You're gonna need more RAM

Despite what Apple says, more memory is always better.

Because of Apple silicon’s unique “unified memory” architecture, Cupertino says you need much less RAM than you think.

According to Apple, 8GB of RAM on the new M3 MacBook Pros is equivalent to 16GB of RAM in a comparable Windows PC.

"Comparing our memory to other systems’ memory actually isn't equivalent because of the fact that we have such an efficient use of memory, and we use memory compression, and we have a unified memory architecture," said Bob Borchers, Apple’s VP of worldwide product marketing, in an interview earlier this week.

However, real-world performance tests show that you absolutely need 16GB of RAM in a new M3 MacBook Pro if you’re running compute-intensive apps like Photoshop, Blender and Lightroom. The differences between an 8GB machine and a 16GB one are actually quite dramatic.

But what if you’re not running power-hungry apps? 8GB of RAM may in fact be enough. It wasn’t for me when I bought a base M1 iMac a couple of years ago, though. The machine regularly stutters and chokes if I have more than a few apps and browser tabs open.

So ignore Apple: Always get as much RAM as you can afford.

Also in today’s newsletter:

  • No one seems very hyped about Humane’s Ai Pin after yesterday’s weirdly unenthusiastic unveiling video. 85% or more of Cult of Mac readers say they aren’t interested at all, according to our newsletter poll results (below). See also some of the best X (Twitter) reactions I saw, including the fact that in the canned video, the gadget’s AI flubbed the location of the next solar eclipse and the protein content of a handful of almonds. Ouch! The lack of a screen is supposed to be a feature of the Ai Pin, but it’s a bug and will doom the device, as we argued when it was first teased during a TED Talk a few months ago. Just look at the HomePod. Users are clamoring for a screen on the device, and Apple is rumored to be working on it. People want their screens.

  • After suffering a “minor stroke” in Mexico, Steve Wozniak is back home recovering. Get well soon, Woz.

  • Ahead of the Black Friday shopping orgy, Amazon has the lowest price yet for the new Apple Watch Series 9.

  • The latest iOS 17.2 beta includes Spatial Video — the ability to shoot 3D video for the upcoming Vision Pro headset on the latest iPhone Pros.

  • This bike reflector is a great way to discreetly attach an AirTag to your bicycle.

— Leander Kahney, EIC.

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One more thing ...

The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious.

— Steve Jobs, 2011.

Today’s poll

How much RAM do you need?

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Results from yesterday’s poll: Are you going to buy Humane's AI Pin?

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