I cleaned out my 2012 Retina MBP (Pictures!)

Yellowbean12

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 4, 2008
110
274
So today, after 5 years of nonstop, everyday use, I decided it was time to take the plunge and unclog my 2012 rMBP's cooling system. Here's some photos I took and I hope you find it interesting.

BEFORE
As you can see, there's a lot of dust and gunk inside my beloved laptop. For five years of accumulation though, I'd honestly expected it to be worse!







AFTER







And there we go! What did I learn from this?
  • The main dust buildup was definitely at the air intake slots (at the bottom left and right of the rMBP), and I think this was clogging the airflow the most. They were just completely saturated with dust.
  • A lot of dust had also caught on the fins of the heatsink. (Some of the fins on my heatsink are slightly bent, if you look closely - I certainly didn't cause that... I wonder if it came like that from the factory. Any ideas?)
  • Whilst covered with dust, the fans themselves didn't look as though they were clogged too badly.

Have I noticed my laptop running cooler, and was it worth doing?
  • YES
  • Previously, opening up Photos.app and browsing around would turn the fans on, but after cleaning they remain silent and the laptop is cooler.
  • The fans in general are a lot less prone to activation when doing intensive stuff (like Lightroom work), and once they do spin up, they take much less time to cool stuff down and turn off again than before!
  • I haven't noticed an increase in performance yet, my rMBP is just as fast as it was before. I bet it runs better under extremely heavy loads after cleaning, but I haven't tested that yet.

Anyway, I hope you found this somewhat interesting. If you've got a MacBook that you use heavily and you can see dust in the vents and notice that your fans come on more than they used to, then definitely think about getting a pentalobe screwdriver and giving it a careful dust removal.
 

Skika

macrumors 68030
Mar 11, 2009
2,926
963
Your fans arent bent, they are purposefuly designed to be assimetrical so they spread the sound frequencies over a broader range.

Edit: sorry i missread.
 

Yellowbean12

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 4, 2008
110
274
what did you use to get all the dust out?
I used a rubber air blower thing (the type you use to blow the dust out of SLR cameras and stuff) to get rid of the dust.

A can of compressed air would do the job even better.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,971
14,675
Central U.S.
I have the same system. I should probably do this, but I need to order a pentalobe screwdriver. I also need to fix the display as it has become slightly wobbly. Maybe I could do both at the same time? I need to look up some guides. Maybe I'll also upgrade the SSD unless I decide to replace it with a MacBook/iMac combo.
 

lambertjohn

macrumors 65816
Jun 17, 2012
1,237
1,186
My seven year old MacBook Pro had nowhere near that kind of dust inside when I opened it up last year. I think you need to hire a house-cleaning service to come in once a month and "de-dust" your home. That dust/lint buildup is pretty extreme, IMO.
 

Skika

macrumors 68030
Mar 11, 2009
2,926
963
My seven year old MacBook Pro had nowhere near that kind of dust inside when I opened it up last year. I think you need to hire a house-cleaning service to come in once a month and "de-dust" your home. That dust/lint buildup is pretty extreme, IMO.
It really depends on where you live.
 

Yellowbean12

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 4, 2008
110
274
My seven year old MacBook Pro had nowhere near that kind of dust inside when I opened it up last year.
Really? Perhaps you live in a very dust-free place. After using this MacBook for 8+ hours every day for 5 years I expected the dust inside to be much worse than what I found.
 
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SarcasticJoe

macrumors 6502a
Nov 5, 2013
606
221
Finland
I thought my machine looked bad after pollen season in a room that had pollen from a park full of heavily pollen producing trees blowing straight in trough the window, but this is some next level laziness/carelessness. It's right up there with PC's I've seen with spider web, tar from tobacco smoke, dead cockroaches, mice, bugs and other household vermin.
 
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Yellowbean12

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 4, 2008
110
274
Very Interesting...

Opening the back shell was an easy step?
Very easy - just a few screws.

The f*ck?

I thought my machine looked bad after pollen season in a room that had pollen from a park full of heavily pollen producing trees blowing straight in trough the window, but this is some next level laziness/carelessness. It's right up there with PC's I've seen with spider web, tar from tobacco smoke, dead cockroaches, mice, bugs and other household vermin.
I think you're overreacting a bit. How can it be "up there" with computers with spider webs, tar, dead insects and mice when my laptop has literally none of those things in it? Relax. It's normal dust buildup after 5 years of constant use.
 

Mlrollin91

macrumors G5
Nov 20, 2008
13,535
9,080
Ventura County
Somehow I doubt they are going to take the time to disassemble, clean, and reassemble a 5 year old laptop for free over here....unless it's a REALLY slow day in the Apple Store.
My MacBook Air is 5 years out of warranty and a few of the keys cracked when I tried removing them to clean underneath (entirely my fault). Went to the Apple Store fulling expecting to pay for replacement keys. He took the computer into the back, removed all the keys, cleaned under each key, and put on new keys that I broke. Entirely free of charge. Was absolutely shocked. Took about 45 minutes.

So up until this experience, I would have agreed with you. But maybe its part of what they do.
 
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MacSession

macrumors newbie
May 5, 2017
7
2
From someone living in the city this doesn't look excessive after 5+ years. I can't keep my counter dust free for 30 mins. Construction and traffic are tough on the lungs (and fans)

All depends on where you live and how often it is used. When I lived on the beach the sticky salt air made things even worse. Those machines became impossible to clean.
 
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fhall1

macrumors 68040
Dec 18, 2007
3,506
738
(Central) NY State of mind
My MacBook Air is 5 years out of warranty and a few of the keys cracked when I tried removing them to clean underneath (entirely my fault). Went to the Apple Store fulling expecting to pay for replacement keys. He took the computer into the back, removed all the keys, cleaned under each key, and put on new keys that I broke. Entirely free of charge. Was absolutely shocked. Took about 45 minutes.

So up until this experience, I would have agreed with you. But maybe its part of what they do.
Hopefully it is standard practice - and they don't stop doing it.
 
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