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  • Core i7 in MacBook Pro Hot Enough to Boil Water


    The new Core i7-equipped MacBook Pro model may have a heat buildup issue, if a recent set of tests hold up. The Australian PC Authority magazine ran a series of benchmarks on the new notebook and found that when pushed to the limit, the processor reached an alarming 101C - above the boiling point of water - and the bottom of the laptop was uncomfortably hot to the touch. A side-by-side test with a Fujitsu laptop running the same test showed it running as much as 20 degrees cooler, raising questions about the way the high-performance Core i7 processor was incorporated into the existing chassis of the MacBook Pro.

    PC Authority was putting the new top-of-the-line Apple notebook through its paces, and in the process of running its normal benchmark suite, they noticed that the MacBook Pro was seriously underperforming at some Photoshop tasks. Guessing it might be a heat-related issue, they turned the computer on its side and found it performed much better. The design of the MacBook Pro's aluminum unibody uses the case itself to aid in heat dissipation, and ordinarily it works very well, with the aluminum of the enclosure radiating the heat out to the cooler ambient air. In this case, however, the PC Authority testers theorized that the heat wasn't being reduced effectively enough.

    They decided to see how the MacBook Pro handled heat at full load, and booted the computer into Windows in order to do some rendering in Dwarf Fortress. After a few minutes, the CPU had shot up from an idle temperature 50C (or 122 in the quaint Fahrenheit temperature scale we use in the United States) to 84C, or 183F. They drove the processor through some even more intensive runs with the Cinebench multi-threaded 3D rendering benchmark tool, and succeeded in pushing processor temperature to 95C or 203F. Repeating the same test in OS X raised the temperature to 90C, and though the sensors on the bottom of the case only registered a slightly warm 39C (102F), the testers reported that the underside was "almost too hot to touch." After letting the MacBook Pro cool overnight and doing the tests again, temperature reached 101C (213F) on the second Cinebench run.

    They did the same battery of tests with a Fujitsu Lifebook SH 760, which uses the same Core i7-620M CPU as the MacBook Pro. The plastic-bodied Fujitsu, however, has a copper processor heatsink that vents out the side, rather than the bottom. The Fujitsu's CPU went from an idle temperature of 40C to a maximum of 81C after three Cinebench runs. The team also reported that the Fujitsu was cool to the touch.

    Intel's specs indicate that thermal max for this chip is 105C. While the high temperatures were the result an intentional stress test to run the chip as hot as they possibly could, it's not common to get that close to threshold temperatures in any controlled testing. The processor's overload circuits may even have kicked in (at least one hopes so). And the PC Authority guys point out that they did a lot of real-world tests that caused temperatures to spike.

    Even more worrisome is the reported high temperatures on the bottom of the case. Probably not a good idea to do a lot of rendering with a Core i7 MacBook on your lap...
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Core i7 in MacBook Pro Hot Enough to Boil Water started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 41 Comments
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      My MBP 15" gets hot these days, Downloaded smc and increased fans to maximum, was awesome lol. Cool air blowing out of it
    1. leb4lyfe's Avatar
      leb4lyfe -
      yeah what else is new it seems the pros always have overheating issues, my buddy makes grill cheese on his
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      the real question: why is there fire in that image
    1. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      These computers are basically meant to be used as portable work stations. I rarely use it on my lap. I'll take it to school and put it on a desk there and then I'll come home and put it on a desk there. The hottest that mine has ever been is 175F while ripping a DVD with handbrake using 100% of all 4 cores.

      Quote Originally Posted by adrian1480 View Post
      lol. a MBP isn't a "pro grade" computer. it's a "consumer-grade" computer.

      if you want better reliability than a consumer-grade computer, you'll need to buy a workstation-grade machine.

      that means Dell Precision. That means Lenovo W series. That means HP Elitebook. Everything else (including Apple laptops) are a clear notch below, regardless of the [inflated] pricetag.

      just because Apple calls it a "Pro" doesn't make it so. it's one of the least powerful laptops in its class, overall. which makes the heat issues even more unreasonable.
      Yeah, maybe a 13in MBP is a consumer grade computer, but the i5 and i7 models have much more power than is need by the average email checker. Dell sucks. Hard. HP computers are notorious for their sucky track pads. IMO, the only computer that I would have ever bought other than a mac would have been a Sony. But sony doesn't run OSX (without hackintosh) so I think I'll keep my macbook pro. Which, by the way, doesn't get any hotter than my friend gateway.
    1. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      According to Apple, The MacBook is a notebook, not a laptop, refer to your user manual.

      In which it states:

      "When youre using your MacBook or charging the battery, it's normal for the bottom of the case to get warm (or boiling hot). For prolonged use (15 minutes), place your MacBook on a flat, stable surface. Do not place your MacBook on your lap or other body surface for extended periods of time. Prolonged body contact can cause discomfort and potentially a burn. (You gotta wonder if some poor employee had to sit with a mbp and wait to see if it burns his crotch..."uh yep, AHHH.. its burning!") The bottom of the MacBook case functions as a cooling surface that transfers heat from inside the computer to the cooler air outside. The bottom of the case is raised slightly to allow airflow, which keeps the unit within normal operating temperatures. (...define normal...213F?) In addition, warm air is vented from the slots in the back of the case." (oh, you mean those slots covered by the screen?)

      Its funny, all their marketing points to it being a laptop; people using the computer in their lap, some ads even using the word "lap." But when suddenly its burning the hell out of your legs, it becomes a "notebook." Lol... silly Apple with their tricky words..
    1. s4mb4's Avatar
      s4mb4 -
      real world, these stats are meaningless. burn in and performance testing is not something the average users does everyday with their device on their lap.
    1. DarkDragonAn's Avatar
      DarkDragonAn -
      My mbp only get really hot when i do some video editing or some heavy work like rendering, other than that is all good.
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      Let someone get burn so they can sue Apple.
    1. chrodriguezmarydown's Avatar
      chrodriguezmarydown -
      look! a portable stove!
      lets go camping and make
      some eegs guys
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      I don't wish to upgrade unless this issue will be fixed.
    1. dale2's Avatar
      dale2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by adrian1480 View Post
      lol. a MBP isn't a "pro grade" computer. it's a "consumer-grade" computer.

      if you want better reliability than a consumer-grade computer, you'll need to buy a workstation-grade machine.

      that means Dell Precision. That means Lenovo W series. That means HP Elitebook. Everything else (including Apple laptops) are a clear notch below, regardless of the [inflated] pricetag.

      just because Apple calls it a "Pro" doesn't make it so. it's one of the least powerful laptops in its class, overall. which makes the heat issues even more unreasonable.
      Least powerful laptops in its class? back up your claims please
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tiger92 View Post
      These computers are basically meant to be used as portable work stations. I rarely use it on my lap. I'll take it to school and put it on a desk there and then I'll come home and put it on a desk there. The hottest that mine has ever been is 175F while ripping a DVD with handbrake using 100% of all 4 cores.


      Yeah, maybe a 13in MBP is a consumer grade computer, but the i5 and i7 models have much more power than is need by the average email checker. Dell sucks. Hard. HP computers are notorious for their sucky track pads. IMO, the only computer that I would have ever bought other than a mac would have been a Sony. But sony doesn't run OSX (without hackintosh) so I think I'll keep my macbook pro. Which, by the way, doesn't get any hotter than my friend gateway.
      I am running the i7 in an HP and I don't have a sucky track pad...whatever that is. I assume you mean the touch pad? It does get hot though while gaming. 157 degrees(F). I am in the market for a fan pad that actually cools where it needs to. On the HP it is in the top left corner of the laptop...every fan pad I have seen cools the center of the laptop.
    1. dale2's Avatar
      dale2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by CaptainChaos View Post
      I am running the i7 in an HP and I don't have a sucky track pad...whatever that is. I assume you mean the touch pad? It does get hot though while gaming. 157 degrees(F). I am in the market for a fan pad that actually cools where it needs to. On the HP it is in the top left corner of the laptop...every fan pad I have seen cools the center of the laptop.
      macs have track pads. sorry for the confusion. its what apple calls them
    1. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      Touchpad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      tomato tomato (yeah i know they both sound the same when you read them but you know how it goes)
    1. Excel Wiz's Avatar
      Excel Wiz -
      I purchased an i7 MBP 15" and it should be coming tomorrow so i'll let you know if heat really is an issue.
    1. creasyj's Avatar
      creasyj -
      Come on people. It's a business! They're not going to make products that last forever. Do the best you can to keep it as cool as you can and when it dies...go buy another, newer, better one. That's how capitalism works. You've bought in to this system your whole life.
    1. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      Holy necro post! This thread is a year old!!
    1. creasyj's Avatar
      creasyj -
      A year is not so long... Think of it as a zombie post...?
    1. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      Generally it is not an issue if it is a contributing post. In this case, the post contributes nothing to a well known "problem" with computers that use i7 processors.
    1. creasyj's Avatar
      creasyj -
      Technically, it is about i7 in MBP's and the heat involved with many comments about the engineering quality of Apple products. I simply injected a dose of reality. No less of a "contributing" comment than most of the others here. Sorry that it bothers you...