Some MacBook, MacBook Pro Users Report Overheating Under Snow Leopard

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 4th, 2009, 04:30
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro

A number of MacBook and MacBook Pro users are reporting that their systems running inordinately hot after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, causing their fans to work exceptionally loud. According to CNET, users in this thread on the Apple Support Discussions forums focus the issue primarily on MacBook Pros, though some scattered entries from MacBook owners suggest the issues may be noticed in many of Apple’s notebooks.

Users’ machines tend to run extremely hot, causing the fans to cycle at a high rate and deplete battery power at an accelerated clip. ASD forum user “Ryan83” reports:

“Fans running constantly at 6000 RPM without any program running – – just letting it idle or running solely iTunes. iPhoto 09 unusable – – when you edit in full screen – – the screen shows colored artifacts all over. Internet has been very spotty and misbehaves.”

Similar symptoms are reported by many of the thread contributors. Typically, CPU usage will spike when users do media-heavy actions with their systems, such as editing photos with Photoshop, cutting movies with Final Cut Pro, or watching media online at sites like YouTube or Hulu. Some users suggest that it could be a hardware issue with the actual fans, though this is unlikely (at least at first). Because most users report the problem after their upgrade to Snow Leopard, chances are it is a software issue. If left unattended, the problem could eventually lead to the fans, logic board, or other hardware becoming corrupt.

Some things to check :
– Be sure all your programs are Snow Leopard compatible. Several users reported that updating the notification utility, Growl, to the Snow Leopard ready version, 1.2, solved their overheating issues. Users should open Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities) and take a look at any background processes that may be running. If any of those programs are not Snow Leopard compatible, they could be causing the excessive CPU usage and heat production.

– When in doubt, especially if you are under AppleCare, taking your machine to an AppleCare Authorized Technician or an Apple Store is a good idea. You will want to avoid any future damage to your hardware as soon as possible. Keep in mind that a solution may involve reinstalling Snow Leopard. Be sure you have a stable and current backup of all your important data. As we have mentioned in recent articles, the 10.6.2 update for Snow Leopard is expected very soon and includes (based on information from beta releases) a myriad of fixes that may include a solution to the overheating issue. When the update is made available, drop by MacFixIt to get a rundown of all the included fixes.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or found a workaround or fix of your own, please let us know in the comments.

Recent Posts

4 Responses to “Some MacBook, MacBook Pro Users Report Overheating Under Snow Leopard”

  1. I just bought a refurbished macbook pro 17in. 2.8GHz about a month ago, no problems what so ever. I’m running OSX 10.6.1 and I am a heavy user of photoshop and final cut pro.

  2. Laptop overheat problems are nothing new. MacOS 10.5 utterly destroyed my Powerbook G4/1.5Ghz system. System routinely overheated, and eventually lost the inner memory socket (which was fine under 10.4) and later the hard disk began to overheat as well (going into fast seek and no actual data transfer). I have since repaired all problems (replaced motherboard, and hard drive), but refuse to use anything later than 10.4 on it.

    I’m not surprised that newer hardware i having these kind of problems. I continue to like Apple systems, but a new round of overheating, which is connected to MacOS itself is a bad beatdown <wry grin>.

  3. I upgraded this week after initially being fearful of snow leopard teething problems. Right from the start it has felt considerably hotter, fans come on and are very noisy if watching video. Flash on web seems to trigger it too. Macbook Pro (late 2008)

    Not happy about this at all. Surely Apple would have got this sorted before release and if not with first 2 updates. Was working fine before upgrade, always cool and rarely heard fan unless doing something intensive. Wish I hadn’t bothered now. The good points initially had me excited, now I’m just worried my machine is going to blow up.

  4. An SMC reset seemed to improve it considerably though it may not work for everyone. Temps now down from 70 degrees to around 50 when idle. Can start to appreciate the excellent improvements at last.