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M1 iMac RAM needed for Vectorworks?

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I'm planning to buy an M1 iMac. It comes standard with 8 GB RAM. Reports on the web are that the M1 does not benefit much going from 8GB RAM to 16GB RAM. Can anyone tell me their experience with an already released M1 computer and the installed RAM, and Vectorworks performance.

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I'm no expert but I would have thought the main determinant of RAM is your applications, not the processor. Vectorworks loves RAM, especially if you deal with large files or complex renderings. For us these iMacs are not even worth considering. 16 GB RAM would cripple working with some of our files.

Edited by Christiaan
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And a little more to back up the above:




The rubber will hit the road, and NV, once we see the next tier of Apple's line up, hopefully with a preview at WWDC in six weeks. This would be consistent with the way Apple has introduced their Pro level machines over recent years. And with the iMac Pro already discontinued, it seems even more likely they'll do it again this year.     

Edited by M5d
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I think we all have been conditioned to think the more RAM the better, and although this may still be true, it appears that it is less important with the M1. I'm pretty sure that for my needs 8GB will be plenty. Heck, I use an underpowered MacBook Pro 13" Touch Bar now and it does the job. All of that said, if the cost to go to 16GB RAM is an additional $200, then I think I will do that. If I don't, I will always kick myself for not upping the RAM even though I may not really need it, but it will get used.



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Ah I see, fascinating, so it's very much related to the processor's architecture.


I was also reading this take this morning, along related lines:




If that doesn’t seem like a fusillade across x86’s metaphorical bow, consider the issue from a different perspective: According to Apple, the M1 is the right CPU for a $699 computer, and a $999 computer, and a $1,699 computer. It’s the right chip if you want maximum battery life and the right CPU for optimal performance. Want the amazing performance of an M1 iMac, but can’t afford (or have no need) for the expensive display? Buy a $699 Mac mini, with exactly the same CPU. Apple’s M1 positioning, evaluated in its totality, claims the CPU is cheap and unremarkable enough to be sold at $699, powerful and capable enough to sell at $1699, and power-efficient enough to power both a tablet and a pair of laptops priced in-between. […]


Apple’s willingness to position the M1 across so many markets challenges the narrative that such a vast array of x86 products is helpful or necessary. It puts Intel and AMD in the position of justifying why, exactly, x86 customers are required to make so many tradeoffs between high performance and low power consumption. Selling the M1 in both $699 and $1,699 machines challenges the idea that a computer’s price ought to principally reflect the CPU inside of it.


I have 128 GB RAM in my iMac (3.6 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9). I'd be curious to know what the equivalent would be in a Mac with Apple Silicon. I presume there'll be a rough rule of thumb we can go buy, like half as much needed for similar memory performance or something.

Edited by Christiaan
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I have 64 GB in my PC and I start to hit these now with only a single active 3D App.

Trash can's 24 GB where mostly limiting so I had to close parallel running 3D Apps




looks like I can open my larger projects on 16 GB Mini nevertheless and modeling

and working is most times equal to PC (beside CPU Rendering) and better than

Trash Can.

On one hand I think that would even work similar on a base MacBook Air with 8 GB,

but I am pretty sure from what I heard that this will increase swapping tremendously.

(soldered! SSD wear)


And, if I can trust Activity Monitor, it looks like M1 needs quite more RAM than Intel Macs.

I think that is because of Rosetta overhead and Apps not being optimized for Apple ARMs

memory management.

So there is already potential that it gets even better on M1 devices when Apps run native

better with some optimizations. But I would want to go much bigger in number of cores

for CPU/GPU and much more shared RAM in any case, if I have the chance to do.

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If you are mostly using 1 program with not much else running the in the background then 8GB may be sufficient on an M1 mac when the software is M1 architecture native. Otherwise I'd go for 16 GB to be on the safe side if that is the maximum.


When using multiple programs simultaneously and/or large complex files and you want to be future proof I'd suggest to aim for 32GB with the option of being able to expand the amount of memory later.


As a rule of thumb (though it may change with the ARM processors)... the more powerful the hardware becomes, the sloppier (i.e. less optimized/efficient) the software coding gets. 🙂

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On 4/25/2021 at 2:53 PM, Bruce Kieffer said:

@Art VThe limit of RAM in the M1 iMac is 16GB and it's not expandable. These M1 Macs are different beasts than the Macs of the past. RAM is not as important as is indicated by the videos linked above.

For average use where storage (general RAM) and GPU (video) RAM requirements fall within available total available RAM this is true. There people will benefit from increased speed because the RAM to GPU RAM bottleneck has been removed, this may be enough to offset the need for extra RAM to some extent as well as the M1 having better video codecs than the Mac Pro that is 4 years older technology than the M1.


However if you are working with very large files (e.g. like the Photoshop example they mentioned in one of the videos) and also need quite a bit of video ram/GPU power it gets different. With the M1 concept you pick a processor (if possible) with a fixed amount of RAM that is used for both storage and video without an option to upgrade either later on by adding more RAM modules or replacing the GPU with a more powerful one. For office use and most DTP use this may not be much of an issue if one chooses for the option with more RAM, they'll probably be good for a few years.


For heavy 3D modelling, large image files (e.g. 10GB+ aerial images for GIS use) etc. then either the storage requirements will eat into graphics performance or the required graphics performance will eat into available ram for files and running programs.

Some of this may be alleviated by optimized programming code of the software but as I said above, the trend is that the more powerful hardware gets the less efficiently written the software becomes.


Despite the performance benefits for most use cases, this is for me an important issue with regard to fully integrated SOC systems when it comes to working with multiple programs simultaneously (usually two, max 3 in my case) combined with large files (file size of e.g. images or number of objects or both used at the same time). The only option for increasing RAM/GPU RAM to improve performance is then to get a whole new computer. This is something that is also mentioned in the linked articles/videos, it depends on your use case whether the M1 is a viable option or not.


The new AMD 5000 series processors were apparently not that far behind according to one of the videos, which is not surprising as they are also quite a bit more modern than the Intel processors from 4 years (or longer) ago so it will be interesting to see what the higher end M1 systems will provide when it comes to memory en CPU power options. Then it will be more clear what the real performance differences will be compared to "old" processor/GPU architecture.

For me the M1 concept isn't there yet despite the impressive performance for average use compared to the way more expensive Mac Pro.

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Apparently the new generation M processor is in mass production:



According to the article the new M-chip Macs should be coming out in the 2nd half of this year and these processors should be more powerful than the current M1.

It also mentions there may not be an iMac Pro with the new M-processor..

Edited by Art V
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14 hours ago, Art V said:


"Nikkei says the 5-nanometer plus (N5P) technology being used to make the next-generation chipsets take ‘at least three months’ to produce."


What does this mean? The factory equipment takes 3 months to build? A chip takes three months to build? A batch of chips takes three months to build?

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Just an observation that one thing Mac folks used to poke fun at Pc people about was all the "geek speek," : processors and OS and RAM and all that.  The rallying cry for Macs was "they just work!"  Now it seems that Mac users have to be a lot more wary about their hardware purchase, whilst I in my Pc land just need to look for the best deal. 


Not trying to start a dreaded Mac vs Pc thread here!  😁

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16 hours ago, Bruce Kieffer said:

All good info. I need a new Mac now, and I have decided to upgrade the ram to 16GB whether or not I need it. $200 isn't going to change my life. Getting a new Mac will put me in light speed compared to my current Mac!

In that case the 16GB should be good for a while, it is tempting to get the iMac mini as a 2nd computer next to my Windows setup but given what I have seen/read so far I may end up being a bit disappointed for where I would need it the most. It is just too bad that not all of my software is available for Mac (yet) or I might consider switching back to Mac if pricing would be comparable to a similar Windows setup. Microsoft is being a bit too messy lately with Windows and other updates causing issues.

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1 hour ago, grant_PD said:


Not trying to start a dreaded Mac vs Pc thread here!  😁

Too late, I'm a former Mac user so have been there done that when it comes to choosing Mac hardware, in those days (before iMac) you had to pay attention to hardware as well if you wanted to make sure you would get the right Mac for your purposes. 😁

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21 hours ago, grant_PD said:

Just an observation that one thing Mac folks used to poke fun at Pc people about was all the "geek speek," : processors and OS and RAM and all that.  The rallying cry for Macs was "they just work!"  Now it seems that Mac users have to be a lot more wary about their hardware purchase, whilst I in my Pc land just need to look for the best deal. 


Based on what I've learnt about these processors, their relationship to RAM, and Apple's approach to adding M1 to devices across the spectrum it seems to me we actually need to worry even less.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It seems fine, although I have not tested much yet. What I can tell you is Vectorworks still takes about 40 seconds to boot. That needs improvement. I understand Vectorworks is loading a lot of stuff, but it takes twice as long to boot than next slow booting app  I have.

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