My MBP (unibody, Summer 2010) has suddenly begun getting very hot and running the fans at full speed when I have an external monitor plugged in via the mini display port. I've used the monitor for ages and haven't had the problem at all until a few days ago.

It gets hot even when the computer is idling and nothing is changing on either screen. When it's hot, Activity Monitor shows low CPU activity most of the time, so that's not the cause. Almost as soon as I unplug the monitor, the fans return to normal.

Additionally, I have a DisplayLink adapter for yet another external monitor, and using it doesn't cause the computer to get hot.

This comes right after I dropped it (like 8 inches from the ground) and the screen hinge was partly messed up so that the screen scrapes ever so slightly against the body when opening and closing. I opened up the case to try and correct it; I didn't have the right tools with me, but while I was in there I took a brush to the air "filters" in front of the fans.

So, what could be causing this issue? Is it

  1. The hinge problem messing up some critical airflow,
  2. The small drop that messed something else up (like the video card),
  3. Me botching the fan cleaning, or
  4. Something else entirely?

None of these seem all too likely, but the problem is there. The laptop is out of warranty, so I'll be looking into this one myself. Thank you for your help!

  • 1
    Is the air on the heatsink output hot when the fans are running at full speed? I doubt that cleaning the fan could cause major problems. t could be that the cooling system is somehow damages and it isn't cooling the card efficiently. If that is so, the fans will work at full power but the air won't be hot because the heat isn't transferred correctly from heat source to heatsink. – AndrejaKo Dec 20 '11 at 11:09
  • If it is under warranty I suggest you get it looked at by Apple. – Ramhound Dec 20 '11 at 14:12
  • After restarting it again, the problem seems to have vanished. – tmandry Dec 31 '11 at 18:50

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