Why Apple MacBooks are limited to 16GB of RAM ?

You may have been wondering why Apple laptops were limited to a maximum of 16GB of RAM…

RAM is hidden by an aluminum cover on the new MacBook Pro 2016

RAM is hidden by an aluminum cover on the new MacBook Pro 2016

Apple has always wanted to integrate up to 32 GB of RAM however, the Cupertino firm was limited by the previous Intel processors architecture…

MacBook Air and Pro series from 2013 till 2015

The one used on these Apple laptops models was the Broadwell-U which could only support 16GB of DDR3 or LPDDR3 (Low Power DDR3).

The actual 2016 MacBook Air and Pro series

The new Skylake architecture, used on MacBook Pro 2016, will support both DDR3 and DDR4 (which can exceed the 16 GB limit) but not the LPDDR4. Apple does not wish to opt for DDR4 since it would increase the power consumption and therefor lower the battery life. They will stick to LPDDR3 and its limitation of 16GB.

The upcoming 2017-2018 MacBooks

It is still difficult to determine which chip generation from the Skylake architecture will be used in the MacBook Pro 2017: Kaby Lake will be commercialized on early January, but it will probably take until the end of the year or the beginning of 2018 for the Canon Lake architecture to be integrated in laptops. However, it is the latter which will support the LPDDR4. Therefore, it is possible that the MacBook Pro 2017 will continue to be limited to 16 GB of RAM.

Clearly, they will take advantage of a new range of Intel processors to equip their machines. These Intel’s Canon Lake chips are expected to consume 15% to 25% energy less.¬†¬†Furthermore, Apple will adopt the LPDDR4 which can sustain a capacity of 32 GB.

16 GB of RAM can be a limitation for some users. However, it is still more than enough for most users. At the time the storage in MacBooks were hard drives (mechanical spinning disks), there was a bottleneck resulting in a feeling of a Mac being slow which the RAM could help to balance.

Nowadays, with the fast Flash drives equipping every MacBook since 2012, the need of a high amount of RAM is not a must have anymore.

2 thoughts on “Why Apple MacBooks are limited to 16GB of RAM ?

  1. Pingback: What we know about next Macbook 2017 – Phuket My Mac

  2. SByrnes - BMRT

    This was very informative. I’ve always wondered why they imposed a limitation on Macbooks while most high-end PCs can be upgraded into 30+ GB.


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