Macbook Pro 15 mid 2012 - not able to solve overheating

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sadisterr, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Sadisterr macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2013
    Hello guys,
    I`ve been trying to solve my overheating problem for quite a long time, but had no luck, so I will try to describe it to you and hopefully, someone can come up with some solution.
    I`ve also read numerous topics about heating problems, but that didn`t help me at all.
    My specs are Core i7 2,3Ghz with nVidia 650GT, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD, OSX Mountain Lion 10.8.4. SMC reset is not helpful in any case, did OS reinstallations many times with no noticeable effect.
    MBP is 1 year old, I have cleaned it up from dust and also did the thermal plaste reapply (Arctic Cooling MX-4).
    I use iStat pro on Dashboard and iStat menu for temperature monitoring in OSX and Mac fan Control along with Real Temp in Windows 7 (Bootcamp). Room temperature is pretty cold and I use two table fans directed to the MBP to help cool the alu case and also, MBP is elevated about 1,5cm in the back and 0,5cm in the front for better heat dissipation.

    Now for the temps and issue itself:
    In OSX, it usually idles at about 45C average with default 2000rpm fans, quite no problem with that. All cores are +-3C around 45C. which seem quite fine. When really idling for few minutes, sometimes it goes lower even to 37-40C.
    I do not really game in OSX, but when I do (GRID 2, DIRT 3, and other more demanding games on low to mid settings) I set the fan speeds always to max 6200RPM. But even if I do, temps usually wobbles around 95C and I experience thermal throttling sooner or later. Temps do not stay at 95-100C but they oscillate, probably due to thermal throttling. Temps are generally better in OSX as it should be, but I made another test with Prime95 under both systems.
    I use torture test (in-place large FFTs: maximum heat and power consumption as stated), all four cores go 100% load, which are supposed to. I set fans to 6200rpm everytime I test this.
    Starting from idle temperatures and MBP case pretty cold, temps are like this:
    After 3 minutes, C1 is 88C, C2 96, C3 99, C4 95
    After 5 minutes, C1 is 91C, C2 99C, C3 101C, C4 98C
    Then it goes celsius by celsius up and up, about 20sec/1C more. Core 1 is usually able to stay under 95C, while C2 and C3 are running up the most, even to 104-105C, C4 is a bit lower, about 101-102C.

    Same torture test under Windows 7 shows similar pattern, except idle temps are about 55C and load temps go up little faster, while gaming under W7 (Battlefield 3 on lowest setting except resolution, which I use native) is experiencing throttling and Realtemp shows reaching 104-105C eventually on C2 and C3.

    Of course, I`m worried about my MBP and I do not want it to suffer any heat damage, so I stopped playing for now and hoping for some solution you guys may help me with.
    Please notice, that MBP is not under warranty and there is NO apple store in Czech Republic, where I live.
    I did few thermal paste replacements before this one and I believe I made it correctly. Temperatures before the paste replacement we`re slightly worse than I have now.

    Thanks for reading and your help.
  2. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Your temps are all perfectly normal for a MBP at this load level.

    People on this forum worry too much about battery cycles and temperatures and I believe it takes away from the enjoyment of their machines.

    Intel processors have security measures built in such as throttling and auto shut down, let your processor take care of itself. It'll be too slow for your uses way before you fry it.
  3. Sadisterr thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2013
    Thank you for response.

    Only thing I have to add and ask at the same time: why is that Core 1 is able to maintain reasonable temperature (90C+-) while Core 2 and 3 are reaching 103-105C? Core 4 is just a bit behind (101C).
    If every core was like C1, I would not even go to thermal throttling and Core 1 is supposed to be the one that is under heaviest load the most times.
  4. fenjen macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2012
    I'm not so sure about that. I've got exactly the same Macbook as the op and mine rarely hits 90C when gaming. I also turn up the fans to max before gaming. When I played Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, the temps even rarely rose above 80. Almost every time I checked they were about 78. In other games I've seen it go as high as 8x but I've never actually seen it get above 90. So I would say the OP's macbook is getting a bit too hot.
  5. Sadisterr, Sep 1, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013

    Sadisterr thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2013

    Any idea what to do? I can reapply thermal paste again, but I do not think it would help.
    And do you play on OSX or Bootcamp? On OSX I have slightly better temperature while gaming, but I don`t have many games there.

    Also, I plan on having this MBP for another three years, that is the main reason for my concern.
  6. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    Given how heat will run technology, and a LOT of people are angry at Apple over paying $500+ for replacement system boards that, lo and behind, fry again after a few months because of a design flaw in a $2000 laptop... AppleCare doesn't help once the moment it runs out and not everybody is able to upgrade every year to get more of the same poor engineering design. Don't believe me? Go to Apple's own discussion forums, you will find much to read.

    I have worked on laptops using the same Intel CPU that do not shut down, and please also take note that if the CPU shuts the PC down, the fans turn off so ambient heat is still in the locale of the CPU for a not-so-good period of time.

    Reality check: Just because it can run at 90C or higher does not mean it should be allowed to do so for any length of time. Anyone in hardware will tell you that 70C is the safest limit, and most people strive to run anything with microchips as coolly as possible. Simple physics, and one needn't be Sheldon Cooper to read up on this sort of thing.

    You're right about the battery issue, though.

    Oh, we don't enjoy laptops. They are tools to do work on. And for the cost, which is not enjoyable to pay, we customers demand a good design. Not marketed fluff.


    For the 2011 MBPs, some report success. Others say their system boards still crapped out.

    One site, that no longer exists,, discussed replacing the anti-green and hugely slopped amounts of thermal paste on the chips with proper amounts of Arctic Silver.

    The same site also found how a third heatsinked chip had a huge gap between heatsink and chip, with a large gob of thermal paste - do remember, thermal paste only works in razor-thin quantities to bridge microscopic gaps between the metal of the chip and its attached heatsink. In huge globs, it is not effective. Quite the contrary, and it really is a poor design since nobody bothered to add a shim to properly bridge the gap between that third chip and its heatsink...

    Oh, since these chips (CPU, GPU, controller) are not in direct contact with the chassis to allow heat dissipation, the chassis acts more like an insulator. Once again, simple physics.

    Maybe Apple can hire me instead of offshoring these engineering and QC jobs...
  7. Matacarvalho macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2013
    Why do you torture your macbook like that. Just relax and do what you have to do. Your overthinkink and you will end up *********** your machine by doing that
  8. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    Your temps are within spec, it's not overheating, and it's not going to die in a "couple of months" like some doomsday posters would like you to think. Just enjoy it and stop stressing about it. If you want a laptop that stays cool and quiet when under load then you'll need something like a gaming laptop that has a lot more airflow and quieter fans.
  9. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008

    Reality check back: Intel engineers have already calculated all there is to know about heat and thermal overhead needed to run those processors. Engineers also use what's called a factor of safety. The cutoff at 105C has been calculated and determined so as to have some breathing room at temperatures even higher, to prevent damage to chips being pushed to their limits.

    Unless you are a mechanical or electrical engineer working for Intel (which you are not), who are you to know how much of a factor of safety was applied for this particular chip design? You don't. And neither do I. But being an engineer myself, I know I'd probably lose my job if I didn't design things with enough of one for peace of mind.

    As for the heat transfer issue, the chassis is indeed not in direct contact with the chips, which is a good thing as far as usability goes. I'm not sure you'd like typing on a keyboard with the aluminum parts around each key scalding hot. Your reasoning is somewhat flawed, the case is not an insulator, the air within it not being expelled by the heat pipes is. The case serves as a passive heat dissipator at best due to aluminum's good heat transfer properties, but no more. A plastic or carbon case would not yield any better results.

    Most of the heat is transferred through a copper heatpipe, which is in direct contact with the hottest points on the motherboard, namely the CPU and GPU. Because conduction works best with PERFECT contact, thermal paste is used to fill surface imperfections between the chips and the heatpipe, allowing for better heat transfer. One needs only a layer as thick as the surface imperfections on the silicon and heatpipe, which is likely to be on the order of a few thousandths of an inch, perhaps less.

    The design is sound, the way it is put together with mounds of goopy thermal paste instead of a very thin film is not. This is the part you should bother criticizing Apple for. Too much thermal paste and a less-than-optimal surface finish on the bottom of the heatpipes.
  10. Sadisterr thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2013
    So guys, I have an update. Yesterday, I decided to do another thermal paste reapply, as it seemed to me that the temperatures are worse each day.
    Last time I used the spread method, covering whole die of cpu and gpu with paste (Arctic Cooling MX-4). Results after about 14 days you could see in my first writing in this topic.

    This time I decided to use pea method for gpu (square) and line method for cpu (rectangle); both using the same MX-4 paste. When I removed the heatsink, I noticed that on the cpu die, where the Cores 2, 3 and 4 should be is almost no paste, which was kinda surprising to me, as on other parts of die and HS paste was, this led me to conclusion of higher temps of cores 1, 2 and 3. I've cleaned dies properly, heatsink also, put a little bit on dies and mounted carefully (no twisting with HS, just placed on).
    Temps are slightly better under load for now (!), difference between core 1 temp and others is slightly less, around 5-6 C under heavy load, but is still there very noticeable, especially when C1 is 85 and rest is 89-92.
    This leads me to conclusion there has to be some pretty bad imperfection on the die, or more likely, on the heatsink's surface. It just seemed, when I removed HS that the paste got squeezed out certain places where C2, C3, C4 are. I believe this is the main problem why I have problem with high and uneven temperature of cpu and any cpu paste reapply won't help. Temperature of gpu always seem quite ok, measuring 75C in average and not exceeding 80C.
    I am thinking of ordering new genuine heatsink from ebay and if that wont help, well, my Mac can go to hell. After all, it's used to it's temperature environment already.
  11. fenjen macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2012
    Reapplying thermal paste could help.
    Right now I game on OSX, so I don't know about the temps in windows, but I still would say your temps are too high.
  12. laurihoefs macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2013
    Differences in the core temperatures are nothing to worry about, a 5-6 degree difference is actually a fairly small one. Imperfections on the die and/or on the heat sink would quickly cause a lot larger differences, and most likely throttling.

    If no throttling occurs, everything is perfectly fine.
  13. Sadisterr thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2013
    It does actually. I use Throttlestop under Bootcamp now and testing it at this moment.
  14. laurihoefs macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2013
    Sorry, I should have been more specific: If it does not throttle under normal use, everything is fine. If it does, re-apply the thermal paste and try again.

    If you torture test it with something like Linpack, Prime95 or IBT, then it is most likely going to throttle. Best way to make it stop throttling is to stop torturing it.
  15. Sadisterr thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2013
    I consider gaming 1-2 hours under Bootcamp and low to mid details "normal" use. And it does throttle, only way to make it stop or at least lower it significantly was to use Throttlestop and set it up to 2.3 default clock only with no turboboost. I actually do not find this "normal" considering the price, etc.
  16. laurihoefs macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2013
    Yes, gaming is what could be described as normal use.

    If re-applying thermal paste or even installing a new heatsink do not help, you are running out of options. As you are out of the original warranty, I would suggest contacting Apple customer service, and explaining them the situation. If the issue was already present within the original warranty period, you might get it serviced by an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Researching what the Czech consumer protection laws state might be a good idea.

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