MacBook Pro late 2013 running hot

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Xebrafish, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Xebrafish, Apr 12, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019

    Xebrafish macrumors newbie


    Apr 12, 2019
    Hi there

    I've got an A1502 MacBook Pro 13" late 2013 (MBP 11,1; ME867LL/A) which I got secondhand. It's got the 2.8GHz i7 4558U, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

    Thing is; it runs hot. All the time. Idle temps fluctuate between 65°C and 99°C most of the times.

    I changed out the thermal paste twice: tried MX4 and IC Diamond.
    I removed the black adhesive on the CPU under which there was still some old thermal paste left behind.
    I cleaned the inside of the machine and the logicboard with a soft toothbrush and isopropyl alcohol when needed. There is no dust or corrosion anywhere, thing looks MINT inside and outside.
    Running Mojave 10.14.3 and firmware

    Nothing particularly alarming regarding OS activity (no spotlight indexing, no updating services, no nothing); an open tab in Firefox and that's it.

    Is it just the i7 and poor cooling solution provided by Apple? The CPU throttles itself to death basically.

    Thanks in advance!

    EDIT: The machine received a new topcase and display by Apple itself.
    EDIT: SMC and PRAM have been reset.
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    It may be worth resetting the SMC if you haven’t already. Beyond that, I’m stumped.
  3. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    SMC and NVRAM reset first like mentioned. And I would actually CPU in activity monitor regardless of what you are doing. Booting into safe mode and/or guest user isn't a bad idea either.

    What adhesive are you referring too? Should be bare copper heat sink pressed directly too the CPU die. And are you sure the temp you are seeing is from the CPU sensor?

    99c is max junction temperature for the CPU so the fan should be running full tilt. I actually suggest using your face to feel the air temp since its your face (cheeks/month area, I know weird but humor me) are more sensitive to temp and air movement then your hands.

    The air should feel not just warm but HOT. If the air feels luke warm or even cool there is poor conductivity between the heat sink and CPU (most likely) or the heat sink is bad (less likely) due to it being kinked/bent. I believe it uses capillary action and while I've never seen it a kinked heat pipe can slow/stop the movement of the fluid within.

    I don't want to question your workmanship however its important to double check. CPU needs to be mirror clean, heat sink need to be clean and feel flat, if you can feel a notch, bump you'll never get even contact. Thermal compound on that die should be a small line from one end to the other (long ways). ALL the screws need to be installed, missing one can cause a gap which negates the majority of its ability to cool. The bracket needs to feel firmly welded to the heat pipe. That bracket design typically has A LOT of retention force too, I would start a screw a few threads on one screw, go catty-corner tighten a few threads then go clockwise (like you are installing a wheel on a car) doing a few turns on each screw one at a time until they bottom out.

    Important, if that CPU has a PCH (controller hub) which will look like a small square CPU separate of the actually rectangular CPU do not put anything on it especially thermal pads. A thermal pad on the PCH can lift the heat sink off the CPU. Should look similar too...

    Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 9.50.53 PM.png

    If you are sure that is all good I would just feel the damn thing. Ground yourself first and being VERY careful, get the CPU hot and feel if its heat pipe over the CPU is hot and then feel down the heat pipe to see if it cools off. Should feel similar in temps.

    EDIT: The above image and this image is from ifixit here...

    But make sure that U shaped piece is in place as well...

    Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 9.56.59 PM.png
    It appears to be closing the gap around the case. Without it air is going to blow at the fins but not threw them.

    Good luck.
  4. Xebrafish thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 12, 2019
    Ahh yes, forgot to mantion that I reset the SMC and zapped the PRAM. That's always my first line of troubleshooting.
  5. Xebrafish, Apr 13, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019

    Xebrafish thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 12, 2019
    Hi Cynics! Thanks a lot for the lenghthy reply!

    SMC and PRAM were reset as a first line of troubleshooting. Didn't help.
    As of the cleanliness of the CPU die and heatsink contact area; both clean until shiny as a mirror: no dust, no thermal compund, no residue of any kind. There are no obvious inconsistancies regarding the surface of the contact area. Heatsink looks fine to me; no dents or bends.
    I didn't apply any thermal compound onto the smaller die next to the CPU. The rubber piece is in place.

    (I did an EDIT in the original post: the macine received a new topcase and display assembly from Apple. Basically everything except the logicboard and heatsink is brand new.)

    The adhesive I'm referring to is visible on the ifixit picture you posted: the CPU PCB is covered in black adhesive and was in a pretty ****** condition when the machine came back from Apple. There was a lot of old thermal compound sitting underneath that thing. I removed it altogether using an ifixit spudger, qtips and isopropyl alcohol to avoid it being an insulator.

    The fan doesn't run top speed when T > 90°C, I thought that was weird (monitoring using iStatMenus). The outgoing airflow is not really hot to the touch. The topcase and bottom cover of the machine itself do get quite hot.

    I'm guessing there isn't enough mounting pressure between heatsink and CPU. When it came back from Apple with the new topcase, I noticed that the upper right heatsink mounting screw can be turned infinitely -it doesn't stop. Though, it'd apply thorough pressure, but not enough in some cases?

    Thanks a bunch!!
  6. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Would you mind highlighting the adhesive you are talking about? Just to confirm, that heat pipe didn't leak its fluid out did it? This can be a variety of colors, sometimes resembling thermal compound in appearance but not when removing. The exhaust not being hot means heat isn't transferring too well.

    But if one screw isn't tightening then its a possibility the heat sink isn't flush.

    Keep in mind you are attaching the heat sink directly to the die not an integrated heat spreader. Without a heat spreader its easy to have a hotspot. Can you see any particular core getting noticeably hotter than the others?

    This is a cinebench run on my 2013 iMac which has a heat spreader.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 11.41.23 AM.png

    Depending on the design of the heat sink it may need more pressure against the die for adequate thermal conductivity. With overclocking there is a direct correlation between thermal conductivity and mounting pressure. Compared to other manufacturers I've worked on I feel Apple uses an incredible amount of force with heat sink to die.

    This is a pic of the back of my iMacs logic board behind the GPU. You can see that piece of spring steel that looks like its typically flat.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 10.11.49 AM.png

    Here is what it looks like once I removed the heat sink and let it relaxed. Looking at the same side as above btw.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 10.12.09 AM.png

    It doesn't look like much but it takes a good 50-60 lbs to push that flat against a flat surface. If you didn't know better most people wouldn't think it was capable of bending at all. Honestly reinstalling it is the part I hate the most about reassembling an iMac because its awkward to hold everything straight (thermal grease is applied so there is little room for error) and then it takes nearly all my strength to get the second screw started. Bottoming out the screws feels like you are going to break it.

    The MacBook maybe different but seriously, F that clamp on an iMac.

    I mention all that because if the MacBook Pro has the same amount of heat sink pressure then it could just be preventing you from catching the female threads with the screw.

    So you have one of several problems. One, the male threads aren't catching the female threads. Two, the grommet for the female threads is literally spinning in the logic board so the screw gets to a certain point and there is less resistance to spin that grommet then to tighten the screw in. Three, threads are stripped on the screw and/or grommet (I don't know what that grommet is called but I'm referring to the silver metal female threaded hole that the heat sink screw goes into).

    If it concerns you for one and two you can take off the heat sink and put the screws in and see what its doing (grommet spinning, stripped, wrong screw, etc). If you mark the grommet in question you'd be able to see it spinning. Regardless if you thread that screw in first and push all the way down on that bracket for the heat sink so it doesn't cause resistance on the screw (thus making it easier for the grommet to spin) you can bottom out the screw and then do the other screws. If it still spins a set of thin needle nose may help hold the grommet. Or using a really sharp punch awl in the grommet pushing on the edge opposite of the direction it wants to spin.

    If its stripped out I'm not sure what I would do. My first thought would be to drill out the grommet and replace it with a bolt and nut using plastic washers on the back side of the board. However that grommet doesn't go all the way through the board and it looks like there are components on the back. I never tried to tap a screw that short, not sure if that is an option or not. You can get taps that size for 2-5 bucks, I wouldn't even drill it, just run the T5 size in and then a T6, use compressed air to clean it.

    Good luck! Post back if you find a solution. You mentioned Apple a couple times? Anyway this could be considered a callback on their work?
  7. Xebrafish thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 12, 2019
    Thanks for the reply!

    So I'm absolutely positive that the heatpipes are intact and not leaking fluid. The black adhesive I'm talking about is marked in red. It's some kind of tape, but only glued for about 2mm width at the very edges of the CPU. It had thermal compound residue underneath the parts where there's no glue... I removed it altogether (tape, glue and thermal compund residue) to avoid it being a thermal insulator -great job on Apple for leaving that sit there after reapir, imo.


    Core temps are the same, but then again it only has two cores... So a hotspot would be tough to differentiate, software wise. (I don't have an IR camera :p )

    Airflow proximity is only 43°C, while temps on the die are close to 90°C in this case. We can be almost 100% sure that the heat transfer isn't happening as it should be?


    The heatsink mounting pressure only comes from the four screws holding it in place and the very slightly bent shape of the heatsink mounting 'arms' as seen in the picture - I find them very very flimsy as well, my 2012 15" had really strong and sturdy metal heatsink mounting arms, which were spring loaded as well. So: it doesn't have nearly the amount of pressure on it as in the case of the 2012 MacBook and certainly not as in the case of the iMac...

    The screw in question is able to grab the logicboard standoff screw, the female and male threading aren't stripped as far as I can see. It catches the threading and screws in normally, until the deepest point is reached, where it just goes round and round. I find this really odd, as it's unlikely for the logicboard standoff to be rotating in its place. You can see in the picture that it's basically part of the logicboard itself. Anyhow, I'll take a closer look at it.

    Your idea of replacing the standoff is great. That's what I was thinking about as well. I'll try that if everything else fails.

    I think I'm going to pay a visit to Apple in the first place, but I expect them to not take responsibility for it. They're going to say that since I've opened it and removed the heatsink, that I'm the one that fehcked the screw and not them.
  8. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Your CPU is doing something....

    Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 3.02.23 PM.png

    For comparison here is my 2018 MBP at idle...

    Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 3.00.21 PM.png

    When you look in energy (significant usage) and CPU in Activity Monitor there should be something somewhat obvious unless this is a one off.
  9. Xebrafish thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 12, 2019
    >Yep, I think that was a random spike of something. Don't know what exactly.

    And yep, that was what left me wondering as well... I checked activity monitor and iStat earlier, loking for power hungry processes, but most of the time there's absolutely nothing going on.

    I checked again just now to take a screenshot: nothing obvious eating system resources. Like I said: one tab in Firefox and 68°C on the die.

    Schermafbeelding 2019-04-13 om 22.39.03.png
  10. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Well, there is definitely something wrong with your machine, it shouldn’t behave like this. Sorry if you already mentioned it, but when did this start? Was it always like this? Also, you mentioned throttling - do you obverse reduced performance then?
  11. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Download intels power gadget and keep it in the foreground as you do stuff.

    Getting that heat sink mount sorted should help a bit although generally the first thing you'll see is lower fan speeds.

    However if you see power and utilization spike with temps that isn't because the heat sink isn't working or whatever its just a Macbook Pro being a Macbook Pro leveraging all the processing power the machine has and getting hot because of it. Poor heat transfer through the heat sink would be high temps with low to medium power usage and CPU utilization.

    With Intels Power Gadget you'll be able to quickly see if the CPU is overheating due to a hardware defect or just because its has a load and using a lot of power. From there you can glance at activity monitor.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 3.25.52 AM.png

    Your CPU has a TDP of 25-30 watts and since that translate directly into heat 90c isn't uncommon. Not uncommon for many laptops actually. However if you aren't doing anything there shouldn't be a background task hammering the CPU like that.
  12. Xebrafish thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 12, 2019

    Well, it has always been kinda like this. It's only now that I start to find it annoying; the fans can ramp up quite a bit without me doing anything, and the machine gets really hot.

    And yep: when the CPU gets hotter, I experience lag in the OS. Cursor starts lagging, and overall performance is to cry about...
  13. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Forgot to mention, that Intels Power Gadget shows you clock speed so you'll be able to see throttling.
  14. Xebrafish thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 12, 2019
    So this is what it looks like on Power Gadget.

    I'm just looking at a PDF on Adobe Reader and there is an open Firefox session. Room temperature is 21°C and the machine isn't placed on something that can act as a thermal insulator.

    CPU seems to be indicating some drastic power consumption spikes for not doing much. Activity is around 20% according to the readouts.

    Also a T of 80-85°C with this light usage, I can't imagine what would happen if I were to open Premiere...

    Schermafbeelding 2019-04-15 om 17.26.58.png

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