One of the most common complaints about Apple’s laptops and desktops in the past few years has been that the company took its eye off the professional market in favor of designing garbage cans and broken keyboards. Now that Jony Ive and Apple have performed their conscious uncoupling, we’ve already seen the company moving back towards sanity, introducing cutting-edge features like “thicker laptops with better cooling” and “the old keyboard that worked.” Now, Apple may be preparing to add a genuinely new feature to its latest MacBook Pro lineup — a new “Pro” performance mode that would offer faster CPU clocks than stock operation.
Mention of the new feature was picked up by beta testers working with macOS Catalina 10.15.3. There are indications that this mode basically involves cranking up fan speeds and letting the laptop run hotter than usual. Strings like: “Apps may run faster, but battery life may decrease and fan noise may increase,” and “Fan speed limit overridden” apparently appear when Pro mode is engaged.
9to5 Mac suggests that this feature may be intended only for MacBooks that use the new thermal cooling system built into the MacBook Pro 16-inch. There’s some indication that Apple could be prepping a 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh, which might also use the capability. Apple could be holding back on announcing the new feature until it’s ready to launch the 13-inch system as well.
This is more-or-less the opposite result that we discussed yesterday regarding Turbo Boost / Turbo Mode. It’s the kind of mode you’d probably want to use more on AC power than when running on battery. How well it all works will depend in part on how aggressive Apple has been about its fan noise profile in the first place. If the company prioritizes ultra-low noise now but is willing to let the machine run much louder for a sustained period of time, the gains could be noticeable. It’ll all depend on how much cooling headroom Apple laptops actually have at the higher fan speeds.
Personally, I think letting users turn off Turbo Boost to save battery life is a good idea, and I think letting them run the laptop harder to save time is also a good idea, provided you know which modes you are activating and when to use them.
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