Core i9 MacBook Pro Thermal Issues Throttle Performance

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Apple’s new top of the line Touch Bar MacBook Pro with an i9 processor upgrade looks blazing fast on paper, but may not be in real world use. Dave Lee’s video review shows the i9 processor slowing down dramatically—also known as throttling—when under a heavy workload.

YouTube product reviewer David Lee tested the MacBook Pro with a 6-core 2.9 GHz Core i9 processor and found that after only a few seconds of rendering in Adobe Premiere the speed drops down to about 2.2 GHz. That’s in line with the base speed of Core i7 processor in the lowest cost version for the new 15-inch 6-core laptop.

The reason for the throttling is heat, according to Lee. The i9 processor is running so hot that it has to slow down to avoid damage. Lee was able to get good performance from the chip with his Premiere rendering tests when he put the laptop in his freezer, keeping the whole system cooler.

That’s pretty damning, and makes for some serious fried egg on Apple’s face. If the new MacBook Pro can’t dissipate heat fast enough for the i9 processor to perform at even its base speed, it isn’t much of a pro-level machine. Considering its pro-level price tag, users are expecting to get the performance they’re paying for.

That said, this was one computer running software that Adobe never bothered to optimize for the Mac. It’s possible the i9 chip performs as it should with other apps, or that this is a production issue with just this one laptop.

I’d like to see performance tests on more Core i9 MacBook Pros before passing final judgement, but until then I’m skeptical Apple’s new top of the line laptop offers true top of the line performance.

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Scott B in DC
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Scott B in DC

Are we still trying to win the clock speed wars? Haven’t we learned that if there are one set of laws you cannot break are the laws of physics? This is why they went to multiple core processors. At some point, the software is going to have to learn how to use the multi-core processors properly and not rely on faster clock speeds!

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TeddyKazynski

Love the Apple defense force. Knee-jerk reactions of “I wouldn’t trust some random YouTuber!!!” You marks are why Apple keeps getting business, giving you less and less, all while charging you more. Your brand loyalty is doing nothing….much like the base clock of this laptop. Dave likes Apple. Apple [deleted] up. Face it folks, the magic is buried with Steve Jobs [deleted]. even your perfect company can fuck up from time to time. Enjoy your overpriced, under-clocked laptop that can’t maintain its own base clock speed with an unlocked chip that your spending even more money on. Apple slows phones,… Read more »

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Daniel Watkins

It is wrong of Apple to have a CPU available for their laptop that it can’t handle. They are intentionally tricking the customer, bad practice. How will Apple admit their mistake?

geoduck
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geoduck

Thousands of Apple engineers and millions in R&D money all dedicated to making the best system they can
vs
Some guy on YouTube with amature hour testing protocols and a conclusion based on unsupported assumptions, personal bias, and a desire for web hits.
Huh…
I know which one I’ll trust.
IF there is a problem I’ll trust that Apple made the best engineering choices possible over some grinning wannabe web influencer.

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Daniel Watkins

It is not just 1 guy. It is obvious a ~4 pound laptop that is geared around quietness will result in horrid throttling of a high-end 6 core 14nm CPU.
It is physics.

geoduck
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geoduck

It is not “obvious” without actual lab testing. You know testing by MacWorld, or TMO, or Wired, or heck, even Consumer Reports. Until some reputable lab tied to a reputable publication confirms this, it’s just hearsay. There may be a problem, we don’t know yet. At this point we don’t know if it’s a real problem or another bendgate, or throttling story BS. Oh and adding “it is physics” behind your statement adds nothing to its credibility. I’ve studied physics, as well as other experimental sciences. What you need to prove something “is physics” is reliable data. So far we… Read more »

pjs_boston
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pjs_boston

Every tech blog is repeating the story all over the internet, but the source is one guy with a YouTube channel. If you can point to another source, please post it here.

pjs_boston
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pjs_boston

It seems premature to declare that the i9 MacBook Pro has thermal issues based on a single YouTube video. A single data point is not sufficient evidence. It’s possble that the unit in question had an assembly defect that resulted in insufficient heat dissipation from the CPU heat sink/cooling system. It’s also possible that the YouTuber in question tampered with the machine to create controversy and thereby, clicks.

I’m inclined to reserve judgement until the claim is confirmed by other sources.

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Daniel Watkins

Use your brain, it is physics. Thin laptop geared for quietness trying to cool an i9 CPU. You’ll see a ton of people saying the same thing.

pjs_boston
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pjs_boston

Use YOUR brain. You’re suggesting that a company with an army of engineers and a virtually unlimited testing capability at its disposal is going to release a top-of-the-line halo product without rigorously testing that it functions properly under load? Especially given the intense scrutiny to which Apple products are subjected? Get real.

If other reputable sources come forward to confirm the claim, I’ll believe it.

Until then, I’m inclined to believe the result is due to a manufacturing error with that particular unit, or to funny business by the reviewer.