Replacing the CPU thermal paste on a MB 2008?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Bradamante, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. Bradamante, Apr 24, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018

    Bradamante macrumors member

    Bradamante

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Location:
    Germany
    #1
    Hi there,

    so I got here an old white MacBook 13" from 2008. I got it from a friend of mine who told me that the fans would ramp up too much and not calm down. And indeed, the tiniest bit of CPU load would send the laptop into rocket mode. A SMC reset and a clean install of Lion later (I don't know which one did the trick) I notice that the fan is often kicking in, but after a while it is going down again.

    Using MacsFanControl I see that the RPM are often going to the maximum of 6200, but so does the CPU temperature. It often jumps to 91 deg C, and takes a very long time to go down again. When the temp reaches 50+ deg C, the fans calm down.

    So, my thinking is that the fan, or rather the SMC, is working as intended. Instead, the fan either needs to be cleaned or after 10 years the CPU thermal paste needs to be replaced. iFixit's instructions don't look impossible to me.

    Question: Has anybody here ever done this? Anything I should be aware of?
     
  2. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #2
    What are you doing with it?

    Note that just surfing, esp. with ads active, or watching a simple video will kick that thing into overdrive, because its CPU is old and because it has no video acceleration in hardware for h.264, which is a problem since everything is h.264 these days. We'll Chrome isn't, but it uses VP9 which is also tough for these old machines to decode.

    I have three MacBooks about the same age, including that white 2008 MacBook4,1 and by far the MacBook4,1 is the worst for fan noise, because it has no hardware video acceleration. I also wonder if that plastic shell acts as a heat insulator.

    Mind you, I had long since deleted macOS off that white MacBook4,1 since 10.7.5 is too old. I'm now running Ubuntu 17.10 on it... which also revs up the fan a lot, but at least now it's with modern web browsers and full proper Netflix support.
     
  3. rampancy macrumors regular

    rampancy

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    #3
    I've done a lot of thermal paste replacements on A1181 MacBooks, and in my experience the MacBook 4,1 and 5,1/5,2 usually are the most prone to overheating. From what you describe, your MacBook is definitely due for a change in thermal paste.

    First, I recommend cleaning the fan/heatsink and replacing the thermal paste at the same time. It's easiest to simply remove both parts together, as opposed to trying to remove just the heatsink; because of the how tightly the heatsink and fan fit together in the case, there's actually some risk of damaging the heatsink by trying to pull it out while the fan is secured to the case.

    Second, you shouldn't worry about the brand of thermal paste you get, as long as it's made by a reputable manufacturer of PC cooling accessories, like DeepCool, or Arctic Silver. You may want to opt for a non-conductive ceramic-based paste if you're nervous about being able to apply it cleanly, but if you're patient and careful with applying it, it shouldn't be an issue. I use DeepCool Z5, but I've also had success with the classic Arctic Silver AS5. Remember that all you need is just enough to achieve a thin surface spread on the CPU and GPU/Chipset.

    Third, make sure that the CPU and GPU/Chipset are as cleaned of old thermal paste as possible. You don't need to get Arctic Silver's costly ArctiClean; 99% Rubbing Alcohol works perfectly. For cleaning, I recommend using coffee filters soaked in 99% alcohol. When applying the thermal paste, I recommend going with Arctic Silver's application guidelines. Needless to say, you should never touch the chips or the paste with your bare fingers.

    Fourth, I also combine the above with a variety of software tweaks to reduce CPU load and temperature. I use a more modern Firefox offshoot like Pale Moon or Waterfox, coupled with a system-efficient adblocker like uBlock Origin, and Tampermonkey running a script to force YouTube to run at 30 fps. I also make sure I never install Flash.

    Finally, if you're still experiencing extremely high temperatures during activities like watching YouTube or downloading/installing software, you should probably replace the heatsink too.
     
  4. Bradamante thread starter macrumors member

    Bradamante

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Location:
    Germany
    #4
    Thanks for your replies. Wouldn't have been necessary to go into that much detail though.

    Yes, I use Arctic Silver 5 too. At this point in time the MB is disassembled and the CPU + fan out of the case. When I am back home I guess the re-assembly comes in.
    Yes, I understand why the CPU is going nuts. Yes I know pretty much any website will make it skyrocket. Linux is not an option, so I tried installing the last version of Firefox for 10.7 and then an AdBlocker and a JavaScript suppressor. Thanks for the suggestions above about similiar add-ons. I will take a look.

    All of this is more an exercise to see if a inside cleanup + thermal paste reapplication can cause the CPU temps to go down faster once idling.

    reverof nohtaram btw
     
  5. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #5
    My problem is some websites (particularly financial or corporate ones) stopped working with old browsers. So there was no way I could stick with Safari, Firefox, or Chrome on 10.7.5.

    Post pix please, and be sure to post your temp and noise results!

    I think I'll leave my MacBook4,1 as is for now. Maybe I'll do the thermal paste thing if the fan goes. I'd replace the fan and the heatsink's thermal paste at the same time.

    I didn't have to bother for my MacBookPro5,5 though, or my MacBook5,1. They seem OK, but that's likely largely because they have hardware h.264 decoding so the fans don't rev up near as much in the first place. My MBP5,5 fan did die however, and replacing that was a real biotch. One of the screws wouldn't budge, so I finally took a drill to the screw. I was pretty nervous drilling a logic board. :eek:
     
  6. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #6
    There is a way to get the latest version of Firefox Quantum working in Mountain Lion here (I believe this works in Lion as well if you substitute 10.7.5 for the minimum system version). I tested it up to version 59 on my Late 2006 iMac; though like @EugW, I decided to install Linux and found that web browsing performs faster.
     
  7. Bradamante thread starter macrumors member

    Bradamante

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Location:
    Germany
    #7
    Well I don't know about pics. I took some, but there's nothing to see one hasn't seen before. Some dust in there, but not too bad. I took the fan case apart too to get the dust out there. Brushed around a lot. Disassembling and re-assembling wasn't that hard. The biggest problems are (as noted on iFixit) the screws in the battery compartment, which are too soft for their own good. I twisted them a bit, so basically you can only do the operation once. I applied Artic Silver 5 to the two chips under the heat sink.

    Before it took about 5 min for the fan to ramp down, now maybe 30 secs. CPU temps go down from 80+ deg C (load) to 50+ deg C (idle). 50 deg C idling is still too much, but what can you do. Temps all based on MacsFanControl. I could use that tool of course to limit the fan max speed, but that's not what I want.

    Generally the fan kicks in a bit later. The noise level at full speed is pretty much the same, maybe a bit less high pitched.

    So yeah, overall this operation was a success. The temps are probably only slightly lower, but I expected that. I got what I wanted: the fan kicks in later and goes down faster.

    I am using the standalone updater to 10.7.5 right now (for some reason software updater says the finished download can't be verified). VLC 3.0.x crashes when I try to play a movie.
     
  8. rampancy macrumors regular

    rampancy

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    #8
    50 deg C @ idle sounds about right; in my experience 60-70 deg C @ idle is definitely not normal, and IIRC data (admittedly limited) from the Intel Mac Temperature Database suggests that high-40's to 60 is the norm for idle temperatures on the 2.4 Ghz MacBook 4,1. If you're still concerned about temperature levels, you could opt to use smcFanControl, which has an optional built-in default setting that spins the fan slightly higher than normal.

    As for your software issues, you could try using the Combo Updater. And also, VLC 3.0.x seems to be broken on Lion.

    Frog Blast the Vent Core!
    --- Post Merged, Apr 25, 2018 ---
    Well, you'll forgive me for being thorough; as you may have noticed, quite a few other people have posted or are posting about temperature issues on their A1181 MacBooks, and a lot of them usually ask questions about what to do and how to do it.

    I will say though, the Tampermonkey script has made a huge difference with temperatures and YouTube videos. Another huge change was not installing Flash on my machine.
     
  9. Bradamante thread starter macrumors member

    Bradamante

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Location:
    Germany
    #9
    Interesting. The 10.7.5 Combo Updater got stuck in a weird loop when going into "install mode". What I mean is the phase where the screen changes between blue and white + the spinning progress wheel. I let it run over night, the next morning it was still looping. Force shut down. Boot. Everything seems alright.

    VLC 3.0.x froze on playing a movie for the first time, but after that it was fine. I tested with a 1920x800 24fps MKV movie file.

    Interestingly, after the update from 10.7 to 10.7.5 both Safari and Firefox have far less CPU usage when using YouTube, same with VLC 3.0.x. Before the fans would spin up watching YouTube, but on 10.7.5 + updated Safari (was it 6.5.x?) + Firefox 47.x the fan was surprisingly quiet o_O
     
  10. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #10
    Holy crap! I was getting sick of the fan noise, so I decided to try this too. It took me about 1.5 hours to do it, start to finish, but it was most definitely worth it.

    With Ubuntu 17.10, the Netflix 720p test video would ramp up the fan fairly quickly, and then it would stay there at max until I stopped playback. After the fix, which involved blowing the dust out the fan and heatsink and replacement of the decade old original thermal paste with my Arctic Silver thermal paste, also from my over a decade ago, I can now play the 720p video back for quite some time before the fan ramps up, and that's with 70% CPU usage. The fan ramps down quicker too.

    I couldn't get the heatsink out without loosening the fan first. And the tape connecting the two had to be replaced too. I also took out that sponge bumper and left it out since it lost its stickiness.

    There was a LOT of thermal paste there, and it not only did it look like cheap silicone stuff, it had lost its smooth consistency. It partially came out in soft chunks. The heatsink itself is partially copper, which is a pleasant surprise.

    IMG_9397.jpg
    IMG_9398.jpg
    IMG_9399.jpg
    IMG_9400.jpg
    IMG_9401.jpg
    IMG_9403.jpg

    This machine is much more pleasant to use now.
     
  11. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #11
  12. rampancy macrumors regular

    rampancy

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    #12
    The problem was that Apple (or at least the OEM manufacturer that Apple employed -- Foxconn most likely?) (a) used a cheap low-grade thermal paste, and (b) used far too much of it. This apparently was an issue endemic to other laptop brands, especially Dell and HP. In fact, some companies like HP and Lenovo were even worse in that they used adhesive thermal pads instead of thermal paste, which makes replacement far more difficult.
     
  13. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #13
    After 8 years, the thermal pad came off pretty easily for my AMD Athlon II X3 435 2.9 GHz triple-core CPU. I replaced that CPU with an AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.8 GHz hex-core CPU, and reused the same heatsink. Despite having twice the performance (with the same TDP), if anything the machine runs cooler now with a nice thin layer of paste from the same > decade old tube of Arctic Silver that I used for the MacBook.

    That Arctic silver paste coming out of the tube looks the same as it did ten years ago.
     
  14. EugW, Apr 28, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018

    EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #14
    BTW, yes it was Foxconn. That name is stamped on my 2008 MacBook's heatsink. (See pix above.)

    They still use Foxconn now (among others), BTW. It looks like they still use a lot of thermal paste still too, which isn't a surprise, since that's pretty much par for the course in the industry it seems. Here is a picture from a 2017 21.5" iMac:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iMac+Intel+21.5-Inch+Retina+4K+Display+2017+Teardown/92170

    sumX4rUlSWA6jZcd.jpg

    Same goes for the iMac Pro:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iMac+Pro+Teardown/101807

    RGMMTBiWfieramQ3.jpg

    The goop they use looks pretty much the same as what I had in my 2008 MacBook.

    Meanwhile, my 2017 MacBook is fanless and seems to do well enough for heat dissipation. It turns out the thermal paste application is similarly sloppy though unfortunately, although it might be a different, darker colour. Here is the 2015 MacBook teardown:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Retina+MacBook+2015+Teardown/39841

    iGMNpqmRcKsmUMKH-1.jpg

    One wonders what it will be like in 10 years.
     
  15. rampancy macrumors regular

    rampancy

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    #15
    I'm glad it worked out for you. On some older HP and Lenovo laptops I've worked on, there was a physical gap of several millimeters to account for the width of the thermal pad, which meant that one couldn't just scrape off the pad and use thermal paste instead. In those cases, you had to use user-created copper shim kits sold on eBay, or craft your own shims out of copper.
     
  16. EugW, Apr 29, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018

    EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #16
    Is 60C the temp which triggers the fan to ramp up? Is this dependent upon OS, or is it hardware specific?

    I had been using this laptop in bed with it resting on a blanket. Before the thermal paste replacement, the fan would ramp up loud after several minutes. However, after the thermal paste replacement the fan only started ramping up after about 10-15 minutes, and nowhere near as loud. Using the sensors application in Ubuntu I've been periodically checking the temperatures, and the fans were sticking to the minimum of 1800 rpm until the temp hit 60C, then I could start to hear to fan. However, even at 65C, it was sitting at about 3000 rpm (which is less than half the 6200 rpm max). I then lifted the laptop off the blanket for maybe 10-15 seconds and the temp dropped back down into the 50s with the rpm back down to 1800.

    Code:
    eug@Ubuntu-MacBook:~$ sensors
    applesmc-isa-0300
    Adapter: ISA adapter
    Exhaust  :   1797 RPM  (min = 1800 RPM, max = 6200 RPM)
    TB0T:         +23.8°C
    TC0D:         +56.2°C
    ERROR: Can't get value of subfeature temp3_input: I/O error
    TC0P:         +54.0°C
    TM0P:         +52.5°C
    TN0P:         +52.0°C
    TTF0:         +61.2°C
    TW0P:         +61.0°C
    Th0H:         +54.5°C
    Th0S:         +54.2°C
    Th1H:         +54.0°C
    
    BAT0-virtual-0
    Adapter: Virtual device
    temp1:        +24.1°C
    
    coretemp-isa-0000
    Adapter: ISA adapter
    Core 0:       +56.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
    Core 1:       +56.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
    
    With surfing usage after I put the computer on the desk, it seems to hover in the mid 50s. If I let it idle though, the temp will continue to drop lower (currently well below 50C).

    Note though that this is in Firefox with Ghostery's ad blocking active, so extra CPU cycles aren't being wasted on advertisements.
     
  17. weckart macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #17
    I think it is a little above 60ºC but it might depend on whether other components have hit a threshold too as to how quickly the fan kicks in. Idling at 50ºC-54ºC is about par for a relatively hot chip like the C2D and the lack of cooling room you have in a plastic MacBook.

    As for the factory gloop on the chips, I think those are applied manually and the workers have a split second per unit to do this and err on the side of generous, so I don't expect any improvement soon to compare with a home application painstakingly applied. Foxconn has to hit those production targets.
     

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