Apple TV...How to cool it down!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by The Birdfeede, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. The Birdfeede macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2012
    #1
    Hello,

    New user so hoping this forum will be of some help!

    I recently bought a first gen Apple TV off the bay of flea. I didn't waste time in installing ATV Flash so I could use XMBC to play all my varying formats of video.

    So all is good, but not long after having it notice it runs really quite hot. So was wondering whether there are any known mods I can do to have it running cooler!

    Does anyone know what is the cause of its warmth?

    Any help would be great!

    Thanks.
    Birdfeede
     
  2. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Location:
    Hanover MD
    #2
    I have heard of people removing the rubber circle from the bottom, but never did it on mine. I actually tested running mine in a car in the glovebox and it got REAL hot and never shutdown.
     
  3. The Birdfeede thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2012
    #3
    I have taken off the rubber base, and used smaller rubber feet off a little network hub I have.

    Hasn't made all that much difference!

    Be great to know what causes it to run so hot, is it the hard drive or something else?
     
  4. steve-p macrumors 68000

    steve-p

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    Newbury, UK
    #4
    The first gen ATVs get ridiculously hot. I had to put mine on top of my media cabinet instead of inside it, and it was still hot to the touch. Setting it to sleep doesn't do much either except turn off the power LED. It didn't seem to affect the life of the disk or anything though.

    The cause is basically a major design flaw IMO :) Too many power hungry chips and the hard disk plus the power transformer inside a small airless box with no ventilation = something that's always going to run hot. ATV1 is more like a shrunken Mac Mini, whereas ATV2/3 use a much more efficient processor and flash memory similar to a smartphone so the power supply can also be much smaller. Things have moved on so the graphics processing is also low power, and the operating system is designed for low power devices. And the newer ones don't even get warm, never mind hot. It would be interesting to replace the hard disk in ATV1 with an SSD to see if it made any difference, and it probably would, but I doubt it would fix the problem entirely.
     
  5. The Birdfeede thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 18, 2012
    #5
    Does anyone know of any improvements that could be made then?

    Is it possible to use an external hard disk instead of the internal via the usb port? As I know hard drive do get reasonably hot when in use.
     
  6. potatis macrumors 6502a

    potatis

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    #6
    I replaced the HDD with an SSD in mine and it didn't make much difference. The heat seems to be located mostly in the back of the unit, at the power supply and logic board/around the fan. The fan seems to do nothing btw, it can just as well be removed, maybe it would run cooler if you replace the fan?
     
  7. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia
    #7
    ATVFlash allows you to activate the USB Port. Not sure if you would be able to use the external exclusively - i think it still wants to boot from the internal.

    Some people have done some pretty extensive mods to ATV1 - do some searching. I'm sure I remember seeing photos of a drive cable hanging out the back of the ATV with a drive attached to it.

    You could try one of those laptop cooling pads (Basically a big heat sink, sometimes with a built-in fan). Anything you do is probably going to be rather unsightly. I would just make sure it is in an open location, not tucked away inside a cabinet. It runs hot, but not as hot as the original PS3 for example.
     
  8. The Birdfeede thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 18, 2012
    #8
    I did think maybe having a sata cable trailing out of it could be an option, would look a little rubbish tho :D but maybe reduce the heat a bit

    Maybe looking into changing the fan for a differnt one if thats possible.

    Guess i'll be taking it apart later to do some investigating :eek:
     
  9. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 22, 2010
    Location:
    Hanover MD
    #9
    unless it shuts down from heat, im not sure I would worry too much about it.
     
  10. Obioban macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    #10
    I used to worry about it, but I don't anymore. I've had the ATV1 since it came out (so 5 years now). For the first 3 years I ran it as an AppleTV and for the last two it has been a media server. It has been on 100% of that time, and most of that in a stereo cabinet. No issues at all.

    It does run hot, but I'm sure they knew that when they built it and planned accordingly. I've often wondered if the reason it runs so hot is that they designed the body as a heat sink to eliminate the need for fans to keep it 100% quiet.

    Either way, doesn't seem to effect reliability.

    If the HD ever does go, I'll likely put an IDE SSD in mine.
     
  11. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    #11
    Exactly right. The top of the ATV 1 is in fact one giant heat sink (as is said by both iFixit and anandtech on their teardowns). hence it *should* get hot as thats how it dissipates heat. The fan inside is a joke. On one of my 3 atv 1s (the esata modded one) the fan started making noise. Having had it completely taken apart previously I knew the fan in fact really had no way to get air to the cpu and graphics chip so was basically I think an afterthought. I pulled it out about two years ago and never replaced it. Its still going strong. That atv was preordered when they were first announced so its been some 5 + years with daily use.
     
  12. Obioban macrumors regular

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    Oct 19, 2011
    #12
    details on the esata mod?
     
  13. The Birdfeede, Jun 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012

    The Birdfeede thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2012
    #13
    I think its just where you upgrade the original ide hard drive for a sata on, using a ide to sata converter thing. Basically you can put a much larger hard drive in it!

    Tried googling esata mod for apple tv but no guide came up

    Edit: Nope actually found it here: http://www.macworld.com/article/1057079/appletvharddrive.html
     
  14. Obioban macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    #14
    Ah, got it. I was hoping somehow the airport card was being replaced by an esata card to allow for faster external disks (in addition to the boot volume).
     
  15. The Birdfeede thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 18, 2012
    #15
    Hey could be! but that's all the info I could find after 30 seconds on it. haha :D
     
  16. marzer macrumors 65816

    marzer

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    Nov 14, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #16
    Removing the rubber backing didn't make much difference for mine either. But turning it on its side did. It lets the heat escape through the perforated bottom.

    I also thought the hard drive was a big reason but after modding it with a CF memory card i noticed little change in the amount of heat generated.
     
  17. dynaflash macrumors 68020

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    Mar 27, 2003
  18. Obioban macrumors regular

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    Oct 19, 2011
    #18
    Any notable change after going to solid state?
     
  19. marzer macrumors 65816

    marzer

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    Nov 14, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #19
    No. As i pointed out it made little difference. So i'd guess the video or general logic circuits probably generate most of the heat.
     
  20. smbkr macrumors newbie

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    Sep 14, 2012
    #20
    What are you using to run it as a media server?
     
  21. HobeSoundDarryl, Sep 15, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #21
    The giant heat sink comment is correct- it's supposed to be hot to the touch. Find some Jiffy Pop and cook your popcorn right on top of it ;)

    I do suspect the heat does work against the hard drive life. I went through a few of those hard drives before finally giving up and switching to an :apple:TV3 (I do miss the- IMO- better UI and certain very nice features of the "1" though- I wish Apple wouldn't jettison popular features that worked well).

    For the last 6-12 months I owned the "1" I just removed the top of the case, exposing the guts of the device to the open air. My A/V rack has adjustable shelves so I put one shelf in very close proximity to the shelf above it with just enough room to fit in the "naked" :apple:TV and a few other slim devices. The thinking was to use the upper shelf as the new "top" so that nobody could touch exposed circuits.

    I never noticed much heat in the vicinity again. My shelving has an array of holes for ventilation and I couldn't sense much heat coming through the holes directly about the :apple:TV. There's likely some electrical shock danger in doing this so user beware. Else, enjoy the handy Jiffy Popper as part of the movie experience.
     
  22. Zeke D macrumors 6502a

    Zeke D

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    Location:
    Arizona
    #22
    I love my gen1 ATV. I just went to RadioShack and purchased 1" rubber feet for it and my time capsule. There was a slight decrease in ambient heat, but as others have said, the top should feel like a fresh mug of coffee.
     
  23. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #23
    One more thing: I've heard of several guys replacing the hard drive with an IDE SSD. Conceptually, this would reduce heat generated by the hard drive.
     
  24. USMC.DVbaer macrumors newbie

    USMC.DVbaer

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    #24
     

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