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The symptom of this was freezing streaming that Apple Support took 1.5 hours to diagnose and another hour to attempt to fix.

Apparently, MacBook Pro 16" 2019 comes with two graphics card: the advertised ATI Radeon and an integrated one by Intel. ATI Radeon is supposed to be much better; thus MacBook Pro is advertising it; why do they have the integrated one I don't know.

Anyway, my brand new MacBook (Catalina) was setup to use the integrated graphics card, while the more powerful ATI Radeon was staying idle, doing absolutely nothing. As the result it's freezing for a fraction of a second every few minutes.

Did anybody else see this? If you have a MacBook Pro, and in About This Mac / System Report / Graphics/Displays see multiple graphics cards, which one is used by MacBook, according to About This Mac / Graphics?

More importantly, is it possible to reconfigure which one is being used? Apple Support tried things such reinstalling OS, which changed absolutely nothing.

  • I feel ya'... I've got the same machine & was surprised when I saw it. You've already got the answer, so I have only this comment: It seems Apple has taken on a disturbing behavior: they obsess over some aspects (battery life & security are two that come to mind), but neglect others. – Seamus Apr 23 at 15:15
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MacBook Pro has come in models with both an integrated and a discrete graphics processing unit for many years now.

The integrated graphics uses less energy than the discrete GPU, so in order to maximize battery life, it is used whenever possible.

The integrated graphics should be plenty powerful to play ordinary YouTube videos or play a DVD, which are the tasks you describe in your linked question. Unless you have an external monitor connected to the MacBook Pro, the integrated graphics should handle this fine.

However, you can definitely configure your MacBook Pro to use the discrete graphics. This way you can test whether or not the problem goes away when using the discrete graphics.

You can the setting by opening System Preferences > Energy Saver, and removing the checkmark from the "Automatic graphics switching" checkbox. When this checkmark is removed, the computer will use the discrete graphics at all times.

Read more about it in Apple's documentation:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202043

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  • Thanks, that worked. – Michael Apr 24 at 3:31
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why do they have the integrated one I don't know.

Because it is wasteful to fire up a discrete graphics card when it is not required. The integrated card will be fine for most purposes. If the discrete graphics card was kept on at all times, you'd experience significantly shortened battery life, extra deterioration of the battery, more electricity usage, more heat, and a slightly quicker global warming-caused heat death of life on Earth.

As the result it's freezing for a fraction of a second every few minutes.

Can you provide proof for this being the cause?

The question you want answered and the question youo are asking are different. You are trying to determine the cause of the freezing, which is not necessarily the fact that your MacBook has decided to use its integrated graphicss card.

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  • I don't have a proof that's the cause, just a suspicion. I asked about the cause here before noticing that the integrated card was being used. I know what's not causing it: the network is in a great shape with 20 MB download and the system is not overwhelmed because the problem occurs when nothing else is running. The oddity with the primary graphics card raises the suspicion. – Michael Apr 23 at 5:45
  • That suspicion, that the recurrent freezing is due to GPU; could you suggest other possibilities what could cause that? When viewing YouTube or Amazon Prime that happens on fairly regular intervals: every minute or so (feels like, I didn't time properly) the video freezes for like 1/4 second and skips to where it's supposed to be. The audio remains flawless, only video freezes momentarily. This is not network buffering. Something in the pipeline of getting the frames to display is subpar; GPU is one of the biggest stages of that pipeline. – Michael Apr 23 at 5:54
  • Even a 2011 MacBook Pro, which only has integrated graphics, and much worse than your 2016 model, can stream video without freezing. I'd more likely suggest a software fault than a hardware one. – benwiggy Apr 23 at 15:56

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