At long last, I think I’ve identified the source of the problem I’ve had for months, on and off, with my MacBook slowing down and the processor “spinning up” for some reason when I encode audio and video, or at other times. I wrote about this in May 2008 in the post, “Strange intermittent Macbook slowdown persists.” When the temperature of my MacBook’s processor exceeds 70 degrees fahrenheit, I think this “spinup” problem happens.
I’m using iStatMenus (free) to monitor my processor temperature as well as other vital stats on my MacBook. This past week, when I was using the MacBook on my lap (as I often do) I noticed the processor temperature was high when the spinup problem started. When I put the Macbook down on a cool, glass coffeetable, when the CPU temperature fell the processor spinup stopped.
I’ve taken my MacBook to our local Apple Store twice for this problem, and I’ve been told “there is no problem.” I know the heat generation issues with my Macbook have been documented elsewhere, and I never did report this to Apple as a heat issue. I’ve had my CPU on my MacBook replaced by Apple, and overall know that I’ve gotten a TON of mileage out of it. I wish I could prevent this processor spinup / slowdown issue from recurring, however.
As the MacBook gets warmer, the fan will automatically increase the rotation speed. This diagram shows the differences in RPM at the end of the Cinebench benchmark. The original driver ran more than 2000 RPM over the lowest CoolBook setting. Not showing in the diagram is the differences in temperature. At 0.9875 V the temperature reached a maximum of 63°C, while the original driver reaches 72°C!
I’m going to give Coolbook a try and see if it helps. It DEFINITELY helps to use the MacBook on a flat table surface instead of on my lap. I’m also considering the Targus Notebook Chill Pad, which is powered by a free laptop USB port and has fans to cool down the processor. For about $15, this looks like a good option to try, and would allow me to still use the laptop in my lap without (potentially) the overheating problem developing.
Keep in mind I’m still using a 1st generation MacBook which was purchased in 2006. The newer MacBooks better address these heat issues, from what I’ve heard and read.
Have you had experience using the Coolbook application, or a laptop cooling pad like the Targus Chill Pad? Any recommendations besides buying a new laptop or just continuing to use my old one on a cool, flat surface that permits better ventilation?
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