At the end of 2019, I traded in my two-year-old 15-inch MacBook Pro, sold off some older Apple gear (an iPad and older iPhones), and decided to spring for one of the newer 16-inch laptops. I had used a loaner device for a month, and it was quite an upgrade from my old laptop. My current daily life doesn’t necessarily require a laptop. My day to day work is done on an iPad Pro, with a nice Logitech K670 solar-powered keyboard. At home, I have an iMac Pro that is perfect for editing photos. But when I am traveling, especially on photo adventures, I need a great laptop for editing photos — at least until Adobe’s Photoshop is usable on the iPad.
No matter what anyone says, in my experience, Adobe products are just not engineered to function well on portable devices. Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom CC aren’t the most efficient programs. If I am being honest, they are miserable resource hogs. And my approach to editing, which involves using layers, curves, and gradients only exacerbates the problem. Suddenly, the files are bigger, and the computer gets slower. So for my new laptop, I wanted the latest graphical processing unit and more storage capacity. I even added extra memory to get more oomph — believe me, I need it.
In the past, I would have just bought the baseline model, added extra memory and moved on with it. But this time, I decided to splurge, knowing that this might be my last MacBook. In three years, the iPad will be more robust, Adobe Photoshop for iPad will be here — and for all I know, AI will just edit my photos for me in the cloud. I was excited and waited for the new machine. It came a few days early, and I set it up as a new device with no old software. Just the basics, with the exception of Adobe Creative Cloud, Photo Mechanic, and a handful of other applications, such as Bear, Brave Browser, Zoom, Day One, and Telegram.
Fast forward three weeks, and let’s just say, things have been a bit frustrating, noisy and disappointing. The biggest problem has been the heat. Every time I awake the device from its slumber, within just a few minutes, the fans come on. And they stay on. The noise they make is very loud, especially in my quiet living room, where I usually work. I am not the only one with this problem. There are multiple comments on this thread on Apple’s message boards, where longtime Apple users are screaming in frustration. It is a problem that is big enough to merit its own complaint thread on Macrumors.
Some mention that external monitors make the fans go wild. Well, this $7,000 Apple xPro Display on loan from Apple is supposed to showcase the marital bliss between MacBook Pro 16 and the new screen. Oops! Google Chrome is the problem, say others. Nope, don’t use it. Some suggest an SMC reset. I did that but to no avail. There might be issues with generous usage of WiFi or disk i/o. Obviously, we all know Catalina is Apple’s Vista, so that might be the problem. Some speculate that there might be a problem with USB-C hubs. I took off the screen, removed all external attachments, and even went off the power. Still, the noise won’t go away. I turned off DropBox and Backblaze backups, but no dice.
Earlier this morning, the problem really got my goat. I had only three applications running on the machine: Apple Mail, Apple Messages, and Apple Safari. All native Apple apps, and yet, the fans were running like afterburners on Dom Toretto’s 1970 Dodge Charger. It would be one thing if the fans kicked on when I had PhotoShop open with about two dozen layers, but my god, this is just the basic stuff. And it is Apple’s own applications! Of all things, they should work well with its latest operating system and its latest hardware. This MacBook Pro is targeted at the creatives, and constant fan noise isn’t going to help being creative. It could help sell many more AirPods Pros, though.
Jokes aside, the fans being constantly on has become such an irritant that I have begun to rue the day I decided to buy the new MacBook Pro. It also makes me wonder about Apple’s declining standards of quality control. Having once prided itself on its quality and logistics, Apple seems to be settling for a future as just another mediocre technology company.
January 30, 2020, San Francisco