Test suggests 2018 MacBook Pro can't keep up with Intel Core i9 chip's thermal demands

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited July 27
Technology-centric YouTuber Dave Lee claims the thermal design of Apple's latest 15-inch MacBook Pro does not provide sufficient cooling for Intel's Core i9 processor, causing the chip to throttle down performance to prevent serious damage.

Apple 15 inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar


Intel's 2.9GHz six-core Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.8GHz is offered as a premium $300 option on Apple's 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but according to Lee, the chip is unable to reach its full potential due to the laptop's design.

In a video posted to his YouTube channel on Tuesday, Lee shows the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro running Adobe Premiere Pro at surprisingly low clock speeds. Tests conducted put the average clock on load at around 2.2GHz, well below the advertised 2.9GHz.

Lee suggests MacBook's cooling solution, an Apple-designed heatsink and fan module, is insufficient for the beefy Intel silicon.

"This i9 in this MacBook can't even maintain the base clock speed," Lee said. "Forget about Turbos and all that stuff, it can't even maintain the 2.9GHz base clock, which is absurd. This CPU is an unlocked, over-clockable chip, but all of that CPU potential is wasted inside this chassis, or more the thermal solution that's inside here."

Hammering the theory home, Lee posts Premiere Pro render times that show last year's MacBook Pro with Core i7 CPU can chew through a 5K clip in 35 minutes, outperforming the new, improved model with eighth-generation Core i9 chip by some four minutes. Both MacBooks are crushed by a Windows laptop, Gigabyte's Aero 15X, which renders the same clip in just over 7 minutes.

Lee illustrated the apparent thermal handicap by running the same test with the 2018 MacBook Pro in a freezer, dropping the render time down to 27 minutes.

It should be noted that Premiere Pro is not optimized for Mac, as evidenced by the Aero 15X performance. Lee failed to test render speeds with Apple's Final Cut Pro X, or any other app for that matter.





While thermal throttling is nothing new, especially in portables, Lee's findings are somewhat questionable in that assumptions are being made based on a single machine's performance with an unoptimized app. Making blanket statements without thorough testing is reckless at best and disingenuous at worst.

While Lee failed to reach out to Apple for comment, it is highly unlikely that the company would ship a flagship product without first rigorously testing its performance. That goes double for a device like MacBook Pro, considering the company's renewed vigor to serve the professional market.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 92
    VarmoesVarmoes Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    I started to question Dave2D approach when he tested multiple laptops. Sure it does thermal throttle but hell. Macs are optimized for Mac applications. This is simply stupid from him. Try to benchtest Final cut Pro from a PC. Even though this is impossible, I'm sure it would perform badly.
    racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 92
    Varmoes said:
    I started to question Dave2D approach when he tested multiple laptops. Sure it does thermal throttle but hell. Macs are optimized for Mac applications. This is simply stupid from him. Try to benchtest Final cut Pro from a PC. Even though this is impossible, I'm sure it would perform badly.
    This video shows FCPX comparisons. 2018 performed slower than 2017 while rendering in Final Cut 
    edited July 17 arthurbaKITArevenantigohmmmelectrosofttoob
  • Reply 3 of 92
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,521member
    This doesn't surprise me too much. Doesn't the iMac Pro even do this?

    It does surprise me a bit, though, that it would be slower than the 2017. Aren't both CPUs similar in terms of thermals? The same chassis should have similar thermal handling capabilities... though MBPs have never handled heat all that well in my experience. And, at least in the past, the problems went beyond the CPU throttling down, but resulted in damage to other components.
    edited July 17
  • Reply 4 of 92
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,481member
    Time to speed up homegrown Apple CPU/GPU for performance and better thermal.
  • Reply 5 of 92
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,351member
    wood1208 said:
    Time to speed up homegrown Apple CPU/GPU for performance and better thermal.
    Time to admit that the laws of physics can’t be defeated.
    cgWerksmacxpressjdwrobbyxdarkvaderolsigohmmmrepressthiswatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 6 of 92
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,521member
    wood1208 said:
    Time to speed up homegrown Apple CPU/GPU for performance and better thermal.
    Time to admit that the laws of physics can’t be defeated.
    For sure. Though Apple's architecture could be more efficient, I suppose. They might not hit the same wall for a bit.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 7 of 92
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,012member
    Varmoes said:
    I started to question Dave2D approach when he tested multiple laptops. Sure it does thermal throttle but hell. Macs are optimized for Mac applications. This is simply stupid from him. Try to benchtest Final cut Pro from a PC. Even though this is impossible, I'm sure it would perform badly.
    This video shows FCPX comparisons. 2018 performed slower than 2017 while rendering in Final Cut 
    Has FCPX been optimized for the new machines yet? These laptops haven’t even been out a week and already the hystronics are over the top. Seems like this guy is just looking for traffic to his YouTube site.
    racerhomie3lamboaudi4Alex1NjeffharrisBozoClown
  • Reply 8 of 92
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 163member
    Varmoes said:
    I started to question Dave2D approach when he tested multiple laptops. Sure it does thermal throttle but hell. Macs are optimized for Mac applications. This is simply stupid from him. Try to benchtest Final cut Pro from a PC. Even though this is impossible, I'm sure it would perform badly.
    This video shows FCPX comparisons. 2018 performed slower than 2017 while rendering in Final Cut 
    Considering it was faster in pretty much everything else it could just be a temporary anomaly. It’s not necessarily conclusive at this point. Perhaps the Final Cut developers need to implement something to maximise performance in the new machines for exporting 4K video.

    We certainly can’t count on anything Adobe when it comes to software optimised for macOS in any capacity.
    edited July 17 watto_cobraentropyslamboaudi4Alex1N
  • Reply 9 of 92
    arthurbaarthurba Posts: 71member
    That Zollotech video nails it. 

    The obsession with ‘thin’ is great - but not when it impacts performance. The design is probably fine for the ‘stock’ processors - it’s just the i9 isn’t really suited. 

    The era where we could have performance and portability seems over. 

    I’m personally waiting for the Mac Pro.  The iMac Pro  and MacBook Pro all have thermal issues.  I’ve got the luxury of not strictly needing the performance when I’m on the road.  It’s a “nice to have”. But for many ‘flexible workers’ using shares spaces and for creatives who need the PC ‘on site’ it’s not an option. A real shame.

    There is a chance of course that Apple will fix this in 2019 when LPDDR4 is available. They’ve really crammed a lot into that old chassis for the 2018 15”...
    williamlondonelectrosoftdysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 92
    jdwjdw Posts: 619member
    I could have told you that, even before Mr. Lee's findings.  A lot of people who embrace butterfly keyboards and impossibly thin designs don't give much consideration to thermal throttling.  But it is a reality.  Another sad fact is that it has been shown that Apple uses vastly inferior thermal paste between GPU and CPU chips and their heatsinks.  It would only cost them pennies more to use a half-way decent thermal paste.  So in addition to the fact that the thermal cooling in super thin designs like the 2016 and later MBP is inadequate to prevent throttling, thermal paste used does not transfer heat as well is it could.  Here's a SnazzyLabs Video that might help convince some of you.

    I've long called for the thinning of the MBP to end.  The thickness of the 2015 MBP is quite thin yet not too thin.  It allows for a good sized battery and for better cooling.  And while I think Apple should continue to strive for thinness, that doesn't mean it has to be the MBP.  Supreme thinness and lightness is what the MacBook is for.  Butterfly keyboards too.  But the MBP needs to be "Pro" all around in terms of cooling, thermal performance, battery size, ports-a-plenty, an internal SD card slot, and thick enough to accommodate a great keyboard with sufficient key travel that (a) will satisfy pretty much all users and (b) won't be harmed by specs of dust under the keys.  Indeed, on my 2015 MBP 15" I can remove the keys.

    These important considerations need to be made more serious by Apple engineers in future designs.  Take everything you want away on the MacBook, but put the beefy stuff in the MacBook Pro.  Make the MacBook Air a hybrid of the two, and then you have 3 product lines that can please every Mac notebook buyer.  Seriously.  It's not that hard.  It's just a matter of Apple rethinking its design decisions.
    edited July 17 freethinkingLatkotallest skiligohmmmentropysAlex1Nwilliamlondonjeffharrisjbdragonelectrosoft
  • Reply 11 of 92
    anomeanome Posts: 1,039member
    cgWerks said:
    wood1208 said:
    Time to speed up homegrown Apple CPU/GPU for performance and better thermal.
    Time to admit that the laws of physics can’t be defeated.
    For sure. Though Apple's architecture could be more efficient, I suppose. They might not hit the same wall for a bit.
    Intel have been living in denial about this for years. See also: their attempts to manufacture at smaller and smaller die sizes.
    edited July 17 watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 12 of 92
    d_2d_2 Posts: 41member
    jdw said:
    I could have told you that, even before Mr. Lee's findings.  A lot of people who embrace butterfly keyboards and impossibly thin designs don't give much consideration to thermal throttling.  But it is a reality.  Another sad fact is that it has been shown that Apple uses vastly inferior thermal paste between GPU and CPU chips and their heatsinks.  It would only cost them pennies more to use a half-way decent thermal paste.  So in addition to the fact the the thermal cooling in super thin designs like the 2016 and later MBP is inadequate to prevent throttling, thermal paste used does not transfer heat as well is it could.  Here's a SnazzyLabs Video that might help convince some of you.

    I've long called for the thinning of the MBP to end.  The thickness of the 2015 MBP is quite thin yet not too thin.  It allows for a good sized battery and for better cooling.  And while I think Apple should continue to strive for thinness, that doesn't mean it has to be the MBP.  Supreme thinness and lightness is what the MacBook is for.  Butterfly keyboards too.  But the MBP needs to be "Pro" all around in terms of cooling, thermal performance, battery size, ports-a-plenty, an internal SD card slot, and thick enough to accommodate a great keyboard with sufficient key travel that (a) will satisfy pretty much all users and (b) won't harmed by specs of dust under the keys.  Indeed, on my 2015 MBP 15" I can remove the keys.

    These important considerations need to be made more serious by Apple engineers in future designs.  Take everything you want away on the MacBook, but put the beefy stuff in the MacBook Pro.  Make the MacBook Air a hybrid of the two, and then you have 3 product lines that can please every Mac notebook buyer.  Seriously.  It's not that hard.  It's just a matter of Apple rethinking its design decisions.
    this ——^
    freethinkingwilliamlondonvukasika
  • Reply 13 of 92
    LatkoLatko Posts: 106member
    jdw said:
    I could have told you that, even before Mr. Lee's findings.  A lot of people who embrace butterfly keyboards and impossibly thin designs don't give much consideration to thermal throttling.  But it is a reality.  Another sad fact is that it has been shown that Apple uses vastly inferior thermal paste between GPU and CPU chips and their heatsinks.  It would only cost them pennies more to use a half-way decent thermal paste.  So in addition to the fact that the thermal cooling in super thin designs like the 2016 and later MBP is inadequate to prevent throttling, thermal paste used does not transfer heat as well is it could.  Here's a SnazzyLabs Video that might help convince some of you.

    I've long called for the thinning of the MBP to end.  The thickness of the 2015 MBP is quite thin yet not too thin.  It allows for a good sized battery and for better cooling.  And while I think Apple should continue to strive for thinness, that doesn't mean it has to be the MBP.  Supreme thinness and lightness is what the MacBook is for.  Butterfly keyboards too.  But the MBP needs to be "Pro" all around in terms of cooling, thermal performance, battery size, ports-a-plenty, an internal SD card slot, and thick enough to accommodate a great keyboard with sufficient key travel that (a) will satisfy pretty much all users and (b) won't be harmed by specs of dust under the keys.  Indeed, on my 2015 MBP 15" I can remove the keys.

    These important considerations need to be made more serious by Apple engineers in future designs.  Take everything you want away on the MacBook, but put the beefy stuff in the MacBook Pro.  Make the MacBook Air a hybrid of the two, and then you have 3 product lines that can please every Mac notebook buyer.  Seriously.  It's not that hard.  It's just a matter of Apple rethinking its design decisions.
    Agree - except for the last sentence.
    There is no rationale in this matter w/ Joni around. So it won't happen. He's become the fatal hurdle.
    jdwwilliamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 92
    jdwjdw Posts: 619member
    Those of you who share my passion about the Mac and its improvement should consider sending feedback to Apple here:

    https://www.apple.com/feedback/macbookpro.html

    Here is a single paragraph condensed version of my previous post that perfectly fits the character limit of Apple's feedback form, which I actually just submitted to Apple only moments ago:

    Thinness leads to thermal throttling. Stop thinning the MBP. The 2015 MBP is about the thickness-limit for reasonable cooling and a big battery. Use only high quality thermal paste. The MBP must be Pro in terms of cooling, thermal performance, battery size, USB-C&A, an internal SD card slot, and thick enough for a keyboard with sufficient key travel to (a) satisfy pretty much all users and (b) to avoid harm by dust under the keys. Keys should be removable like the 2015 MBP. These key considerations need to be made more serious by Apple engineers. Vanquish ports and use a butterfly keyboard on the MacBook, but put the beefy stuff and good keyboard in the MacBook Pro. Make the MacBook Air a hybrid of the two, yielding 3 product lines that can please every Mac notebook buyer. Thank you.

    Feel free to copy, tweak and paste it into your own feedback submission.  Do it even if you think "it won't happen."  I didn't think anything would happen some years back when I wrote to Tim Cook's email about my 2009 iMac's video card dying only a couple weeks after my AppleCare ended.  Long story short, he got his people on the ball and I was able to get a free video card swap at a local Apple store in Japan (where I currently reside).  As a result, I send feedback to Apple all the time through their official feedback form.  I'm never discouraged by the fact they continue to ignore my suggestions.  At some point something very bad will happen and they will start to Think Different once again.  Optimism allows you to make your own dent in this universe.  Don't hold back!
    tallest skilAlex1Nwilliamlondonvukasika
  • Reply 15 of 92
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,351member
    jdw said:
    Do it even if you think "it won't happen."
    Something something, trillion dollar company, something something, good enough for 90% of people, something something, they know better…

    You’re obviously right; it just won’t matter in time.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 92
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 316member
    Varmoes said:
    I started to question Dave2D approach when he tested multiple laptops. Sure it does thermal throttle but hell. Macs are optimized for Mac applications. This is simply stupid from him. Try to benchtest Final cut Pro from a PC. Even though this is impossible, I'm sure it would perform badly.
    Ever heard of a Hackintosh?

    No, it doesn't perform badly at all. 

    Apple needs to start building MacBook Pros.  The current design should be called the "MacBook Executive" or something equally silly.  Thin is idiotic.
    jdwwilliamlondonGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 17 of 92
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,153member
    He could be testing it with Flash and get the same results.  Why should I care?
    lamboaudi4Alex1N
  • Reply 18 of 92
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 370member
    I think folks are jumping the gun here.  This is a single instance of tests on a single machine.  The i9 was found to not meet stated clock speeds, let alone turbo speeds.  Sounds to me like a defective chip set or bad cooling fan..  All this talk about too thin, poor design etc. is premature.  If this turns out to be replicated with other units then Apple has a problem, but at this time this is very speculative.

    Apple knows full well the thermal issues regarding “Pro” chips sets, heck that was the problem with the trash can desktop pro.  So i would doubt that Apple would release this new MBP with an issue like this.
    watto_cobraAlex1Nwilliamlondonrandominternetperson
  • Reply 19 of 92
    KITAKITA Posts: 125member
    Beyond the throttling, it looks like the MacBook Pro is just the wrong tool for Adobe Premiere users.



    For anyone unaware, the Aero 15X tested has an Intel Core i7-8750H and a NVIDIA GTX 1070 Max Q.
  • Reply 20 of 92
    HyperealityHypereality Posts: 29unconfirmed, member
    Varmoes said:
    I started to question Dave2D approach when he tested multiple laptops. Sure it does thermal throttle but hell. Macs are optimized for Mac applications. This is simply stupid from him. Try to benchtest Final cut Pro from a PC. Even though this is impossible, I'm sure it would perform badly.
    This video shows FCPX comparisons. 2018 performed slower than 2017 while rendering in Final Cut 
    It’s odd that he runs the render test a second time but does not say what the actual test results are. Perhaps the actual time difference was lower than first time and he didn’t want people asking why the 2018 model was faster the second time when it was hotter.
    Alex1N
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