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Core i7 MacBook Pros running unusually hot?

updated 11:50 am EDT, Mon April 26, 2010

Temperatures surpass boiling point in tests

The Core i7 versions of Apple's new MacBook Pro may run extremely hot, data suggests. In performance testing, a 17-inch Pro using a Core i7-620M is initially reported to have done poorly in Photoshop. Because a second test ran better when the Pro was sat on its side, it was suspected that heat was hampering the computer.

Running a subsequent Dwarf Fortress test in Windows is said to have pushed temperatures from an idle 50C to 84C, spreading heat from the area directly underneath the CPU to the rest of the computer's base, making the system "almost too hot" to touch, according to PC Authority. The situation became still worse during testing with Cinebench 11.5, which unlike Dwarf Fortress can take advantage of multiple cores. CPU temperatures hit 90 and 95C in Mac OS X and Windows, respectively, verging on the boiling point of water.

The barrier was in fact broken a day later, as both Windows and Mac OS X hit 101C during a repeat of Cinebench. PC Authority argues that there may be something inherently wrong with the Pro's cooling design, as a Fujitsu Lifebook SH760 with the same CPU is reported to have got no hotter than 81C, even after running Cinebench three times in a row. Unlike Apple's system, the SH760 uses a copper heatsink that vents out of the left side of the chassis.

New mid- and upper-range Pros in general may also be over-reliant on dedicated graphics. Their GeForce 330M chipset is allegedly being activated for very simple tasks, such as running Tweetie, or even iGoogle in a web browser. Regularly making use of the high-end video hardware could be contributing to excess temperatures.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Remember the Rainbow

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not as hot as my 15in C2D (2.33 late 2006)

    I haven't done measurements, but I did play World of Warcraft for a few hours with my ( i7 / 17in) sitting on my lap. Got a little warm, but I used to have to use a pillow for my C2D MBP...

    It definitely used the dedicated GPU (checked about this Mac) and never even sniffled with video/interface settings at maximum in the game.

  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nothing but FUD

    One group tested one computer on things way beyond normal usage which does not a major design flaw make.

  1. bdmarsh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    90 C is normal

    for the diode temperature on Core2Duo processors on almost all MacBook & MacBook Pro models under 100% CPU loads for any length of time. (and it'll hold at 90C for hours)

    the case especially under the CPU/GPU area will hit in the 35 to 40 C range on the aluminum models, a few degrees cooler to the touch on the plastic models (although usually the internal case temps are higher in the plastic models)

    when they go over 90 C that tends to be a sign of some kind of problem, either fans aren't ramping up, or there is an issue with the thermal compound seal with the heatsink.

  1. bdmarsh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    forgot to mention

    that I haven't tested any i5 or i7 MacBook Pro's yet, we are still waiting on our initial order here in Canada
    I'd be surprised if the thermal behaviour was much different, although I haven't checked Intel's whitepaper for these mobile i5/i7 processors to see what the temperature range should be.

  1. TeknolustPDX

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cooler than Previous Gen in Standard Tasks

    I purchased a 17MBP Core i7 2.66GHz last week, which I am replacing a previous generation 17MBP C2D 2.93GHz. I have both systems still, so was able to do a bit of testing to compare the temperatures.

    I was initially surprised that the new Core i7 runs much cooler than my previous C2D for standard tasks. With my old C2D if I had the discrete graphics enabled the system would get fairly warm even just surfing the web. With the new Core i7 the system is significantly cooler (usually around 38-40C) and its very comfortable to use in my lap. My C2D would get up around 51C doing similar tasks.

    When it comes to more computational tasks, the Core i7 definitely does generate a lot of heat. The hottest I have seen it get is 91C doing some video transcoding that was hitting the CPU's hard (400% Max CPU for 30 min). My C2D doing the same task would cap out at 88C, but it also took about 25% longer to complete. Neither system I would say could be used comfortably for taxing tasks in your lap, definitely want it on a desk. My testing was done in Snow Leopard also, I haven't setup BootCamp on it yet.

    Looking online at Intel's Datasheet for the Core i7-620M (, it looks like the processors overheat failsafe kicks in at 105C. The article claims seeing spikes of 101C which is getting dangerously close to that. I wonder if the model they are testing with has a bad thermal seal on the CPU or maybe something with the fan controls in Windows as its running about 10C higher than my model at max load. Perhaps Apple is being more conservative on fan usage on this model in order to maximize battery life, I notice the fans are quite a bit quieter than my C2D when they kick in.

    I might have some time to get Windows 7 setup in BootCamp, I will post back if I notice the Windows temperatures running higher or if the thermal temperatures I get change significantly. Hopefully the issue is isolated to a few models, 100C is far too hot for a portable system.

  1. Dark Goob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not really.

    I am getting about 150 F / 65 C on the GPU when I'm using the GPU extensively. That's pretty normal for running something GPU-intensive like Second Life. To wit, the max operating temp is something over 100 C.

    Besides I have AppleCare, so... if it breaks they will just fix it anyway LAWL.

  1. Ilich

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It is not the unique problem

    I have a Macbook pro 5,1, late 2008 and this like several products of the same model, they suffer of blinkings in the screen.
    Apple does not make anything solve the problem, the equipment is with time outside guarantee and the center on watch does not know like solving it, clearly it is a defect of the product, badly by Apple that it has ignored to us and we must look for with who is so that she puts attention to us.

  1. WaltFrench

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bogus Comparison

    PC Attitude's comparison was against a Fujitsu 13 incher. With fewer than half the pixels to light up, Fujitsu put in an NVidia 310 instead of the MBP's 330 (and still got snarky reviews for mediocre gaming).

    Adding the i7 TDP to the GPUs' the Fujitsu by design generates just over half the heat, probably turns Cinebench scores far inferior— anybody see 'em? Very likely, the MBP is hotter but doing much more. Tip for cooling: sleep the computer for a minute every two, and the machine won't get so hot, even though it'll do a lot less.

    Many other spec differences, most in favor of more horsepower, and heat, on the MBP. The only common attribute is the i7; this is NOT a comparison scrupulously trying to be honest. (It may not be dishonest, likely they wanted to push a position and weren't that concerned about details.)

    I don't do Cinebench, but it simulates 3D and other rendering; it is meant to heavily exploit the GPU. That makes it an especially unlikely benchmark program for the Fujitsu: who would test graphics-heavy processing on a slower and graphics-weak machine?

    Yes, you want to "stress" the machine and see how hot it gets. But suppose I'm pumping out 1200 calories/hour on the cardio machine, pulse up to 130, while next to me, a fan is blowing on somebody strolling along at a "low resistance" 300 calorie/hr stroll, and not sweating much. Does that mean I'm less able to handle stress, or actually, just the opposite?

    Finally, note that the worst temps were achieved under Boot Camp, almost as if PCA tried whatever they could to cook the MBP. Give Apple a break if they don't have their NVidia drivers tuned for Win7. Personally, I've yet to hear my new machines fans kick in and it runs MUCH COOLER than the Core [non-2] Duo that it replaced because it's just loping along with all its extra capability.

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