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Macbook Air Overheating Possible Solution

March 16, 2010

It has been reported many times that the Macbook Air overheats to the point of burning your legs. On the positive side we could possibly use it on the next corporate BBQ to get some ribs grilled to perfection.

It has been my experience that the fastest way to get the Air burning is to have it play some HD video. After a few minutes the playback starts hanging, the CPU goes to 100%, and that is the end of the movie.

I knew that undervolting could be a solution but I did not know how to use it on the Mac
Undervolting is basically a process to lower the CPU voltage by software in order to improve battery consumption and lower operating temperatures.

Due to the manufacturing processes each CPU has slightly different voltage tolerances. Chip manufacturers, instead of optimizing de lowest voltage possible for each individual CPU, they basically set it to a know stable configuration, that some times is far from optimal.

The higher the voltage the higher the power dissipation, i.e. heat generated by the CPU. This has nothing to do with speed. Do not confuse voltage with frequency and clock cycles. Lowering the voltage will not make your computer run slower, or damage your CPU in any way. It will save battery and cool it down.
The idea is to lower the CPU voltage while keeping the frequency at its maximum.

The “risk” of lowering the CPU voltage is instability, again you will not, repeat not, damage the CPU. At a certain point the CPU will be unstable and cause a kernel panic in the operating system. So all you need to to is find the lower possible voltage that still keeps the CPU stable and you have a winning configuration.

After searching the Web for days on end I found a cool (no pun intended) small utility called CoolBook that allows you to do just that, play with your voltage settings in order to find the optimal lowest voltage for your CPU to run.

I have been playing with CoolBook for a day or so and I will report back my findings soon.

What has been your experience with Mac Overheating problems?


From → Apple, MAC OS

One Comment
  1. Jonathan permalink

    Thanks. I was looking for a recent post regarding this software. I’ve been looking around for days also and many people were stating that some updates had fixed the problem. Now that I see the issue is still around, I’m going to purchase CoolBook.

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