YouTuber Claims 15-Inch MacBook Pro With Upgraded Core i9 Chip is Severely Throttled Due to Thermal Issues

Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Pro can be upgraded to include a 6-core 2.9GHz Intel Core i9 processor that has demonstrated impressive performance, but one YouTuber is warning customers away from purchasing it with claims that the MacBook Pro chassis can't provide sufficient cooling for it to run at full speed.

Dave Lee this afternoon shared a new video on the Core i9 MacBook Pro he purchased, and according to his testing, the new machine is unable to maintain even its base clock speed after just a short time doing processor intensive work like video editing.


"This CPU is an unlocked, overclockable chip but all of that CPU potential is wasted inside this chassis -- or more so the thermal solution that's inside here," says Lee.

He goes on to share some Premiere Pro render times that suggest the new 2018 MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip underperforms compared to a 2017 model with a Core i7 chip. It took 39 minutes for the 2018 MacBook Pro to render a video that the older model was able to render in 35 minutes. Premiere Pro is not well-optimized for macOS, but the difference between the two MacBook Pro models is notable.

Lee ran the same test again with the 2018 MacBook Pro in the freezer, and in cooler temperatures, the i9 chip was able to offer outstanding performance, cutting that render time down to 27 minutes and beating out the 2017 MacBook Pro.

As Lee points out, thermal throttling is in no way unusual and it's seen in all manner of laptops and mobile devices from a range of manufacturers, but he says that "this degree" of thermal throttling is "unacceptable."

This kind of thermal throttling really affects the end user. It doesn't matter what you're using it for, like if you're a Final Cut user, or an Adobe Premiere user, or if you're using it for software development or calculations like fluid dynamics -- it doesn't matter what you're doing with your device. If you have any kind of extended computational work that uses the CPU -- that's probably why you're looking at these devices in the first place -- it's going to throttle. And that's unacceptable to me.

It's not clear if there's something wrong with the MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip that Lee received, because this kind of throttling is likely something Apple would have tested for and not something that other users have reported at this point.

Because this is just one data point, it's not enough information to reach a conclusion about the i9 chip available for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but additional testing will certainly follow to shed more light on Lee's video. We have asked Apple for comment on Lee's findings, and will update this post if we hear back.

Update: Other reports of excessive i9 throttling have been trickling in from Reddit users who have purchased 15-inch MacBook Pros with the high-end chip. These threads are available here and here.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
29 months ago

Ah, but because some random guy on YouTube made the claim it is Mac Rumors front page news! LOL.

Dave Lee is not some random guy. His claim warrants further investigation.
Score: 125 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago

Ah, but because some random guy on YouTube made the claim it is Mac Rumors front page news! LOL.

LOL....yeah some random well respected YouTuber with 1.4 million subscribers.
Score: 88 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago

To be fair, this isn't so much Apple's fault as it is Intel's. Intel has really dropped the ball in the past couple of years. If they don't right the ship soon, AMD will take over the CPU game for a while. They are late with everything and are having lots of trouble shrinking the dies.

Seems like apple’s fault, not intel’s, if it’s true. Apple designed the thermal solution for the MBP.
Score: 72 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
If you follow the gaming notebook forums much at all you'll see that the 6-core 8th gen chips are very difficult to cool properly even in much thicker frames than the MacBook Pro offers. Seriously, the Notebookreview forums are full of people upset that monstrous gaming notebooks aren't able to cool these chips properly, especially if there's a discrete GPU also pumping heat into the system.

As soon as I saw that these Macs had been released with these new CPUs I started wondering what kind of cooling magic Apple might have worked to make it possible. The answer seems to be: none. The laws of physics are the laws of physics and if these chips run hot in 1"+ thick systems with massive heatsinks and fans, what chance do they have in something as thin as a MacBook Pro?
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago

Not answering my post.

Why doesn't he make video about Microsoft outdated computers too?

For what? I already know him for a long time.

Not long enough, I guess.


Here's a video of him discussing thermal limitations on the Dell XPS 15, a Windows PC. This is the exact same criticism he had for the Macbook Pro today, so how can he be hating on Apple? The guy is being as unbiased as he can.
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
As always, there are people that instantly write comments dismissing this and/or defending Apple. I really don’t see the need in doing so in this case.

For the past few years we’ve seen the BTO CPU throttle under load, in all MacBooks. With 8th gen chips, this is taken to another level and at a point where Apple need to sort it out. They skimp out on things as cheap as thermal paste, which could significantly improve the situation, along with the obvious re-engineering of the thermal situation. It really is inexcusable for Apple to have this solution. It’s yet another negative of the thinner MacBook Pro design.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 12 Lineup Rumored to Be Named 'iPhone 12 mini,' 'iPhone 12,' 'iPhone 12 Pro,' and 'iPhone 12 Pro Max'

Monday September 21, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared the alleged naming for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup on Twitter. The tweet proposes that the upcoming iPhone 12 models will be titled "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max." The names likely correspond to the three expected sizes of iPhone 12, with the 5.4-inch model being the iPhone 12 mini, the 6.7-inch model ...

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...

Hands-On With iOS 14 Widgets, Custom Icons, and Home Screen Setup

Tuesday September 22, 2020 3:25 pm PDT by
Apple with iOS 14 introduced widgets on the Home Screen, leading to unprecedented levels of customization for the iPhone. Combined with Shortcuts that let you change an app's icon, iOS 14 lets you create a whole new look for your Home Screen. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We've been following along with some of the creative alternative Home Screen designs that M...

PSA: New Apple Watch Owners Have to Return Entire Device for Ill-Fitting Solo Loop or Braided Solo Loop

Monday September 21, 2020 3:26 pm PDT by
With the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple introduced two new band options, the Solo Loop and the Braided Solo Loop. These new bands are unique because they have no clasps, buckles, or other fasteners, and instead use a stretch design to allow them to pull onto the wrist over the hand. Because these bands are not adjustable, Apple sells each one in nine different sizes to make sure each person...

Apple's iPhone 12 Event Could Happen on October 13 Based on Rumors From Mobile Operators

Wednesday September 23, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone-centric event could perhaps be held on Tuesday, October 13, according to information shared with MacRumors by an employee at a UK cellular carrier. There's no way for us to confirm the dates at this point in time nor are we sure on the credibility of the source, but even without a rumor, Tuesday, October 13 is a good guess based on Apple's historic launch timelines, ...

New Images Leak of iPhone 12 Braided USB-C to Lightning Cable

Thursday September 24, 2020 2:37 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's upcoming iPhone 12 models will ship with a new Lightning to USB-C cable that includes a braided fabric design. Images of the purported cables were leaked in July, and today leaker Mr White has shared new images that give us a closer look at what we might get included in the iPhone 12 box. The photos show a USB-C to Lightning cable with a clearly braided design rather...

Interest in iOS 14 Home Screen Ideas Helps Pinterest Break Daily Download Record

Wednesday September 23, 2020 4:37 am PDT by
Apple's introduction of widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14 has driven a surge in interest among users looking to customize their iPhone, and that has reportedly had a knock-on effect for Pinterest, whose iOS app has seen record downloads as users flock to its content seeking design inspiration. As reported by TechCrunch, App Store intelligence firm Apptopia was first to note the impact of ...

Apple Releases First Public Betas of iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 With New Shazam Control Center Options

Monday September 21, 2020 10:34 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the first public betas of upcoming iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 updates to its public beta testing group, a few days after seeding the first betas to developers and a little less than a week after releasing the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program can download the iOS and iPadOS‌ 14.2 updates over the air after ...

Apple Emphasizes That Solo Loop May Increase in Length Over Time, Updates Sizing Guide With More Specific Instructions

Wednesday September 23, 2020 8:26 am PDT by
Apple on Tuesday updated one of its support documents to emphasize that the new silicone rubber Solo Loop for the Apple Watch may increase in length over time, as mentioned in fine print at the bottom of the Solo Loop product page. Apple has also updated its printable Solo Loop sizing guide with more specific instructions, as noted by 9to5Mac's Michael Steeber. The guide now advises users to ...

Microsoft Announces Outlook for Mac Redesign, Improvements to iOS and watchOS Apps

Tuesday September 22, 2020 8:56 am PDT by
Microsoft has today announced plans to bring a new design to its Outlook for Mac app along with several other improvements and features for Outlook on iOS and watchOS. In preparation for the public release of macOS Big Sur, Microsoft has been testing a new design for Outlook on Mac. The design includes Microsoft's Fluent icons and several design cues from Big Sur such as rounded corners....