ATV overheat problems

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Cave Man, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    My ATV is just about dead and I'd like to move its 802.11n card over to my retired GMA950 Mini. I'm pretty sure they're the same form factor, but the need for dual antennas on the n card concerns me. Any suggestions on the transplant?
  2. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    OK, more on this story. I thought my ATV was on its way out - lots of white sparkles, colored sprites and the need for forced restarts that never seemed to solve the problem. So I've been running my ATV with its bottom removed and by feel, the two principal sources of heat are (1) the wifi card (almost too hot to touch) and the (2) metal plate through which the wifi card antennas pass into (red 'x' in attached).

    If I unplug the ATV until it's completely cool (an hour or so) it plays streaming HD video just fine for about 30 min, then I start to see the sparkles first, then the sprites (especially on the menus), and eventually system freeze in about an hour. If I restart without cooling, the freezes happen within about 10 min. This seems to me to be a heat issue. Any thoughts?

    Attached Files:

  3. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Cave, once again we are on parralel paths oddly enough. Two weeks ago I heard a fairly loud new sound out of my atv. Knowing it wasn't the drive (eSata modded of course so there isn't one) I popped it open and uplugged the fan (such that is is). Voila, no more loud noise, in fact very quiet. So, I ran it for the rest of the week upside down with no bottom (much like when we were testing esata bridges). Ran fine, probably a bit cooler. Note, Since the top (now the bottom being upside down) is a heatsink I did place four of my kids lego's under it to give it some air.

    So, I thought why not and I then removed the fan altogether and closed it back up. Running fine, top feels about the same.

    So, what does this tell you about you're situtation ?? I have no clue but maybe you're wireless card has issues as its running so hot ? My card did not feel hot to the touch really when running upside down. Having said that I am synced and run ethernet to the AEB so that might be the difference. Dunno.

    Anyway am now running eSata and Free Air for about a week. So far so good. Note: to anyone wondering underneath that fan is nothing but logic board, no chips. The cpu is on the *other* side of the logic board under the top (heatsink) and once out, for the life of me I can see no way that fan moves any amount of air anywhere. Its almost like a plugged system. If it moves anything it has to be very little and Anandtech I think said the same when they disassembled it. Very strange.

    Back to topic: seems odd that wireless card is so hot. Maybe disconnect it and run the atv and see if it overheats ? Just tossing it out there.
  4. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I suspect it's hot because it's getting used as I'm streaming OTA transcodes from Eye TV that get dumped into that computer's iTunes. (My syn'd computer is in the office.) Running it upside down and with the cover off it seems to be just fine, as well. I'm beginning to suspect that the heat from the Airport card is the culprit. I'm going to let it run without the cover for a day and see if it continues to behave normally. If so, I may have to figure out another cooling scheme.

    Thanks for the comments.
  5. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    I was actually considering installing a very thin like 3 or 4 inch fan right in the bottom plate, either sucking air down or blowing up. Just blast air into the damned thing. with no rubber pad (chucked mine way back in the day) it would be pretty damned easy to mount up, and with original fan and hdd gone, plus felt 1/4" feet on the bottom clearance should be a breeze (no pun intended). Hmm, maybe a new project ...
  6. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    That's my current thought as well. I have an 80mm fan that's virtually silent (14 db) but it takes a 12 V source. I wonder how it would do off a 5 V line?
  7. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    12 volt line in ATV?

    Does anyone know if there are any 12V lines in the Apple TV? My 80mm fan doesn't spin so well off of the 5V line.

    This is clearly a heat issue. I ran the ATV upside down with the bottom off for a week and it was perfectly fine. I put the bottom back on (still upside down) and the sparkles, sprites and freezes returned, even with the Airport card removed.
  8. barnettworks macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2010
    Re: ATV Overheat

  9. Jungle macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2008
    OK - This is why these forums are so great; I have had sparkles, sprites and all sorts of late and thought I was the only one! I did have some advice from another poster here to take the bottom off my ATV but my courage failed me and I simply put it upside down to see if that made any difference. The answer is 'a bit' - the screen glitches got less but were still there. Now, having read this thread, I'll take the bottom off the unit and see if that cures the issue.

    Longer term, I wonder whether someone will document a modification to the unit to stop this overheating - it has had me considering dumping ATV for good.
  10. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Well, you should only have to peel off the rubber pad, behind that is the actual metal bottom which is perforated metal. Clean the glue out of the holes and leave the rubber pad off. Stick 4 1/2" felt chair leg feet ( the kind designed so you don't scrach the floor) or whatever on the bottom at the corners so there is a bit of a gap. Mine has been like this for two years and when my fan (yes, there is a fan but it does nothing afaict) started making noise I removed the fan as well. So I have been running fanless now for the better part of three weeks with no problems.

    Lose the rubber pad, it will open up some airflow.
  11. barnettworks macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2010
    12V fan issue..

    Hey I was thinking about it today and looking at the PS on my ATV....why not just slap a 110-120V 80mm fan in there? I guess they might be a little more noisy than a DC fan...but I am sure you will get the cooling.

    Something like this.

    I didnt do a lot of price searching....just more for the idea. then you can just tap right off the input legs coming into the PS.

    Mine isnt overheating yet...but maybe I will get one anyways and do the mod then post it here.

    Or I guess just grab a 5v one :)

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