Macbook Pro early 2011 model - 13" - running El Capitan.

I've been seeing other people reporting this left and right and mostly they don't look at the activity monitor first. I can say I have and my activity on my computer isn't high at all most of the time.

Here is a screenshot of a typical situation

enter image description here

I did SMC reset, PRAM reset,... all to no avail.

Looking at this Ask Different post it says temperature sensors may be defective. So I ran the extended hardware test and it showed 'No troubles'. Can temp sensors still be defect despite the so called no troubles from the hardware test?

I also booted into a clean install of Linux and that's where I will have the loud fans as well while there is hardly any activity at all.

EDIT: almost forgot but I did clean out the dust from and around the fan.

EDIT: Here is also a screenshot from the Intel Power Gadget;

enter image description here

  • Just to clarify, is this behaviour something new (i.e. unusual) for this MacBook? Or have you not owned it yourself very long? If it is unusual, has anything changed recently that coincides with the change in behaviour (e.g. any new hardware, macOS upgrade, new software, etc)?
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 7:33
  • No unfortunately this is not something new at all. It has been similar to this for years actually. I have been putting it off until I couldn't take it anymore which is now :-) It has also been like this in earlier versions of OSX and as in the question, in Linux the same problem is there.
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 7:37
  • Okay, so when you say, until I couldn't take it anymore, what do you mean? Is it too loud? Is it too hot to touch? Something else?
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 8:34
  • Yes, I mean too loud on a consistent basis. As for functioning, the laptop isn't doing too bad given the circumstances.
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:06
  • Ok, have you tried booting your Mac in Safe Mode to see if the problem persists? Also, your question says this is a MacBook - can I assume you actually meant a MacBook Pro? Or do you mean a MacBook you happened to buy in early 2011? I ask because the last 13" MacBook model was the mid-2010 model.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:30

2 Answers 2


Maybe its the CPU thermal paste. After all these years needs cleaning and a new layer.

  • True that this belongs to the must-do checklist before the next step. Keep you posted.
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 7:59
  • So now I removed the old paste and replaced with new but also put a new heatsink in place. I read somewhere that the copper plate on heatsinks for PC's are immaculate like mirror. My old one was discolored and kindof matte. After I've done that, I'm seeing temperatures of about 75°C, still bumping up to 85-95 regularly but not nearly as often anymore!
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 16:30
  • Edit: fans have been blowing like a maniac for the last couple two days again. To the point where it's entirely like it was again. So not really sure if this the paste and heatsink replacement was helpful. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 4:40

Since you've established that you don't have the problem in Safe Mode, but still do after logging in normally again, then it's time to investigate login items, fonts, and kernel extensions

Investigating login items, fonts, and kernel extensions

Let's start with Login Items:

  1. Startup normally
  2. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups
  3. Select the Login Items tab
  4. Take a note of your Login Items
  5. Now remove all of them by highlighting them and clicking on the - button below
  6. Restart your computer

Now your Mac will boot up without those login items loading. Test this and see if the problem persists:

  • If the problem goes away you know one (or more) of the Login items were causing the problem. You can then add them back in one by one until you've identified the culprit. Problem solved.
  • If the problem does persist, it's either a problem with fonts you've installed yourself or with a 3rd party kernel extension. A little more info below:

Fonts:- You can remove any of the fonts you've installed yourself to see if this makes a difference.

Kernel Extensions:- You can open Terminal (found within your Utilites folder) and enter the following command:

kextstat | grep -v com.apple

The above command will list 3rd party kernel extensions (you may need to stretch the Terminal window so it's easier to read). Look for anything you don't remember installing, or something that belongs to software you've removed, or just anything that looks out of place. Remember though, this is a list of 3rd party kernel extensions and therefore any of them could be causing the problem.

A final word

Finally, as an aside, 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.

  • Allright. So I went through all the steps you suggested but no success. Removed all of the startup items, then reboot. Then deleted all the User Fonts. When deleting fonts didn't change anything after reboot, I listed the 3rd arty kexts as per the command you suggested and simply removed them from their folders after I found them by googling around and stumbling on etrecheck to find the paths. Still same problem...
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:39
  • I'd like to add though, that your answer helped confirm the suspicion that the issue is on a software level however. I booted into linux after the macbook has been off the whole night and the fans never started blowing. This is interesting given that the fans already start blowing hard on the second when the computer starts booting up into OSX, i.e. right when the gray screen with the apple logo pops up.
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 7:37
  • That is interesting. And yet, if you boot into Safe Mode it doesn't happen at all? Very odd, especially if you've removed all login items, user fonts and kernel extensions.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 7:53
  • That's right in Safe Mode or in Linux the fans seem to not show this behaviour.
    – 0ye
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 9:23
  • Create a new user and login to that and see. Then move your data etc. To that user and see when the problem starts.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 23:52

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