PDA

View Full Version : Can I overheat my MacBook Air if I close its lid and use external monitor?




lexicaller
Feb 8, 2013, 01:18 PM
Hello ALL!
I am very new in Mac World, comming from many years in Linux-on-ThinkPads World. (My main reason to switch is no time for maintenance and need for Unix!)

Anyway, I started to use my MacBook Air with an external monitor and with closed lid (clamp-shell mode?). Then, a colleague warn me that this way I may cause overheating. My machine should be quite good (i7, 4GB, 256SSD), but I am doing excesive data analysis.

So, my question is: Is my colleague right? Should I leave lid open? If closed, I should never do demanding stuff?

Many thanks!
PM



GGJstudios
Feb 8, 2013, 01:23 PM
So, my question is: Is my colleague right? Should I leave lid open? If closed, I should never do demanding stuff?
Your colleague is wrong. It's perfectly safe to operate in clamshell (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3131) mode, as Mac notebooks are designed to do just that.

Heat radiates in all directions and dissipates through the aluminum body. While clamshell mode or using a keyboard covering slightly inhibits dissipation, it's not enough to cause problems or raise temps more than a few degrees, since the primary cooling is through the vents.

There has never been any air intake or exhaust vents through the keyboard on any Mac notebook. For all Mac notebooks except the MBP-Retina, both intake and exhaust has always been through the vents in the rear near the hinge. The new MBP-Retina has intake vents along the sides at the bottom and exhaust through the rear vents, near the hinge.

Learn about the fans in your Mac (http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4543)
Mac computers have air vents that allow heated air to exit. The vents are in the back of the computer on the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro computers.
This arrangement allows for venting with the lid open or closed (for operating in clamshell mode (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3131?viewlocale=en_US)). There is a solid panel under the keyboard, preventing any meaningful airflow.
http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/WTBDHrUFidEXI1d4.largehttp://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/VYXYxcpwMIcT5GuG.large

Cheffy Dave
Feb 8, 2013, 01:27 PM
Ah, ya beat me GGJ;)

iSee
Feb 8, 2013, 02:39 PM
Can I overheat my MacBook Air if I close its lid and use external monitor?!
Yes, absolutely.
For example, if you close the lid, use an external monitor and place it on a radiator. :p

lexicaller
Feb 8, 2013, 03:35 PM
Many thanks GGJstudios! Your post is convincing and calming!

iSee, it's not nice to make fun with poor souls and ignorants :p

P

Intell
Feb 8, 2013, 03:43 PM
There has never been any air intake or exhaust vents through the keyboard on any Mac notebook. For all Mac notebooks except the MBP-Retina, both intake and exhaust has always been through the vents in the rear near the hinge. The new MBP-Retina has intake vents along the sides at the bottom and exhaust through the rear vents, near the hinge.

This statement isn't accurate. The non-unibody Macbooks have many holes in their keyboard to allow air to be pulled in through them. They have a high concentration of the holes over the fan and extending out over the logicboard. While the image below is of a bare 2008 Macbook, the 2006 and 2007 ones have more vent holes in the middle part of the keyboard area just over the fan.

395477
Image source: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/34268406@N06/3188462923/in/set-72157612409546653

lexicaller
Feb 9, 2013, 06:39 AM
So, then, what should I do?!? :confused:

Gav2k
Feb 9, 2013, 06:42 AM
So, then, what should I do?!? :confused:
Read the manual. It's 100% safe

tekno
Feb 9, 2013, 06:51 AM
Read the manual. It's 100% safe

If it's 100% safe, why doesn't Apple allow you to close the laptop and have it not go to sleep. Unless I'm mistaken, you need to force the computer to stay awake by way of a hack.

Intell
Feb 9, 2013, 07:26 AM
So, then, what should I do?!? :confused:

Unless you have a non-unibody Macbook, you're fine. Use it as you see fit.

If it's 100% safe, why doesn't Apple allow you to close the laptop and have it not go to sleep. Unless I'm mistaken, you need to force the computer to stay awake by way of a hack.

No hacks are needed. Just plug in an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard and it'll wake up. This is how it's been since the 1990's and Apple laptops.

TheRealDamager
Feb 9, 2013, 09:19 AM
Don't be confused by the back and forth here - it is COMPLETELY safe, and an expected use of the Air. I do it all the time, and have for years.

hfg
Feb 9, 2013, 01:53 PM
Unless you have a non-unibody Macbook, you're fine. Use it as you see fit.



No hacks are needed. Just plug in an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard and it'll wake up. This is how it's been since the 1990's and Apple laptops.

This is correct ... and I think it requires the AC adapter to be attached and powering the computer in order to enter the "Clamshell" mode.

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3131?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

redsteven
Feb 9, 2013, 02:45 PM
Hello ALL!
I am very new in Mac World, comming from many years in Linux-on-ThinkPads World. (My main reason to switch is no time for maintenance and need for Unix!)

Anyway, I started to use my MacBook Air with an external monitor and with closed lid (clamp-shell mode?). Then, a colleague warn me that this way I may cause overheating. My machine should be quite good (i7, 4GB, 256SSD), but I am doing excesive data analysis.

So, my question is: Is my colleague right? Should I leave lid open? If closed, I should never do demanding stuff?

Many thanks!
PM

My question for you: WHY would you WANT to close the lid? I'm typing this to you on an external 23" monitor plugged in to my MBP... but my MBP is open so that I have it's 15" monitor available to me also. Why go out of your way to deny yourself a dual-monitor setup?
And if it's because you don't want to use the built-in monitor as your primary, that's fine. Just change the primary monitor to the external in your System Prefs, and that way your dock and menu bar show up on the larger monitor. But that way you still have the built-in display to hold an extra window or two.

gnasher729
Feb 9, 2013, 05:52 PM
If it's 100% safe, why doesn't Apple allow you to close the laptop and have it not go to sleep. Unless I'm mistaken, you need to force the computer to stay awake by way of a hack.

Apple does that because you cannot access the keyboard, and you cannot see the screen, so the computer is not useable. To keep the MacBook awake you don't need any hack, just plug in any old USB keyboard and monitor.

Agent-P
Feb 9, 2013, 06:45 PM
My question for you: WHY would you WANT to close the lid? I'm typing this to you on an external 23" monitor plugged in to my MBP... but my MBP is open so that I have it's 15" monitor available to me also. Why go out of your way to deny yourself a dual-monitor setup?
And if it's because you don't want to use the built-in monitor as your primary, that's fine. Just change the primary monitor to the external in your System Prefs, and that way your dock and menu bar show up on the larger monitor. But that way you still have the built-in display to hold an extra window or two.

Because then your GPU is being split between two monitors rather than just powering the one external. And while dual monitor setups are great, they aren't always necessary.

badman89
Feb 10, 2013, 10:49 AM
If it's 100% safe, why doesn't Apple allow you to close the laptop and have it not go to sleep. Unless I'm mistaken, you need to force the computer to stay awake by way of a hack.

This is an excellent question. Why doesn't Apple allow your computer to run with the lid closed under normal circumstances? I use a special app called "Caffeine" to allow my mac to run with the lid closed (to play music, etc.). I ran some google searches to see why Apple would not allow users to do this without using third-party apps, and most of the responses said that Apple does this to prevent you from overheating your computer.



No hacks are needed. Just plug in an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard and it'll wake up. This is how it's been since the 1990's and Apple laptops.

You've misunderstood the post you're replying to. The point is that you need a "hack" (a third-party app) to allow your mac to run with the lid closed WITHOUT an external monitor.


Apple does that because you cannot access the keyboard, and you cannot see the screen, so the computer is not useable. To keep the MacBook awake you don't need any hack, just plug in any old USB keyboard and monitor.

You say that "the computer is not useable," but that is only because Apple has designed it in such a way. My old windows laptops were never unuseable just because the lid was closed - same goes for my Macbook with the caffiene app installed.

tekno
Feb 10, 2013, 11:03 AM
Apple does this to prevent you from overheating your computer.



So this would suggest that operating with the lid closed can indeed cause your Mac to overheat...?

badman89
Feb 10, 2013, 11:15 AM
So this would suggest that operating with the lid closed can indeed cause your Mac to overheat...?

Well, you clipped the quote. The full quote includes: "... most of the responses said that Apple does this to prevent you from overheating your computer."

So, it could suggest that operating with the lid closed can indeed cause your Mac to overheat. But it could also suggest that the people who said that don't know what they're talking about.

Gav2k
Feb 10, 2013, 11:24 AM
This is an excellent question. Why doesn't Apple allow your computer to run with the lid closed under normal circumstances? I use a special app called "Caffeine" to allow my mac to run with the lid closed (to play music, etc.). I ran some google searches to see why Apple would not allow users to do this without using third-party apps, and most of the responses said that Apple does this to prevent you from overheating your computer.




You've misunderstood the post you're replying to. The point is that you need a "hack" (a third-party app) to allow your mac to run with the lid closed WITHOUT an external monitor.




You say that "the computer is not useable," but that is only because Apple has designed it in such a way. My old windows laptops were never unuseable just because the lid was closed - same goes for my Macbook with the caffiene app installed.

Because 9/10 people expect there laptop to sleep or power off on a lid close. Add a mechanical drive into the mix and it could be damaged in the process.

jafingi
Feb 10, 2013, 11:31 AM
You're unable to overheat any modern computer. It will automatically turn off if the temperature gets too high.

badman89
Feb 10, 2013, 11:34 AM
Because 9/10 people expect there laptop to sleep or power off on a lid close.
Lid close = sleep could easily be the default setting while also allowing for other settings (as in Windows laptops).

GGJstudios
Feb 10, 2013, 11:33 PM
This statement isn't accurate. The non-unibody Macbooks have many holes in their keyboard to allow air to be pulled in through them. They have a high concentration of the holes over the fan and extending out over the logicboard. While the image below is of a bare 2008 Macbook, the 2006 and 2007 ones have more vent holes in the middle part of the keyboard area just over the fan.

395477
Image source: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/34268406@N06/3188462923/in/set-72157612409546653
Those are not vents. The vents are located in the rear. That is a picture from a white MacBook being modified by a user (http://www.flickr.com/photos/34268406@N06/sets/72157612409546653/detail/). Those holes are covered by keys and are not used as vents for cooling the MacBook. If they were, Apple would never recommend using clamshell mode, which would block vents. While non-unibody models did have some holes in the keyboards, they were not used as vents. Naturally, some incidental airflow may have occurred in such older models, but not enough to affect primary cooling, which has always been through the intake and exhaust vents at the rear, near the hinge.

So, then, what should I do?!? :confused:

You should use clamshell mode whenever you need or want to without worry. There is no venting through your keyboard.

Intell
Feb 11, 2013, 08:42 AM
Those are not vents. The vents are located in the rear. That is a picture from a white MacBook being modified by a user (http://www.flickr.com/photos/34268406@N06/sets/72157612409546653/detail/). Those holes are covered by keys and are not used as vents for cooling the MacBook. If they were, Apple would never recommend using clamshell mode, which would block vents. While non-unibody models did have some holes in the keyboards, they were not used as vents. Naturally, some incidental airflow may have occurred in such older models, but not enough to affect primary cooling, which has always been through the intake and exhaust vents at the rear, near the hinge.

The holes in the back are the primary vents with the ones in the keyboard being the secondary vents. The way you phrased your statement makes it out as being that the holes were put there by the user, they were not. The keyboard and the keyboard circuit ribbon do not block those holes. Apple designed those holes to correspond with other holes so that the holes in the metal top case line up with holes in the circuit ribbon and are in the keywell. Air is pulled in around the keys and through the keywells into the case. Running a non-unibody Macbook in clamshell mode results in the fan coming on more frequently and staying on longer. It also results in the GMA950 throttling down due to too much heat within the case. The same things happen when a keyboard skin is used. I chose that picture to illustrate that there are indeed vent holes in that model Macbook.

GGJstudios
Feb 11, 2013, 09:16 AM
Running a non-unibody Macbook in clamshell mode results in the fan coming on more frequently and staying on longer. It also results in the GMA950 throttling down due to too much heat within the case.
Nonsense. It depends on the workload entirely. I can run for weeks in clamshell mode on my non-unibody MBP and the fans stay at the minimum and temps are within around 5 degrees of normal. Only when I put a heavy load on the system do temps rise and fans spin up, which happens whether in clamshell mode or not. Any airflow is incidental and is not depended on for cooling. If this were not true, Apple would advise against running in clamshell mode for those models. As it is, they don't, because any temp changes are minimal and likely caused mostly by inhibiting dissipation, not venting through the keyboard.

Learn about the fans in your Mac (http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4543)
Mac computers have air vents that allow heated air to exit. The vents are in the back of the computer on the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro computers.
Hopefully we can get back on topic, as this thread is about a MBA, which has a solid panel under the keyboard, preventing any air flow.

Intell
Feb 11, 2013, 10:46 AM
Nonsense. It depends on the workload entirely. I can run for weeks in clamshell mode on my non-unibody MBP and the fans stay at the minimum and temps are within around 5 degrees of normal. Only when I put a heavy load on the system do temps rise and fans spin up, which happens whether in clamshell mode or not. Any airflow is incidental and is not depended on for cooling. If this were not true, Apple would advise against running in clamshell mode for those models. As it is, they don't, because any temp changes are minimal and likely caused mostly by inhibiting dissipation, not venting through the keyboard.

The Macbook Pros, as you state to use, don't have any vent holes in their keyboard. That's why you are able to use it without much heat increase. The Macbooks in question have the vent holes and need them for optimal performance. Apple knows about this limitation and that's why the GMA950 downclocks to 250Mhz from its default of 400Mhz when in clamshell mode. Your overall knowledge with these Macbooks seems to indicate that you have never used one for very long or examined one's interior in great detail. The article you posted indicates air exit vents, not air intake vents. It fails to mention the Mac Pro's intake vent at the front of the machine or the Mac Mini's and iMac's intake at the bottom.

TheRealDamager
Feb 11, 2013, 10:53 AM
The Macbook Pros, as you state to use, don't have any vent holes in their keyboard. That's why you are able to use it without much heat increase. The Macbooks in question have the vent holes and need them for optimal performance. Apple knows about this limitation and that's why the GMA950 downclocks to 250Mhz from its default of 400Mhz when in clamshell mode. Your overall knowledge with these Macbooks seems to indicate that you have never used one for very long or examined one's interior in great detail. The article you posted indicates air exit vents, not air intake vents. It fails to mention the Mac Pro's intake vent at the front of the machine or the Mac Mini's and iMac's intake at the bottom.

Why are you bothering to argue about a model that isn't even in discussion on this thread? Whats the point?

GGJstudios
Feb 11, 2013, 11:05 AM
The Macbook Pros, as you state to use, don't have any vent holes in their keyboard.
No Mac notebooks have vents in the keyboard. Even if there are holes, they are not vents.
The article you posted indicates air exit vents, not air intake vents.
With the exception of the new retina MBPs, both intake and exhaust vents on Mac notebooks are at the rear, near the hinge, as they've always been.

I challenge you to find one reference in any Apple document to any vents in any Mac notebook keyboard. There is none, because there has never been a vent though a keyboard. Just because there are holes in the body of a Mac notebook, doesn't mean they are intended for vents. Until you can provide any Apple documentation of such "keyboard venting", it's probably a good idea that we table this discussion, as it's off-topic and derailing this thread.

Intell
Feb 11, 2013, 03:49 PM
No Mac notebooks have vents in the keyboard. Even if there are holes, they are not vents.

With the exception of the new retina MBPs, both intake and exhaust vents on Mac notebooks are at the rear, near the hinge, as they've always been.

The thread topic has already been answered. If the holes are not vents, why would Apple waste time and energy in punching out the holes and then patching the holes in some of the pre-Santa Rosa Macbooks? Why is there enough air being pulled through the keyboard when the Macbook it on that it can be felt and be able to hold a piece of standard printer paper when the Macbook is tilted 90 degrees? Why is it that Macbooks can still work without any problems when the intake half of the rear vent is covered? Why does the idle temperature increase every time a keyboard skin is put onto a Macbook? There are more exceptions to the vents at the rear than just the retina Macbook Pros, notably the 550Mhz+ Titanium Powerbooks. Those had to intake vents along the sides and blocking either of those resulted in overheating and freezing.

While no direct mention exists in publicly available documentation, Apple does state the following:

Set up your notebook on a stable work surface that allows for adequate air circulation under and around the computer. Do not operate your notebook on a pillow or other soft material, as the material can block the airflow vents. Never place anything over the keyboard when operating the computer. Never push objects into the ventilation openings.

Source: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1778

Do note that Apple explicitly states to not have anything on the keyboard in the same paragraph not blocking the vents. Indicating that on the Macbook models there is a vent there. A similarly phrased paragraph also appears in the 2006-mid2009 Macbook user manual. However, the line informing the user to not have anything on the keyboard when the machine is in operation, is absent on other models.

TheRealDamager
Feb 11, 2013, 06:05 PM
You keep referencing machines OTHER THAN THE ONE BEING DISCUSSED. Who cares?

mon999
Feb 11, 2013, 08:43 PM
i really feel sorry for the OP..

mrsir2009
Feb 12, 2013, 12:17 PM
You've misunderstood the post you're replying to. The point is that you need a "hack" (a third-party app) to allow your mac to run with the lid closed WITHOUT an external monitor.

Sometimes when I shut the lid on my MacBook Pro when it's still doing something, it stays awake all on it's own. Sometimes I shut it, go to bed, then in the morning it's still awake, and perfectly fine.

crsolem
Feb 6, 2014, 09:42 AM
I'm not an expert but I just had a macbook pro (2011) problem with a logic board because of overheating, and I was regularly using my computer in clamshell mode with an external monitor. One difference was that I also had a hard protective case around the computer and was told that could have contributed as well. I must admit that the fan on my old machine was fairly loud which should have giving me a hint that the computer was getting hot.

The tech recommended that I download an app that monitor's the temperature of different components within the mac. Another idea he gave me was to keep the laptop elevated so as to keep air flowing around it. And no more case.

Hope this is of some help to you.

Twimfy
Feb 6, 2014, 09:52 AM
The answer is a plain and simple no.

Have fun. I have used many models of MacBook including the Air as "desktop" for years and they're all still running nicely.

DisplacedMic
Feb 9, 2014, 07:43 PM
Hello ALL!
I am very new in Mac World, comming from many years in Linux-on-ThinkPads World. (My main reason to switch is no time for maintenance and need for Unix!)

Anyway, I started to use my MacBook Air with an external monitor and with closed lid (clamp-shell mode?). Then, a colleague warn me that this way I may cause overheating. My machine should be quite good (i7, 4GB, 256SSD), but I am doing excesive data analysis.

So, my question is: Is my colleague right? Should I leave lid open? If closed, I should never do demanding stuff?

Many thanks!
PM

scientist. use my MBA in clamshell mode plugged into my TBD all the time for data analysis, 3d image rendering and normal stuff (email, web, youtube, netflix etc).

the fans don't even come on. it doesn't even get warm unless i'm watching a movie...

this is how it was designed. read your manual - you have nothing to worry about.

JBat
Feb 10, 2014, 09:31 AM
Wow, based on the link posted by hfg, this all seems very straightforward. I've have a 5 year old Toughbook that I use for work, a real dog, and I use it every day in clamshell mode with zero issues.

Much ado about nothing.

gnasher729
Feb 10, 2014, 10:40 AM
If it's 100% safe, why doesn't Apple allow you to close the laptop and have it not go to sleep. Unless I'm mistaken, you need to force the computer to stay awake by way of a hack.

That's probably to avoid millions of complaints that the laptop doesn't go to sleep if you close the lid :D

----------

The answer is a plain and simple no.

Have fun. I have used many models of MacBook including the Air as "desktop" for years and they're all still running nicely.

Cheap way to get a desktop Mac is to search eBay for MacBooks with broken screen. Close the lid, attach monitor and keyboard, and you've got a desktop Mac. I'd be slightly more careful not to block any vents, but apart from that it's just fine.