New MacBook Pro owner, some fan/heat questions

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by tectactoe, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. tectactoe, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012

    tectactoe macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    EDIT: Turns out the noise wasn't the fans at all... It's the 7200rpm HDD. See my post on the second page for more info about this. Has anyone else with a newer 2010/2011 MBP noticed how loud the HDD is in quiet environments? Thanks!


    This is my first Mac computer, I just purchased it a few days ago. It's a MacBook Pro 13" with the 2.8 gHz i7 processor.

    I love how it's running so far, though I have one concern: I downloaded the iStat widget and I've noticed the fan is ALWAYS running (about 2000rpm). From the moment I start up the computer, even if I'm not doing anything and the temp is around 39-45C.... is this normal?

    Also, even when it's at 2000rpm, I can hear the fan. It's not LOUD per say, but it's noticeable in a somewhat quiet room. And since it's running all the time, I can almost always hear it unless I'm in a noisy room.

    So should the fan be running all the time at 2000rpm? Even when virtual no programs are running? And if so, is 2000rpm typically audible? I have pretty good hearing. But if this is normal, it's just something I'll have to get used to.

    Last question: last night when watching a Netflix video, the temp raised up to about 78C, the fans kicked up to about 3000rpm, and the temperature stayed pretty steady at 73-75C. I don't know much about "good" CPU temps -- is this high of a temperature normal for streaming videos?

    Sorry for all the questions... I love the computer so far and I hope this stuff is normal! Thanks!!!
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Yes, your temps are quite normal, as is your fan speed. Your Mac is not overheating. The Intel processors used in Macs are designed to automatically shut down to prevent damage if they truly overheat (around 100C/212F - 105C/221F, depending on your processor). iStat Pro 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 they're 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. 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:
  3. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    2000 rpm is the base operating speed for the fans at all time. Your temps are normal and your system is acting normally, so yes you'll just have to get used to it. Also you may not be hearing the fans, as it maybe the HDD (some are noisier than others and some users can hear them spinning).
  4. MaxBurn macrumors 65816


    Nov 25, 2010
    I will vouch for this, after using a SSD for a couple days I put the disk in the optical bay and noticed that the drive idling and spinning up now and again is quite noticeable.
  5. tectactoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Okay, thank you guys! Like I said, it's not "loud", it's just noticeable. As long as it's functioning okay, I'll just have to get used to the noise. It kind of sounds like air lightly blowing (obviously, because that's whats happening, LOL)... but I mean, it's not a "whirring" or "clicking" sound, so it's probably normal.

    My friend has a 4-year old MacBook (not pro) and it makes a similar noise, though not quite as loud... I'm assuming this is because the new Pro's are much more powerful and require more airflow.

    Anyway, thanks again guys! I love my new Pro!!!
  6. Votekinky06 macrumors 6502

    Jun 10, 2011
    Holy crap. You are outrageously helpful!
  7. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I wouldn't trust that site to be a reliable source of information. One example of false information:
    False. Read my earlier post for factual information directly from Intel on shutdown temps.
    False. The thermal shutdown applies to all Intel-based Macs, including i5 and i7 Macs.

    Some of the information on that site is accurate, but some isn't. There are more reliable sources, that don't contain misinformation.
  8. GuitarG20 macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2011
    here's the way I look at the fans... just be thankful the computer is as quiet as it is. My old HP would always have the fans on jet engine mode, and on this one, unless i head it way up, that never happens.

    but, to repeat what everyone has said, your idle temps seem fine. and it's likely you are hearing the HDD when the fans are at ~2k.
  9. tectactoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Okay, thank you!

    I might as well ask this here.... Is there anything I should do regularly to clean my Mac? I know my old PCs used to get build ups of dust on the sinks and they advise using compressed air every month or so to clean out the ventilation spots... is this recommended on a Mac?

    Anything else I should know to keep this baby in tip-top shape?

    Again, thanks for all of the help guys!
  10. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I've run the same MacBook Pro for close to 4 years. I've never used compressed air on it or opened it up for any reason. I've never had an overheating problem or any other problem, for that matter. I occasionally wipe it with a soft damp cloth. That's it. If you use it in high-dust areas your experience may differ, but generally speaking, you don't have to do any regular cleaning or maintenance to keep it running well.
  11. tectactoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Okay! Thank you again, you've been a huge help!!
  12. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Your link collections are completely awesome. I still hope that Apple in future revisions doesn't tailor everything toward as thin as possible, and takes quieter fans and lower heat generation under consideration. This would apply to the macbook pro models. I frequently read opinions that the optical drive or whatever prevents them from going thinner. While that is partially true (and yeah you could spread the components out further without it) a thinner machine with smaller fans would mean they'd have to spin faster to maintain temperatures consistent with what we experience today. Even today people on here find the heat uncomfortable. Given the increasing push toward ultra compact form factors, I hope this receives some consideration.
  13. tectactoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Okay, sorry guys, I've gotta ask again...

    If the noise IS the HDD, would that be constant all the time? It seems like the HDD wouldn't ALWAYS been making noise.

    It sounds like the slow rushing air sound is coming mainly from the lower right hand corner of the MacBook (to the right of the trackpad)... what is under this area of the Mac?

    Its noticeable in a quiet room, otherwise unnoticeable.... but still enough for me to worry a bit (since I don't know much about computers LOL)
  14. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    The hard drive would make noise the entire time it is running. Unless a drive is parked, the platters are always spinning, so it would be a constant sound. The area you are talking about is next to the optical drive and the battery resides there. You may hear the sounds resonating out of the optical slot??
  15. tectactoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    It's possible that it's just resonation. When I place my palm on the lower right part of the laptop, the sound muffles a bit, so it could be resonating.

    So I shouldn't be worried about my HDD making this light spinning/blowing noise then? Like I've said, when any other sound is in the room, I can't hear it. But when I'm using my laptop at night in my room, it's actually quite noticeable. I do have pretty good hearing, though :p

  16. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    If you are not seeing any problems with the HDD through the SMART info or the Disk Utility checks and the system appears to be running good, then I would say that unfortunately you are one of the few people that are very sensitive to the sounds of the HDD. My 705GB Toshiba that came with my MBP was virtually silent, but when I went to my Seagate Momentus XT 500GB (it was a 7200rpm drive so more perceivable noise) it had a slight sound that I could hear within a completely quiet environment. Never really noticed it until I went to the SSD and it is completely silent, so I then noticed the noise was gone.
  17. tectactoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Okay, guess I'll just get used to it. It's still nothing compared to my old PC. I could hear that thing over a jet engine.

    Just so I know (and for future reference), how to I perform the SMART info or Disk Utility checks? And how do I determine that everything is normal/okay? Sorry for all the questions, I just don't know very much about computers in general and this is also my first Mac so the learning curve on some things have been reset :p

    Thanks for the help
  18. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    Applications>Utilities>Disk Utilty Within the Disk Utility, you can verify the SMART information and run verifications and repairs on the disk as needed.
  19. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    That spot is exactly where the hard drive is, and the noise would be constant as the drive is spinning at all times when the computer is powered on.

    You can see where everything is in this teardown:
  20. thundersteele, Feb 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2012

    thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    I think squeakr messed up left and right here.

    The battery is to the left and below the trackpad - that's why the battery indicator lights are on the left side of the mbp. On the right front side, right of the trackpad, is the HDD that you are hearing. Behind that, on the right side below the keyboard, is the optical drive.

    To confuse you a bit, here is an image of an open 2011 MBP, from iFixit. Note that the picture is taken with the MBP turned around, i.e. left becomes right!!!
  21. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    HAHA. I just realized that the other poster is right. That is where the drive is. I was thinking about when I replaced the drive, but the system would have been reversed 180 as it would have been upside down.
  22. tectactoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Thank you guys! Guess I owe this one to my super-sensitive hearing haha
  23. ThunderSnake macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
    You just paid a bunch of money for something that you're not 100% familiar with. You're expecting it to last a long time. It makes perfect sense to want to ask folks who already use them if what you're experiencing is normal. These are good computers, but that doesn't mean that there can't be problems even when new. I once had a drive fail within the first week of purchasing a new Mac (with no other problems for an entire decade). Unless you're known for having super-sensitive hearing, I might be inclined to take it in and have it looked at. If anything is wrong, Apple will take care of it.

    I agree with others that your temps and fan speeds seem pretty normal.
  24. dmccloud macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    Anchorage, AK
    These type of questions seem to be commonplace for new Mac users, which is understandable. Because the MBP uses an all-aluminum body, heat can dissipate much more efficiently than it can in laptops made from different materials. The flipside is that it makes the laptop itself feel noticeably warmer, which causes concern. The important thing to realize is that a hot exterior means the heat is escaping the laptop internals, which is what you want. Between the aluminum acting as a radiator and the fans pushing hot air out the back of the machine, you should be fine in most cases.

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