Is... this CPU temperature normal?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by lolwut89, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. lolwut89 macrumors member

    Jan 13, 2012
    Hey guys. I got a Macbook Air 2011 a few days ago. So far I love it. It's thin and light. It doesn't kill my arm when I carry it around.

    However... I have noticed that it heats up. Quite a bit to get me worried about it's long term viability.

    Intel's Maximum CPU limit for the Core i5 ULV used in the MBA is 100C. When I run a simple game like Monopoly, it's sitting at 95C. When I run Starcraft II it's sitting at 95C.

    Even now, I don't have any games running. I have iTunes, Spotify, the email client, Safari, Skype, steam, and adobe's downloader running and the CPU is sitting at 82C. CPU Usage is around 12-20% right now

    Does anyone experience something like this? I'm used to Windows desktops. The maximum my CPU has touched in my desktop is 62C while running games. I know my desktop has a cooler that weighs as much as the Macbook Air, but still. I'm not used to seeing such a high temp on a laptop...

    I would LOVE to keep this Macbook but... it's no use to me if the heat is going to kill it slowly in 5 years. So is this normal? I might switch to a Macbook Pro... thanks!
  2. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    It is normal. Heat doesn't affect electronics as badly as it did in the 80's and 90's.
  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Your Mac is not overheating. The Intel processors used in Macs are designed to automatically shut down to prevent damage if they truly overheat (around 100C/212F - 105C/221F, depending on your processor). iStat Pro will give you accurate readings of your temps and fan speeds, among other things.

    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.

    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). They will spin faster as needed to keep temps at a safe level. If they're spinning up without increased heat, try resetting the SMC. PRAM/NVRAM has nothing to do with these issues, so resetting it will not help. Also, make sure you don't block the vents, which are located at the rear, near the hinge.

    Learn about the fans in your Mac
    Apple Portables: Operating temperature

    For Flash-related issues:
  4. lolwut89, Jan 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012

    lolwut89 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 13, 2012
    lol oh I see what's going on now...
    Steam was eating up some CPU cycles :) .....
  5. IngerMan macrumors 65816


    Feb 21, 2011
    What are your fan speeds running at those temps?
  6. lolwut89 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 13, 2012
    2000RPM. Got to 3000 later on. I guess it wasn't high enough to trigger a higher fan speed.
  7. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    They don't always spin up when temps spike. Usually they have to be sustained high temps before the fan spins up.
  8. IngerMan macrumors 65816


    Feb 21, 2011
    If my temps go above 75C, my fans are turning loud enough to know. That's how I can tell I am heating up. 3,500 - 4,500 rpm.

    It does not sound right 85C+ and turning only 2-3K, I would think that would kick 4-5k on the fan.
  9. TheJing macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2011
    Somewhere in Europe
    When I'm not playing games my Air is always 50-65C. Same with my Pro.
  10. austinguy23 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I hope the Ivy Bridge models run cooler.
  11. systole macrumors member


    Mar 24, 2011

    On another note, if you are concerned I would recommend "smcFanControl", which allows you to set specific profiles for the fan, such as setting the minimum rpm much higher (I do this when using multiple VM's on the road.)
  12. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    My 2010 MBA never gets over 80C. Sandy Bridge is one hot chip with its turboboost and integrated GP.
  13. Louabc macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2012
    My MBA 11 (2011) also runs hot when playing flash games. I think there are some trying to work on a better heat sink design to help.

    The better heat sink is not so much for protecting the CPU, since it will throttle back as needed to keep within specs, but it is to keep it cool enough so that it doesn't throttle down under max load.

    I can play flash games for about 5 minutes before it starts to get sluggish as the CPU temp gets around 97 degrees C. Then I close the game, let the computer cool back down, and do it again.

    I use Windows 7 64-bit, and it seems to run the flash games better than any browser I tried in Lion.

    I don't know much about MAC OS, but in Windows you can set the max CPU power, and experiment to see what max % will let the CPU temp stay below the range you want it to stay. The flash game will act sluggish because it wants full power.

    Although the CPU can handle 100 degrees, batteries don't normally like high temps, and everything inside gets hotter when the CPU is at max temp for extended periods. So I use a compact cooling pad that helps keep the bottom case cooler, and hopefully most of the internal passively cooled components as well.

    Its a great little netbook, with a CPU that has more power than the cooling system can handle. But in apps that need only short bursts of power, followed by periods of low CPU demand, with will power though in instead of hesitate like a typical netbook would do.

    Try playing flash games on an Atom or Ion powered netbook. They are virtually non-playable.
  14. GekkePrutser macrumors 6502a


    Aug 18, 2005
    I think one of the reasons for these higher temps in the 2011 models (my 2010 11" seems to idle around 45 degrees C), is the combination of CPU/GPU in one chip.

    Before the GPU was in the northbridge so the heat was spread over 2 different chips. I don't think the 2011 uses a lot more power, simply because it lasts roughly as long on the same battery. So there's no way it could use more power overall.

    But the 2 heat sources in one place would make the temps rise a bit more in that place. Which isn't that near to the battery I think, so it should be ok in terms of battery aging.
  15. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    It's also designed for those thermal specs and a MUCH better CPU than C2D
  16. austinguy23 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2008
    Yes, but I'd like to have children some day.
  17. Nikonian macrumors member


    Nov 20, 2010
    Just as a heads up, the Ivy Bridge is NOT cooler.

    My i7 11" gets to 104 C before the fans really kick in to bring it down to 98 at max load.
  18. usmaak macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2012
    No. It's definitely not. A couple of weeks ago, my Safari froze up. I happened to take a look at iStat, and it was at 95C. And the fan was idling along at 2000rpm. Once it got up to 100C, the fan started to slowly increase in speed. The result was that the temperature hovered right at 100C. The fans are very slow to spin up. It took five full minutes for the fan to get up to 5000 rpm.

    I've been assured that it's normal. Coming from a Windows desktop, it sort of freaked me out. But it seems to be working fine. When sitting idle in a room with an average temperature, it will generally idle between 45 and 55 degrees.
  19. SaintOliver macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2013
    I've been running Fold@Home on my new MacBook Pro (bought it in May) which maxes my quad-core processor out. After running it for about twenty seconds, my CPU temps go up to 100C (I'm using iStat Menus). If I stop "folding" and do nothing (idle), my temps drop down VERY quickly to around 60 C.

    My question is this: why do the fans cool my processor so efficiently when I'm idle, but seem to maintain the temperature at 100C while computing? Are the fans the only reason my temperature doesn't rise above 100C, or is my os limiting my processors in order to stabilize the temperature?
  20. larry918 macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2013
    In bed just surfing safari on my 2013 MBA, and I'm getting readings of 20-30 C. :D
  21. Scott6666 macrumors 65816


    Feb 2, 2008
    i5 or i7?
  22. larry918 macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2013
    i5/8GB 13 inches. :)

    Attached Files:

  23. cookies! macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2011
    ditto here. I love how cool (literally, cool) it is.
  24. mr man2288 macrumors newbie

    Feb 15, 2014
    i have also have had problems my fan speed it low cpu temp it high and heat sink temp it low too.

    Attached Files:

  25. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Try resetting the SMC. The often corrects the issue of fans not ramping up when it gets hot.

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