Laptop Cooling

I have been spending a lot of time working on making my ibook run cooler. Yes I know ‘it’s an ibook! how hot can it get?’ but believe me. It gets hot. I have a G3 600 MHTZ iBook with 16 Mb video RAM and a 20Gb hard drive. This is the main reason for my hoping for donations to keep this free blog up. The reason for my laptop’s overheating is probably due to the fact that I have the processor clocked at 800mhtz instead of 600 but it run’s fine under that clock speed.

My mother’s MacBook has similar issues to the ones mine is developing only it get’s to the extreme of actually causing the machine to slow down to less than the performance of mine! That’s pretty bad… I have been working on cooling these computers with out any major ‘under the hood’ investigation and I thought that I would share with you some of my findings. These will go into the options if you want to take the whole damn thing apart and if you don’t. I do however recommend that if you know how to take your machine apart that you should. There are some minor changes you can make to the insides of the machine that will collectively make a large difference in heat output.

SMC Fan Control (for Intel Macs)

SMC fan control (download) is a great solution for people with Intel macs that don’t like getting their lap burned every time they use their computer. It enables you to set the minimum speed at which your fans run. It also shows you the temperature of all of your components. Unfortunately there is no solution like this for PPC machines at this point. The downside of using an application like this is that your battery life will decrease the faster you run your fans. This works great if you don’t have any problem plugging your computer in a little more often.

Cooling pad

There are cooling pads available for all types of laptops. They can be found in almost all computer stores and in most department stores. You can also search on Amazon.com or other online retailer for ‘laptop cooling pads’ The one on Amazon that I like the best can be found here. Laptop cooling pads usually plug into your USB port and run 1-4 fans off of USB power. This will drain your battery less than using SMC fan control but usually provides for less cooling. This option will work on any computer Mac or PC.

Underclock the processor

Underclocking the processor decreases the CPU performance thereby decreasing the heat it generates. This also increases your battery life. This is great for anyone with a computer of which they do not require all of the power most of the time. To do this on a G3 you can download the application called iCook. It enables you to change your clock speed on the fly. On any other Mac I can tell you how to do it but I’m sure there is a way. On a PC there is usually a setting in the startup bios that you can tweak to get a new clock speed but you can’t do it on the fly

Heatsink/Thermal Compound

The braver of us may wish to make a more perminant change to our computer by taking it apart and tweaking it. These people may try replacing the heatsink or thermal compound or both. I have no personal experience doing this with anything other than my G3 iBook so I won’t give detailed instructions. you can get instructions on how to fully dismantle your computer at a number of places on the web. I recommend that you have a friend help you if you haven’t done this before so that you may blame all of your mistakes on him/her. The theory behind this procedure is that Apple usually puts way to much thermal compound on their processors so that it ends up smothering the processor. Thermal compound and heat sinks also do ware out. You can buy new heatsinks on ifixit.com.

If anyone has any other experiences in cooling down their hot Apple laptops please share in a comment to this post.

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