I solved my Monterey throttling problem . . . By accident

Ever since I updated to Monterey 12.3, my computer has been throttling even when the temperature sensors were not high. I could not find a solution.

I will be streaming Hulu on MSNBC and the audio gets choppy, the video freezes, and the computer keyboard and mouse becomes non-responsive. Yet none of my temperature sensors are high, but there were spikes to the mid-90 degree Celcius for an undetermined duration, but not long enough for the fans to kick in. The problem was CPU Load. Yet there was nothing in Activity Monitor that pointed to a specific application or user process. The SYSTEM processes were going up and down.

The typical advice of getting rid of logon items was not going to happen. I need the ones I have. And everything worked fine under Big Sur.

I installed TG Pro to write my own fan curve. I installed iStat to be able to see all my processes without launching Activity Monitor, which hogs CPU just by running.

And I read everything I could find on Apple’s Thermal Management of Intel i7 processors. There is a lot of material online along with many user complaints over thermal throttling when it isn’t needed.

I discovered that the CPU and GPU of my 2018 MacBook Pro are in the same heat tunnel. So, I turned off Hardware Acceleration in Firefox.

I discovered that Intel’s Turbo Boost overclocking adds a lot of extra heat and uses more battery. I bought Turbo Boost Switch software and turned off Turbo Boost entirely.

Everything helped a little, but the throttling didn’t stop. Even with Kernel Task using low CPU, the CPU Load graph would throb and looked like a sine wave. Up and down and every time it went up, my computer became unusable.

What I noticed more was the Window Server process. It never went down to less than 15% of CPU and often went as high as 40%.

So, here’s the “accident”. In my frustration, I force quit Window Server in Activity Monitor. The computer did not re-boot, so login items did not run. The Window Server process restarted. What did show up on my screen was the control window for Bartender 4.

Bartender 4 manages the icons and applications in the Menu Bar, allowing the user to place less used icons and apps in a hidden menu. In the restarting of Window Server without actually relaunching the computer, Bartender 4 comes up in its DEFAULT mode: Wide space between icons, and only 6 icons in the menu bar, the rest of them in the secondary hidden menu bar.

And that gift from the Gods, solved my problem. No more throttling, no more surging and pulsing of CPU load. My fans go up and down a little as needed under the control of TG-Pro but don’t go to 6,500 RPM and stay there.

Bartender 4 must have an undocumented limit on the number of apps and icons it can stuff into the main menu bar. Window Server and Kernel Task may go to higher CPU use when I am doing something with the computer, but when I stop doing anything, these processes fall to under 10% of CPU each.

Worked on this off and on for the last three weeks. Frustrating beyond belief. Multiple calls to Apple Senior Advisors, messages to Apple experts at the code level, all the typical troubleshooting fixes like reset SMC, start in Safe Boot, use a test user, etc. Nothing seemed to make the problem fully disappear.

Until I used Bartender 4 and moved most of the menu bar icons and apps to the secondary, hidden menu bar.

Of course, I notified the developer of Bartender 4. It may not be something he can fix or even a bug, but now he knows about the issue at least. Awaiting a reply.