Hot Macbook Pro : this is not a drill

docatl

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 8, 2019
3
1
NAPJSo7.jpg


Hi,

I run a MacBook Pro (15-inch Unibody, Mid 2012, 2.6GHz Core i7, 16GB, SSD, GT 650M 1GB) on an external 1080p display. The computer runs quite hot while doing light tasks like watching 1080p 60fps youtube video. I like it silent and the fans' noise bother me.
I have always taken great care of this fine piece of machinery. Thermal paste application is renewed, fans are dust free and I use the Rain Design mStand.

I bought a spare bottom case to drill some holes to better feed cool air into the fans. It's easy to find the center of the fans on the bottom case with the help of geometry. You can take the mesures directly on the mobo with a compass between the pogo pins and the centre of the fans. Then report the mesures with the compass in order to build a triangle from the marks left by the pogo pins on the bottom case. I uploaded the holes template as well.
The drill bit is 3,2 mm in size and made for metal/aluminium. I drilled them inside out to prevent scratching the exterior. I will see in the future if a dust filter is mandatory or not.

I'm very pleased with the results (temperatures in C°) :

CPU Temperatures stock bottom :
Idle : 60° fans : 2000 rpm
Vivaldi 2.3.1440.60 YT 1080p 60fps codec vp9 : 80° fans : 3400 rpm
Vivaldi 2.3.1440.60 YT 1080p 60fps codec h264 : 80° fans : 2800 rpm

CPU Temperatures holed bottom :
Idle: 47° fans: 2000 rpm
Vivaldi 2.3.1440.60 YT 1080p 60fps codec vp9 : 80° fans : 2000 rpm
Vivaldi 2.3.1440.60 YT 1080p 60fps codec h264 : 75° fans : 2000 rpm

I hope this helps someone.

Cheers.

keywords : macbook pro hole drill airflow fan hot cool mod case
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Last edited:

deadworlds

macrumors 65816
Jun 15, 2007
1,020
746
Citrus Heights,CA
This is one of the better exhaust modifications I’ve seen on here.
With that said, there have been several other people who have done something similar. And in all of those threads people point out that making new inlet holes is probably not the best

MacBook pros pull in air from the sides and bottom of the case. One can assume that this is done so that air flows over other components of the computer before reaching the CPU/GPU heat sinks and the fan.

I would personally be concerned that your new intake holes have essentially reduced the air flow over other components as the intake of air is now positioned over the fans.

Either way, it’s your computer. I do think you executed it better than previous people have.
 

docatl

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 8, 2019
3
1
Thank you!

There is virtually no airflow going through the macbook 2012 mobo in the stock airflow design as it is not necessary to focus cool air on those components. The HDDs, the RAM (40°idle), the palmrest (26°idle) and the battery are in fact always cool to the touch no matter what work is under load.

I can't show it because I cleaned the mobo but the dust pattern follows the arrows I drew.
You can notice how flawed the original design is, recycling hot air for cooling as the intake/exhaust are in the same place. The left fan, in particularly, is choking. In yellow the parts not receiving any air.
The holed mod separates the intake/exhaust and results as an unlimited supply of fresh air not contaminated by the exhaust.

The temperature shouldn't be worse with the holed bottom as there is no airflow to start with in the initial design. In fact, it turns out that the temperature are -1° in average in these parts. The results can be interpreted as air accumulating in those pockets is cooler from the better thermal management of the warm parts.

The holes drilled directly under the fans is the best design to focus on the key parts that generate the heat as those are the only ones that matter for the overall thermal management's net result.

IMG_20190308_154701.jpg
 
Last edited:

docatl

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 8, 2019
3
1
1.jpg


This is a follow up of my previous post.

For reminder purposes, I run a MacBook Pro (15-inch Unibody, Mid 2012, 2.6GHz Core i7, GT 650M 1GB) on an external 1080p display.
I decided to fully commit to get extra cooling performances.The holes intakes are great but I wanted the aluminium case to work as an extra radiator.

I had to drill more holes to increase the heat exchange surface. I sketched a new hole pattern to match the already drilled intakes. Tidy is better. It's easy to find the center of the fans on the bottom case with a geometry trick. You can take the mesures directly on the mobo with a compass between the pogo pins and the centre of the fans. Then report the mesures with the compass in order to build a triangle from the marks left by the pogo pins on the bottom case.
The fans' centers are 13cm apart from each others.
The drill bit is still 3,2mm in size.

2.jpg hole pattern.jpg

Thermal pads will ensure thermal conduction from the stock radiators. I used the Arctic 1,5mm thermal pads. The layer 1 is made of 2 layers stacked together and the layer 2 of 4 stacks. The material is quite easy to handle to fine tune the thickness. It's tacky, but not sticky.
I sandwiched the stock radiator with thermal pads for 2 reasons :

- To provide rigidity. Closing the bottom case will exert some force to make contact with the thermal pad on the radiator. A base layer is necessary to prevent the heat pipes to bend as it is just hanging in the air by default.

- To kill two birds with one stone. Using thermal pad gives the ability to convert to radiator the top aluminium shell as well.

3.jpg

The long awaited results :

Temperatures stock bottom :
Idle: CPU 60° fans 2000rpm
Vivaldi 2.3 YT 1080p 60fps codec vp9 : CPU 80° fans 3400rpm
Vivaldi 2.3 YT 1080p 60fps codec h264 : CPU 80° fans 2800rpm

Temperatures holed bottom :
Idle: CPU 47° GPU 39° fans 2000rpm
Vivaldi 2.3 YT 1080p 60fps codec vp9 : CPU 80° GPU 70° fans 2000rpm
Vivaldi 2.3 YT 1080p 60fps codec h264 : CPU 75° GPU 65° fans 2000rpm

Temperatures holed bottom + extra holes + thermal pads :
Idle: CPU 42° GPU 36° fans 2000rpm
Vivaldi 2.3 YT 1080p 60fps codec vp9 : CPU 65° GPU 55° fans 2000rpm
Vivaldi 2.3 YT 1080p 60fps codec h264 : CPU 62° GPU 54° fans 2000rpm

Never thought this would be so groundbreaking. Now I can even game in near silent.

Cheers!
 
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jerryk

macrumors 601
Nov 3, 2011
4,946
2,453
SF Bay Area
Interesting experiment. But seems like a lot of work if you can already gaming on an external display. I would have got a used/thrown away windows PC with i5, and GTX 970 or so card. Your fixed because of the monitor, so portability is not an issue and Windows machines can run more titles.