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First Iteration of Apple M1 Macs: 16GB memory Limit Puts Hard Ceiling on Potential Uses

re: Thoughts on Apple’s Transition away from Intel CPUs to Apple ARM, macOS Big Sur

The Apple M1 chip is quite an accomplishment, an engineering tour de force. But it remains to be seen just what Apple can achieve when it comes to a serious professional-grade machine, laptop and destkop, which means a minimum of 128GB memory capability for desktops, and 64GB for laptops.

There are other 'deal killers' for me with the M1 Macs: software compatibility. It will be half a year before we have a stable and reliable Java for M1 Macs. And other development tools may lag as well, having to run in emulation for quite some time.

All of the Apple M1 Macs are limited to 16GB memory. This is fine for email and web browsing and low-grade usage. But it’s not sufficient for photographers or videographers. Claims about performance are misleading twaddle if/when the OS is force into compressed memory and/or virtual memory paging by an artificially low memory limit, though this unhappy situation is partially mitigated by a fast internal SSD.

OTOH, Apple knows their market, and these machines which are low end to many of us are just great for 95% of the Mac-buying public and even for light usage (think travel) where memory won’t be a limiting factor (small photo catalogs, relatively small Photoshop files, etc).

Mac mini: 16GB for the M1 vs 64GB for the Intel model. Not that I can recommend the Mac mini at all, it being the most unreliable Mac I have ever used (can take me 10-20 minutes to get the on any kind of port to sync up), and it cannot boot a usable OS for a real server setup (won’t mount volumes until user logs in, remote access won't work, etc).

MacBook Pro 13" — 16GB M1 vs 32GB for the Intel model—nothing “pro” about it.

MacBook Air 13" — 16GB. Presumably perfect for the traveler doing light stuff.

It’s clear that 16GB is pathetic even for a college student of some majors though—my daughter running a Linux VM with ciruit design software on a MacBook Pro with only 16GB is feeling the pain. No “pro” Mac should have less than 32GB memory.


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