Cooling Solution for rMBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by defyurself, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. defyurself macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    I googled around and found some topics here and elsewhere, but they're not the latest in age and new products come out all the time.

    My rMBP is a tank, and it handles a lot of things I do with it with grace.

    However, I'm big into audio production and recording, and running Logic and Ableton has been kicking the fans on this computer into hyperdrive.

    On one hand it's scary since this is normally a quiet computer that suddenly turns into an old 2004 Compaq Presario I had that sounded like a dying Ford Thunderbird.

    On the other, the fan noise bleeds into microphones during recordings.

    I know about the Zephyr 2 and there are these aluminum Lazy Feet stands, but I think getting that elevation's pretty common sense with household items.

    Will the Zephyr 2 solve my purpose, and is it a problem that I have a case on my rMBP to protect from my general sense of being irresponsible?

    Is there anything out there that you guys would strongly recommend for this application?
  2. bkribbs macrumors 65816

    Jan 15, 2012
    The case probably doesn't help. Try without it for a few days and see what happens.
  3. nickandre21 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2012
    well you could position your mic away from the macbook, or try to keep temperatures low in the room where your working in, keep the aircon's temp down wear a jacket if you feel cold.
    Or else the only other way if you need to record need the mac is to do a through cleaning job on the recorded stuff I know its a pain in the behind.
  4. PaulSpr, Jul 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013

    PaulSpr macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2013
    Some solutions:

    1) Do you have the 15"? I don't know why the GPU would become active when producing music, but if it does it will make your fans go wild. You can manually toggle the dGPU with something like gfxCardStatus:

    2) You could also try to manually throttle the CPU. I don't have any experience in this, but a few google searches will probably get you somewhere. Throttling will lowerthe max clock speed so the CPU won't get as hot.

    3) I think the air intakes on the rMBP's are at the back of the machine, under the screen. You could try to blow air in there with a slow fan (so it doesn't make a lot of noise). I doubt that it would actually help and it's hard to get the angle right. The holes on the side are air outlets right?

    4) Get rid of the case (at least when you're using it to record music).
  5. Doward, Jul 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013
  6. defyurself thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    1) Thanks for that! I just installed it--yes, I have the 15" macbook pro from July 2012

    2) I'll try researching that, absolutely

    3) The holes on the side are for the silent fans, but then there is a reservoir exhaust right below the screen where a lot of air can blow out of

    4) I'll take off the bottom case, at the least, to give the metal breathing room since it's better at conducting heat--maybe I'll see if I can find some other metal that will make contact and take in the heat instead of the wood surface that might insulate the laptop

    I can also raise it at an angle, but that will take some work to get right


    Thank you all for the suggestions--I'm in a house with central A/C in the basement room that doesn't get any action from the cooling unit

    It's pretty cool in here already though

    Also, that was a very good read on the heatsinks, but I have the retina macbook pro that's impossible for me to open and tinker with

    I'll see how these solutions work because I don't like that the Zephyr 2 takes a USB port, and would've invested right away if it took a thunderbolt port (not so useful to me)

    I also think it might be a noisy device anyway, which makes my situation not that much better
  7. defyurself thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    I have an idea for a heatsink, actually.

    Placing a block of copper directly under the macbook, and then a block of aluminum directly beneath the copper will absorb heat from the macbook quickly and release it quickly.

    Is this going too far? I did some research into the heat conductivity of metals and it turned up that Cu absorbs fast, but releases heat slowly (good for contact and quick absorption), and Al absorbs slow and releases fast.

    It's a quiet solution that will transfer heat out of my notebook and spread it over another surface area, but I have no clue how reliable it will be.
  8. nickandre21 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2012
    i will reasearch some more and experiment and get back to you.
  9. swerve147 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2013
    A number of people here have already opened up and repasted their retina MacBooks. Depends on your comfort level, though.
  10. groove-agent macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2006
    Although I don't have a rMBP, I do audio recording with my MBP as well as some casual gaming.

    What works for me is to prop the mbp up on a stand that allows the most airflow underneath the unit. With the screen open, aim a quiet but high CFM fan across the mbp starting at the side that is the hottest. This allows air to cool both underneath the chassis and across the keyboard. When I do this the internal fan hardly spins up.
  11. defyurself, Jul 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013

    defyurself thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    Hey guys, thank you so much for your responses

    Just to update, right now I'm using a Fashy transparent hot water bottle and filling it up with ice from my fridge.

    I have the side with the grill beneath the macbook, and the smooth side where condensation collects on the table with a towel beneath it to absorb the condensed vapors.

    The side with the grill doesn't appear to collect condensation on its surface, and basically drastically drops the temps to where fans aren't running and I'm not sensing that moisture would be picked up into the internals even if vapors were escaping.

    It couldn't be that detrimental, and definitely wouldn't be going beyond normal atmospheric humidity.

    So far, I've experienced good results that have lasted an estimated 3-4 hours


    Nickandre21--I really appreciate your effort; I'm investigating this as well, but I'd really appreciate your contribution to the idea. It would make sense if metals are the most conductive materials that this could be an easy solution for a heatsink

    Here's my source:


    I can't say I feel comfortable opening up my rMBP since it's a nearly fully-loaded model and I wouldn't feel okay with the risk against investment.

    I've experimented on cheap laptops before in the past, but that's an entirely different story, and this notebook is vital to one--I wouldn't risk it over obsessing about this, that'd be a silly thing to do.


    groove-agent: what's a CFM?

    I have an empty package for icebreakers I stuck under the center of the notebook to prop it up that did help out.

    I didn't manage to find enough materials readily to do this same thing at the corners, but though the computer heated up less, it didn't prevent the fan from becoming audible

    How loud is the fan you use to blow at the bottom of the chassis?


    I really like all your ideas; I'm currently stuck on the idea of putting together a copper and aluminum plate that makes contact with the bottom of the laptop and serves as a heatsink to keep the temperatures at a minimum

    Maybe I could try freezing the materials for the kick of it to see how that'd affect the process

    Of course, for lap use, it'd still set your lap on fire or freeze it to begin with, but to keep the computer on a table, this actually sounds like a good option while managing to remove the noise entirely

    Also, the app installed shows Logic Pro X triggers the discrete graphics card, and probably causes the overheating, but it can't be forced into internal mode because this app is on a list of exceptions that must be run on discrete graphics. It might be that, or it could be that I have another monitor on HDMI, but an 'i' is displayed with the external monitor attached before Logic is opened; the switch doesn't happen until I open the program.
  12. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2011
    Southern Cal
  13. FrankB1191 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2013
    My rMBP runs cool as a cucumber, but I did see a pad on youtube with a fan installed. It wasn't too thick, and the fan seemed large enough to draw heat away. It runs off a USB port, but maybe a phone charger could be used as well.

    Edit: This isn't the pad I saw, but it's close:
  14. MarcBook macrumors 6502a


    Jul 13, 2008
    United Kingdom
    I just thought I'd chip in and explain exactly how the cooling system works on the MacBook Pro with Retina display:

    There are three vents on the left and right side of the Mac's top case. These are purely intakes.

    There are two internal fans that draw air into the aforementioned vents. They then blow exhaust out the back through the hinge area, each fan being on opposite sides of the hinge (left and right).

    Although there are vent holes running the entire length of the hinge area, the ones in the middle between the exhausts are actually sealed.

    It's just air in through the sides and hot air out the left and right of the hinge. That's it.

    I simply wanted to make that clear, as there seems to have been a little confusion.

    Here's a pretty crude diagram showing this (not made by me):
  15. defyurself thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    Ah, awesome!

    I have a coolpad upstairs for a 17" laptop that I forgot about--I'm going to grab that and try it out as well. Thank you for that youtube link though!

    My rMBP runs cool as f@*k until I start up audio production apps, and 'definitely' when I run Final Cut (nothing runs it hotter, so far)

    So far, the copper sheet would run me $350 while the aluminum sheet would be $40 with both at equal sizes

    That's an impossibly expensive heatsink alternative

    The coolpad has a major disadvantage in that its beads melt in a localized area where there's the most heat produced

    After that it stops being useful, or at least that's how it was with my old MSi laptop

    And thank you for the diagram! That's definitely going to help in considering the process of keeping this thing cool

    I've been able to narrow it down to the GPU kicking the computer into overdrive, the plastic casing insulating the laptop, and two possible cost effective alternatives (water bottle or coolpad) for me to choose from

    Thank you all for your help!

  16. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Land of the Unexpected
    Zephyr 2 will likely drop fan RPM by 1K - 1.5K at best, in conjunction with UltraFan you may be able to reduce the system temperature, equally fan noise is an issue so you will need to play with the values. As for any external passive heat sync, just buy off the shelf anything pricy is not going to perform significantly better.
  17. EricT43 macrumors regular

    Oct 5, 2011
    The fan noise when recording, I can understand as a concern.

    But has anyone actually had a MacBook fail due to overheating? And if so, were they stuck paying the bill themselves?

    IMO, if it gets hot, it gets hot, who cares? I'm sure that Apple has done durability tests at full load to make sure it doesn't melt.
  18. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Land of the Unexpected
    Rapid change in temperature of components does increase thermal stress and therefore longevity. For some the elevated temperatures a Mac portable can hit are simply disconcerting or uncomfortable. You can pretty much run a MBP 24/7 at 100% load and the system will be fine, only question is do you need to, and are you prepared to deal with a physically hot computer...

    Personally speaking I believe that they should be engineered to run cooler, some Mac portables are ok, equally as this post illustrates and many more Mac portables can be and are excessively hot for the users comfort/concerns.

    Had Apple not obsessively sought thin & light, they might not have this user concern today, the MBP should be a workhorse for the professional user, not just another trade name in the consumer space...

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