Calls for Apple to Bring iPhone-Style Low Power Mode to MacBooks

Following rumors of a performance-boosting "Pro Mode" coming in the next update to macOS Catalina, developer Marco Arment has argued that Apple should bring an iPhone-style Low Power Mode to MacBooks as well.

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Since iOS 9, Apple has included a Low Power Mode on iPhones that reduces the amount of power that the device uses when the battery gets low, and Arment this week shared his experience with his own self-styled equivalent for macOS.

His method involves the use of a third-party app called Turbo Boost Switcher Pro that enables users to disable Intel Turbo Boost on a Mac's processor. According to Arment, disabling Turbo Boost has increased his 16-inch MacBook Pro's battery life by an estimated 30-50 percent and made it "a much better laptop" the vast majority of the time he uses it.

With Turbo Boost disabled, peak CPU power consumption drops by 62%, with a correspondingly huge reduction in temperature. This has two massive benefits:

  • The fans never audibly spin up. When Turbo Boost is enabled, the fans annoyingly spin up every time the system is under a heavy sustained load. Disable it, and it’s almost impossible to get them to be audible.
  • It runs significantly cooler. Turbo Boost lets laptops get too hot to comfortably hold in your lap, and so much heat radiates out that it can make hands sweaty. Disable it, and the laptop only gets moderately warm, not hot, and hands stay comfortably dry.

Arment claims that despite the reduction in processing power, his MacBook Pro is "still fast enough to do everything I need (including significant development with Xcode)." His only concern is that the app which allows him to enjoy these benefits is on borrowed time: Turbo Boost Switcher Pro relies on a legacy kernel extension that likely won't be supported in future versions of macOS.

"I suspect that this is the last year I'll get to run the latest OS and be able to turn off Turbo Boost at will, making all of my future laptop usage significantly worse," says Arment.

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An iPhone's Low Power Mode reduces battery usage by disabling background app refreshing and automatic downloads, locking the screen after 30 seconds, and via other methods. Would you be happy to see an optional Low Power Mode in a future version of macOS, too? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro 13", MacBook Pro 16"

Top Rated Comments

Saturnine Avatar
15 months ago
No. I don’t want Pro Mode or Low Power mode.

The reason I’ve been a Mac user rather than a Windows user for the past 20 years was because a Mac historically “just worked.” They were computers to do work on.

I want my computer to intelligently adapt itself to what I’m doing. I want it to manage its own updates. I just don’t want it to bother me and I don’t want to have to spend any time configuring or maintaining it.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iBluetooth Avatar
15 months ago

No. I don’t want Pro Mode or Low Power mode.

The reason I’ve been a Mac user rather than a Windows user for the past 20 years was because a Mac historically “just worked.” They were computers to do work on.

I want my computer to intelligently adapt itself to what I’m doing. I want it to manage its own updates. I just don’t want it to bother me and I don’t want to have to spend any time configuring or maintaining it.
You won't have to change this, but others may want to
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ma2k5 Avatar
15 months ago

It wouldn't need a low power mode if the MBP able to offer an all-week battery life.
Battery life isn't the only benefit, mainly heat and fan noise, which can really improve the experience of using the machine.

Most workflows don't even need a powerful processor so there is usually a lot of potential energy, heat and noise that can be avoided without the user noticing any difference in performance.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jstsch Avatar
15 months ago
I think this would be great, but just a setting in Energy Saver under the Battery tab 'Disable Turbo Boost' would be fine as well.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Quu Avatar
15 months ago
Honestly I'd just like a mode that lets me turn off turbo boost.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mitthrawnuruodo Avatar
15 months ago
Low power mode would be an excellent option on the Mac. I use it - not often, but occasionally - on my iPhone, and those times it's very useful to stretch the power whenever I'm away from any power outlets... :)
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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