I just got a MacBook Pro. This is an awesome computer and it is a pleasure to use. One problem seen by many MacBook Pro owners is the uncomfortable heat it transfers into air, hands and table (or lap if you’re brave). This is a problem for me, too. However, I’ve taken one simple and inexpensive step toward having a cooler MacBook Pro.
My Dell D600 trained me to expect a modern laptop to run hot. In fact, when I worked for Dell I was urged to use the term “notebook” instead of “laptop” because somebody could get hurt if they put the computer on their lap. The D600 has an air intake fan on the bottom of the case, so setting it down on a lap or a cushion would make it run even hotter.
The MacBook Pro has no vents on its bottom. The airflow is managed through a long vent that faces the LCD hinge. The metal surface behind the F-keys is quite hot to the touch. The keyboard and palm-rest are also very warm so I do not have to worry about my hands getting cold while I’m computing in Vermont.
The table beneath the MacBook gets very warm and this might be a problem for folks working atop expensive wooden tables. Some wood finishes might not be able to handle 150˚F without cosmetic damage. My glass tabletop is no cause for concern but I do have a plastic table that warps whenever I put a bowl of warm soup on it. No matter the material of your table it would be better for all concerned if the heat were more readily dissipated by moving air.
If I may be forgiven for misinterpreting fluid dynamics, the volumetric flow of a fluid between two plates varies with the square of the distance between the plates. (These diagrams and equations are relevant but calculus was my Achilles Heel in college.) So it follows that if we increase the distance between the MacBook and the table, air can flow faster and heat can escape better.
I’ve had these self-adhesive polyurethane bumpers in my junk drawer for years. They’re great for padding cabinet doors and they help keep picture frames in place without marking the walls.
Check out that lift! A vertical multiple of 5 should result in an airflow multiple of 25, right? Well, probably not or I’d feel quite a breeze. However, my table is about 10˚F cooler than before and the rest of the chassis is at least a few degrees cooler.
For less than 50¢ I have jacked up my MacBook Pro by a good 5mm and ratcheted down the temperature by a few degrees. Now I can get back to alternately covering and revealing the light sensors and watching the keyboard lights go on and off. Hooray Apple!