Controlling MBP Fans To Run At Full Speed


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 6, 2009
Hello All!

I have a mid 2007 MBP 2.33 GHz Core2Duo. It is obviously getting up in its years, and while it is running perfectly fine still, I am trying to get at least another two years out of it. Really, I am waiting for a major revision of the MBP to come along and will probably buy once an update is made to that model.

Long story short, I am trying to prolong the life of the CPU, etc. by reducing the heat as much as possible, without having to use a cooling pad. I am considering downloading SMC Fan Control and using it to keep the fans running at maximum speed. Is this a bad idea? Will it do any damage, such as burning out the fan motors or can the fan motors take this amount of use?

Also, if anyone has any other suggestions for reducing the heat or prolonging the life of the parts any other way, I'd be interested to hear suggestions. I am considering paying my local Apple Repair guy to open up my MBP and replace the thermal paste, although I have been told by some people that it is not worth doing and won't reduce the heat that much.

I'm also considering opening up my MBP and seeing if there is any built up dust bunnies that need to be cleaned out. I looked at an iFixIt guide and it seems like something I can handle.

Any help or guidance is greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance,


Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011
It won't do any damage but it's also rather unnecessary. My advice would be to simply leave the fans to correspond to the heat/activity on their own.


macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
Long story short, I am trying to prolong the life of the CPU, etc. by reducing the heat as much as possible, without having to use a cooling pad. I am considering downloading SMC Fan Control and using it to keep the fans running at maximum speed. Is this a bad idea?
Yes, it's a bad idea and not necessary. The Intel processors used in Macs are designed to automatically shut down to prevent damage if they truly overheat. CPU Tjmax = 105C (221F), GPU Tjmax = 100C (212F) on i3, i5, i7 processors. (Source: Intel)

If you're not already using it, iStat Pro (free) or iStat Menus ($16) will give you accurate readings of your temps and fan speeds, among other things.

Unless there is a rare defect in a Mac, most temps are well within the normal operating range, considering the workload being put on it. Websites with Flash content, games and other multimedia apps will put higher demand on the CPU/GPU, generating more heat. This is normal. If you're constantly putting high demands on your system, such as gaming or other multimedia tasks, expect temps to rise and fans to spin up accordingly. It's just your Mac doing its job to maintain temps within the normal range.

It is also quite normal for your Mac to become extremely hot to the touch during intensive operations. The aluminum body transfers heat more effectively than other materials used in computer casings, so you will feel the heat more. This doesn't indicate that it's overheating and will not harm the computer to be hot to the touch.

Your fans are always on when your Mac is on, spinning at a minimum of 2000 rpm (for MBPs) or 1800 rpm (for MBAs, MBs and minis). iMacs have 3 fans with minimum speeds in the 800-1200 range. They will spin faster as needed to keep temps at a safe level.

If your fans are spinning up without increased heat, try resetting the SMC.
(PRAM/NVRAM has nothing to do with these issues, so resetting it will not help.)

The intake and exhaust vents are in the back of the computer near the hinge on all Mac notebooks (except the new MBP with retina display, which has intake vents along the sides at the bottom). The iMac vent is a slot on the back near the top of the computer. Make sure the vents remain unblocked to allow your computer to perform at its best.

Learn about the fans in your Mac
Apple Portables: Operating temperature

For Flash-related issues:


Staff member
Apr 2, 2008
I'm not sure if it would shorten the life of the fans, but it would be really annoying to have the fans running at full speed all the time.

Perhaps use SMC to increase the fans a little instead?

Have you thought about an SSD? Not only does it speed up your Mac, it also reduces heat as there is no spinning platter.


macrumors 604
Sep 17, 2009
Melbourne, Australia
Hi there Steiny,

Running your MacBook's fans at full speed should be fine - And even if it did burn out the fan motors they'd be pretty easy and cheap to replace. Cleaning it out would be a good idea as well :) Check out this website for tons of ideas about how to cool your MacBook down further.

Good luck!


macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
Download and use SMCfancontrol, simple and works great, even allows you to manually choose different use cases such as plugged in vs battery power.

Very cool little tool for when I'm converting video :eek:


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 6, 2009
Wow! Thank you all very much.

GGJstudios- Thanks for all the info and links. I'll check those out.

stridemat- Yes, I have considered putting in an SSD, especially if I end up paying the Apple repair guy to apply new thermal paste to the CPU. The small SSDs are cheap enough now that I can stand to buy one. Although, something about squeezing as much life as possible out of the original components really appeals to me.


macrumors 604
UltraFan by far the best software solution.for cooling a Mac. If you are concerned about temperature and want to reduce it elevation of the rear of the machine helps, as sitting flat on the desk only reflects the heat back to the base of the Mac. You can buy passive aluminium coolers like Rain Designs Mstand or iLap. Most powered coolers are designed for PC notebooks and don't work overly well with Mac`s if at all. One cooler that does work efficiently is the Moshi Zefyr 2, as it`s principle of cooling is specifically designed for Apple portables, by blowing the air horizontally across the base of the computer, however don't expect miracles.

Link: Moshi Zefyr 2
A cheap USB fan can achieve the same if strategically placed, not as elegant mind, nor as easy to put in your notebooks case :p but they do help to reduce case temperatures.

You can use software to override Apple`s own cooling algorithm by manually taking control of fan RPM and setting up power profile presets with SMC Fan Control 2.4, or here with UltraFan which allows you stipulate a preset temperature and the software will automatically raise and lower fan RPM`s to keep the system at the predefined temp, which i personally feel is a far more elegant solution. At the end of the day you want to control your system temperature, not your fan rpm`s. For me SMC is now pretty much redundant with the latest release of UltraFan having manual control of the fans RPM, and subsequently i am starting to uninstall it from my own Mac`s. SMC FC is a great app, however although it`s recently updated, functionality is limited compared to some newer apps, equally SMC Fan Control is rock steady stable and a finished product.

Strictly speaking Apple`s own cooling algorithm works, albeit at sacrifice of increased temps for quieter operation. This has always been the Apple way and is really nothing detrimental to the system, i have one MBP from 2008 all original barring a recent fan change that has an uptime of over 30K hours. The latest MBP`s need less assistance in remaining cool; for some it`s simply disconcerting the heat generated and transferred to the case, although it`s perfectly normal as the aluminium acts as a heat-sync. i have to deal with elevated ambient temperature so at times a software solution is useful. Apart from the passive cooling the Mstands bring they also offer a very sound ergonomic solution. A passive cooler and UltraFan will maximise the cooling, there is little else you can do short of reducing the ambient temperature or the system load. If I know i am going to push a system i will close all apps that are not essential as this can and does make an impact to system temperature.

High temperatures in general is not overly harmful to your systems, what is far more detrimental is thermal stress, where temperatures rapidly fluctuate by significant margins over a short period of time. Anyone striving for great longevity should look to minimise rapid temperature changes, here UltraFan is your best friend.

Using a RainDesign Mstand, a Moshi Zefyr 2 and latest version of UltraFan I can reduce temperature by over 20C when transcoding an MKV video file, and that is something worth thinking about;

  • Apple default cooling algorithm 99C - 103C (still on Mstand) fans 4K and escalating :eek:
  • Mstand, Zefyr & UltraFan 79C - 82C fans at 5.8K :cool:

The old adage still applies; it`s easier to keep a system cool, than cool-down an already hot machine. This being said it`s not strictly necessary, equally it`s nice to know that there are options for reducing temperature out there.
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macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 6, 2009
Thanks Queen6! I appreciate the info. I ended up trying using SMCFanControl to keep the fans running at full speed. So far, it has been keeping my CPU 20-30 degrees cooler than it would otherwise be. It definitely seems like the computer runs a little faster now. Worst case as I see it would be that a fan burns out, which is only a $10 replacement.


macrumors 68040
Jun 27, 2009
Is there anything to control the fans in windows? The latest EFI update for the rMBP throttles very aggressively. And it doesn't seem to let it get hot enough for the fans to go to 100%. End result is I've got a computer running at 1.2ghz in game. I'd like to force the fans to 100% while gaming so I don't have to deal with this throttling until Apple fixes it