Year old Macbook running extra hot/battery draining fast. Help
July 27, 2008 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Year old Macbook running extra hot/battery draining fast. Help

In the past 2-3 weeks, my Macbook, purchased June '07, started losing its charge in about half the usual time. In addition, the upper left corner of the bottom of the computer seems much hotter than usual. I figure I can chalk the battery problem up to frequent use and normal battery-replacement life cycles. However, the Dashboard iStat application tells me the health of the battery is still 100%. Any help is appreciated.
posted by rbf1138 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could be running some application in the background and not know it that is using up your CPU and thus your battery.

Load up the Activity Monitor application

Sort by CPU
Do you recognize all the applications there at the top of the list?
Maybe something like a bit torrent application, or something else that starts up automatically when you restart?

You might have also redefined the power management settings or set them to Better performance when before you had it set for Better energy savings.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:24 PM on July 27, 2008

Be sure to select "All Processes" in Activity Monitor as well. "My Processes" is the default, I believe, which might hide what is going on. It's a good idea to keep the Activity Monitor running at all times. There is a setting in the View menu of Activity Monitor to set the dock icon to show the current cpu usage history. This will tip you off to any errant processes that might be heating it up.
posted by whiskeyspider at 4:41 PM on July 27, 2008

Check the Power section in System Profiler. The "Battery Information" shows you the current state of your battery.

Alternatively, type

ioreg -w0 -l | grep Capacity

into Terminal. If your "CurrentCapacity" is a lot lower than "DesignCapacity", and "Cycle Count" is low, something's gone wrong.
posted by zamboni at 6:20 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Open System Profiler (Applications > Utilities) and go to Hardware > Power. Under Battery Information, it will tell you Charge and Health Information. Let us know the Full Charge Capacity, Cycle count, and Condition information. When my MBP battery went last week, Condition read "Check battery" and Apple promptly sent me a new one. In any case, since it's only a year old, if you have AppleCare, it may be worth it to give them a call and see if they'll send you a replacement (they'll have you check the information I just told you to look up and, I'm guessing, check it against their tables of capacity vs. cycles to see if you qualify).
posted by The Michael The at 6:27 PM on July 27, 2008

Response by poster: "CurrentCapacity" = 3720
"DesignCapacity" = 5020
"Cycle Count"=345

Battery status is listed as "Good"
posted by rbf1138 at 7:26 PM on July 27, 2008

I wouldn't worry about it getting too hot, since it is normal for laptops to do so. However, if it seems as if it is getting *abnormally* hot, I suggest you adjust your macbook's fan speeds (drains your battery even more, but you can come up with a good balance with some trial and error).

Here's the application to do just that: Smcfancontrol2

As for your battery, I suggest that you calibrate it (which you should do every 1-2 months). Here are the steps: Calibrating your computer's battery for best performance

Since you purchased the computer in June 2007, you are not covered by AppleCare. However, you might want to consider purchasing coverage for the next two years (it's well worth it in my opinion, despite the cost). Laptops are prone to malfunctioning, and AppleCare will give you the extra peace-of-mind. Usually you can only purchase AppleCare within the initial 1-year period, however, I bet if you get a friendly Apple representative on the phone (1800-MY-APPLE), there's a change that they'll accommodate you. It won't hurt to make up some excuse such as being out of the country for the last 6 months and forgetting about the deadline, etc. I doubt being one month late should hurt your chances.

Good luck!
posted by mahoganyslide at 9:26 PM on July 27, 2008

My battery started to crap the bed about a year in on my MacBook Pro. I took it in with my AppleCare paperwork, fired it up and ran CoconutBattery in front of them to show them the stats, and they handed me a new one no questions asked.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:31 PM on July 27, 2008

You could be running some application in the background and not know it that is using up your CPU and thus your battery.

I had identical symptoms to you (battery suddenly running down fast, machine is hot all the time) and this is what was causing it for me. It turned out that Yahoo Widgets pegged the processor constantly (the machine reported it was using "150%" of the CPU), causing the machine to heat up, the fan to run constantly and the battery to thus run down.

Try and work out what you could have installed or changed 2-3 weeks ago. If Activity Monitor doesn't find anything for you, try "top" at the terminal.
posted by outlier at 12:15 AM on July 28, 2008

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