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.