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Disable Turbo Boost to Simulate Low Power Mode for Macs

Sparked by rumors of a performance-enhancing Pro Mode for the Mac, developer and podcaster Marco Arment is calling on Apple to introduce a Low Power Mode for Mac laptops. Such a feature has already been available for iOS since iOS 9, and Arment has found a way to implement something similar with the $9.95 Turbo Boost Switcher Pro, which prevents Intel’s Turbo Boost feature from automatically overclocking the processor for intensive tasks. (There’s also a free Turbo Boost Switcher that requires more manual interaction but would likely be sufficient for testing.)

What benefits does turning off Turbo Boost offer for MacBooks? Arment reports a 62% drop in power consumption and a significant decrease in temperatures on his 16-inch MacBook Pro. Anecdotally, he says that the fans do not spin up, and the MacBook Pro runs cool enough to keep on his lap. While he hasn’t performed battery life tests on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, he estimates 30–50% longer battery life on older models. Of course, those benefits come with performance trade-offs like lower Geekbench scores—46% lower in single-threaded tests and 29% lower in multi-threaded—and 59% longer Xcode builds.

Arment's benchmark numbersBut most laptop users would happily make those trade-offs while on the go. Unfortunately, Turbo Boost Switcher Pro depends on a kernel extension that won’t be supported in future versions of macOS. Hopefully, Apple will introduce a Low Power Mode in the next version of macOS that solves the problem without additional software.

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Comments About Disable Turbo Boost to Simulate Low Power Mode for Macs

Notable Replies

  1. Tsk. 65 C isn’t 28% less than 90 C, because you can’t do percentages on non-absolute temperatures. The original article says something like “a whole lot cooler”, which is scientifically accurate.

    But yes, interesting and persuasive article.

  2. So it would make sense to compare to room temperature then (i.e. computer off). Which makes the difference even cooler 35%.

  3. The ability to disable Turbo Boost while traveling without access to a power outlet sounded so good that I installed the free version to try it out. Unfortunately, I can’t get it to work on Mojave. Although I’m prompted to authenticate as an admin, I’m never prompted to allow the kext, so it won’t work. Has anyone else tried it?

  4. Go to Settings > Security & Privacy, and in the General tab, see if there’s a button near the bottom to give Turbo Boost Switcher access.

  5. It’s up to the developer to provide such a prompt. Apparently they haven’t taken that step, but as Josh has told you, System Preferences should still allow you to do that as long as the pane has been unlocked.

    Be aware that the ability to do that will eventually time out, so you may have to take some action with the app (perhaps even uninstall/reinstall) in order to get it to show up again.

  6. Setapp includes an app called Endurance, by the way.

  7. I’ve been using TurboBoost Switcher for a while now (Mojave and Catalina). I basically just set it to never use Turbo Boost. Ever. The speed increase when it’s on for just about anyone other than high-end users is negligible, but the benefits of turning it off permanently are easily seen (and not heard) by everyone.

    I’m a graphic designer by trade, working in mostly Adobe apps all day (I don’t do video, though). I see no difference in day-to-day use having Turbo Boost turned on–but the computer would get hot, and the battery drained a lot faster when I had it on. But the main thing for me was that the fans on my 2017 MBP 15" and 2019 MBP 16" would constantly come on… no matter what apps I was using. Open Safari, fans come on. Open a document in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, the fans come on. Heaven forbid I wanted to watch a video… fans come on. This app solves all the problems with Turbo Boost on the Mac.

    TurboBoost Switcher makes turning it off permanently easy for anyone, plus allows you to turn it on quickly if you really need, and keep an eye on temperature, etc.

    The ONLY bad thing about TurboBoost Switcher is that the license is tied to the hardware. So when I upgraded to a new Mac, I had to contact the developer to have him “clear the license” for a new install.

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