Apple’s ARM-based silicon chips are powerful and efficient, but what if you need additional grunt and don’t mind sacrificing battery life or power consumption? Apple has a solution for that called High Power Mode.
Which Chips Support High Power Mode?
As of this writing in October 2021, only the M1 Max chip on the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro supports High Power Mode. Even if you configure a 14-inch model with the more powerful M1 Max chip, you won’t be able to take advantage of High Power Mode at present.
Apple’s justification for this is likely down to heat production. Since High Power Mode allows the M1 Max to run under a higher load for longer, reviewers have noted that the chassis is noticeably hotter than when the mode is not engaged.
The larger 16-inch body should allow for greater airflow and provide more bare metal to act as a heatsink, which better dissipates heat.
2021 MacBook Pro (16-inch) with M1 Max
Only the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max includes High Power Mode. The 16-inch model with M1 Pro doesn't have it, and neither does the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max.
High Power Mode Is Reserved for Demanding Processes
It’s not necessarily possible to “force” High Power Mode in macOS, but there is a toggle under System Preferences that will give your Mac free rein to go hard when required.
While plugged into the wall you’ll find the option under Battery > Power Adapter > Energy Mode, or if you’re on battery power you’ll find it under Battery > Battery > Energy Mode. Move the toggle to “High Power” to let High Power Mode do its thing.
macOS will call on the additional power under intense workloads. Apple states in an internal document that High Power Mode provides “extreme performance” with color grading 8K ProRes video cited as one possible use case.
The reality is unless you’re doing some serious video processing or 3D rendering, you’ll probably not encounter any situations where High Power Mode is required. Unless you can think of a workflow you use that may trigger an explosion of fan noise, you probably shouldn’t base your purchasing decision around High Power Mode.
In one example demonstrated by YouTube commentator Dave Tong, a 19-minute Adobe Premiere Pro export that took 7 minutes and 18 seconds saw just a 16-second reduction under High Power Mode.
The Fastest MacBook Pro Ever
Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro refresh is an exciting step forward for the company’s ARM-based Apple Silicon lineup. They’re the best MacBooks you can buy if you have the cash. Learn more about what makes the new MacBook Pro so special and the difference between the M1 Pro and M1 Max.