Help: MBP Overheating + Testing. Inconclusive.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Arisian, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. Arisian macrumors 68000


    Sep 14, 2007
    Hey guys,

    So I've been reading for the last two days about the MBP overheating and there seems to be significant descrpencies from user to user. Some users swear that their MBP never gets over 60˚C (all temperatures below will be shown in ˚C) and others swear that their normal operating temperature even while browsing the internet is 75˚C +. Nonetheless, over the last few months I've noticed that my MBP is running very hot and w/ in the last two weeks I have seen it actually shut down due to temperature at 3 times. I live 2,000km from the nearest Apple Store (China) so unfortunately, at least for a while, Genuis support is out of the question. It's become quite an issue because my a professional photographer who generally has PS3 and LR3 open at the same time, which didn't use to be a problem

    I'd very much appreciate some educated and thoughtful input into this subject and see what you guys would suggest to maybe alleviate the problem

    - MBP elevated about 1 inch attached to 21 inch monitor
    - About 2 months ago I upgraded to Snow Leopard - didn't notice this issue right away but the upgrade is noteworthy
    - Notice constant temperatures between 65˚C and 85˚C while only browsing the internet, being the same under both testing conditions - averaging closer to 70˚C
    - My fans hardly ever go below 6200rpm - annoying and bad.
    - The MBP is 13 months old
    - I absolutely cannot play any graphic intensive game for more than 10 minutes w/o a forced thermal shutdown... sad.
    - Already reset crm(sp?)/fan controls and the PRAM - helped a little under idle conditions.
    - All OpenGL support in PS3 is turned off

    Test #1 - "Better Battery Life"-------------------------------
    - I took two sets of readings on these tests: The Computer temps + Processes, both w/o load and under load
    - I let the computer idle for about 5 minutes before taking any readings
    - Notice the temps while having one document open in PS
    - Fan on max, 6200RPM most of time, bottoms out around 4200 RPM once the CPU drops to around 59˚C

    Test #2 - "Higher Performance"-------------------------------
    - I took two sets of readings on these tests: The Computer temps + Processes, both w/o load and under load
    - I let the computer idle for about 5 minutes before taking any readings[/
    - Notice the temps while having one document open in PS
    - GPU Diode seems to be 15-20 degrees HOTTER while everything else remains the same
    - Fan on max, 6200RPM all the time, no matter the temp

    Strange Conclusion-------------------------------

    If feels as if the computer actually runs cooler and faster under the "Better Battery Life" option. I feel that the GPU Diode is actually heating the computer more than necessary esp. in non-graphic intense situations. I'm tempted to run the computer under the "Better Battery Life" vs "Higher Performance" option. Strange conclusion, I know.

    General Questions-------------------------------
    - Aside from the issue at hand, how would it be possible to see better performance under a 'lower performance' setting - ie, better battery life.
    - I'm finding it very difficult on the internet to see if this is w/ in the range of normal operating temps
    - What does the 'Higher Performance' option in Sys Pref -> Power Mang. actually do? Seems to just prime the GPU
    - Is it entirely possible that I'm just NOT going to be able to game on this rig due to overheating? Seems like that's an issue.
    - Have other users noticed that the fans just simply don't turn off when on "Higher Performance" setting?

    Nonetheless, if you've gotten this far, I appreciate your time and thanks for reading through this. I know there are many threads on this issue, but none are conclusive and most don't provide any supporting evidence to suggest there is a heat issue. As an experienced MR forum user, I wouldn't be rehashing an old issue if there wasn't a reason for it.

    Thanks again,
  2. Pax macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2003
    Hi Arisian
    An excellent post, well done for putting so much info in.
    What model do you have? I am guessing a late 2008 Unibody from the 2.53 GHz CPU speed.

    Some thoughts from me, certainly not definitive but hopefully helpful

    - have you tried MRoogle, it's a great way of searching these fora? There is lots of info on normal temps on here (Yours are not normal!) I will post some later on.

    - normal parameters for that model should be idle temps around 40 C, maybe 50; CPU heatsink in the 30s; fan 2000 rpm; GPU should be cool, probably cooler than its heatsink; enclosure <30 C.

    - I don't think "better battery life" and "performance" change the fundamental behaviour of the cooling system (CPU, fans etc). I think the SMC firmware controls all this stuff. I think it only changes display brightness, keyboard backlighting and other dull stuff like that. So I don't think you should read too much into differences

    - Have you tried an SMC reset? Apple site will show you how. A very long shot but it can't hurt.

    - I think the fan speed is set by CPU temp, GPU temp and/or enclosure temp. I think it's possible that your fans are being pushed to 6200 rpm by your 39 C enclosure temp, not specifically by your CPU, though your CPU is hot too.

    - notwithstanding all that, your CPU is very hot. Amazingly so given the fan speed and the workload

    I think most likely explanation is something blocking the fan vents - eg dust. With the fan that high you should be able to feel a strong air flow out of the hinge, eg with the back of your knuckles. Do you?

    Also you are right, your GPU does seem very hot, it should be cool at idle, not really doing any work. I wonder if you have a firmware bug. I don't know much about the GPU in that model though, I only have an integrated GPU.

    more to follow - if useful!
  3. vant macrumors 65816

    Jul 1, 2009
    Very nice complaint post.

    You have a high idle (59C) which means you have issues. What is your ambient?

    The first thing I'd do is reset the SMC. Next I'd take the back plate off and try to see if there is a large dust build up that you can vacuum out. If all else fails, you may want to consider replacing the thermal paste. If you need any more information o these solutions, post back and I'll reply asap.
  4. DesmoPilot macrumors 65816

    Feb 18, 2008
    Don't forget to wave goodbye to your warranty/AppleCare.
  5. vant macrumors 65816

    Jul 1, 2009
    I'm sure he really cares much about that.
  6. Alvi macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2008
    Do you still have Apple Care? I've sent some Macs via DHL to the Closest Apple store, however the whole process is very slow, If you're out of Apple Care try to take it to a trustable repairshop, it could be a broken fanblade or maybe just replace your thermal paste
  7. jamesraward macrumors regular


    May 18, 2009
    I consider you lucky, I'm about to pull mine apart, reseat the heatsink with arctic silver and re-replace (yes, re-replace) the hard drive to try to get my cpu down from the IDLE 89 oC and LOAD 100 oC.

    I've had to uninstall and chrome as they were spiking my CPU to a constant 90-100% and I'm down to the bare minimum of applications that I use for work and play (I don't do a great deal of play - Civ IV doesn't perform well enough on my mid 2009 13" due to the overheating I'm guessing). Battery life takes a MASSIVE hit too with standard run times on average computing (browsing, word processing, emails, small slice of graphics editing) racking in at under 2.5 hrs; if left alone I sometimes hit 3 hrs.

    I've called apple multiple times and the standard PRAM/NVRAM reset is the only solution they seem to be able to offer - wonderful, great apple care purchase there.

    Let's hope tonight holds more fortune for me else I'm just going to have to stick to using my company Vostro for all my computing needs.
  8. Arisian thread starter macrumors 68000


    Sep 14, 2007
    Hey guys

    Thanks for all the suggestions and thoughts.

    Here's what I did to actually fix the problem. I took the back off and then completely reassembled the fans. There was so much dust that I think that the fans had to run at max just to get air out. I also cleaned out the grates/heat sinks that the fans blow through (cools some internal part, assuming the CPU and GPU... probably more the GPU - brilliant design) - I spent about 2 hours doing that. I even designed an attachment to my vacuum to get the thing really really clean.

    Honestly, after seeing the results and how easy it was I think most people should try this first if you haven't already.

    One thing I also did was repair all the permissions on the startup drive using Onyx and Disk Utility - which certainly helped but was by no means 90% of the issue.

    I maxed out the GPU using Team Fortress 2 today for about 2 hours and the max temp was about 75˚C.

    As I sit here and write this now with PS, LR, Skype, iTunes, and an assortment of other programs, I'm averaging around 49˚C where I was about about 72ish˚C before.

    I sure hope that helps any of you who are in this situation. Another user suggested booting w/ the install DVD and running the diagnostic tools Apple provides on everything - to which I discovered that my DVD drive is broken!! uuuggghh.

    Oh well, I'm satisfied and feel like my computer is acting like it's old self again, which is good.

    I spent quite a lot of time getting the fans really clean though
  9. Arisian thread starter macrumors 68000


    Sep 14, 2007
    See the post above about the fix, but I thought I'd also comment on this one.

    Even if I did have extended Apple Care, where I live shipping a $2k+ computer in the mail is a death sentence. DHL does operate in China, but not where I am, the only option I have is a company called EMS (seriously China, come on :)) in which the computer would either a)get stolen or b) get stolen or c) get trashed.

    Very glad I got it working though.

  10. Pax macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2003
    Easy peasy! Good to know some fixes are easy & thanks for letting us know
  11. tven99 macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2010
    Local Disk X
    MBP heat

    well i tried the MBP for a few days, 39˚C outside temp, if you play games or do anything creative it gets very annoyingly hot. one of the reasons why im not buying the new mbp's its a amazing machine but the weather isn't
  12. wyre macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2010
    Glad you were able to fix the problem. Was going to suggest smcFanControl , which used to work nicely to control fans, but it wont help if your computer is filled with dustbunnies!

    Not sure which model you have, but when my macbook pro started to run VERY hot, it was just as the battery started swelling. (I didnt realize it at the time til things got way out of control). Always a good idea to check that if you have an older model with a removeable (inflatable!) battery. The auto shutdown is also a symptom.

    Also, if you have a runaway print job that keeps trying to print things can heat up fast. I use wireless printing and every once I forget and accidentally send a pdf print job to the (un-ready) printer -- it just runs and runs, it keeps trying to send the printer the info , and in the process it is heating up the mac, the fans start whirring, etc. I realize neither of these issues relate to your problem, but thought I'd add them as things to consider in case anyone else is troubleshooting mysterious overheating problems.

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