MBA Fan Issue

puma1552

Suspended
Original poster
Nov 20, 2008
5,559
1,917
Hey there, been using a MBA second revision. I've noticed however that it will exhibit peculiar behavior; namely that the fans will tend to ramp up despite the machine not being very hot; iStat shows that the CPU is hovering in the 60-65*C range, and normally the fans will stay around 2500 RPM. However if something ramps up the CPU, the fans will ramp up (as they should), but won't come down after the machine cools short of a restart. SMC works for a while, but then the issue returns.

EDIT: After an appointment at the genius bar they said it was fine; they tested it but ultimately said their machines at the GB are much the same because the MBA has a more aggressive curve for the fans compared to other Macs due to how thin it is. So, no worries. FWIW I also did a clean reinstall of Snow Leopard (had only done the upgrade path prior and not a true clean install) and I think that took care of it completely. Thanks for all the help. :)
 

bigjnyc

macrumors 603
Apr 10, 2008
6,276
3,344
Just this weekend my buddy came over with his Rev. B and he had it hooked up to my 24" ACD.... we had no such problems, couldnt even hear the fans at all. We were running iphoto, ichat, Safari and even played some flash videos and the fans were fine. the only difference is that he has the SSD model, but I dont know if that matters. I would call Applecare on the phone and explain the situation, if you tell them that it specifically happens when hooked up to your ACD they might have you send it in and test it with an ACD. Perhaps if they can replicate the problem they will take care of you. Doesnt hurt to try.
 

Winni

macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2008
3,116
925
Germany.
The easy thing would be to call the support and have them send a technician to your house to fix the machine on site. But you bought a computer from Apple... and they don't offer real service. Dell and HP do that.

Anyway, from your description, this sounds like a real hardware defect and you really should bring your machine to service. Once it's fixed, sell it.
 

duky

macrumors 6502
Jun 25, 2007
450
11
North Carolina
Does it also slow down and become very sluggish to use or is it just the noise from the fans that is bothering you? I have the SSD model and usually when the fans go off there is a culprit: video chatting, lots of YouTube or hulu or graphics editing work that I do in my case. In some instances I also get the computer becoming sluggish but most of the time when it happens it's just fan noise and pretty soon after I stop doing that task the fans subside.

In short, it sounds like you have a problem if the fans refuse to subside even after shutting down whatever application is causing the heat (or in your case shutting down the computer). But of course it could just be a platter vs SSD thing though I'm not sure why that would be. I'd suggest calling Apple and seeing what they suggest or downloading a fan control application.
 

Scottsdale

macrumors 601
Sep 19, 2008
4,391
109
U.S.A.
I have had both my B/C MBAs hooked up to both a 24" LED ACD and a 30" ACD with no problems. I have never had a problem after hundreds of hours with a 24" LED ACD. I only used a 30" personally a few times.

I wonder about the usage. I also wonder about the 1.6 GHz Penryn being overworked? I don't know for sure about that. I have had both 1.86 and 2.13 GHz Penryns with no problems at all. I notice that the "magic number" for clock speed performance seems to be around 2 GHz within Mac OS X. Meaning Flash, videos, and other browser plug-ins can hit a CPU really hard within OS X, and the slower the clock speed the more problems will see. I know you stated no Flash, but what is running within your browser then? I also switched to Safari to eliminate problems when running FireFox with CPU usage.

More than anything, I would look into a browser plug-in hitting the CPU really hard? Have you watched in Activity Monitor to see what's happening to your computer?

Bottom line though, I have never seen a slow down related to connecting an external display.
 

jmoore5196

macrumors 6502a
May 19, 2009
739
252
Midwest US
Interestingly enough, I have the identical problem!

My MBP is out with a hard drive failure, and I have a multimedia project due by the weekend ... InDesign, PhotoShop, lots of Garageband and even the odd Appleworks page thrown in.

The MBA, which heretofore I had never really pushed, is obviously running hot all the time ... even with just Safari open, the fans are still at the limit. I had it away from my 24" ACD for a couple of hours this morning and did not notice the fan activity then.

I enjoy traveling with the MBA, but (with apologies to Scottsdale) I don't think it was built to take much of a load. I've effectively lost several hours this week between staring at the beach ball and Garageband crashes. For a "time is money" guy, this is pretty hard to take.
 

ARF900

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2009
1,119
0
The MBA in my mind is a novelty item, it was never intended to do anything more than very primitive web surfing. The Rev A especially, just go sit on the couch with it unplugged and forget the display, it should hold you over until your MBP gets back.
 

naid

macrumors regular
Mar 13, 2008
114
0
Why don't you use a PC for a week, it will make you appreciate your MBA.

Also, as already suggested, try Coolbook. It does work.
 

puma1552

Suspended
Original poster
Nov 20, 2008
5,559
1,917
Coolbook may be fine but I personally don't believe in having to use third-party software to control the cooling. Thanks for the suggestion though.
 

naid

macrumors regular
Mar 13, 2008
114
0
The MBA fans can get twitchy at times. You said the machine is not hot -- have you looked at all the available temperatures via iStat, not just the CPU temperature?

Give Coolbook a try, it's a small price to pay for a potential fix to your problem. It takes a bit of experimenting to get the right settings but once you do, your laptop will be quieter and cooler. I personally tried it on three laptops (2 x MBA, 1 x MBP) with great results on all.
 

Mactagonist

macrumors 65816
Feb 5, 2008
1,042
94
NYC - Manhattan
If you want it to work, use coolbook. If you want to keep raging against the man, dont.

It is what it is, you can either accept that and work around the MBA's limitations or move on to something else and return/sell it.
 

pvmacguy

macrumors 65816
Sep 2, 2009
1,112
28
Jax
My old rev. A would ramp up the fans when connected to my 20" acd. They would stay at 6200 rpm at 55 to 60 degrees C. Took it to the apple store and there ended up being a thermal module failure as well as gpu failure. Fixed that and it was alright for a little while. Then the problem arose again. My warranty was up next month so it went on craiglist and someone traded me a 2,2 mbp with 2.33 ghz and this thing is a dream compared to the air. I do miss the light weight though. :p

So needless to say take yours in sounds like the same issue I had.
 

Scottsdale

macrumors 601
Sep 19, 2008
4,391
109
U.S.A.
Interestingly enough, I have the identical problem!

My MBP is out with a hard drive failure, and I have a multimedia project due by the weekend ... InDesign, PhotoShop, lots of Garageband and even the odd Appleworks page thrown in.

The MBA, which heretofore I had never really pushed, is obviously running hot all the time ... even with just Safari open, the fans are still at the limit. I had it away from my 24" ACD for a couple of hours this morning and did not notice the fan activity then.

I enjoy traveling with the MBA, but (with apologies to Scottsdale) I don't think it was built to take much of a load. I've effectively lost several hours this week between staring at the beach ball and Garageband crashes. For a "time is money" guy, this is pretty hard to take.
I actually believe you must have an HDD in your MBA to be seeing The Spinning Beach Ball from Hell like that. With my stock SSD, a beach ball was a rare deal. With a Runcore SSD, the beach ball is almost never seen. With a stock HDD, The Spinning Beach Ball from Hell is a "constant" just as a mouse pointer is a constant. Give an MBA a Penryn 1.86/2.13 GHz CPU, an Nvidia GPU, an SSD and Mini Display Port, and the thing drives a 24" LED ACD without any work at all. I refuse to say the MBA isn't capable. I do agree it's not a MacBook "PRO" but then neither is a MacBook Pro a "Pro." Needless to say the MBA is not marketed as a capable professional computer. In addition, the MBA has an underclocked GPU running at about 80% of the power of the 13" MBP. Also remember the MBA has limited space to cool via fans or heat sync.

OP: I rarely ever hear my fans. I do apologize though, as I incorrectly assumed it was overheating since the fans were going nuts. I do see the fans go sometimes when I am really hitting the system hard via HD video playback.
 

alphaod

macrumors Core
Feb 9, 2008
22,047
1,104
NYC
Why don't you use a PC for a week, it will make you appreciate your MBA.

Also, as already suggested, try Coolbook. It does work.
I use a PC every day; makes me wonder how Apple gets away with expensive underperforming computers.
 

koruki

macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2009
1,155
457
New Zealand
As light and gorgeous the MBA is, I wouldn't buy another one after it started to struggle to even play youtube (evil flash but still!) haha. Hot enough to grill a sandwich, I have extended Apple care on it and thinking if I should just complain as it didn't use to get this hot when it was new.
 

alphaod

macrumors Core
Feb 9, 2008
22,047
1,104
NYC
As light and gorgeous the MBA is, I wouldn't buy another one after it started to struggle to even play youtube (evil flash but still!) haha.
I don't think the issue is the computer, but more than flash is coded poorly on OS X; I can play YouTube videos on my N900 just fine with any issues. My freaking netbook (with Windows 7) runs 1080p YouTube and it doesn't even have a fan.
 

Scottsdale

macrumors 601
Sep 19, 2008
4,391
109
U.S.A.
I don't think the issue is the computer, but more than flash is coded poorly on OS X; I can play YouTube videos on my N900 just fine with any issues. My freaking netbook (with Windows 7) runs 1080p YouTube and it doesn't even have a fan.
Windows 7 and Flash is incredible on the MBA! The problem isn't the MBA's hardware, it's Apple's unwillingness to let Adobe "win" at anything. Until Adobe is irrelevant, Apple will continue to ensure ALL of us OS X users SUFFER! It's bad business by Apple, IMHO.
 

Scottsdale

macrumors 601
Sep 19, 2008
4,391
109
U.S.A.
Apple product users expect far more from their products. This post really shows how in depth the expectations go... a "dead quiet" room and three meters away an electric sound... "This thing definitely needs a new board."

LMAO! If any of us had a Dell or HP and we heard that we would just expect it to me normal or part of computing... still LMAO!!!
 

playalistic

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2007
104
0
Surrey, UK
Windows 7 and Flash is incredible on the MBA! The problem isn't the MBA's hardware, it's Apple's unwillingness to let Adobe "win" at anything. Until Adobe is irrelevant, Apple will continue to ensure ALL of us OS X users SUFFER! It's bad business by Apple, IMHO.
Without wishing to go too off-topic, what makes you think it is Apple's fault that flash runs so bad on Mac? Do you think this is some kind of espionage on Apple's part? It has absolutely nothing to do with Apple that Adobe have produced a huge turd of a plugin.