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I've been asked to help troubleshoot why someone's MacBook Pro (late-2016 with Touch Bar) would be producing lower Geekbench results than their MacBook Pro (mid-2014) laptop.

Now I wish to add upfront that I'm not entirely convinced there is a problem here that needs solving, but this person is convinced there is either a problem or they've just been "ripped off for buying the latest and greatest Apple laptop that's not as fast as my two-and-a-half year old laptop".

Here are the specs and Geekbench v4 results...

MacBook Pro (15" Retina mid-2014)

  • macOS Sierra 10.12.1
  • MacBookPro11,3
  • Intel Core i7-4870HQ
  • 2.5GHz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • Single-Core Score: 4,236
  • Multi-Core Score: 13,971

MacBook Pro (15" Late 2016) with Touch Bar

  • macOS Sierra 10.12.1
  • MacBookPro13,3
  • Intel Core i7-6820HQ
  • 2.9GHz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • Single-Core Score: 4,526
  • Multi-Core Score: 13,792

As you can see, the Single-Core score is better for the current model, but the Multi-Core Score is worse. However, this person seems fixated on the fact the Multi-Core Score is lower for his new toy, and the fact that both scores are so close to one another (he feels the current model should be quite a bit higher on both scores).

I have confirmed he's running the same version of Geekbench on both machines, and that in both instances the tests were run from a fresh boot of the system.

In terms of the older MacBook Pro, this has a lot 3rd Party software installed (e.g. MS Office 2011, Adobe Creative Suite CS6, Parallels Desktop 12, various browsers, etc).

Since he's running the same OS on both machines, and because his new MacBook Pro still only has the default apps installed (i.e. Geekbench v4 is the only 3rd party software he's installed), I'm not really sure what to make of this. As I stated at the outset, I'm not convinced there is a problem here, but I have to admit I am a little sympathetic to his concerns.

I did suggest the real test would be to install Adobe Creative Suite on the new machine and perform an identical workflow using Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign on both machines and timing the results. But he is adamant on not installing anything else so Apple can't use it as an excuse for the lower scores.

So:

  • What troubleshooting steps would I do in the case of a brand new computer running the latest OS with no 3rd party software installed (except for Geekbench itself)?
  • If none, do I reassure him or does he try escalating it with Apple? Are there useful resources I can refer him to that would explain this and perhaps put his mind at ease?
  • Other benchmarks (cpubenchmark) show a similar result: Intel Core i7-4870HQ 2.50GHz vs. Intel Core i7-6820HQ 2.70GHz - result 2:0 ;-), so it's probably no Geekbench thing. Another comparison (german sorry): 4870HQ vs 6820HQ same result overall. – klanomath Dec 3 '16 at 0:13
  • Wow! That's interesting. So it's quite likely the issue gets down to the CPU itself. If that ends up being the case, and many others feel the same as this guy does (I'm genuinely surprised by how strongly he feels about this), I can see the potential for some sort of class action suit. Personally I would've waited for Apple to adopt the newer Kaby Lake processors and allow for more than 16GB RAM, especially if I already had the mid-2014 model. Each to their own I suppose. I told him I'd get back to him on Monday, so I'll see what else I can learn in the meantime. Thanks for the references! – Monomeeth Dec 3 '16 at 0:28
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The scores does not seem to indicate a problem with the specific MacBook Pro in question. Nor does it imply potential for a class action suit, as you indicate in the comments.

If you look at Apple's marketing for the MacBook Pro they stress that it has:

  • Up to 130% faster graphics
  • Up to 100% faster flash storage

None of these things are measured by Geekbench.

Note that Apple's marketing site does not say that CPU is a specific amount faster than previous MacBook Pro models. Therefore I do not see anything that should elicit a class action lawsuit.

Also the CPU choices are not exactly a secret. You can look up the CPU models and confirm third party benchmarks before making a purchasing decision on a MacBook Pro.

Now that has been said - please remember that Geekbench is just an artificial benchmark. The performance you experience in using the Mac is not always reflected in such an artificial benchmark.

When comparing the two setups remember that:

A) The 2014 MacBook Pro you mention is not the base model - it is a build-to-order model with a better than standard CPU. The 2016 MacBook Pro in your question is the base model.

B) The 6820HQ CPU has considerably larger memory bandwidth.

C) The 6820HQ CPU has 8 MB of cache compared to 6 MB on the 4870HQ. This doesn't really make a difference for artificial benchmarks testing integer or floating point performance - but it can make a huge difference in real life situations.

D) The 6820HQ CPU uses less power for the same workload as compared to the 4870HQ. Consuming less power allows for less battery weight (lighter laptop).

E) The integrated graphics on the 6820HQ CPU is considerably faster than the integrated graphics on the 4870HQ.

  • Thanks for your answer. This is helpful as it points out a few facts that may make him feel better. As I said in my question, he really needs to install some software and test it in a real life scenario. But I'll make sure he's aware of the fact this CPU allows for a lighter computer and longer battery life, and that the integrated graphics is faster as well. Hopefully I can convince him to do some 'real' tests. Maybe I can get him to do some testing with iMovie as a comparison, since it's Apple software and won't require him to install anything else. – Monomeeth Dec 3 '16 at 0:54
  • AppleInsider did a video review side-by-side (appleinsider.com/articles/16/12/02/…) and it appears that the 2016 is able to outperform on longer tests because it uses less power and has better cooling, therefore doesn't throttle the CPU as much as older ones. – Alan Shutko Dec 3 '16 at 1:38
  • @AlanShutko That's great! Thanks for the reference, I'm sure that'll come in handy. :) – Monomeeth Dec 3 '16 at 3:59

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