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I have a 15" unibody MacBook Pro that often gets so hot on the left side that it is uncomfortable to type. I just bought a cooling pad which has helped a lot, but I'm wondering if something is wrong with my computer?

Have we as computer users come to accept this kind of behavior from our portables?

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My MacBook Pro gets hot –  harriyott Jul 15 '09 at 20:44
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9 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes, this happened lots with my MacBook; the fans seem to have an unusually high temperature threshold until they kick in. It may be because since the case is solid aluminium, it conducts the heat away from the internal components, so is in itself much hotter than the actual inside components, leading to the fans not kicking in even though the body feels hot.

I downloaded Fan Control which allows you to change the fan speed, and has been working great and keeping it cool, although sometimes it can be a little too sensitive - it depends how you set it up.

Edit: the use of the unibody to transfer heat from the internals to the air outside is certainly true for the bottom of the MacBook, probably the top as well, so this again, is probably why it seems hotter than the actual components are:

The bottom of the MacBook case functions as a cooling surface that transfers heat from inside the computer to the cooler air outside.

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While I don't have a MacBook Pro but merely a MacBook I got tired of mine being hot as well. One way of doing something about this is undervolting the CPU.

While it may sound like it, undervolting will NOT harm performance - it merely lowers the voltage to the CPU. An electric component needs a certain amount of voltage to function (and also it cannot be too much!) or it won't work properly - however not all CPUs (even within the same make and brand) are made equally and as such the minimum voltage under which they can function differs. Intel (and AMD too) sets a standard "bar" for which all their released CPUs MUST be able to function, however this is usually quite alot above what YOUR specific CPU needs. If you try undervolting too much your system will crash and reset the voltage settings, but no components will be damaged. A software for the Mac that can be used to undervolt the CPU is Coolbook. Read the instructions carefully and you should be good going - and please notice that the software is not free, however it is dirt cheap. I used it to succesfully undervolt my CPU and it dropped about 10C - another benefit of this is that it actually means your CPU uses less power - ie your battery lasts longer.

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No, it is NOT normal!

Open the case, and clean the ventilation grids. They get filled with a ton of dirt and prevent efficient cooling. It might even lead to failure of the fan if dirt clogs up too much.

By cleaning I managed to reduce the temperature from 90C to 70C!

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Mac laptops getting uncomfortably hot is quite a common occurrence, however there are numerous things you can do to prevent it, including using a laptop cooling pad (which you already are doing), downloading a fan control program such as SMC fan control, clearing dust buildup inside your Mac, and avoiding and blocking Flash Content when possible. Check out this page that is dedicated to just the sort of problems you're experiencing: http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-prevent-your-mac-from-overheating

Good luck!

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They have always done this to different degrees all the way back to my PowerBook 5300C.

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I find it depends on whether something is keeping the CPU active or not. For just browsing the web and light editing, it doesn't get very hot. But if I've got a VirtualBox or Parallels session going, the CPU load goes up to a very steady 25%, and then it gets hot.

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Yes, which is probably part of the reason why Apple has never called them "Laptops." My new unibody MacBook doesn't heat up as much but the Mac Pros would turn my thighs red.

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Disclaimer: I don't own a MacBook.

This appears to be a known issue due to the laptop's design.

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This has been a problem for ages when a computer comes with the warning, you can expect it to get hot.

"Do not leave the bottom of your MacBook Pro in contact with your lap or any surface of your body for extended periods. Prolonged contact with your body could cause discomfort and potentially a burn"

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