Apple earlier this month unveiled a refresh to its MacBook Pro range of professional notebooks. The refreshed lineup comes with the latest 8th generation Intel Core processors, including Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 with up to 6 cores. The top-end offering in the range, with Core i9-8950HK, comes with a base clock speed of 2.9GHz, going up to 4.8GHz with Intel's Turbo Boost technology. However, a video reviewer has alleged that the laptop is unable to reach the chip's true potential mostly because of how the MacBook Pro is designed, something other publications have corroborated.
In a video uploaded to his channel on Tuesday, YouTuber Dave Lee showed results from video editing software Adobe Premiere Pro that reveal that the Core i9 model of the MacBook Pro 2018 took more time to render content compared to even the Core i7 variant of the 2017 MacBook Pro. While the 2017 Core i7 model took 35 minutes and 22 seconds to render, the Core i9 on the 2018 MacBook Pro took about 39 minutes and 37 seconds to render the same file.
"This MacBook can't even maintain the base clock speed. Forgot about the Turbo [Boost] and all that stuff, it can't even maintain the base clock of 2.9[GHz], which is absurd," Lee exclaimed in the video. Essentially, he explains that the potential of the CPU is wasted despite the massive headroom it has. He mentions that this degree of thermal throttling on the laptop is unacceptable considering the steep price tag.
This is surprising mostly because the MacBook Pro is targeted towards professionals, who would not like to pay thousands of dollars to find out that their machine is throttling performance just because its sleek design cannot handle extreme levels of performance; something that is expected by default. Notably, Apple's site plainly lists the base and Turbo Boost clock speeds for the new MacBook Pro model as the same figures that Intel advertises, with no caveats, opening it up to potential litigation from buyers who expected to receive what was advertised. A firmware update can be expected to help the Core i9 machine at least surpass the cheaper Core i7 machine, if not a reversal of displayed specifications on the company website.
The Thermal Design Point or TDP from Intel ascertains how hot the processor gets while running at "un-boosted" levels. TDP of the 8th generation Core i9 and the Core i7 processors is the same - 45 Watts. This means that while base frequency performance will be similar for both, the Core i9 might be incapable of boosting performance under the same conditions. Apple Insider speculates the thermal throttling may be due to the way the new MacBook Pro is designed. The publication independently confirmed Lee's results as well.