Apple wants you to think of its new M1 Max MacBook Pro as a beast of a machine — it actually calls it a “beast” in the ad — but it seems the upcoming macOS Monterey, which ships alongside the new Macs, will unleash its full potential. MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered a new “High Power Mode” in the operating system’s recent beta release that can “optimize performance to better support resource intensive tasks,” and apparently, spin up the fan to compensate for that.
Remember when some powerful laptops came with a physical turbo button or slider? Sounds like Apple does! (Though you can certainly emulate this sort of thing by playing with power modes and fan curves on many Windows machines as well.)
MacRumors says the new feature is exclusive to the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max, even though it’s possible to configure a 14-inch MacBook Pro with that chip as well. It also apparently won’t work with the M1 Pro or original M1 models, so you’re looking at laptops with a starting price of $3,099 and up.
It’ll be interesting to see whether this High Power Mode unlocks additional performance, or whether it’s actually required to see the kinds of results the company claimed on stage for prolonged periods of time. Apple’s had occasional issues with thermal throttling in the past, such as in 2018 when a Core i9 MacBook Pros wound up slower than the Core i7 version under sustained loads, though Apple said that particular issue was down to a bug and fixed it with an update.
Apple’s paying a lot of attention to thermals these days. The single biggest difference between the 2020 M1 MacBook Air and 2020 M1 MacBook Pro was a fan, and it was a meaningful difference, because the extra thermal headroom meant the Pro could sustain peak performance for longer. That’s why I won’t be surprised if this high power mode is exclusive to the 16-inch model.