APPLE customers say they’re returning their new MacBook Pro laptops – and even cancelling orders – amid a controversy around the new models overheating.
Recent reports suggest that the new £2,700 MacBook is intentionally limited by Apple so that it doesn’t reach advertised processor speeds, to avoid it getting too hot.
The news comes after a popular gadget YouTuber performed a series of tests that suggested there was a problem with Apple’s pricey laptop.
Apple fans have reacted angrily to the claims, suggesting that the company has betrayed users.
One user named jonlb87 wrote: “Was supposed to pick up my i9 [MacBook Pro] tonight.
“Looks like I’ll be cancelling it. After this debacle, I don’t even trusted getting the i7 hexacore [MacBook Pro].”
Another user named IDoHaveWorkToDo said: “I returned my i9 2018 MBP today. It never once hit its advertised turbo speed — not even for a fraction of a second. It failed to maintain base clock.”
And a third Redditor named linkuei-teaparty said: “I’ve cancelled my order as well”, adding that they would wait for a new version of the laptop with a different processor.
It’s believed that in Apple’s quest for gadget thinness, it may have created a MacBook that simply can’t get rid of processor heat quickly enough.
Redditor Erben_Legend said: “Companies say we want thinner and flashier designs, but the reality is people would rather buy something 1-10mm thicker if it just worked.”
The controversy began with a video from YouTube gadget vlogger Dave Lee, in a review video for the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Lee was reviewing an upgraded version of the laptop (which launched just two weeks ago) with a powerful Intel Core i9 processor.
That upgrade tacks an additional £350 onto the price tag.
The top-of-the-range 8th-generation processor is sold as offering a clock speed of 2.9GHz.
But when put under pressure, the MacBook seems to intentionally limit the speed.
Clock rate is the speed a processor in a computer works at, and is measured as a frequency.
If you take two identical processors, one working at 2.0GHz and the other at 3.0GHz, the latter will get a job done more quickly.
For those forking out on a £2,700 MacBook Pro, having a high clock speed is important. You need a fast processor to handle tough tasks like gaming or video editing.
Why do laptop processors get hot?
Here's what you need to know…
- Processors are made up of tiny electronic switches, called transistors
- These switches turn on or off, allowing electricity to pass through different points of the processor
- The switches being in these different states is how computing happens, at the most basic level
- If you have a difficult computing task, the processor needs to do a lot more switch switching
- When current passes through a switch, it encounters resistance
- When electricity is resisted, it generates heat
- Add up all the heat from the millions of transistors and you can end up with very high temperatures
- So when you’re doing tough tasks – like video editing – lots of heat is generated
- Laptops and computers often have built-in fans to reduce this effect
- And sometimes, computers are designed to limit the speed of the processor to stop your laptop getting too hot
- After all, if a processor gets too hot, it could damage your laptop – or even your body
In Lee’s YouTube video, he tested the MacBook Pro on the Adobe Premiere video-editing app.
The results were clear: the i9 processor was capping out at 2.2GHz, despite technically being able to work at 2.9GHz.
The normal 15-inch MacBook Pro (without the £350 upgrade) should be capable of 2.6GHz speeds, so this is a major gaffe.
Worse still, the £350-added model is technically able to produce “Turbo Boost” speeds of 4.0GHz, so the situation seems really bad.
And Lee thinks that it’s due to poor MacBook design, suggesting Apple is afraid the laptop will overheat.
“The i9 in the MacBook can’t even maintain the base clock speed,” complained Lee.
“Forget about Turbo Boost, it can’t even maintain the 2.9GHz base clock speed, which is absurd.
“This CPU is an unlocked, overclock-able chip, but all of that CPU potential is wasted inside this chassis, and the thermal solution inside this chassis.”
Lee managed to improve matters by sticking his MacBook Pro in the freezer.
This reduced the time it took to complete a video render from 40 minutes to just 27 minutes.
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There are caveats, of course.
Lee only tested the MacBook Pro with one app, which doesn’t necessarily represent general performance.
Also, it’s possible this is a specific issue with Lee’s own MacBook Pro.
Finally, throttling processors is common in laptop (and computer) design, because processors generate lots of heat when pushed to their limits.
In any case, it’s worth reminding everyone not to put their laptops in the freezer – regardless of its performance.
We’ve asked Apple for comment and will update this article with any response.
Do you think Apple has screwed up with its new MacBook Pro? Let us know in the comments!