Does Apple Throttle old Mac laptops like they do with old iPhones?
I spent the last 5 months doing speed tests on my old MacBook Pro 2012 to answer the question: Does Apple throttle their old laptops? The short answer is yes, as there was a noticeable performance difference between my laptop with an old battery and the same laptop with a new battery.
Now the long answer is a little more fuzzy as I don’t think Apple is throttling the old computer on purpose. I don’t think there’s code in MacOS that says “this machine is 4 years old, the performance in the OS will be 40% slower”. Like the iPhone battery scandal from a few months ago, it has to do with how old your battery is.
I did three comprehensive tests to see if my laptop performance was effected by my dusty old battery and the third test provided me with the biggest difference.
Over 100 iterations, it took the old battery setup over 250% more time to do the same work. The crazy thing about this graph is that these differences occurred WHILE the laptop was plugged in.
But not every test was this conclusive. My file export test test showed the laptop with the new battery performing slower and the GeekBench Tests I did were also inconclusive as well. Need more details? Stay tuned.
At the end of the day, the lesson that I’ve learned from this? If you have an old laptop that feels like it’s getting slower, check your battery before you drop 3-4 grand on a new laptop.
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Here’s my test machines setup:
– 2012 MacBook Pro Retina (MacBookPro 10,1)
– Mac OS 10.15.4
– Mac OS re-installed, SMC/PRAM reset before each round of tests
(Between old batter & new battery)
– Automatic graphics switching turned off
The first was running GeekBench 4 a multitude of times on battery power (till failure) to see if the base computing functions were effected.
All the tests that I recorded showed no alarming differences between the old battery and the new battery. If I was to be really picky, the GeekBench 4 scores were slightly lower with the new battery. What?
I won’t go into the details of what each test means as GeekBench has a lot of information regarding the tests on their website. Personally, I was expecting these GeekBench scores to be wildly different as I’m was certain the bad battery was going to have ill effects on different parts of the computer.
But they didn’t.
**File Export Test** 00:03:52
For the file export test, I went with a shorter tests that took between 2-4 minutes each. I chose this test because from my perspective, file exports aren’t terribly CPU intensive and would be a test of the laptops ability to just do work.
For this test, I used the same Final Cut Pro library and just exported the same clip, over and over again.
Now like the GeekBeench 4 tests, the times on the new battery actually took longer to process the file than the old battery setup. By over a minute. Which is a lot for tests that were suppose to go on for 2-4 minutes.
Now despite being slower, the tests on the new battery were more consistent. And when it comes to repetitive tasks, consistency is a good thing.
**Image Stabilization Test** 00:05:27
Onto the last test that showed the most differences. This test required me to open up a new Final Cut Pro Library and import in a video clip of Monty walking. After each import, I’d wait a minute and then select the stabilization option.
Out of the three tests that I did, this was the most CPU intensive. As we mentioned before, we had some incredibly inconsistent times with the old battery setup, plugged into the wall. It’s the same story for the tests done on battery power as well.
The processing times on the old battery setup where very inconsistent while the processing times on the new battery setup were quite consistent. In fact, all the tests on newer laptops had the same consistency. The 2017 MacBook Pro and MacBook all had consistent render times.
Again, the old battery setup performed quite poorly even when it was plugged in. So this test definitely showed me that having a bunk battery is going to have an adverse effect on your older MacBook.
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