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
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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22 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)
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22 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
22 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)
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22 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
22 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.
[MEDIA=youtube]18PA3WFFuAo[/MEDIA]

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)
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22 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)

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