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Thread: Controlling the fan speed on your Macbook

  1. #1

    Controlling the fan speed on your Macbook

    I use my Apple laptop (2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo) on airplanes a lot. It is sufficiently hot so that I cannot put it directly on my lap for prolonged periods. All Macbooks come with multiple temperature sensors that you can see (the istat widget will list all the temperatures of both CPUs, memory chip, etc.) and my CPU and RAM typically runs at 60˚C and 40˚C respectively.

    I recently came across a little control panel that allows me to adjust the speed of the fans and define presets for different situation, such as running on batteries and during ac-power. Called smcFanControl 2 (Source), this little application works well. It installs a little display on the top menu bar, showing the temperature and the rpm of the left and right fans.

    Before making any changes, both fans were going at about 2800 rpm and the CPU temperature was 60˚C. Within 5 minutes after setting one or both fans to the "higher rpm" setting, the fan speeds increased to 4000 rpm and the temperature of the CPUs fell to 50˚C. The chassis of my MacBook Pro feels noticeably cooler, in fact, cool enough to put on my lap.

    The widget istat indicated the following temperatures:
    Code:
    CPU A                50˚C
    CPU                  45˚C
    CPU Heatsink         47˚C
    Heatsink A           45˚C
    Heatsink B           40˚C
    Enclosure bottom     33˚C
    Memory control       41˚C
    Memory bank A1       38˚C
    Note the smcfancontrol is imperfect in several ways. First, it requires that you type an administrative code every time the program changes the fan settings. Thus, you can tell the application to lower the fan settings if you go on battery power but it does not do so until you tell the popup window your administrative password. Second, the temperature that it monitors for the right and left fan appear to be the same. I am not sure what they are measuring. The numbers given are closest to the CPU A temperatures. Third, they should just do a button or something instead of all these pull down menus, etc.

    Wise.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 08-04-2007 at 06:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Hi Wise,

    I've never owned a "laptop" but heard that after a few people attempted to sue the makers of them, they started calling them "notebooks" in order to avoid any future legal problems concerning burnt laps.

    I'm glad you found a better fan contoller and were able to reduce the heat by 10*C. I know you already carry around 60 pounds of electronic gear as it is but I was thinking it would be a good idea to carry around a lightweight insulated board to lay across your lap to put your laptop/notebook on. Even more stuff. Laptop/notebook manufacturers could do this internally but that would add to the thickness of the laptop/notebook and "thin is in".

    I have a liquid cooled desktop and I can hear (and see the LED readout) the radiator fans cranking up whenever I start putting stress, thus heat, on the CPU. Plus my motherboard (Asus) has a similar feature called "Cool 'n Quiet" that does the same thing, had I kept it air cooled.

    The drawback to increasing the RPMs of your laptop/notebook fan(s) is battery life and additional noise. I'm sure fans, like everything else that draws quite a bit of power (video card etc.) will drain your battery faster. That's why you lug that heavy backup battery all over the globe!

    Newton knew this in the 15th century way before Bill Gates, Steve Jobs & the "Woz" were born when he wrote (and I paraphrase) his third law of motion "For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction."

    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    Newton's third law. Lex III: Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi.
    Or as I call it "There's no free lunch".

    Should I be quoting Ohm's Law?

    Bob.
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

  3. #3
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    As I haven't Mac'd in a while, do Macs have power settings? They must, as with my HP, desktop replacement... 3800+AMD, standard Temp at min savings, aka 100% cpu power of 1.5V, i sit at 50C. If I toss it on max saving, cpu at 1.15V, I'm own to 40ishC.

    Ohms law eh bob, V=IR.

  4. #4
    Thanks, my laptop is my main conduit to the world. I had reluctantly upgraded to a 17-inch 2.3 Ghz Duo Core in hopes of being able to use the Windows to ensure compatability of presentations and other files. When I send a manuscript or give a powerpoint presentation, I want to see make sure that other people are seeing what I see on the Mac. Unfortunately, that is not true in most cases and I thought that having Windows on my computer will help me resolve these issues. It really has not.

    At least twice a month, I am taking the 15.5 hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong and back. Aside from being a time when I am not connected to internet or telephone, it is a time when I can focus on some writing or reading project. I carry two chargers that allow me to plug into the seat power of the Boeing 777 planes; the new planes have a new AC adaptor which I don't think much of because they cannot provide sufficient current to power laptops. The old DC plugs are better because, although they do not charge the battery, they do allow you to work without draining your battery.

    Instead of carrying paper, I now have a Iliad reader which will allow me to read pdf files on a high contrast screen that can run for 15 hours without recharge. I have my laptop and can power it from the seat. So, I am golden, except that the 17-inch screen is too big to fit on the tray table. So, I put it on my lap but it gets really hot. So, I end up putting a blanket on my lap. There are indeed pads that insulate and some even have cooling fans. But, these are bulky and add more to the load that I have to carry. So, the smcfancontrol is a good solution. It weighs nothing and it does reduce the chassis temperature to less than 32˚C.

    I am not sure that the fans take up so much power. The fans make no perceptible noise unless you put your ear close to the computer. At the present, I can get about 3 hours of constant use from the computer on a single battery. I carry an extra battery just in case and try to plug in to power as often as possible. I seldom run out of power.

    Wise.

  5. #5
    Banned adi chicago's Avatar
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    i will post a pic of my fan cooler .was cheap 299 $.my laptop is ok after i bought the fan.
    • Dum spiro, spero.
      • Translation: "As long as I breathe, I hope."

  6. #6
    I seem to recall that some Intel MacBooks (first generation) had an issue with heat because the thermal paste was applied incorrectly. I believe Apple came out with a press release telling its customers to use the laptop on a desk. Anyway, I thought this problem with the thermal paste had been resolved but maybe not.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Broknwing's Avatar
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    OK, so I haven't clicked on the link as of yet...but do you know if it will work on the older Powerbooks? Mine runs evil hot and I've nearly burned myself many times....If I could speed the fan and cool it off that would be wonderful!

    If not, is there something similar for mine?
    'Chelle
    L-1 inc 11/24/03

    "My Give-a-Damn's Busted"......

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Broknwing
    OK, so I haven't clicked on the link as of yet...but do you know if it will work on the older Powerbooks? Mine runs evil hot and I've nearly burned myself many times....If I could speed the fan and cool it off that would be wonderful!

    If not, is there something similar for mine?
    What Wise is using is Intel only, for your Powerbook G4:

    http://www.andreafabrizi.it/g4fancontrol/
    Pharmacist, C4-5 injury but functional C6 (no triceps/flexors)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Broknwing's Avatar
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    Thank you
    'Chelle
    L-1 inc 11/24/03

    "My Give-a-Damn's Busted"......

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JGNI
    What Wise is using is Intel only, for your Powerbook G4:

    http://www.andreafabrizi.it/g4fancontrol/
    JGNI, thanks.

    'Chelle, The MacBook get hotter and faster than my G4 Powerbook. The fans make a big diffeerence on the MacBook. Even with the power plug in, the default fan mode is 2000 rpm even with CPU temperatures of 67˚C and the enclosure bottom heats up to 42˚C or higher. Within 10 minutes of increasing the fan speed to 4000 rpm, the CPU temperature may fall to 50˚C.

    There are a number of programs that control the fans on the Macbook. I just read a couple of reviews and find that the following is more highly recommended for the Macbook Pro: FanControl 1.1 that can be downloaded
    from http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/23137

    FanControl 1.1 is a control panel (system preferences) that allows you to set the upper and lower temperature threshold for the fan. Normally, the lower threshold is set at 60˚C while the upper threshold is set at 80˚C. I just changed it to 50˚and 70˚. The CPU temperature is staying at 63˚ and the rpm is 3609. FanControl doesn't pop the fan speed up to 4000 rpm like the smcfancontrol program.

    Wise.

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