Fix MacBook Air Streaming Video and Overheating Problems

I’ve been having a lot of trouble streaming video on my MacBook Air recently. No matter which site I’m on, YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix, within a few minutes the video becomes choppy and unwatchable. Fed up with my computer’s inability to complete a task it should be able to handle no problem, I brought her into the Apple (s aapl) store on 14th street in NYC to get repaired…which did not happen.

After I described my problem, and offered up screenshots of the activity monitor showing one of my cores shut down with just Firefox or Safari open, the “genius” looked a my computer for a total of about five minutes before informing me that MacBook Airs were built to be ultraportable and therefore cannot do everything a regular MacBook can, like watch YouTube videos. I was steaming…

After leaving the Apple store, I went home and did some research, where I uncovered the magic pill for the MacBook Air overheating problem, Coolbook. Coolbook is a $10 program that lets you change the frequency and voltage of your processor to reduce heat and fan noise, and increase battery life. Before I found Coolbook I was honestly going to sell my MacBook Air and get a new laptop, but now that I have Coolbook installed and tweaked, my computer is running perfectly.

A Few Notes About Coolbook

  • There is a free version, but it doesn’t let you do anything. Don’t waste your time with it; purchase the full version immediately.
  • The directions are a little confusing, so I’ve outlined some pointers below.
  • There is a whole forum thread about Coolbook here.
  • Although I used it on a MacBook Air to fix my video issues, it should improve the performance of any Mac laptop.
  • I had an email conversation with the developer, so a lot of the information listed is “straight from the horse’s mouth.” Thanks for helping, Magnus!

After you download and purchase Coolbook, go ahead and register it. Once it’s registered you can start to configure it.

Setting a Voltage With Frequency

When you’re configuring frequencies, it’s important to uncheck the “Throttle Active” checkbox.

  1. Select the frequency from the drop-down box
  2. Select the voltage from the drop-down box
  3. Click the set button.

“The lower voltage you can use, the more power you will save. Finding the limits of your CPU requires some experimentation. If you try to step down the voltage one notch at the time, you will eventually reach the limit of your CPU, and you will have a kernel panic (showing the picture of the power button).”

We need to do this process with each frequency for both adapter and battery mode, making sure we save our work each time we find the correct voltage for a frequency.

Throttling Level & Temp Limit

Throttling level controls how easy CoolBook will step up in frequency. A higher value will make the frequency step up quicker, and at a lower CPU load. High is recommended when using temp limit. When the temp limit is reached, CoolBook will step down to a lower frequency in the list. This is done to reduce heat. This feature is not needed for all computer models, but it is recommended on computers that reaches too high temperatures during load.

Throttling Active & Coolbook Active

Finally, it’s time to turn on throttling and Coolbook. Check both boxes and let your system reboot when prompted. When your system is rebooted, it will be running Coolbook in the background. You do not need to launch the application.

Screenshots of My Configuration

Each processor is different, but this is how my system is configured.