Is our MBP running too hot?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dncollins, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. dncollins macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    #1
    Recently my wife began complaining about how hot her MBP was getting when using it on her lap. A little research revealed that their are a boatload of products on the market that can mitigate this problem.

    But, we also noticed that the unit's underside gets very hot when running on the desk top with good clearance around and underneath it. Though I understand that internal temps for electronic gear can normally run hot-to-the-touch, I began to wonder how one can tell that the MBP's built-in heat control hardware & software are failing to keep the unit within the range the unit is designed to operate in.

    Is there a way that one can manually check the MBP's temperature sensor value, and if so, know when it is not staying within it's safe operating range?
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    It's normal for it to feel hot. If it does get too hot due to a failure of some kind, it will turn off to prevent damage. Until it does, just use it without worry about its heat.
     
  3. dncollins thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2013
    #3
    Thanks Intell - I will take your advice. (In hopes that you are not an Apple sales guy who wants our computer to burn out so we'll have to buy a new one;)
     
  4. thundersteele macrumors 68030

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    Oct 19, 2011
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    Switzerland
    #4
    There are some tools to read out the temperature (e.g. iStat Pro, Temperature Monitor). However be aware that you will sometimes see very large numbers, e.g. the CPU reaching 90+ degrees (Celsius!). This is within the normal specifications of the CPU and not a reason to worry.

    Overall I think it is better not to know the temperature. Most electronic devices get somewhat hot. Just recently I was surprised how hot a USB stick can get when transferring data.

    Unfortunately the heat can make it somewhat uncomfortable to use a laptop in the summer.
     
  5. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

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    #5
    Lol :D. It is better to have another Mac as a backup just in case...
     
  6. Queen6, Aug 1, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013

    Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #6
    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.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    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 bag :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.

    gfxCardStatus is a another noteworthy app, it will reveal the dependencies and usage of the GPU`s on the 15" & 17" MBP`s the discrete GPU (Nvidia/AMD) generates significantly more heat than the Intel integrated GPU. gfxCardStatus also allows manual override of GPU switching, which can be another path to reduce system temperatures and extend battery run time, as the discrete GPU uses significantly more power than the integrated GPU.

    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 35K hours. The latest MBPr`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, unless you push to the extremes. What is far more detrimental is thermal stress, where temperatures rapidly cycle 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 a 1080p 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:

    Ultimately under Apple`s cooling plan fans will also max out, however at this point the system will be thermally saturated, temperatures will be significantly higher and far harder to reduce.

    Recently i have been experimenting with a CoolerMaster Notrepal E1 cooling pad, it has a single very large fan 23CM (9") running at 800 rpm, and most importantly moving a significant 91.25 CFM, this is far more than most other powered coolers i have tried.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The fan by far takes up the majority of the coolers body, runs slow and quiet. As it`s designed for a PC portable i didn't have any high expectations; the cooler runs quiet as in silent, perfect size for a 15" MBP, has USB expansion, single speed with on/off button and lifts the machine a good couple of inch`s of the desk. I chose my Late 2011 2.4 i7 15" MBP, it`s connected to an external display, runs 24/7 and is generally north of 70C (158F) on any given day. Any software solution only results in the MBP doing a fair impression of a "Turbojet" which we all love to loath, as workloads rise and temperatures increase.

    The important part cooling; well as ever with a Mac a mixed bag, the elevation definitely helps versus being flat on the desk. I have little expectation of any cooler reducing a Mac`s internal temperature significantly, what the Notepal E1 was able to do was systematically reduce fan rpm by a good 1K without any increase in internal temperatures, which is a big step forward. With this cooler and a software solution (UltraFan/SMC Fan Control) it`s possible to have a moderate load and a relatively quiet system, and that counts for a lot. The major downside to the Notepal E1 is the size, it`s clearly designed to be "planted" on the desk. when using the 10 degree angle i use a piece of that rubber you can buy for car dashboards, just to ensure the MBP doesn't slip and slide about, just seems prudent with such an expensive notebook perched on the edge of the desk. The Notepal E1 also unusually blows a stream of cool air out of the front to cool the hands which is well unusual, nevertheless not unpleasant on a hot day.

    I still rate the Moshi Zefyr 2 as the best powered cooler for a Mac portable simply due to it`s continuous horizontal air flow, however the pricing and availability make it a tough choice. 1K reduction in fan speed may not sound that big a deal, however if that keeps the Mac below the "Turbojet' threshold then it`s a worthwhile investment for anyone seeking the quieter life :p

    What i have observed over the years is the best solution for reducing the operating temperature of a portable Mac is a combination of UltraFan, and a powered cooler, on my Late 2011 15" MBP (2.4 i7) running both internal & external display`s i run; Ultrafan set to 66C, AdBlock and it sits on a CoolerMaster NotePal E1 this results in a reasonably cool and quiet system. My 15" Retina is better behaved thermally and i just run UltraFan, AdBlock and it sits on a Rain Design Mstand.

    Note: the CoolerMaster Notepal E1 moves a very considerable volume of air, over 90 cubic feet per minute (CFM) a regular PC cooler moving say 40CFM will have little to no effect on an Apple portable, my recent observations are undertaken in an ambient temperature of 25C to 28C, so you may not need to go all the way to achieve a cool, quiet Mac.

    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.
     
  7. maxosx macrumors 68020

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    Dec 13, 2012
    Location:
    Southern California
    #7
    Apple is so obsessed with thin laptops made out of Aluminum that running hot is Apple's normal. It's form over function that matters to them. You may find a hot laptop is uncomfortable, but it's just a fact of life with Apple.
     
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #8
    If you're not already doing so, use iStat Pro (free) or iStat Menus ($16) to get accurate readings of your temps, fan speeds, etc., rather than relying on your sense of touch or sound. A forum member has posted a copy of iStat Pro that has been "tweaked" to enhance compatibility with Mountain Lion. You can download it here.
    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)
    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), or 1200 for the newest MBAs. Older iMacs have 3 fans with minimum speeds in the 800-1200 range, while the newest iMacs have a single fan, spinning at a minimum of about 1400 rpm. 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. For Flash-related issues:
     
  9. vpro macrumors 65816

    vpro

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    Jun 8, 2012
    #9
    Common sense tells me - warm is okay, warm is normal but HOT, absolutely NOT. Don't settle for less, you paid a lot of money for it? Return it or get a hold of some expert who will go in and redo the whole thing from the inside. Many u toob videos on this, people gutting out their machines and changing the 'heatsync' this and that rather. Check it out there is a really good one out there it is a long video but he is really good at what he does.

    Or, meh, it is just a macbook right? Go out and splurge - go ahead get another one, their return policy is amazing: "Sure return it, we'll just shuffle the returns accordingly and fingers crossed you'll return it again because we love to shuffle faulty machines around till God gets it right because we're human and we just want your money..."
     
  10. takeshi74 macrumors 601

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    Feb 9, 2011
    #10
    Paying a lot of money doesn't overcome physics and thermodynamics. If you task the CPU and GPU you generate heat. Depending on the load it can get "HOT".
     
  11. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #11
    Common sense should tell you to check the actual temps and familiarize yourself with the specifications, so you know whether temps are normal or not. Relying on your sense of touch to determine these things is foolish. Please stop posting misinformation in the forum.
     
  12. Doward macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    #12
    Proper thermal conduction wil keep the laptop from getting HOT. Warm, yes. I can do a full encode, with my fans running 4500rpm, and not be too hot to set the laptop in my lap.

    Perhaps for my next video I should do just that, and show thermal readings from the outside of the laptop.
     
  13. vpro macrumors 65816

    vpro

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    #13
    Well when instinct is confirmed by Genius.

    Well when you have brought your r-MB in a few times to many stores and many geniuses have affirmed your intuitions telling you the notebook is way too hot to the touch, and that you should return it any time this happens when the temp is above 85F just normal use, there is a major problem. So I'm only posting my personal experience in case there are those out there who are afraid of the scorching heat upon touch. Geniuses at all the stores here confirm my findings as not normal at all.

    But thank you for pointing people to obvious information out there on their site because people don't know to read that stuff, but when reading that stuff leads you no where, you go with your gut feeling when temps go passed 90F on normal to medium use.

    I mean if you play games on it then you are a fool, but if you just email and browse the web watching a few small videos and the temp shoots up passed 85F with fans roaring, while your late 2011 17" MBP is silent and warm processing a huge video you just produced, you really start wondering about these new 'retina' machines...
     
  14. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #14
    First, as has been pointed out many times, "Genius" is only their job title, and not an indication of their knowledge, experience, or expertise. As has been reported many times, they are frequently wrong. As Apple states very clearly on their website:
    85F/29C is an extremely low temperature for a Mac notebook. Even 85C/185F is perfectly normal under a heavy workload. Such temperatures are not dangerous or harmful at all, and do not indicate a problem with the Mac notebook.
     
  15. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #15
    Apple`s not what it was, and the trend will likely continue; pandering to the consumer, working the margins, spinning less is more.Form over function simply sucks for those of us that make a living from our systems, welcome to iToys...
     
  16. phaedarus macrumors regular

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    Dec 27, 2008
    #16
    I have seen the effects of heat first hand on my late 2011 17 inch MBP when, as an experiment, I went war walking with the MBP running in my backpack.

    The MBP was configured with a forced integrated GPU setup via the gfxCardStatus utility. Insomnimac, temperature monitor, WMware fusion with Linux (no 3d hardware acceleration and 1 CPU core assigned) were the only running applications under Snow Leopard.

    As expected, the MBP did get hot with the SSD pushing 50 degrees on the first day. There were no long lasting effects I could discern, however. It was a completely different story on my second outing as I noticed a slowdown in performance on the 3rd hour and after arriving home, discovered numerous graphical artifacts on my screen. It turns out that the display itself was the issue as remoting in from my iPad did not reveal any graphical anomalies.

    Fortunately, I had the entire screen replaced at no extra charge (normally billed at $600 plus labour) courtesy of the extended Applecare I purchased a year prior. Suffice it to say, I would not have undergone this experiment without coverage.

    With my fears about heat confirmed, it’s plainly obvious that heat should be a serious concern for anyone who is a Macbook Pro owner; albeit not that general usage would involve the extremes I just described above.

    It looks like I’m now in the market for an expendable netbook that is slim (no optical drive), has a respectable battery life and produces less heat by way of having no dedicated graphics/quad core setup. All it needs to do is run Win7 (or more likely XP) with Linux running virtually all operating in a closed backpack of course. I wonder if I’ll be able to find such a thing.

    Suggestions? :)
     
  17. VanillaCracker macrumors 68030

    VanillaCracker

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    #17
    That's why if you ask any industrial engineer, they all hate apple, almost with a passion. The computer is designed to cram everything in there, and they don't create the notebooks with enough room to breath. If you look at a cheap asus or lenova computer, sure it's not made out of aluminum and high end parts, but the build quality is actually superior.

    Lol why the hell do you need a computer running in your backpack?
     
  18. Doward macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 21, 2013
    #18
    I suggest any ultrabook/tablet that runs passively cooled.

    ----------

    Have to disagree with you. The Apple Macbook Pro is very smartly designed and well laid out. Thermals are only an issue if uncontrolled - unfortunately, when your first transfer of thermal energy out of the die is mismanaged, you end up starting with a limp.

    Fix the limp, and the system performs stellar.
     
  19. VanillaCracker macrumors 68030

    VanillaCracker

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    #19
    Like when Apple's heat management preference is to let the computer heat up before the fans kick into high? It seems most windows systems are configured to kick the fans up higher as the temperature rises (to keep a stable temperature), however it seems apple likes to let their metal computers heat up to an oven, and then maxing out their fans to cool them back down. That's why you see so many people running custom fan applications on their macs. I don't know too much about each, as I'm not an expert, but it's painstakingly obvious that apples system seems a little...off.

    Also, I don't know much at all about industrial design, but I go to school with a lot of engineers (and a lot of my friends are too), and I only get complaints from them specifically about macs - and it's not because they don't have money to buy them and are jealous.
     
  20. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

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    Spain
    #20
    Under heavy workload and heat, just put it in the fridge... It is the only way to teach your MBP to respect you... :D
     
  21. Doward macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 21, 2013
    #21
    There is no chance that Apple uses one and ONLY one method of determining what fan speed should be. Ergo, we can conclude that multiple paths exist for Apple's hardware/software to determine what fan speed should be at any given time.

    I imagine one of those is very likely to be 'what is the current temperature'. Once a temperature is reached, the fans begin a calculated ramp-up in speed.

    I'm sure under ideal prototype conditions, the ramp-up was determined to work very well.

    Under actual manufacturing, however, the ramp-up is simply too slow due to the heatsink not absorbing heat as fast as it should. This is caused by a poor contact surface combined with poor application of the thermal transfer material.

    That's why so many run additional fan software. I can say with complete sincerity that since lapping and fixing the heatsink compound on my MBP, the stock fan strategy is darn near perfect.
     
  22. NbinHD macrumors 6502

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    May 26, 2012
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    Macbook Pro 13'' - Mid 2012 Baseline
    #22
    Try doing a SMC reset. My 13'' 2012 MBP was running very hot to the touch when just watching YouTube videos. I tried a couple of SMC resets, and didnt seem to work. Later on i tried it again and now my MBP is like always cold even when i run xplane on it. Try it.
     
  23. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #23
    Resetting the SMC will not affect heat in any way. It can correct problems with fans in some instances, such as fans spinning faster without increased heat.
     
  24. VanillaCracker macrumors 68030

    VanillaCracker

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    #24
    Sounds like poor product testing before release. Although people have complained about this for years, not just with the retina
     
  25. NbinHD macrumors 6502

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    Macbook Pro 13'' - Mid 2012 Baseline
    #25
    Same thing.
     

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