MacBooks may be getting a high-powered performance mode in the near future. In January 2020, code discovered in the Catalina macOS beta build proposed that Apple was working on a performance-boosting "Pro Mode" for MacBooks. That mode never materialized, but the newly launched macOS Monterey beta 8 references a similar “High Power Mode” that could potentially boost a MacBook’s performance when not connected to a power adapter.
Rumors hint that Apple will release the new MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch models with the graphics-enhancing M1X chip later this year, and “High Power Mode” could be a standard feature for these devices.
A "Low Power Mode" which minimizes power consumption to save battery life by lowering performance currently exists in MacBooks. Presumably, "High Power Mode" would do the opposite to boost performance by forgoing energy-saving restrictions.
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It’s unclear how “High Power Mode” would function. 9to5Mac, who first uncovered “Pro Mode” and “High Power Mode,” assumes it’s possible that “High Power Mode” forces the CPU and GPU to run at peak performance whether or not a Mac is connected to power. 9to5 also believes that this mode would turn the fans on to stop devices from experiencing thermal throttling problems.
The final version of macOS Monterey isn’t available to the public at the time of this writing, though beta versions of the operating system are being tested by developers and folks registered in the Apple Beta Software Program. The final version of Monterey is expected to release this fall. It’s possible that “High Power Mode” will see its public debut when that happens.
Though a “High Power Mode” would consume more battery life, it would be good to have the option available for those who want their MacBooks to deliver maximum performance. Again, it’s unclear whether the upcoming MacBook Pros or existing Macs will receive this mode this year.
However, considering the evidence we've seen of Catalina’s “Pro Mode” and Monterey’s “High Power Mode,” it’s probably safe to assume some sort of high-powered mode for MacBooks will see the light of day eventually.
Most will throttle back when off the wall to keep from trashing the battery, but some will offer to let you keep performance at the expense of battery.
MacBooks have historically kept the same performance whether connected to the wall or on battery.