We’ve always wondered if Apple purposely slows down older devices. From the iPhone battery debacle from late 2017, this question about the quality of battery life has sat heavy in our minds. So we decided the answer the question: Does Apple Slow down OLD Mac Laptops? We committed to spending several hundred dollars on a new battery for our 2012 MacBook Pro Retina and ran a gamut of tests over several months. Here’s what we discovered!
At Mobile Reviews Eh!, we do reviews based on actual usage. We do tests and use the products for days and maybe weeks. For the question, “Does Apple Throttle old Mac laptops like they do with old iPhones?”, we started our tests at the end of 2017 and ended the series of tests 6 months later. We spent a ton of time rendering the same clip over and over and over again.
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overall set up
The test machine we used was a 2012 MacBook Pro Retina. The old battery would have a charge that lasted maybe 90 minutes and that got progressively worse during the review. Once we finished running all the tests, we brought the 2012 MacBook Pro Retina to the Apple store to have the battery replaced and did the same amount of tests. The 2012 MacBook Pro Retina was running Mac OS 10.13.4 for all the tests. Prior to both rounds of tests, we re-installed the OS and cleared the SMC and all that other good stuff. When it comes to the power, we turned off automatic graphics switching and never let the laptop go to sleep.
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Test 1: GeekBench 4
For our first test, we run GeekBench 4 a multitude of times on battery power to see if the base computing functions were affected.
With the GeekBench 4 test, we ran the tests on battery power till failure. If we were to be really picky, the GeekBench 4 scores were slightly lower with the new battery.
We wonʼt go into the details of what each test means as GeekBench has a lot of information regarding the tests on their website. Personally, we were expecting these GeekBench scores to be wildly different as we were certain the bad battery was going to have ill effects on different parts of the computer.
But they didnʼt.
If youʼre curious, the image below is where the 2017 MacBook Pro sits in this test.
test 2: File Export Test
For the file export test, we initially tried to export a large 30 min file. However, we then realized that our battery would die after three full exports so we went with a shorter tests that took between 2-4 minutes each. We chose this test because it isnʼt terribly CPU intensive and would be a test of the laptops ability to just do work.
For this test, we used the same Final Cut Pro library and just exported the same clip, over and over again.
The tests on the new battery were consistent however, they were slower than the old battery. But we don’t mind the battery being slower since when it comes to repetitive tasks, consistency is a good thing.
This file export test sits heavy in our mind because we canʼt think of why the new battery setup would be slower. Our train of thought is leaning towards the fact that weʼve done so many tests on this machine that itʼs really starting to show itʼs age?
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Test 3: Image Stabilization Test
The Image Stabilization test required us to open up a new Final Cut Pro Library and import in a video clip of Monty walking. After each import, weʼd wait a minute and then select the stabilization option. Final cut goes through two phases with the stabilization option as the first pass is to figure out the dominant motion of the clip and then the second part is to apply a crop to each frame in the video clip.
Out of the three tests that we did, this was the most CPU intensive. However. the results of the Image Stabilization test show the same result with or without the 2012 MacBook Pro being plugged in.
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 (yellow line below) had consistent render times.
The old battery setup, on the other hand, performed quite poorly even when it was plugged in. This test definitely showed us that having a bunk battery is going to have an adverse effect on your older MacBook.
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The three tests above where the only tests that have consistent results through our entire 6 month tests. The last few rounds of tests on the 2012 MacBook Pro became unbearable. The machine got incredibly choppy while doing the last rounds of test. Basically, any time CPU usage was high on the machine, it was un-usable. Whether it was plugged in or not.
Another observation occurred at the beginning of the testing phase. The battery on the test laptop was showing that it needed service in Mac OS 10.12 but after upgrading to the 10.13, the warning disappeared and we ended up with a battery that could last 5-6 hours which was cool. That lasted for about a couple of weeks before the service battery came back on. We’re mentioning this because it was surprising to see the hardware get better after a software upgrade.
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