MBA overheating in clamshell mode - myth?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Brandon123, Nov 4, 2016.

  1. Brandon123 macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2016
    Hi all,

    I'm planning to get a baseline iMac or a Macbook Air + external display as I mainly work at the desk. Some Internet rumors say that Macbooks can overheat if you run them in clamshell mode hooked up to an external display.

    Is this just a myth? Does anybody have any experience of running a MBA in clamshell mode with (or without) problems?

  2. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I would think the thermal sensors on the MBA would trigger and throttle down the CPU/GPU before it got too hot.

    In any case, I usually leave my MBA open when I connect to an external monitor because I don't want it to throttle down.
  3. Brandon123 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2016
    Ok, thanks for the info! But that means your laptop screen is on, right? And running two screens (the MBA screen and the external) is heavier for the CPU/GPU?
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I always use mine open as well. I don't notice any performance difference from driving both screens. I have noticed, however, that if you run an external screen without plugging the MBA into power, the battery drains faster. I assumed this might have something to do with the GPU working harder?

    I also always assumed that the MBA would run hotter and this would cause the CPU to slow down, as @ftaok suggested.
  5. Pugly macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2016
    Hmm, this might be possible. I run mine in clamshell about 50% of the time, and anecdotally the fan turns on more. It also sometimes just gets really hot to the touch when plugged in.

    It would be worthwhile to do some tests to see. I haven't noticed any degradation in performance.
  6. chabig macrumors 603

    Sep 6, 2002
    My 2013 11" MacBook Air sits vertically closed in a stand all day driving a Thunderbolt display, connected to three external hard drives. It doesn't overheat. Clamshell mode is part of the notebook's design use. If it ever were to get too hot it would take care of itself by shutting down.
  7. Brandon123 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2016
    Alright, thanks for the info! I guess it is nothing to worry about then.
  8. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    My 2011 11" Air runs just fine in clamshell mode, closed and sitting on my desk.
  9. Brandon123 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2016
    Update: I am now daily running a MBA in clamshell in vertical stand + 24" monitor, and have not yet experienced any overheating problems.
  10. fokmik macrumors 68040

    Oct 28, 2016
    is your apple logo turned on when the lid is closed? no, so the mba screen is off, and its running only the external
  11. Brandon123 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2016
    Well, I referred to when ftaok left the MBA open.
  12. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Pure myth. I do it all the time. Too many people don't seem to realize that under intensive tasks, computers heat up. True overheating would mean you start to see jitters and freezes before the computer shuts itself off.
  13. Brandon123 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2016
    Yep, I have been running clamshell (in vertical stand) for weeks now and never experienced any overheating problems.
  14. Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    It just goes to show you how reliable the Internet is an information source.

  15. Brandon123 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2016
    True that :)
  16. Chicane-UK macrumors 6502

    Apr 26, 2008
    I ran my MacBook Air as my 'desktop' PC for a good 12-18 months like this, even giving it a pasting with games like Diablo III for a couple hours at a time. Never ran into any issues with it. It got warm but it never overheated.

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15 November 4, 2016