Help cool my MBP so I might have children one day.
September 28, 2008 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions for cooling a MacBook Pro?

Mrs. Silvertree and I both have MacBook Pros which we love. However neither one of us care for the crispy skin that is developing on the top of our legs from the heat. We have tried the Targus laptop cooling pad, and they work great for about a week before dieing. Anyone have a suggestion? I would prefer something active, we have tried a few of the passive cooling, like the podium that keeps the MBP in the air with little success.
posted by Silvertree to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Not quite answering the question re active cooling, but I deal with this same problem and have never found a great solution, but the biggest difference-maker I have found is just turning the thing to "better battery life" (slows down the processor a bit). When that's turned up to the fully-clocked "best performance", it gets way too hot for my lap too.

The few times it's really bothered me on my lap, like when sitting up on the roof in hottest summer, I've found that a plain, smooth board works best, because then the MacBook's own cooling can pretty much handle what's needed. I took a melamine shelf out of a small bookcase.

I also made myself one of these with a perforated bottom for using in bed.

I've never found an active one, with fans, that didn't drive me crazy with noise or bother.
posted by rokusan at 9:01 AM on September 28, 2008

I've thought about this myself and it seems like what you really want is a two-layer thing with some airspace between the layers for airflow. Convection should help keep air moving between the layers and help take away some of the heat (assuming you've got some tilt in your lap).

I've been keeping an eye out for the right sort of material I can cut to the proper size but, so far, nothing has really spoken to me.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:05 AM on September 28, 2008

I use smc Fan Control to control the minimum fan speed of the MacBook Pro. When crunching video or audio, the Mac cannot keep up. It works pretty well.
posted by bach at 9:07 AM on September 28, 2008

As rokusan mentioned, use the Better Battery Life setting, and make sure you have enough memory so the hard disk isn't constantly thrashing.
You really shouldn't need any form of active cooling or special pads, once the laptop's on a solid surface (e.g. hardback book) then air can circulate and its own fan should prevent meltdown.
posted by malevolent at 9:12 AM on September 28, 2008

i got myself an iLap and have never regretted it—it's comfortable to use on my lap, in bed or on a table, and it keeps my macbook pro running fairly cool. i very rarely hear my fans now, and they used to run like crazy all the time.
posted by lia at 9:12 AM on September 28, 2008

I've had a PodiumPad since my PBG4 and haven't ever had a problem, on either of the two G4s, the two MBPs (the really hot Core Duo and a later, cooler Core 2 Duo) and my MacBook. it's a passive device, but it's always done a good job of keeping the machines elevated enough to get decent airflow. it has little feet that you can use to prop up the machine; you want it to be elevated a bit and you want to make sure there's nothing fluffy around it (like pillows or blankets) that would kill the airflow.
posted by mrg at 9:16 AM on September 28, 2008

I haven't tried either, but the Zalman Notebook Cooler and CoolerMaster cooler both look promising. Both are made from solid aluminum, and are made by companies that specialize in PC cooling products.

Also, I suggest monitoring the laptop temperature using a Temperature Monitoring utility. You should generally see temperatures less than 140F. If your temperatures are consistently higher, than something is wrong, or some process is running out of control (Firefox and Safari do this if too many tabs are open).

I also think it's a bad idea to put anything that isn't thermally conductive under the laptop - it really needs good air circulation underneath to keep it cool.
posted by kenliu at 9:31 AM on September 28, 2008

I don't have an MBP, but for my Dell I use the XPad, which does a fairly good job of keeping air circulated and keeping the heat off my lap. I can have the keyboard at an almost-vertical position and the laptop stays on. Not sure how well it'll work with an MBP, and the XPad is a bit expensive, but take a look anyways.
posted by curagea at 10:59 AM on September 28, 2008

I recommend the Vantec LapCool 4.
posted by NeoLeo at 11:20 AM on September 28, 2008

I'm going to second the passive cooling goodness of an iLap. Both my wife and I have one (Macbook for her, and 17" MacBook Pro for me). They work a treat. Padded (and removeable) wrist support, padded bottom support. Works great on a table and, well, a lap.

Seriously, best laptop stand out there IMO. Made of aluminum so it matches the MacBook Pros and is lighter than light.
posted by qwip at 11:40 AM on September 28, 2008

I use the passive Targus Coolpad for all my notebooks - the key thing is to allow the fans on the bottom to pull air in.

So... as I like to say, "lift that ass-end of the notebook up-in-the-air" and it will work as designed.

If - you do not like the fans going constantly, reduce the performance profile and - once every few months or so - blast them with a can of air (when the machine is off).
posted by jkaczor at 9:11 AM on September 30, 2008

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