Long Term Damage from 100% CPU Utilization

Discussion in 'iMac' started by adamjackson, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. adamjackson macrumors 68000

    Jul 9, 2008
    Hey everyone. I have a late 2012 iMac core i7 with top specs. It's an awesome machine. I got into Folding @ Home in July and run that at full. I also use HandBrake a lot and the iMac acts as a home server hosting Mac OS X Server (files, email, backups, user accounts, wiki, etc) The iMac also obviously streams content to my AppleTV and my iOS devices via Air Video while I'm traveling.

    So it's on 24/7 and CPU utilization is at 100% at all times with about 20 of the 24 gigabytes of ram in Use. It's also a Fusion Drive 3TB


    I'm a non-smoker and my ho use is pretty clean but lately the large output fan on the iMac is getting louder, almost humming at high pitch nothing annoying sort of like a wind tunnel that produces a whining sound as air is pushed really fast. I'm noticing it more and more but it's still very quiet.

    That fan runs 24/7 as well.

    Question: Am I shortening the life of my iMac by pushing it so hard? I have AppleCare and it's at the 1 year from purchase date today so I feel good just don't want to do anything that's going to break it.
  2. Gav2k, Jan 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014

    Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Clean the dust out on a regular basis and let it do it's work.

    Let's put it this way. In my youth I had a thing for SETI and ran my machines 100% around gaming. It didn't cause any issues other than the odd fan failure and dust bunnies.

    Running a cpu at 100% won't kill it. Yes it'll fail sooner but your still looking at years down the road not weeks months or days time.
  3. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    I'd install a utility to keep an eye on CPU temp and fan speed, just to make sure temps aren't going up above safe range for the processor, and to make sure the fans don't keep ramping up their speed (RPM). Both could be indicators of excess dust/debris build up along the airflow path, fan blades or heat sink. Running the fans harder will obviously bring more debris in to the machine, but as long as you keep it clean, it shouldn't be an issue.
  4. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I would not say you are shortening the life of the computer overall, but running full bore like that all the time will certainly result in the fans wearing out sooner. How much sooner, is tough to say.
  5. IA64 macrumors 6502

    Nov 8, 2013
    Full load will not decrease your CPU life in general.

    CPUs usually serve you for 30 years or so...
  6. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    In my experience, fans are the first thing to cause issues before anything else. The fan will usually be the first to fail and if that fails, the CPU heats up and BAM! Dead computer.

    Agree with the others. Keep it as clean as possible and if the fan gets really loud, have it replaced by Apple before it fails.
  7. Twimfy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2011
    If I were you I'd get a second dedicated machine for Folding. Nice that you're contributing and all but I wouldn't let a voluntary (and according to some reports potentially useless, but I'm not passing judgement, just saying) project destroy your £1500+ machine.
  8. chevalier433 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2011
    +1 iMacs have temperature issues are not build for 24/7 full power usage .Disk will fail first.But if you replace your mac every 1.5 to two years no problem just keep backups.
  9. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    Exactly. The other tasks running on the machine shouldn't push the CPU anywhere near 100% so it's clear what the culprit is. I'd stop that nonsense immediately.
  10. Montymitch macrumors regular


    Feb 16, 2009
    This thread sparked my curiosity, and introduced me to Folding@home. My iMac has been running all night at 75% and it's not even noticeably warm. I have the FAH control set at Medium since I still need my computer to do things. I really like the concept of being able to donate computer time, since it really does sit idle for the majority of the day.
  11. RedReplicant macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2010
    The CPUs will hit thermal shutdown well before damage occurs.
    It'll be fine, also running the machine 24/7 will end up with the hard drive surviving longer since its the power on that stresses them.

    This all said, I've had an i7-920 folding machine running all 8 threads full load for the past 5 years straight.

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