Thank you for purchasing through links and ads on this site.
diglloyd Deal Finder...
Buy other stuff at
Upgrade the memory of your 2018 Mac mini up to 64GB
Top deals pages updated daily for Sony, Nikon, Canon, Apple, many more!
Instant rebates, Black Friday deals, etc
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for iMac/MacBook Pro/Mac mini
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • USB-C • Gigabit Ethernet • Dual Thunderbolt 3 Ports
4K Support • Mini Display Port • Analog sound in/out • Optical sound out
Works on any Mac with Thunderbolt 3

2016 Apple MacBook: CPU Utilization during Network File Copying

Last updated 2016-05-18 - Send Feedback
Related: laptop, MacBook, Macs

Get Apple Early 2016 MacBook at B&H Photo. MPG recommends MacBook models with 512GB SSD and ideally, MacBook models with 512GB SSD and 1.3 GHz CPU.

For travel: USB-C to USB adapter or Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.
BEST for desktop use, the OWC USB-C Dock.

TEST UNIT: 2016 MacBook 1.3 GHz / 8GB m/ 512GB.

The dual-core 1.3 GHz CPU in the (fastest) 2016 MacBook is severely underpowered, having no ability to cope with more than very basic computing—a few simple tasks at a time.

As shown below, a network copy is in progress using gigabit ethernet via the OWC USB-C Dock. Performance is excellent, hitting the speed limits of gigabit ethernet when large files are being copied.

Update: several readers reported seeing lower CPU usage on other machines. That’s quite possible: faster CPUs, different mix of files, something else involved—but note that nearly all the CPU is kernel time (red), which shows that whatever was happening, it is happening at a low level in the OS (self evident in the %CPU column also as “kernel_task”. During this same 240GB file copy, the CPU usage did drop to about half of what is shown at times, so there was some variability.

With the fastest available 2016 MacBook CPU, the file copy consumes all available CPU cycles*, which means that when doing anything else with a network file copy in progress, response will be sluggish, because the CPU load is shared between the file copy and whatever the user is doing and all background tasks (such as Spotlight/mds). [This CPU overhead has nothing to do with the Dock, it is inherent to Apple’s ethernet networking stack.]

This is why the MacBook is good for web browsing and email and not much else unless that “else” is all that is happening—there just aren’t many CPU cycles to go around. The 1.3 GHz CPU cores on the MacBook are far from speedy, and there are only two of them. By comparison, a similar operation on a MacBook Pro Retina uses 1 of 4 hardware CPU cores, leaving 3 of 4 hardware CPU cores for other uses.

* Full utilization is 200% usage; more than that (up to 400%) means all 4 virtual cores, which are worthless for performance.

Apple 2016 MacBook: CPU utilization during network file copy
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo
View BEST Deals Right Now
B&H Deal ZoneDeals by Brand/Category/Savings
Deals expire in 9 hours unless noted. Certain deals may last longer.
$797 SAVE $350 = 30.0% $59 FREE ITEMS Nikon D5600 DSLR with 18-55mm and 70-300mm Lenses in Cameras: DSLR
$1099 SAVE $300 = 21.0% $249 FREE ITEMS Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM in Lenses: DSLR
$3498 SAVE $1000 = 22.0% Sony a9 Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless | Terms of Use | PRIVACY POLICY
Contact | About Lloyd Chambers | Consulting | Photo Tours
Mailing Lists | RSS Feeds | Twitter
Copyright © 2008-2017 diglloyd Inc, all rights reserved.
Display info: __RETINA_INFO_STATUS__