pro variant for video pros that can support the big, hot, and hungry workarounds needed to get 32 GB or more into a notebook, the way they made a 13-inch variant without a Touch Bar and with only two Thunderbolt 3 ports?

That, to me, is the more interesting question. Did they try, and determine it was a terrible product? Did they not think it would have sufficient market to exist? Do they plan to address the needs of high end video professionals, who do require more RAM, with a different or future product? Or do they think the higher speed SSD architecture, memory compression, and swapping will hold enough of them that they can wait for LPDDR4?

It's one of a dozen gambles Apple makes with every version of every product — that if they can't or won't do everything, what can and will they do to address the needs of the most amount of customers? (i.e. sell the most products.)

Make the right call and, even if some customers are apoplectic that their specific needs haven't been met, the product is still extremely successful. Make the wrong call and it's typically a painful six months to a year before they can course correct.

We'll get to the ports and other aspects soon, but for now — what are you thoughts on the new MacBooks Pro and their RAM limits? Would you have wanted a version with 32 GB or more, regardless of what it took to make it? And how well do you think it would have sold?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.