MBP Mid-2009 Overheating(?)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by alandhisguitar, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. alandhisguitar macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    Dear all,

    My Macbook Pro 13 Mid-2009 has served me (mostly) well for three years now, but the battery ist kaput, and I'm considering pumping a couple of hundred quid into replacing it and upgrading the RAM and Hard Drive so that it may continue to serve me well for a few more years to come.

    However, before I do that, I'd really like some advice on some temperature control issues - I've seen that they're common but I'd appreciate some help on my specifics. Basically I don't want to drop loads of money on this machine if doing so won't result in any better performance, because of the temperature issues, or worse, if it's going to suffer a heat-death on me in a year or so anyway, like my previous macbook did.

    So, even completely idle the CPU will sometimes run up to 85/90, with the fans roaring out at 5000rpm just to keep it there. Anything more labour intensive and the fans shoot up to 6000 to keep the CPU at around 100. I tried resetting the SMC, but it has no effect. Not had it shut down on me yet, but that doesn't stop the worry that it might happen soon.

    So, is it serious, is there anything I can do, and is there any way the upgrades will help?

  2. RiseDarthVader macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2012
    Try using some compressed air to blow out dust that could be trapping heat and preventing optimal airflow with the built in fan. You probably need to take the bottom panel off to do this properly though and not just blow dust deeper.
  3. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    Open the Activity Monitor in your Utilities folder and click on the CPU tab.

    Are there any programs running using a lot of CPU right after bootup?
  4. alandhisguitar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    It probably does need a bit of a clean, I've ordered some stuff and I'll give that a go.

    Nothing hogging the CPU at all, it's running around 50% idle even with a few standard application processes going (iTunes, office, Chrome). I imagine that means the temperature probably is just down to dust obstructing the air vent.

    Unless there's something else anyone can recommend, I'll give the machine a good cleaning and then see if that improves the performance before deciding on the upgrade.
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    If your temps are that high, it's likely that it's not truly idle, or that you have a hardware issue.
    1. Launch Activity Monitor
    2. Change "My Processes" at the top to "All Processes"
    3. Click on the CPU column heading once or twice, so the arrow points downward (highest values on top).
    4. Click on the System Memory tab at the bottom.
    5. Take a screen shot of the entire Activity Monitor window, then scroll down to see the rest of the list, take another screen shot
    6. Post your screenshots.
    It's not idle if it's at 50%. Follow the instructions above.

    The Intel processors used in Macs are designed to automatically shut down to prevent damage if they truly overheat. CPU Tjmax = 105C (221F), GPU Tjmax = 100C (212F) on i3, i5, i7 processors. (Source: Intel)

    If you're not already using it, iStat Pro (free) or iStat Menus ($16) will give you accurate readings of your temps and fan speeds, among other things.

    Unless there is a rare defect in a Mac, most temps are well within the normal operating range, considering the workload being put on it. Websites with Flash content, games and other multimedia apps will put higher demand on the CPU/GPU, generating more heat. This is normal. If you're constantly putting high demands on your system, such as gaming or other multimedia tasks, expect temps to rise and fans to spin up accordingly. It's just your Mac doing its job to maintain temps within the normal range.

    It is also quite normal for your Mac to become extremely hot to the touch during intensive operations. The aluminum body transfers heat more effectively than other materials used in computer casings, so you will feel the heat more. This doesn't indicate that it's overheating and will not harm the computer to be hot to the touch.

    Your fans are always on when your Mac is on, spinning at a minimum of 2000 rpm (for MBPs) or 1800 rpm (for MBAs, MBs and minis). iMacs have 3 fans with minimum speeds in the 800-1200 range. They will spin faster as needed to keep temps at a safe level.

    If your fans are spinning up without increased heat, try resetting the SMC.
    (PRAM/NVRAM has nothing to do with these issues, so resetting it will not help.)

    The intake and exhaust vents are in the back of the computer near the hinge on all Mac notebooks (except the new MBP with retina display, which has intake vents along the sides at the bottom). The iMac vent is a slot on the back near the top of the computer. Make sure the vents remain unblocked to allow your computer to perform at its best.

    Learn about the fans in your Mac
    Apple Portables: Operating temperature

    For Flash-related issues:
  6. aveh macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2013
  7. Doward macrumors 6502a

    Feb 21, 2013
    There's no way of knowing from that picture.

    Was this from a cold boot, sitting idle?

    Had you just played a 6 hour marathon on WoW?

    Did you just complete a large encode project?

    If you want to know if your temps are alright, here is my suggestion:

    First, download the Intel Power Gadget for Mac OS X.

    Install and open the Intel Power Gadget. This will give you a real time readout on the power your CPU is drawing, as well as it's current actual clock speed.

    If you don't already have iStat installed, do so (I see you do)

    While you let the Intel Power Gadget run, fire up whatever the most demanding task(s) you ask of your Macbook Pro. Gaming, encoding, web browsing (flash), whatever.

    See what your maximum temperatures STABILIZE at. If you put your laptop under a sudden heavy load, you will likely see temperatures spike to ~203F (95C) - continue whatever you are doing, and see what the temperatures stabilize at.

    If your temperature spikes to OVER 212F (100C) - you have a problem.

    If your stabilized temperature is OVER 200F (95C) - you have a problem.

    If you see the Intel Power Gadget's Clock speed readout drop BELOW what your CPU is rated for - you have a problem.

    If your stabilized temperature is ~195F (90C) or lower - Congratulations! Your MacBook Pro is performing as intended!

    Possible causes (in increasing order of severity to fix):

    1) Fans not spinning up properly (95C should have them both running 5500rpm): Perform an SMC reset to see if the fans will then ramp up appropriately.

    2) Blocked fan. Could be blocked due to dust, or the way the laptop is sitting. To fix: Blow clean or reposition MacBook Pro, whichever the problem may be.

    3) Dead fan. Ensure that iStat shows BOTH fans operational on the Macbook Pro. If one or both fans are dead, replace them.

    4) Too much heatsink compound between CPU/GPU die: Disassemble Macbook Pro, remove Heatsink assembly, clean thoroughly, apply appropriate amount of heatsink compound (will be a very little bit!) and reassemble.

    5) Poorly machined heatsink: Recommend lapping and polishing the heatsink if you decide to go through with replacing the heatsink compound. See this thread: Yes, your Macbook Pro is running too hot - here's why for more information.

    As a point of comparison:

    My 2.5Ghz Core i7 stabilizes ~88C under full load.
    My 2.5Ghz Core i7 stabilizes between 2.8-3.2Ghz under full load.

    Any Macbook Pro performing as designed should be able to a) run under full load without exceeding a stable temperature of 95C and b) do so without any thermal throttling.
  8. starmagic macrumors newbie

    Nov 17, 2006
    This was an excellent suggestion! It worked - so cool and quiet here, now!! A few years later, thanks!

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