How much RAM do we need for design?

4 years ago from , Product Designer

After seeing that the new 16" MacBook Pro supports up to 64GB of RAM and the 2019 27" iMac supposedly supports a ridiculous 128 GB (according to third-party RAM vendors), I got curious to know from you, guys:

How much RAM do you have, what software are you running, and of course, are you happy with it or do you look to upgrade?

For example, 16GB still does a decent job for me with Figma (which mostly relies on GPU), Chrome, Slack — but gets a bit crazy when I also add a Slack video call into the equation.


  • Marek LMarek L, 4 years ago

    16 GB is minimum and 32 GB is optimal for design work these days.

    6 points
  • John PJohn P, 4 years ago

    16 is fine for UI design/2D design

    32 for After Effects, 3D and video editing

    With macs you're going to hit the limits of the weak processors and paltry GPUs before ram is an issue.

    4 points
    • Julian H, 4 years ago

      This. Currently using a 16 GB MacBook Pro I can't run Sketch/Photoshop together with After Effects without AE being significantly slower in terms of viewport and rendering performance.

      3 points
    • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, 4 years ago

      Tbh I just bumped my machine up to 32 from 16, as I was starting to get severe performance issues with AE and Character Animator. But 16 can definitely keep you running quite well if you're not overloading visual effects on the timeline.

      A good SSD however can make all the difference too!

      0 points
    • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, 4 years ago

      +1 on this. Given it can be difficult or impossible to upgrade RAM later, depending on the Mac you buy, 16GB as the default and 32GB if you can afford it is great advice.

      Xcode, Blender and lots of other things will gladly chew up as much RAM as you give them. Most 2D design tools won’t hit the limits of 16GB.

      0 points
  • Adam Fisher-CoxAdam Fisher-Cox, 4 years ago

    Counterpoint to everything in this thread so far - 8 is fine practically. Of course more will be better but I have 8 and rarely notice performance issues unless I'm in some weird workflow where I've got Sketch plus half the Creative Suite open.

    3 points
  • UX ING, 4 years ago

    Have 32gb on my 2018 MBP. Can pretty much throw anything at it and it’s good to go. Talking 100 chrome tabs, 20 sketch files, ProtoPie, principle, photoshop, illustrator and super light after effects work all running.

    2 points
  • jeremy silverjeremy silver, 4 years ago

    I still use my early 2008 Mac Pro. I purchased it from Apple with 2 gigs (1G x 2 sticks) and finally upgraded last year to 6 gigs (2G x 2 sticks; 1G x 2 sticks) and it runs Adobe CC without any lag for static designing. (photo editing, creating print and web graphics, UI designs, frontend development, local server development) I don't edit videos so I don't really need more.

    2 points
  • Ashraf AliAshraf Ali, 4 years ago

    I like having every design software be available instantaneously. For instance, I sometimes keep Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and a web browser open all at once to work between the applications quicker and round trip work flows.

    Now, in the midst of this workflow, let’s say I open up Evernote to grab some notes, play a YouTube video tutorial, and run Media Encoder in the background? RAM makes a host of a difference. RAM makes even more of a difference when each one of those design tools you multiply the artboards, image files, etc.

    Uh, I multitask a lot, lol.

    2 points
  • iterati designiterati design, 4 years ago

    Running 16GB on my MacBook Pro 13" for the last 6 years. Will be getting 32GB next time I upgrade.

    2 points
  • Adrian FurtunaAdrian Furtuna, 4 years ago

    All of it.

    1 point
  • Nick MNick M, 4 years ago

    As long as design tool creators are going to be poor at garbage collection and optimizing RAM usage, as much as you can get your hands on. It will get even worse with tools like Framer X because expecting a designer to write code that cleans up after itself is kind of having a laugh.

    1 point
  • Ducu Buzoianu, 4 years ago

    My work MacBook has 16 GB of RAM and sometimes it doesn't feel like enough. Haven't upgraded to Catalina yet, but I doubt it will make a difference.

    1 point
  • Thomas Nuuk, 4 years ago

    I try future proof my macs by buying as much as I can afford at that time. Current imac has 64gb and doesnt skip a beat. I would say 32 is fine. Also focus on a powerful graphics card, that will make a huge difference.

    0 points
  • Alex WalshAlex Walsh, 4 years ago

    Let's be honest now, 16gb is the minimum for a smooth experience. I used 4gb in my 2013 MacBook Pro retina. Runs fine, although is a smidge slow sometimes. I'm waiting until it cannot support the latest Mac OS, which should be 2 more years. I will then delegate it to my girlfriend.

    0 points
  • Parker Hutchinson, 4 years ago

    at least 32gb. I use Blender/C4D/AE/Sketch/Affinity Photo. It really depends on what you mean by "designer" if you see yourself doing rendering with AE and 3D modeling then the more ram the better. 16gb should work fine for AI/Sketch/PS/Affinity. it's not until you combine that with modeling or motion graphics does it become noticeable.. Having a good graphics card(the higher tier) also is something to think on. The bigger the GPU and more GRAM will also affect the performance of rendering.

    0 points
  • Trev MorrisTrev Morris, 4 years ago


    0 points
  • Eugene Zaycev, 4 years ago

    If you would like to invest in a new one, buy it with 64 and feel excited!

    0 points