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2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch: Sustained CPU Usage vs Performance

MPG tested the maxed-out $6099 Apple 2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch 2.4 GHz Intel Core i9 / 64GB / 8TB / Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB.

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2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch

While testing the 2018 and 2017 (and 2016) MacBook Pro, a pattern was noticed in that performance declines with each iteration of some tests. For example, with repeated iterations of of the Photoshop sharpening test, the 2017 MacBook Pro was seen to decline in performance by up to 28% after as little as 30 seconds. No such pattern was seen on the iMac 5K or 2013 Mac Pro.

Investigation with the 2018 MacBook Pro determined that a GPU throttling behavior was involved. Disabling the GPU resultede in identical performance when tasks use the CPU instead. But in Photoshop CC 2020, using the CPU cores is faster with 8-core machines—Photoshop seems to test both, then choose whichever is faster for Smart Sharpen.

The question addressed here is whether and by how much the 2019 MacBook Pro declines in performance when its GPU is taxed.

Results: CPU performance with sustained usage

Checked on macOS Catalina 10.15.2.

Repeated Photoshop Smart Sharpen was performed using a script. It was seen that Photoshop selected the CPU cores and zero GPU usage— pre-blipping the GPU and CPUs in a test that decided in favor of 8 CPU cores (16 virtual cores) over the GPU. Which is a strong compliment to the Intel Core i9 processor and shows that the GPU is not so great.

2019 MacBook Pro: scatterplot of seconds to sharpen an image, 500 plots
2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch
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