Trying to keep a 2007 Macbook alive

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Alkaid, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. Alkaid macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    So, I do love my 2007 Macbook but it's definitely getting on in age. Today, I got the always-wanted "Service Battery" message and figured I'd stop on by the Genius Bar to check. Sure enough, battery's dying.

    Now, the computer's almost 7 years old now but I'd like to keep it going as long as I can. I've upgraded this lovely unit from the 1GB RAM/120GB HD it came with to a 4GB RAM (3.5 recognized)/750GB HD and from Tiger through Leopard/Snow Leopard/Lion. I've got a few options but I'd love some second opinions on things.

    1) Get a new battery. Granted, this is the easiest option and I'm checking the store I bought this battery from as it's under warranty. If not…it's probably going to have to be another 130 dollar drop at the Apple Store sadly and I'd prefer to avoid that if possible.

    2) Downgrade my HD from Lion to Snow Leopard (per the Genius Bar) to try to stop the fan from running super loud. They also suggested that I can attempt to clean out the computer but it's something I've never done.

    3) If I can't get a new battery, I've been told it'll still run without one on AC power so that could keep it alive. (This will be battery #4 for the machine.) I've also been told I shouldn't run it on AC power all the time…which was likely most of the problem.

    4) Barring all of those, it may be time to upgrade. I've been trying to find a unit that I can still upgrade (probably just the RAM and HD like I've been able to with this unit) and won't run like a jet engine taking off. I'm fond of both Snow Leopard and Lion but it looks like most newer machines will only use Mountain Lion/Mavericks?

    I mainly use the machine for some light data entry tasks (so Safari, Word/Excel), some specialized programs (Aegisub, IRC) and I've also got a Bootcamp partition for Windows 7 for some of the programs I can't get to run in Crossover/Wine.

    Feel free to ask for other specifics on the machine itself, I'll be glad to mention anything that I can. Any other suggestions or help would be appreciated, thanks!
  2. Nameci macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2010
    The Philippines...
    I have an early 2008 black Macbook. See sig. I have downgraded it from Lion for the reason that Lion is more resource hungry than Snow Leopard. I have not missed anything from Lion at all.

    I bought it used here from the marketplace, and since I have swapped the spinning drive for an Intel 120GB SSD. I have also replaced the battery with the one from OWC. After almost two years, the battery is still holding more than 4 hours of light to normal use, that means no flash video.

    The SSD is the best bang for the buck upgrade for a Penryn Macbook. Boots quicker and applications open in a snap as well as waking from sleep. I will still hold on to this macbook until it dies on me. Snow Leopard is still pretty fast for what I use the notebook for.
  3. Alkaid, Dec 5, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013

    Alkaid thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    Saw one of those in the Apple Store tonight, such memories….

    Yeah, while I was replying back to you, the battery gave out with a little less than an hour left (though, for some reason the indicator was showing more like 5-10% left) so it seems I'm not going to be able to avoid not having a battery.

    I was actually looking for that Marketplace earlier, but I'm guessing I've probably not got enough posts yet to see it (which I see is the case and will likely be for awhile now *give or take almost 6 months*)

    I had heard that SSDs weren't always the best for older machines but I'm guessing there's not really a good option to have a small SSD for the OS and another for the main HD but I'm not if that's the option I should be looking at right now.

    Looking at OWC, that actually looks like the best value for the battery as well; I'm glad you mentioned it. (as my next option would have been around 90-99 before the Apple Store) Though, if this is under warranty, it should be free, so we'll see there.
  4. aziatiklover macrumors 68030


    Jul 12, 2011
    Location: and
    Do you guy if I can replace an iMac from 2007 with an ssd? I would like to keep it as long as possible like how ya doing it with the macbooks. Thanx
  5. WildCard^ macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2013
    I have two 2008s 2.4G C2Ds currently. I have them both upgraded to 10.7 Lion, 4GB ram, and none of them run the fan excessively. It is very uncommon for me.

    The genius is right, two possibilities for the fan. Either it's not liking Lion, or your fan is gunked up. If you have a USB drive enclosure and another HD, you can test install SL on it, boot off it, and see how it runs. If your fan continues to run hard, then you know the issue is inside. Would you have a problem opening it up and checking out the fan?

    A lot of people here have good luck buying batteries from OWC at a great price.

    newer machines come with the newer OS, but I don't see why you couldn't downgrade if you wanted to SL. A lot of people report enjoying Mavericks on machines compatible with it though.


    I /think/ you can use SSDs in place of any SATA drive. I googled it and came up with an ifixit post saying yes.
  6. aziatiklover macrumors 68030


    Jul 12, 2011
    Location: and
    Yea that is what I saw too, but I wasn't sure if that would apply for the 2007 imac core 2 duo.
  7. mpantone macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    Based on recommendations from others posted in this forum, I recently bought an Anker-branded MacBook replacement battery from Amazon for my white MacBook (late 2006).

    It is loaded up with 4GB RAM (about 3.5GB addressable) and a nice 128GB SSD running Lion. It basically runs better than the day I received it.

    Perhaps as a seven-year-old notebook computer, it's a freak of nature, but it functions quite well for e-mail, web browsing, light photo editing, and as a Windows Remote Desktop client.
  8. Alkaid thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013

    Yeah, I took the machine in today to get an extra HD check (it's fine) and they suggested that it's likely just a gunked-up fan. I bought the supplies that I'd need to clean out the machine and just need to get some latex gloves to complete the ensemble. The fan started making 'clicking' noises as well tonight so I'm guessing that assumption is right on the money. (which also means I'm going to need to purchase a new fan as well) I'm going to try to clean the machine out with a can of air first to see if that helps but it's not revving as much as of late, which I take as a good sign.

    The Genius Bar guy said the newer machines couldn't be downgraded to SL though oddly enough, which did leave me a bit puzzled because they said they're 'hardwired' to the OS they come with. Not really sure if that's true, but that'd be a new piece of information.

    As soon as I've got what I need to clean out the machine, I'll work on doing that and seeing what I can to, so I do appreciate your help!

    Yeah, on the battery situation, I ended up getting a free replacement battery as mine had a warranty of a year and it had only been about 11 months since the last one. However, this one should be lasting a bit longer either way, as I won't be using it plugged in as much to help it adapt and work better overall. I'm thinking if I do get to replace the HD again, it'll likely be an SSD though I'll have to see about finding a new place (or shrinking) my Windows partition too.
  9. WildCard^, Dec 8, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013

    WildCard^ macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2013
    Sounds like a good plan. You going to re-thermal paste the CPU fan whilst you are at it? Never did it before, but others have with success. Figured while you are in there, might be something to research.

    I imagine, if you open up your case, you will likely find a very obvious collection of gunk in your fan that you can either pick out (gross) or blow out with the can of air (hold your breath). I have seen terrible, terrible collections of things in CPU fans through the years. Worst are generally smoker's devices. Guess that tar collects and really gums up the works.

    Suggestion I've read way back, if you blow out the CPU fan, hold it down to restrict it from spinning freely. I think the issue was if you spin it the wrong direction it is designed for, it causes potential issues. I don't know why, but something I have followed even though I feel the urge to have the canned air spin the fan like mad.

    If you heard a click in the fan, should be interesting what you find. If you find nothing, then maybe a bearing in the fan is out and replacement a necessity.

    Keep us posted.

    PS: I almost forgot, about the hardwired to the OS mention: you sure that wasn't a reference to the included DVD being compatible (hardwired?) with only the model macbook it was provided with? If I didn't have just older machines, I would happily test install for you.
    even apple's system reqs list for snow leopard doesn't mention being incompatible with any models, noting it just needs an intel system with 1gb ram
  10. Alkaid thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    Yeah, my first attempt is just going to be cleaning out the computer with some canned air and see if that helps it out. I don't have the fan or thermal paste at the moment, so if this solves the problem, I'm hoping we may be good to go.

    If that doesn't solve things, I'll look into replacing the fan (and grabbing those supplies, since it seems the 'click-clicking' of the fan pops up when I'm charging, it seems.)

    As for the OS section, I had been inquiring if the newer models (like the i7 Macbook Pro (not retina) could be downgraded to SL or another OS and the Genius said that they couldn't because they'd been hardwired to only work with Mavericks, for some reason. Sorry if I confused you there.
  11. jackintosh11, Dec 13, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013

    jackintosh11 macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2013
    You can lubricate the fan with motor oil, that stops the clicking. First, take the fan out, then take the screws holding the fan in the bracket. If you pull on the plastic part of the fan, it should come off. Then, lightly coat it with motor oil. Canola oil works, but it doesn't last very long. The lubrication doesn't last forever, though. sells a replacement fan for $50. Also, Mavericks runs really well on the newer MacBook Pros, and actually improves performance over lion and mountain lion. The non retina MacBook Pro may be able to go as far back as lion, but since mavericks has all of the features of Lion and Mountain Lion, there's no reason. The guy at the genius bar is right. The computer rejects Snow Leopard because it has certain things in it like USB 3 that aren't supported. Anyway, those laptops seem to never die. Mine has fallen off a table multiple times, and never even got a dent. I'm lucky enough to have a 2013 retina 13 inch now, the MacBook was given to me by a friend who didn't need it anymore. I had a 2006 MacBook Pro that I dropped a few times, and the lower case is now bent along the whole thing. The discrete polycarbonate MacBooks are great. The unibody white macbooks get cracks in the plastic quite easily. Aluminum works better for the unibody design, but for the non unibody, polycarbonate is better.
  12. Alkaid thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    So, we're due for an update now and here's what I've learned over the past few days….

    Fan is running a ton more lately (and things like smcFanControl haven't always been able to keep it under wraps.) It's gotten to the point that it's almost always audible and can be picked up on Skype and other audio devices.

    I converted an older 500gb HD to Snow Leopard but haven't really gotten to test it out yet. The fan was running rather loudly on that as well. If the fan gets above 3000rpm or so, a 'click click click' noise begins and won't let up until after the rpm gets under the 3000 mark again on either the 500gb SL HD or the 750gb Lion HD.

    I've yet to clean out the machine with a can of air yet but I'm almost positive I will need to replace the fan at this point. The machine's also been running a lot hotter lately with the fan going like a jet engine (as it's been described as sounding) In fact, as of right now it's running around 130F per my menu stats.

    So, a couple of questions then, since you've all been so helpful so far.

    1. If I go to someplace like ifixit, how can I figure out which fan I'll need? I've been getting mixed messages and their instructions about finding out my model number haven't helped (as that part of my computer has worn to the point I can't see the number anymore on the bottom of the case.) There are 2 fans listed (at the same price) but 1 isn't compatible with the other types of models and I don't want to get the wrong one.

    2. If I get a fan, do I need thermal paste or anything else to go with the repair?

    3. Probably the one I'm most worried about. Is a fan replacement going to help lengthen the life of my computer or is it time to go to the pasture with this almost 80 month old machine? I do want to try to keep it alive but I have noticed the beachball a lot more on the machine lately.

    (Only issue with that is that I'd likely have to move to a *windows* machine of all things and I cannot stand Windows 8.)

    In other news, the battery seems to be holding up for the machine. It's getting a charge and I normally only have to charge it about twice a day. (considering that I use the machine for 10-12+ hours, give or take)

    So, that's about it on this front now. I'll see if I can get a recording of the noise and keep looking at my options as well.
  13. Richdmoore macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    Troutdale, OR
    I thought I would let you know about a good repair guide, since I am also looking to rehab an older 2007 macbook 2,1 fairly soon.

    I found the official apple repair manual, it has part numbers and good pictures of all the repairs including top case removal and fan replacement.

    I thought it would help you.
  14. WildCard^ macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2013
    I have never done the refan/repasteing, but have read a lot about it as I have a few older MBs and want to be able to do it when it needs it.

    I think it was BrettApple that pointed out you can get the fans very cheap on Amazon. He mentioned $5, but when I looked, they were $10. I think $10 is still very cheap for such an integral part.

    The fans I saw include thermal paste, but it seems the most technical users that do the maneuver opt to instead use a professional paste, like Arctic Silver.

    In 100% of the posts about it that I have seen, the results were very positive. Quieter fan, cooler machine, faster operations. Remember, as it heats up, its proccessing ability slows down. Might be the beach balls you encounter lately. One guy posted 2 days ago that he did it and had to reopen it to verify the fan was in fact powered - as it was so quiet compared to what he was used to.

    If you are hearing clicks when it hits 3kRPM, I have to wonder if the click is something inside the fan hitting the blades when it's on overdrive, or if the bearings are going out. Fan bearings going out sounds like grinding rock, it's an awful noise.

    I have to admit that I am very surprised you have not blown it out with a can of air, as that is a cheap and fast thing to do. In the time I wrote this post, you could have had your machine open and atleast visually inspected it to see if you have a chunk of something in there.

    I once saw a youtube vid where a guy was cleaning out a dead Wii he got on ebay, and found hundreds of dead roaches or something like that.

    You never know what could be inside.
  15. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    Hello OP.

    If you want portability, you will need some form of battery, but if you are only using the macbook on AC power, you can do away with the battery. I know Apple people always recommend having a battery in the machine, and while it might be true, that higher end MBP's may temporarily need more juice than the charger has to offer, this is not the case with the macbook.

    Also, it's true that keeping the machine permanently plugged in kills batteries crazy fast. If you get a new battery, build the habit of draining the battery empty once a week...

    Snow Leopard/Lion... As you can see in my sig, I'm partial to SL, and unless you need something Lion offers, I would not install Lion on non-Pro macbook... That said, I would not expect your fan problems to be caused by Lion...

    Computers do accumulate dust, especially if you have them on dusty surfaces. Luckily the 2007 MacBook is not that difficult to open up, and thanks to iFixit, we macusers have splendid guides to fall back upon. If you can bring yourself to opening up the MacBook, a can of compressed air may help you a long way....

    If the fan is screwed, replacing it is a viable option (50$ + postage), and (again) iFixit has the guide to help you through the process...

    A final note, It is very doubtful that you could install Snow Leopard on a new mac. The basic rule is, to have a look at the machine's details on The operating system stated as "Pre-Installed MacOS:" is usually the oldest you can go for. The installer will probably check for "compatibility", and while there are tools to circumvent this, it might just be that the installer disk does not have the drivers necessary for your hardware (e.g. You can basically forget running any version of SL on anything launched after 2011, with the specific exception of 2012 Mac Pro's)

  16. Jonathanchasr macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2013
    My Suggestions

    In my opinion I think you should just downgrade the MacBook to Snow Leopard and install a SSD and put your hard drive in the DVD drive, you can buy a dual drive kit on amazon or ifixit. I too have a 2007 MacBook, these are the same things that I have done to my machine. I did replace the battery but it wasnt really worth it since the battery only lasts 2 hrs so it practically stays plugged in, so you should just keep the battery and get a SSD.
  17. Alkaid thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    Sorry for the delay, my email didn't let me know I had more replies here!

    Richdmoore - Thanks, I downloaded that and it may be a good companion to the ifixit manual as well!

    WildCard^ - I've heard fans go from as little as 5 all the way to the ones over on ifixit at just under 50. My only concern is that there seems to be (at least on ifixit) a couple of different fans and one is not recommended for certain models of Macbook. I'm getting conflicting information on which model my Macbook actually is and I don't want to buy the wrong fan and not be able to return it.

    As for the cleaning of the machine, I've dusted out the fan vents but haven't yet been able to open the machine. The case is fairly old and I think I'd rather do a 1-and-done situation and dust out the machine/install the new fan at the same time. I just need to figure out the exact fan first and move forward from there.

    But yeah, I'd agree about the dusting part (the whole machine really just needs a once-over to clean the casing (as best as one can for such an old machine) and get things installed. Let us hope we don't have dead bugs in the mac though…

    seveej - Yep, I've actually got a new battery (not an Apple one but it has done what I've needed so far). I'm getting in the habit of charging the battery to full and then draining the battery down to recharging levels and I think it's worked fairly well so far. I'm not getting all-day on battery charges but 1 or 2 charges a day is fine by me. coconutBattery says I've gotten 23 charge cycles at 100% capacity so that seems better than no battery at all.

    I'd like to try out the SL partition a bit later and see what I can get going for it. It's just got the base stuff for the moment but I should be able to install a few of the programs I need and test it out. It's running super hot as of late so I'll let it finish cleaning out the trash here and let it cool down before checking it out. The other smaller issue is having my Windows partition on the other HD as well but that's something I can work out a bit later on.

    That's disappointing on Snow Leopard though, it was easily my favorite system before Lion (and I really only liked Lion for touchpad specific features). I'm thinking if I get another older system, I might try looking at an older Mac Pro as well, since they seem solidly built and wouldn't be too much of a jump from this current machine. As long as I can get a good amount of RAM into it, a decent processor and a machine that doesn't run close to 200F when secure emptying the Trash, I think we'll be good! Until then, I'm going to hope I can just keep this one going!

    (May I ask what your current machine's build is? *with my luck, it's in your signature and I just can't see it via quite reply here* I'd love some input on how it works for you so I could possibly look at models)

    Jonathanchasr - I'd actually love to upgrade to an SSD but right now, as much as I'd hate to admit it, funds are tighter than I'd prefer it at the moment. If I can make due with what I have for now (with my 500GB SL HD and 750GB Lion HD Drives, that's going to *hopefully* save me for the moment) But that is the hope for this (or a newer) machine in the future though!

    Thanks again for everyone's help here; I really do appreciate it. I think my first step is to narrow down my model number/type (Which, I believe to be the A1181 Mid 2007 Core 2 Duo) and get this fan or one like it and start repairs. (unless of course, there's another one that can do the job) Then, time to clean the casing and give this old computer a hopefully strong jumpstart into 2014!
  18. SanJacinto macrumors regular


    Nov 3, 2011
    Milky Way Galaxy
    Great. Good luck with this. I love the machines from the 2006-2007 era and I love long lasting Macs. Hopefully, my MacBook Pro will also still work in 2018.
  19. Alkaid thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    SanJacinto - Yeah, I hope so as well!

    So, another quick update for you all.

    I got the computer opened, cleaned out of almost 80 months of dirt, dust and grime (and yeah, that should have been done ages ago). Inspected and cleaned the fan, re-installed it and gave the machine itself a good 'spring' cleaning.

    Let the computer rest and turned it back on. Good news…the computer is clean and tends to run slightly cooler. Bad news….the fan now runs constantly and clicks at any point over 1800rpm. (It also doesn't boot up as fast, so I'm a bit worried on that). So, it's not quite evident that it's the fan and not the computer itself. (I also found out that one of the four gray clips that clip around the optical drive (near the outside of the case) is missing. Rather odd but I couldn't find it anywhere.

    So, it's time to go to PBM or Ifixit and pick up a fan for my A1181 machine. That's really the only other thing I can think of but having opened the machine up once, I'm much more confident in replacing it now. (Hopefully a new fan will come with that silver tape as well, it was quite hard to get back into place)

    But, at least I know what I'm in for now and that's all I could ask for. As always, I'll keep you all up to date and any suggestions or support that you can provide is always welcome!
  20. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I have a coworker who has one of these machines and it was doing the same things. He ended up buying a new fan, 128GB SSD, and battery and it feels like a new machine. If you're still happy with it, but just want a bit of a speed bump, go for it! Good luck and keep us posted...
  21. Alkaid thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    Sorry for the delay in my update with the holidays and all that.

    So, replaced the fan in my machine a little under a week ago. It runs super quiet now (in fact, most of the time I can't even hear it). Computer's taking about 20-30 seconds to boot and the beach ball hasn't been showing up as often (though it does still show up) Safari does seem to be getting the beachball a bit but nothing like what it was doing previously.

    We did run into a short issue where the computer wasn't getting a charge after being plugged into the wall but quickly found the error being that the charge port had accidentally been unplugged while we were replacing the fan.

    Computer takes about 1-3 hours to charge now (and about 3-4 to drain on half-lit backlit status, but that is fluctuating a bit.) So far, so good I'd think.

    Overall, a much better situation than first though, but I'm still keeping my eye on things. If things deteriorate over the next couple of weeks however, I have resided myself to get a refurbished 2012 Macbook Pro (and shall try to see if I can install SL or Lion)

    I must thank you all of your help so far, I really have appreciated it and it's been good to learn more about this machine as well.

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