MacBook fan trouble
May 15, 2008 9:40 PM   Subscribe

Why does my 13" MacBook's fan start running full speed when watching online video from sites such as youtube? Is there anything I can do about it?
posted by alitorbati to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why: The Flash plugin for MacOS X is, frankly, crap. You're not alone.

What to do about it: I find it helps to allow video to load completely rather than to stream. At least, I like to think it does. Other than that, hope that Adobe will release a more optimized version.
posted by mumkin at 9:48 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could try downloading the vid (view source on the, find the line including fullscreen?videoid=whateveritis and paste that into the url then playing it with MPEG Streamclip.

NB: I have a 13" macbook, and don't have this problem, so I'm not sure if this will help - but it's probably worth the five minutes to try.
posted by pompomtom at 10:02 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you have Flip4Mac WMV installed? I saw a thread where someone claimed uninstalling that helped with youtube watching. Not sure why Flip4Mac would affect FLVs, but I thought I'd mention it.
posted by sharkfu at 10:22 PM on May 15, 2008

The problem on older MacBooks is related to the integrated Intel GMA950 graphics. The video is CPU controlled instead of GPU controlled, and so accelerated video requires that the CPU run at full speed. I have the same issue on mine. It's annoying, but unavoidable. Newer MacBooks with the Intel GMA3000 video shouldn't exhibit the same issue.
posted by tmt at 10:54 PM on May 15, 2008

My MacBook was the same. In the end I did something radical -- cracked open the case and reapplied the thermal compound on the CPU and GPU chips. This is the stuff that ensures the chips make full contact with the heatsink. Apple is known for applying far too much, which has an insulating effect, increasing temperatures.

I managed to make the machine run a few degrees cooler but, alas, the fan still spins up during YouTube video playback. Sometimes it gets so loud I can't hear the audio.

The basic and sad fact is that Apple hardware can be astonishingly crap. But everybody seems to be so busy drinking the Apple Koolaid that they don't notice, or care.
posted by deeper red at 11:18 PM on May 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

CoolBook will let you tune the voltage to your CPU. Apple laptops generally overpower their CPUs to make sure they won't crash, but given the vagaries of assembly-line IC production, that means that most are getting a higher voltage -and running hotter - than they need to.

On the MacBook Air, this often results in the Core 2 Duo getting hot, shutting down one core, and becoming practically unusable - and the consensus solution is to install CoolBook and lower your voltage.

CoolBook's user-interface is terrible, so drop me MefiMail if you need more help. But my 1.6MHz Core 2 Duo runs well with these settings: 800-1200 MHz: .9V, 1400 MHz: .9125V, 1600 MHz: .95V
posted by nicwolff at 12:20 AM on May 16, 2008

The problem on older MacBooks is related to the integrated Intel GMA950 graphics.

Define "older" please, because I have this same issue with both streaming video and flash-based games (the Big Bang suite that comes with iMacs) on a Macbook purchased just in February.

I make sure the machine is well vented (I use a lapdesk that gets air circulating around the case) and occasionally turn on a small fan and that helps.
posted by Dreama at 4:27 AM on May 16, 2008

I have similar problems on my MacBook Pro (Core2Duo). While the integrated Intel video may have a bit to do with it, this MBP has a Raedon X1600 in it -- not the problem here. And we certainly can't just chalk it up to "Apple hardware is crap"; I have a similar (actually, slightly less) ratio of problems with Apple hardware as with other vendors. I agree with mumkin; the problem is Flash on Mac OS X. Who deserves the blame for this (Apple or Adobe) is another show. I do not have issues with temperature and fan speed when playing video from iTunes or QuickTime.
posted by eafarris at 5:39 AM on May 16, 2008

There is a new beta preview of Flash Player 10 available which claims to use less CPU playing video on machines with GPUs.
posted by nicwolff at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2008

Thanks for that, nicwolff. I think I'll try it myself.

First, I'll have to uninstall my current plugin, though, using Adobe's Flash uninstaller. Windows uninstaller: 181KB; MacOS 9 uninstaller: 33KB; MacOS X uninstaller: 39 MB. WTF? The Flash 10 plugin's only 6 MB.
posted by mumkin at 1:09 PM on May 16, 2008

thanks for all the help
posted by alitorbati at 6:59 PM on May 16, 2008

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