Ask Apple to bring iPhone-style low power mode to MacBooks

Following rumors of a “Pro Mode” that will increase performance in the next update of macOS Catalina, developer Marco Arment has argued that Apple should also bring an iPhone-style low-power mode to MacBooks.

Since iOS 9, Apple has included a low-power mode on iPhones that reduces the amount of power the device uses when the battery runs out, and Arment this week shared his experience with his own style equivalent for macOS.

His method involves the use of a third-party application called Turbo Boost Switcher Pro that allows users to disable Intel Turbo Boost on a Mac’s processor. According to Arment, disabling Turbo Boost has increased the battery life of your MacBook Pro 16-inch by 30-50 percent and made it “a much better laptop” the vast majority of the times he uses it.

With Turbo Boost disabled, the maximum power consumption of the CPU drops by 62%, with a corresponding reduction in temperature. This has two massive benefits:

  • Fans never spin audibly. When Turbo Boost is enabled, fans rotate annoyingly every time the system is under heavy and sustained load. Disable it, and it’s almost impossible to make them audible.
  • It works significantly cooler. Turbo Boost allows laptops to get too hot to hold them comfortably in your lap, and radiates so much heat that it can make your hands sweat. Disable it, and the laptop only heats up moderately, does not heat up, and the hands remain comfortably dry.

Arment says that, despite the reduction in processing power, its BookMacBook Pro‌ “is still fast enough to do everything I need (including significant development with Xcode).” Your only concern is that the application that allows you to enjoy these benefits is on borrowed time: Turbo Boost Switcher Pro is based on an inherited kernel extension that is probably not compatible in future versions of macOS.

“I suspect that this is the last year that I will be able to run the latest operating system and be able to deactivate Turbo Boost at will, which will significantly worsen the future use of my laptop,” says Arment.

The low power mode of an iPhone reduces battery usage by disabling background application updates and automatic downloads, locking the screen after 30 seconds and using other methods. Would you like to see an optional low-power mode in a future version of macOS as well? Let us know in the comments.


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