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Mac Pro owners reporting CPU overheating while playing audio

updated 10:25 pm EST, Wed December 16, 2009

Bug apparently affecting Nehalem-based systems

A larger number of Mac Pro owners have reported problems with excessive CPU heat while simply playing audio, according to several threads on Apple's Support forums and Macrumors forums. Although playing MP3s through iTunes only utilizes a small fraction of the available CPU resources, users are claiming that the core temperatures soon approach the operating limits.

Users have allegedly observed power consumption start at 3-5W at idle, with audio playback quickly causing a jump up to 50W. As the CPU cores draw additional power, the temperature rises into the range of 60C or higher for many users. The problem reportedly persists with any function utilizing audio, including system sounds and even external devices.

Although the cause of the excessive power drain remains unclear, the issue appears to be limited to the latest Nehalem-based Mac Pros. Switching between Leopard and Snow Leopard does not provide a remedy. The Mac OS X operating system is nonetheless believed to be partially responsible, as the temperature and power drain have dropped to normal levels for users playing audio in Windows via Boot Camp.

Many users have voiced frustration that Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue or release a software or firmware update containing a fix.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    On my 3.06 GHz iMac

    iTunes MP3 playback uses about 1 or 2% processing power. Apple really needs to do something about those Mac Pros. Add a few more processors in them. I can't imagine how something like that could happen to those awesome Mac Pros.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sucked in!!

    What a useless company Apple is

  1. pilot_17

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Imagine dropping wads of cash on a Mac Pro only to find out it can barely cope with playing a song in iTunes. Apple does not cease to amaze me these days. Maybe they should stick to phones and iPods.

  1. emig647

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I have a 8 core 2.66 nehalem...

    I haven't noticed anything unusual for playing music (except for the crashing of itunes when going into display sleep mode, but that's another topic). I play itunes 24 hours a day, and it never gets above 2.5% cpu usage. My fans never spin up from itunes... so I'm sure the heat isn't hitting 60° like others are saying.

    Just because I haven't had the problem doesn't mean others aren't... but I'm clean over here.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Never buy...

    ...the version one of anything from Apple (or anybody else for that matter)! Especially when the presence of the new version slashes the price of the older, more reliable version!

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Can we account this first iteration of Nehalem as being part of the "tick" in Intel proc development, while fixes for issues like these come in the "tock"? The "tick" is normally when they manage to squeeze more transistors onto a chip or come out with a new core, and the "tock" is when they refine that technology.

  1. Tanker10a

    Joined: Dec 1969


    latest Nehalem-based Mac Pros

    Sounds like a new firmware update is in order. Though I find that hard to believe...

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Note the article states it isn't using a large amount of CPU (or at least not reporting that it is), just that the temperatures spike. And it mentions audio in general. This would indicate either an issue with cooling around the audio processors on the computer.

    Is there a chance that some of the audio processing is done through the GPU? If so, it could also be video card related.

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