What is Thermal Throttling?

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re using your iMac or MacBook and it’s going really fast when multitasking such as video or photo editing or maybe just watching a movie while surfing the web and writing a paper? Then your computer gets really, really hot to the touch and the speed drops noticeably. Well, then you might have experienced thermal throttling. Thermal Throttling is when you are putting your computer through very labor extensive tasks making your computer hardware like the CPU very hot. In order to protect itself, it decreases the CPU speed so that the temperature can catch up. This is not a problem that most users should experience since the average user doesn’t do many labor-intensive actions. Also, most computers have an internal fan that you can hear if you have a computer other than a Mac. This is because macs are different. The late code-founder Steve Jobs hated internal fans because of how loud they were so he forced his hardware teams to start developing Macs without fans. To this day this is the case. What you will find in place of a fan in a Mac is a “state of the art cooling system”. I put the “state of the art cooling system” in quotes because does it really work? Does it prevent thermal throttling? The short answer is no. The cooling system in Macs is not as efficient as a fan although they still work very well. Although no fan or cooling system can ever really prevent thermal throttling unless the fan is kept on all of the time. Either way, when using your computer it will heat up and you will at some point in time experience thermal throttle this is just something that can’t be escaped. Some things that can help reduce thermal throttling is working in a colder environment or keep an extra fan close by. You can see when your computer thermal throttles by looking at Activity Monitor which can be found in the “Utilities” folder. If you have an Intel Mac you can download Intel Power Gadget which will give you your computer’s internal temperature and computer speed.