Hot Macs


With our withering brain mass, we can’t remember exactly when we bought our MacBook Pros, suffice to say Tom’s was probably sometime in 2006 and mine in 2007. For the most part, we have been very happy (I was a Windows convert), but I do have three rants (of course):

The first knock is that this computer runs incredibly hot; so much so that I can’t really compute for any length of time with it on my lap. It has actually gotten to the point once or twice where I have taken it off my legs and peeled down my pants to see if I was mildly burned. In fact, Tom has taken to grabbing the ice packs I use on my knee and placing them between his limbs and the computer if he is going to have it on his lap for awhile! Ridiculous.

The second knock is the speakers, which are set to a level the bionic man would have trouble hearing. (I suppose the engineers did this because speakers generate a lot of heat, see first rant above.) We’ve noticed the biggest problem with older movies purchased on iTunes; for instance, the Karate Kid (Xmas present for the kids) is literally impossible to hear. We have used Audio Hijack to boost the speakers a bit, which helps somewhat…

The third knock is the wireless, which apparently suffers interference from the metal case around the computer and doesn’t work well if you are in any sort of challenging wireless environment. This was very apparent during our summer travels. Ian, who had the newest Apple out of the three of us, a MacBook with a white case, practically had a satellite link. I usually encountered medium to low signal strength if Ian could connect easily. And Tom, well, he would get zippo, zilch, nada, no signal at all unless he was seated right next to the router. (Talk about Tom being frustrated!)

Original Photo Before Heat Colorization by Flickr user TheRealGrudge used under a Creative Commons license.

9 Responses to “Hot Macs”

  1. Barbara

    With some of the recent MacBook models, you can also expect the hard drive to suddenly die. No warning at all (google “hard disk failure MacBook” to read testimonials from MacBook owners). A friend had that happen, and she went to the Apple Store here. They replaced the hard drive (everything was still under extended warranty), refused to return the original drive (which contained some personal data, as well as her iTunes library), and installed the latest operating system, without giving her any back-up installation disks. Sadly, they only installed the first of the 2 disks, so she was left without any of the iLife programs that had come with the computer (and she normally used the iPhoto program quite a bit).

    Bottom line: prepare for the worst! (And insist on getting the original hard drive back, whether they want to give it to you or not)

  2. Michele

    Really, you have to prepare for the worst with any computer…the likelihood of a catastrophic failure increases in a directly proportional fashion with the amount of time since your last backup!

    Tom actually did have his hard drive die while here and was able to have it replaced via AppleCare…the only complaint he had was the Spanish installation!

  3. Dennis

    Our March 2007, white MacBook (15″) gets quite hot as well. We had it turn itself off a couple of times when we first got it and had it sitting on a bed (or similar) while using it. Letting it cool a bit seemed to cure it. I’ve discovered that a hard-backed, thin children’s book slightly larger than the computer makes a great table that allows the air to flow around for cooling and keeps the legs from burning.

    Our August 2008, silver MacBookPro (17″) doesn’t seem to get quite as hot during normal web/email-type operation, but I don’t use it quite as much as a lap-top either as it starts to get big for that. When it is really computing (compiling some big program or creating a DVD image from an iMovie) it gets pretty hot and the fan cranks up a few notches.

  4. Michele

    It’s crazy that we need coping mechanisms for having our laptops in our lap!

  5. Dennis

    Come on now. The very fact that you can have this much power in your lap (for extended periods of time) even with coping mechanisms at all is actually pretty amazing.

  6. Michele

    That’s bordering on revealing my age…”sonny, I remember when a portable computer looked like a sewing machine where the end came off and it was the keyboard.” (I actually had one of those computers in college, it weighed a ton!) Still, I’m proud of the fact that I programmed with cards my first semester in the aerospace engineering program, and am thankful we ditched them for the mainframe after that! Wow, I’m way off topic here…to answer your question, I can marvel at the power, but still, I’d prefer not to “feel” the power, if you know what I mean!

  7. Dennis

    Well, my brother (2 years older) at Wyoming used cards, but I didn’t at Kansas (in aerospace engineering!). They had dropped them maybe the year before for general use. An I had a roommate right after I graduated that had one of those sewing machine “laptops”. When I wrote my original message above, I was going to say something about the TRS-80 that the (rich-kid) friend had in high school that I hacked away on, while “saving” data to cassette tapes, but I thought that would be too revealing…

  8. Michele

    We are dinosaurs! *laugh* My dad was a geek, so growing up we had a big old Wang in the garage!

  9. Dennis

    No, I was the first of the geeks around our house.

    My wife fears for our daughter whose recent first solo (well on our laps) use of our laptop input device (touch-pad and button) was to “make numbers” on the calculator program! It’s a trip watching her carefully drawing with her finger to move the cursor to the right place before pushing the button.

    My wife’s fears are for both the early use of the computer *and* that it is is the calculator program.

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