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Summary:

The other day, a friend of mine was showing me something on his laptop.  He handed his Lenovo ThinkPad over to me. I prepared my hand for the expected heat and was pleasantly surprised by a physically cool laptop. This brings me to my gripe. Why can’t Apple laptops […]

The other day, a friend of mine was showing me something on his laptop.  He handed his Lenovo ThinkPad over to me. I prepared my hand for the expected heat and was pleasantly surprised by a physically cool laptop. This brings me to my gripe. Why can’t Apple laptops run cooler? There must be a way to not sacrifice style but still have a cool laptop.

My main computer is an Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro, and it runs so extremely hot that I use a Targus CoolPad almost every time I use my computer as a laptop. I know Apple does not call the MacBook or MacBook Pro “laptops;” Apple calls them “Notebooks.” But where do people actually use such computers?

Another quick fix to get your MacBook to cool down in a hurry is smcFanControl. smcFanControl is a piece of free software (donations are welcomed) that allows you to set the minimum speed for each fan individually. The end result is a cooler MacBook or MacBook Pro.

While using software or a physical barrier is a nice solution, the real problem is over at Apple for not creating notebook computers for people the way people actually use the products. Design is important, but not as important as usability.

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  1. My MacBook Pro was one of the earlier 1.83GHz Core Duo models, and when I first got it, it was a scorcher. I rarely used it on my lap, and when I used it in bed, I always put a pillow in between me and the machine, causing it to heat up even further from the insulation.

    About 6 months ago, I finally had the time to send it in for some long awaited repairs. My Superdrive had some issues, a fan was noisy, and I had the annoying MacBook Pro “whine”. Once Apple did their magic, I had the machine back, and it was much quieter due to new, quieter fans, and it was a lot cooler, presumably from the replacement logic board. It was at least 20°F cooler to the touch at normal loads. I’m quite happy now, because my MBP is finally lap usable.

    It’s still warm, and can get hot at times, but no warmer than my previous Aluminum PB G4s were.

  2. Hi
    I think design = usability
    But there are diferent “values” that a designer has to maintain
    I have a macbook and it gets really hot sometimes, but it’s the most quiet notebook I’ve ever used. The noise (or its absence) is important to me more than the heat.
    Otherwise I use SMCfanControl
    :)

  3. It’s better for Apple to set their notebooks to default to the minimum noise level than the minimum heat level, because a 3rd party utility to turn up the fans somewhat and accept a noisier system carries no risk. But a 3rd party utility on a PC notebook to turn DOWN the fans would carry a whole lot of risk, because you don’t know what is the minimum fan activity your system is engineered to withstand. In fact, I doubt such a utility even exists for the PC, because it would expose the manufacturer to lawsuits to make the APIs available for it, and it would expose the utility developer to the same lawsuits.

    The practical results is that on the Mac you get a choice between Apple’s minimal fan activity or your own higher setting. On the PC your only safe choice is the manufacturer’s setting.

  4. I’ve not got a pro, just a macbook (black, core 2 duo)

    I’ve never had any complaints as far as heat. It does warm up noticeably when really crunching (playing WoW, working in illustrator or photoshop,) but otherwise is cool to the touch and almost completely silent.

    Am I just a lucky one?

  5. Remember that the thinkpad isn’t 1″ thick and the apple has a fairly buff graphics card.

  6. My week 21 2.16 Core Duo 17″ was quite hot when I got it. Now I use FanControl – the one in the Preference Pane – and keep the fans at 3000 rpm minimum. Now I can use it for hours on my bare knees without any discomfort.

    Yes, it should have come from the factory this way, but once I installed FanControl it is a non-issue.

  7. Another fix is to upgrade to the Core 2 Duo MBPs, they corrected the venting on it and it doesn’t tend to get to unbearable temps like the Core Duos do.

  8. I just bought a black 2GHz core2duo and also find it to run warm but I can have it sitting on my laptop all evening without issue. I’m also a lucky one.

  9. This is definitely an area that needs improvement. I’m a big fan of the laptop, but the heat can be ridiculous. First priority should be fixing the ipod and MBP battery issues though!

  10. I have to play 3D games or recompile Ruby or something on my Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro to be able to feel it through my jeans at all. The first-gen Intel Mac notebooks were hot, the latest models are not. They do hold their value though – upgrade?

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