2018 Apple MacBook Pro With Intel Core i9 CPU Reportedly Hobbled By Severe Thermal Throttling

Mac fans were excited when Apple finally rolled out updated MacBook Pro notebooks. The updated machines have support for Intel Coffee Lake processors, up to 32GB of RAM, True Tone displays and tweaked third-generation keyboards. Among the Coffee Lake processor options available is a high-end Core i9 part. A report has surfaced this week suggesting Apple didn't design the cooling system of the MacBook with enough chill to support that hot processor.

MacBook Pro Guts

YouTuber David Lee has made a video of a MacBook with a 2.9GHz six-core Core i9 processor inside that can hit up to 4.8GHz with Turbo Boost enabled. That chip is a $300 option on the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro. Lee claims that the chip is unable to run as fast as it is capable of due to the design of the notebook.

macbook type

The video shows the Mac running Adobe Premiere Pro at clock speeds of only around 2.2GHz rather than the advertised 2.9GHz speed. The indication is that the chip is throttling its performance to manage heat because the Apple-designed cooling system in the MacBook Pro is unable to cope with the heat produced by the chip.

"This i9 in this MacBook can't even maintain the base clock speed," Lee said. "Forget about Turbos and all that stuff, it can't even maintain the 2.9GHz base clock, which is absurd. This CPU is an unlocked, over-clockable chip, but all of that CPU potential is wasted inside this chassis, or more the thermal solution that's inside here."

To put a finer point on the claim, Lee also shows Premiere Pro render times using last year's MacBook Pro running a Core i7 mowing through a 5K clip in 35 minutes. The new Mac with the Core i9 chip was about four minutes slower for the same clip. Further proving that the poor performance is a thermal issue, Lee put the 2018 Mac into the freezer and the same test took only 27 minutes to complete.

This week a teardown of the 13-inch MacBook Pro showed terrible repairability. Macs rarely have decent repairability scores so that is no surprise. We have also learned that Apple has no plans to use the new third-gen butterfly keyboard found in the 2018 MacBook Pro to repair defective older Macs under the keyboard exchange program.