Hardware

Apple confirms overheating in 2018 MacBook Pro, making it slower than last year's model

Tech reviewer Dave Lee claims the 2018 MacBook Pro's chassis cannot cool the i9 processor properly, leading to diminished performance.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, July 24, 2018, Apple confirmed the thermal management issues present in the 2018 MacBook Pro. The company issued the following statement:

Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we've identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro. A bug fix is included in today's macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems. Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.

The 2018 15" Apple MacBook Pro has a design feature that may throttle its CPU performance, according to laptop expert Dave Lee on YouTube.

Lee is a technology reviewer who, at the time of this writing, has some 1.4 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. For his review, Lee looked specifically at the Intel Core i9 CPU and how well it fared in the new MacBook.

His verdict? Not so good.

SEE: Computer hardware depreciation calculator (Tech Pro Research)

The problem, according to Lee, is the MacBook Pro's chassis: It simply isn't big enough to properly cool the CPU. Do to its overheating, Lee said, the MacBook Pro's i9 "can't even maintain the base clock speed." For those wondering, the base speed is 2.9 GHz.

Lee tested this by recording render times for a 4K clip edited in Adobe Premiere Pro. In his initial test, the 2018 i9 MacBook was nearly five minutes slower in rendering the clip than the 2017 model with an i7 processor.

However, when Lee ran the same render again—this time with the 2018 MacBook stuck in his freezer—its render time dropped by nearly 12 minutes. The issue, which Lee dubbed "thermal throttling," is something he said isn't acceptable, and should be addressed by Apple.

It should be noted that, at the time of publication, Apple hasn't confirmed whether or not this is a defect in Lee's device, or a model-wide issue. But other reviewers have also reported some throttling. And if Lee is correct about the issue being with the design/chassis, then it stands to reason that all devices of this model would be affected.

For professionals considering the new 2018 MacBook Pro, the reports of such thermal issues could steer you away from the device for now, especially if the defect is confirmed as a model-wide issue.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Laptop expert Dave Lee claims the new 2018 MacBook Pro 15" with an i9 processor has thermal issues that throttle its CPU performance.
  • While not addressed by Apple, the potential for CPU performance issues should raise caution among interested professionals.

Also see

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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