Xcode: 8 GB vs. 16 GB
Compiling a large test project in Xcode took 136 seconds in Max Tech’s test on the MacBook Pro with an M1 chip and 8 GB of RAM. However, if the system had 16 GB available, the working time was reduced to 122 seconds.
Export of 8K video
The situation is completely different if you want to export video material in very high resolution. In this task, the user clearly benefits from more RAM. With 8 GB, 13:57 minutes passed, with 16 GB just 5:59 minutes. A MacBook Pro 16 “with a Core i9 and 32 GB of RAM even completes the task in 5:30 minutes – although it does much worse in most of the benchmark tests.
Export of RAW images at 42 MP
While the differences in the video test were glaring, Lightroom Classic (execution via Rosetta!) Is somewhat similar again. With 8 GB RAM 3 minutes passed, with 16 GB 2:43 minutes, an iMac also with 16 GB completed the challenge in 2:50 minutes. The results are somewhat astounding, as Lightroom is known to be a memory-hungry program. In the Intel comparison test, between 8 GB and 16 GB were not just 17, but 65 seconds.
In generic benchmark tests, there were no clear differences between 8 GB and 16 GB of RAM. If you are now faced with the question of whether the surcharge of around 225 euros is a sensible investment: It does no harm, but in most cases it will not be of any use in everyday life. For the same price, the basic versions would have, for example, 512 GB instead of 256 GB SSD storage – and that should certainly help most users more. This will probably not change much in the coming years – it is much more likely to hit the SSD than the RAM limit.
Long gone are the days when the Mac was stuck for seconds when data had to be swapped from memory to hard drive. Even when this happens, current systems are so fast that you don’t even notice. On the other hand, if you intend to work on and export large projects on the M1 Mac, the extra charge will pay off at some point in terms of productivity gains.