After some period of work with my MacBook Pro its bottom part can be hot.

If I want to take a break and close the Mac - does it make sense to turn it around - the bottom part will be on top. Is it better for the working of the fan?

I have seen some users turn their notebooks around the way that the bottom part doesn't have contact with the surface anymore.

  • Did you mean docks like these with your last paragraph? I think people typically have 3 reasons for using vertical docks: 1. Takes less room on your desk 2. Looks cool 3. Used very often with setups where you use the macbook sort of like a desktop computer: external screen, external mouse, external keyboard. The reason why they are used in those setups is probably because that way it takes less room and looks cool. –– ...and not because of heat dissipation. – Joonas Oct 3 '17 at 11:10
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    I get 5 to 10 °F cooler in many situations with the vertical stand, @Joonas - it does really depend on the GPU and the load on the CPU and if you are in a tropical or cold climate, though. – bmike Oct 3 '17 at 11:16
  • @bmike, but is it necessary? I'd claim a macbook will last just as long if you use it in clamshell mode horizontally on a desk. – Joonas Oct 3 '17 at 11:21
  • @Joonas Necessary for long life of the product, absolutely not. Let that Mac run at 99% of the thermal envelope if you have work to do. It's only if we touch it and feel it's hot or have it on a comforter and the CPU throttles is this a practical issue. On my MacBook thermal throttling is a legitimate thing to control for with practical limitations if you don't. – bmike Oct 3 '17 at 11:27
  • @Joonas I didnt mean docks. I cannot find the right picture for it :) I have seen some people lay their notebooks on the back side of (opened) screen. On logo side. This way the bottom part of notebook have no contact to surface and more airflow etc. – MikroDel Oct 3 '17 at 11:56

There is no need to do anything special with regards to your Mac feeling hot. Your Mac's fans are managed by the System Management Controller (SMC) which will ensure that your CPU etc are protected in the event your Mac overheats to the point that it could cause damage.

Your question doesn't actually specify what temperature your Mac is at, so it's impossible to comment on whether it's too high. However, MBP models usually range from about 40ºC (104ºF) to 100ºC (212ºF) depending on whether the CPU is idle or under load. CPU temps (just like ambient temperatures) typically have a bearing on GPU temps too, especially within the extremely confined spaces of a MacBook.

If you'd like, you can refer to the Intel Mac Temperature Database to see the various temperature ranges reported by users. You can also filter the list by model etc.

If you're still concerned, you can also Reset the System Management Controller (SMC) on your Mac to see if this has any noticeable impact on what you're experiencing.

  • If I use MacBook on my knees. I have trousers, but no extra material between trousers or jeans and notebook. Is it ok? The same question for the notebook, that is placed on bed (sofa). – MikroDel Oct 3 '17 at 12:25
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    From the point of view of your MacBook, that is fine. But if you're finding the heat too uncomfortable for your lap, then I can understand you wanting an extra layer of protection between you and the underside of your laptop. But purely from the point of view of your MBP, the SMC is designed to do a lot of things, including protecting your Mac from any overheating. – Monomeeth Oct 3 '17 at 12:38
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    That said, if you're in the habit of using your MBP in clamshell mode, and you're frequently doing CPU-intensive work (or you're working in a hot environment), then a stand such as what bmike is referring to will improve airflow. The reduction in temperature that will achieve is only small, but it may mean that in extreme cases any thermal throttling is reduced. Otherwise, as I say in my answer, there is no need to do anything special with regards to your Mac feeling hot. – Monomeeth Oct 3 '17 at 12:38

You are right about the metal MacBook Pro case needing room to breathe under high heat generation loads. I prefer to make a small air gap so the airflow out is still with the keyboard horizontal if you don't have a fancy horizontal or fancy vertical stand. Small air gap is a pencil or two under the back side if you have a stable desk.

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If you do have a fancy vertical stand, I've never been able to measure a temperature difference between having the hinge on the bottom or the hinge on the top.

Now that you're running in closed clamshell mode, the entire bottom surface is exposed to let radiation and convection remove as much heat as the ambient temperature can allow.

  • I can understand the argumentation for up side down position, but is there any proof that sideways actually helps ? of course with the exception of leaving the fans and openings free – Rsf Oct 3 '17 at 13:56
  • It's not enough to merely put it vertical. It needs to be put "exhaust vent up". That will improve cooling: having convection aid the fan. – Agent_L Oct 3 '17 at 14:56

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