How is the macOS performance on a 2018/2019 MBP 15" with a 4k display?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by grmlin, May 22, 2019.

  1. grmlin macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2015
    Hi all,
    I'm reading this forum for a while now, but I finally need some help before making a decision.

    I'm currently using a 2014 MacBook Pro 15" with the infamous nVidia GPU and an 2,5Ghz i7. While it served me well, I'm feeling it's age now. The macOS performance is just terrible. I have to wait seconds for apps to switch, and things like expose etc. are almost unusable. Everything is laggy and slow.

    - I'm a web application developer, running VMs with Docker, IDEs, browsers and many more applications that are part of my normal workflow. The 16GB of ram are at it's limit I guess, pretty sure 32GB would help
    - I use the fullscreen feature for almost everything. I love utilizing the full screen size without distractions for my code. And I hate how macOS handles non fullscreen windows, I don't use the dock at all.

    what I know:
    - macOS runs best on the internal display at it's recommended resolution/scaling
    - it runs worse connected to a 4k display at it's recommended resolution/scaling
    - it runs terrible connected to a 4k display when scaled in any way (which is almost a must on a 27" display)

    I already reduced the animations in the settings and while that does not make things faster, I don't watch macOS animating things with 3FPS anymore.

    So, my question, will a 2019 15" MBP make a noticeable difference? Beside the obviously increased CPU/SSD speed, will I still feel all the lag?
    I recently had to use Linux for work as my Mac got a new display, that was like a night and day difference. And that was on a 3 year old 4 core midrange CPU with a boring AMD GPU.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I use a 4K display in the office, and I actually run it at supersampled resolution, so far, I have not seen any issues with animations.

    MacOS draws stuff differently than many other platforms and it also uses more complex non-linear animations that can be perceive as lag by some individuals. Mission Control is tricky at any case since it requires the OS to draw all the app windows in real time. If you have programs with poor rendering performance (its usually a layouting issue), it can bog everything down. That said, even with your machine you should not need to "wait seconds for apps to switch". Maybe there is a more deep-rooted issue with your machine? Another thing is that 750M is rather bad at 4K video output.
  3. grmlin thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2015
    If I understood correctly, the 750M is just a terrible GPU for Mojave. The drivers are broken I think, as Apple switched to to AMD and stopped working with nVidia gpus.
    I tried the fix floating around somewhere in this forum, editing some plist stuff, disabling the system protection, but soon after that I had to reinstall macOS as it stopped working. Didn't boot anymore. No idea if something else was the reason for that, but I didn't have any energy to try again.

    The machine performed very well when I got it, but that was with a non 4K screen. Since Mojave it feels especially broken. I just tried the "swipe 4 fingers up" gesture and it took about 10 seconds before the mac rendered the app overview and started responding again... or switching from firefox to the calendar just took about 3 seconds.

    my problems have nothing to do with the perception of animations by the way, if something animates with 1 frame per second, everyone will notice :)
  4. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Very much possible, if Nvidia doesn't update their drivers to work with the new OS properly, issues are expected...
  5. grmlin thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2015
    Well, I guess I'll have to try it in the end and see how it goes. I don't know if I have the courage to switch sides yet.
  6. Stephen.R macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2018
    I have my “spare/travel” machine (bog standard 2018 MBP15 - i7, Radeon555x, 16GB, 256GB) downstairs, is there some test you want run on it with 1 or 2 4K displays attached? When I’ve used it with the displays I’ve had no issues - it performs better than the Mini I use day to day graphics wise, unsurprisingly.

    I too use my machines for similar tasks - IDE (IntelliJ so it treats RAM like tap water - never ending), multiple VMs, etc.

    The only limit I’ve seen on the MBP is I can’t run as many VMs because it has 1/4 the RAM of my mini, and definitely no graphics issues.

    I think you’ll be fine (I'd probably go the 8core if you use lots of VMs concurrently) so long as you bump the ram up to 32GB, but like I said I can run a test on mine if you have something in mind.
  7. grmlin thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2015
    Thanks @Stephen.R! That sounds good.

    I am too using Jetbrains software (PHPstorm), and since our backend developer tasted the sweetness of docker a while back, nothing will stop him of adding more containers when there is the need for one lol.

    To be fair, I don't want to go back. It's amazing how easy it is to setup and switch projects, that run the same on every machine.

    I don't have a specific test to run, but it's nice to read something positive like this.
  8. grmlin thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2015
    So I have to pull this up again.

    I experimented a little more with my 2014 MBP, and it looks like the fullscreen mode is the reason for all the slowdowns. If I don't use it, it works so much better, and it doesn't really matter if I scale my display or not.

    But if I start using fullscreen mode for my applications (IDEs, browsers...) the system gets slow af.

    I really hope, that this will be not an issue anymore with a 2019 MBP as I love this feature, but I'll see. For now I'll stop using fullscreen mode, seems to be the simplest solution for me :/
  9. MrGunnyPT macrumors 6502


    Mar 23, 2017
    15" runs just fine.

    I am bottlenecked by my intel GPUs on the 13" TB 2017 when connected to dual 4k displays at 60hz... You can feel the stuttering all over the place.
  10. Evangeline macrumors member


    Feb 26, 2014
    I have a 2016 MBP with a 5K display, don't notice any difference with the display connected or not. The fans kick in a lot more but no performance issues.

    What I do notice is scroll lag but that is unfixable atm. Doesn't matter if you have a display or not, tried it with a brand new top of the line core i9 MBP, same thing nothing fixes it. Though it drives me crazy, most people don't notice it.

  11. MrGunnyPT macrumors 6502


    Mar 23, 2017
    I have been having this very same issue since the Retina laptops have been introduced.. Some say to to turn off auto brightness sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.

    I don't know
  12. WickedPorter macrumors regular


    Sep 28, 2012
    A quick add/FYI: I have had no problems whatsoever using a 13" with iGPU (2018 and 2019) running dual 4K monitors + internal screen (three total displays). I use a Caldigit TS3+ Thunderbolt 3 dock to connect them... one monitor using displayport to displayport cable, the other using a thunderbolt 3 to displayport cable.
  13. csurfr macrumors 68020

    Dec 7, 2016
    Seattle, WA
    I have the base 2018 15" plugged into 2x UltraFine 4k, both running at the "more space" option. I am also running Docker, have multiple containers and am using both VS Code and PyCharm (Jetbrains IDE). I haven't experienced any slowdown at all. Not with full screen or split screen apps. I generally have chrome / safari / iMessage on one display and the ide in another. Everything works just fine.
  14. troop231, Jun 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019

    troop231 macrumors 603

    Jan 20, 2010
    @grmlin I use a 2013 rMBP with the 750M and two external 4K monitors on Mojave without issues. The monitors I'm using are Dell U2718Q calibrated with an i1 Display Pro.


  15. grmlin thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2015
    Thanks all for the replies. Maybe something else might be wrong with the machine then. Don’t know.

    I’ll get a new one soon. So I hope this will fix my issues with is :/
  16. lympero macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2008
    Arta, Greece
    I have the 2018 mbp 2.6 - 560 and I’m using it with a lg 32ud99 (scaled) and a dell 2515h and works perfectly. Common usage = running react native project with rn debugger and simulator, Adobe Xd, numerous chrome tabs, slack Mac app, streaming Hulu or Eurosport.
  17. pshufd macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I have my 2014 hooked up to a 4K display and it runs fine. I have my 2015 AMD hooked up to two QHD displays and it runs fine. Maybe you could run a 2014 and a 2015 for stuff which requires discrete graphics (AMD).
  18. grmlin, Jun 6, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019

    grmlin thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2015
    yesterday the system got into a state, where it was almost unusable. It was pretty warm in our office and the fans were spinning all the time.
    I'll see if it's my particular machine or my setup when I get a new MBP...

    edit: I can't find any process or anything else causing the troubel. Using the activity manager, the only thing that always pops up is the WindowServer or kernel_task... sure, all other programs I use cause constant load, too, but that is always the case...

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17 May 22, 2019