Why does playing video make my Mac get all hot and bothered?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Mildredop, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Mildredop macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2013
    Playing video for a few minutes makes my computer get so noisy it sounds like it's about to explode.

    How come my £500 TV can display lovely HD images, whether off-air or via iPlayer/Netflix, and not bat an eyelid whilst my £1,200 Mac finds it so difficult?
  2. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    Download the free application EtreCheck and run it. If some device is is red update or manually delete the incompatible services. See if that helps.
  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    If you're not already doing so, use iStat Pro (free) or iStat Menus ($16) to get accurate readings of your temps, fan speeds, etc., rather than relying on your sense of touch or sound. A forum member has posted a copy of iStat Pro that has been "tweaked" to enhance compatibility with recent OS X versions. You can download it here.
    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)
    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. For Flash-related issues:
  4. boast macrumors 65816


    Nov 12, 2007
    Phoenix, USA
    The matrix calculations performed for video games is a lot more than the matrix transformations for video. Also videos don't need crunch numbers for AI algorithms or physics equations.
  5. Mildredop thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2013
    Thanks for the replies, but I think there's a little confusion. I'm not saying I'm concerned that my Mac gets hot (I'm sure there are things in place to stop it cooking itself) and I'm not talking about video games.

    I'm talking about simple, straightforward video. If I watch Netflix on my Sony TV and mute the sound, there is nothing but silence. No fans whirring away, no jittery pictures, no spinning wheel - just lovely, HD pictures.

    But if I watch Netflix on my Mac, within seconds, the fans start to kick-in. After a few minutes it's so loud that it's no longer worth watching without putting headphones on. Plus there will almost certainly be moments when the picture freezes for a second or the frames judder.

    So why is this? Why does my TV (which is, unless I'm mistaken, just another type of computer) do it so effortlessly when my Mac finds it so difficult?
  6. Janichsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 23, 2006
    It's because the Flash player that most video streaming sites use and Silverlight that Netflix uses are badly programmed and horribly optimised pieces of *****.
  7. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    It's weird though. I understand exactly what the OP is on about. Never thought much about it, or cared even, but on an exact same Mac that would blow to high heaven whilst flash/silverlight is running, on the bootcamp partition there is simply no sweat.

    OS X seems to react badly to flash. Or flash reacts badly to OS X. Either way, its been like this for a while and neither Apple or Adobe appear interested in optimising performance. Which quite honestly sucks because I imagine screaming fans don't do wonders for battery life.
  8. Mildredop thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2013
    So do smart TVs run Flash/Silverlight? Is that how they decode Netflix?


    Ah, interesting that it's an OS X thing. I've used Macs for years and just assumed a very hot computer was normal when watching Netflix/iPlayer/porn.
  9. pedromcm.pm macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2014
    Porto, Portugal
    Poor soul :)

    After reading the thread, the issue is obvious starters: Netflix uses crap software (plug ins) on computers, like flash and silverlight.

    Your computer is made of aluminium and has a lot more horsepower than your TV, and those components produce way more heat than your TV does, while letting the aluminium conducting the heat to the outside (if you have a plastic computer, it will look "cooler", but it is actually frying itself because the heat doesn't get out. This is why that aluminium is a must have on quality laptops, thin AIOs, etc.). The fans help a lot.

    A simple HD flash video on youtube causes the same thing, not only Netflix.

    Thankfully, those Netflix guys are looking ahead and doing the right thing, so Safari 8 in Yosemite and the new IE on Win 8.1 won't need flash and silverlight, because Netflix will use HTML5.

    Here is a link that explains it better.

    Also, do not forget that your computer is also doing 10000x more stuff on the background, while you are watching Breaking Bad.
  10. Mildredop thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2013
    What sort of extra stuff is my computer doing? Because I haven't asked it to do any of it.

    So, I get that that Mac is so much more powerful than my TV, but I would therefore expect it to find playing VOD much easier than my TV.

    As an analogy, if I drove a family saloon and a sports car at 30mph, I wouldn't expect the sports car to start overheating because it's 'got more power available', I'd expect the family saloon to overheat at 100mph and the sports car to find it easy. This is the opposite of what you're saying.

    As for the aluminium casing of the Mac, this conducts heat much better than the plastic case of my fanless TV, so if anything the Mac's fans should be even less necessary when watching VOD.

    Not that I disagree with your post, but it just doesn't make any sense to me.
  11. Janichsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 23, 2006
    The latter. The Mac version of the Flash plugin has been a piece of crap for years now. Adobe seems to have lost in decent Mac support years ago and Steve Jobs bashing Flash probably didn't help. However, the Linux version of the Flash plugin is even worse.

    And Silverlight is a Microsoft product, which should explain everything.

    Probably not. The Flash/Silverlight players on computers simply provide the client side handling of the streaming. On smart TVs, there is usually a dedicated, small software for these streaming services.
  12. igucl macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2003
    Yes, I can also confirm that it's mostly an OS X problem. I, too, noticed that my MacBook was much less bothered about playing videos when I was running Windows under Boot Camp.

    As to the question about whether the television sets have similar software needs, I don't believe so. Playing videos on computers introduces a lot of copyright protection restrictions. Since a desktop operating system, such as OS X, allows a lot of freedom in terms of which applications one can run, and what those applications are capable of (stealing content), content providers are more strict about the ways the content can be delivered on computers. I suspect, but I'm not 100% sure, that there is less blockage due to restrictions when streaming on one's HD TV.
  13. Mildredop thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2013
    Why can't that dedicated software work on my Mac?? It clearly works very well.
  14. pedromcm.pm macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2014
    Porto, Portugal
    You have a bigass OS to run even when you are just watching porn. Cloud services are on. I'm sure you get the point. When you boot your computer, it isn't using 0 GB of RAM, right? It is a very complex thing.

    The Mac has more powerful hardware. However, that hardware, even in idle state (or close), will produce a lot more heat than your TV, just like a Ferrari, even at 20 mph, will consume way more fuel than a ford focus at the same speed. In fact, if you drive a high performance car just at those speeds, you will get problems: Filters won't have enough air going through, so you will have to make a trip to the mechanic because the car might accumulate dirt and then overheat, etc.

    But let's let the metaphors for something else. One thing that you are being stubborn about, is that you don't get that your Mac isn't the culprit. Adobe and MS are.

    You can do way more complex tasks on your computer without it stressing that much (Video conversion, opening a lot of apps at the same time, etc.), but because flash and silverlight are so bad on Windows BUT ESPECIALLY on OS X, the hardware has to step up to decode things properly, and it will kick the fans and battery life will decrease.

    That's it, no big deal. If you uninstall flash and silverlight, if you do not use chrome (it has flash built in), you will find that your computer plays 1080p video just fine while doing a bunch of things at the same time (games, browser, music, more games, more tabs, spotify, etc.).

    It's not an OS X thing (as in, the OS isn't the culprit), it's a flash and silverlight thing, especially on OS X. An iPad plays Netflix effortlessly, just like a tiny iPhone.

    For the same reason the Snake game on the Nokia 3310 won't run on OS X: It wasn't built for it. Yur computer plays videos and streams much better than your TV, it's just flash and silverlight that are the problem, and it will be fixed soon enough. Look at Netflix on iOS: Perfect, no flash.

    This is what Apple has to deal with on the Mac side: 30 years of MS dominance = crap legacy. I can't wait for the day Apple closes the Mac down and only Mac App Store downloads (and respective restrictions) are allowed. **** like this would be solved long ago.
  15. Janichsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 23, 2006
    It could, but it was a conscious decision of the content providers (in your case Netflix) to go the Flash/Silverlight route, because that reduces the workload for them. So they only have to develop a player front-end for one platform (i.e. Flash or Silverlight) that works on several operating systems. If the support of that platform for one of these operating systems sucks is not their immediate concern.
  16. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    IMO, VOD on both your Mac and your TV requires computational power to be used, which results in the creation of heat.

    What seems hard is how to deal with the heat that was created.

    I think the overall size of the TV allows the TV to more easily disperse the heat than the design of the Mac allows the Mac to disperse the heat.

    And IIRC from the times I've spent over at AVSForum, some smart TVs do have fans inside of them.
  17. igucl macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2003

    Alright, Pedromcm, you are clearly pro-Apple, and I don't fault you for knowing what you like. However, maybe we should have a bit more balanced view.

    It's not actually true that Flash and Silverlight have poor performance on Windows, as you stated. As I and others have said, there is an immediate and clear jump in the performance of these plugins when one boots a Mac into Windows. With the only variable being the OS, the hardware proves itself capable under Microsoft's system.

    Now, I am aware that the problems are due to the way these plugins are written for the Mac OS. That was my intended meaning when I said that the problem is mostly due to OS X. However, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Apple is completely without fault here. As I understand it, there are limitations placed on the developers of these plugins by Apple, limitations that don't exist on Windows.

    I don't recall the specific details, but I remember when I researched this problem myself, that others were indicating that Apple doesn't allow the plugins to have as much direct access to the graphics hardware as the developers would like, or as much as they are accustomed to having on the PC. Thus, the performance wall that all Macs hit when running these plugins.

    With that being said, I am also looking forward to the demise of Flash, and the day when we don't need any plugins at all. But I do think you carry the idea to the extreme when you wish for the end of the open platform that Mac users currently enjoy. This is bad for software developers and bad for customers. This would mean, for example, that the only way Adobe could distribute their creative suite of professional apps would be through the App Store. Could you really ever see that happening? Do you think they want to give a cut to Apple for every sale they make? If this were to happen, I think it would be far more likely that Adobe and other large software companies would abandon the Mac altogether.

    There is still a need and a place for the freedom of the non-curated desktop OS platform.

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