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My MacBook Pro has been crashing for months, at least once a day most days.

I blame it on overheating seeing as it reached 100°C on several occasions when it shut down.

Last time I took it to a repair shop, they were not able to reproduce the issue. They showed me some tests they ran that showed the laptop ran successfully for hours, despite the heavy number-crunching.

It seems to crash at random, e.g.:

  • With only four tabs open in Firefox… I close one of them and the laptop shuts down! (Happens very often when I would close a tab.)
  • While, on the contrary, with 10 YouTube videos open playing at the same time, and prime95 (a number-crunching program) running, the ventilation would be loud for sure, but the laptop would not crash.

Hence the question:

How can I cause the laptop to overheat on demand?

Any ideas of things to run?

I'd like to stress the different components. This would help me or a repair shop diagnose the issue.


Optional. More details for those interested.

  • The laptop is a MacBook Pro 15" from 2014.
  • I had a battery issue: macOS said the battery needed to be replaced. So I went to a shop (in Hungary) and got the battery replaced. In passing, I asked them to clean it up (dust + new thermal paste.)
  • …the overheating problems started then. I took it back to the shop, but they could not get it to crash. They said it might be a software issue, which left me a bit dubious.
  • Cmd-Option-P-R did not help.
  • I finally reinstalled macOS (clean reinstall, formatted the drive, installed Mojave), and no difference.
  • Running Apple Diagnostic (holding D on reboot) did not help (zero issue detected.)
  • It usually crashes in the evening… (I don't think it ever crashed in the morning), as if the heat sort of accumulated.
  • I have dual boot with Windows (thanks to Bootcamp.) I can play GTA V or Fallout 3 in it and it will NOT crash.

Thanks a bunch for the help.

I help 


EDIT 1:

I brought it to another repair shop. They did not manage to make it crash either and were unable to find any issue with the laptop. They tested the RAM with some gear and it's fine. They ran a lot of tests and didn't find anything, so they're at a bit of a loss to help.

They suggested recording my next crash with a video camera to help them see what I was doing and spot the issue.

(They have a rating of 4.8 with over a thousand votes, and the previous shop had a rating of 4.9 with over a hundred votes.)

I've just spent 55 min running a lot of things on the laptop… Downloading huge files, running simultaneous connection tests, running RAM tests, CPU crunching programs, lots of YouTube videos open in two browsers… Copying files over the local wifi network… Running a graphics test… Running browser stress tests… All at once! And the temperature reached 97-99° a couple of times before going back down…

Yet I know it's gonna crash again at some point.

How am I supposed to diagnose an issue when I cannot trigger it on demand? Ideas/links welcome.


EDIT 2:

This is not an exact duplicate.

I tried stressing my Mac… (and the other thread, How to stress a MacBook Pro Retina did prove informative), but the issue is apparently not due to the load on the machine alone.

e.g.:

  • Stress load type 1: running Heaven + Prime95 + dozens of videos open in two browsers.
  • Stress load type 2: converting many videos at the same time with ffmpeg, for 50 min.

…and no crash.

While the Mac did crash (freeze for a few seconds then shutdown) during some basic operations. e.g.:

  • Browsing the Web with just 4 tabs open;
  • Editing a small text file in Sublime;
  • Watching two episodes of a sitcom in VLC just fine, but then the laptop crashed when I quit VLC.

So stressing is not enough to make it crash.

It seems random, though it seems to crash more often when the system is "unloading" stuff. e.g.:

  • Crashed once while I was closing a tab in the Terminal during an ffmpeg stress test;
  • Crashed not during the ffmpeg stress test, but once I quit the Terminal;
  • Crashed while I was closing a tab in Firefox (many, many times.)

…but this is just what happened at times, I cannot repeat the crash on demand and most stress tests turned out fine.

This is turning into a bit of a long-winded post. I'll update if/once I get more clarity.


EDIT 3:

I finally figured the issue.

This is the so called "macbook random shutdown syndrome", there's even a petition about it.

Disabling the Thunderbolt driver clearly fixed it for me, as per this answer: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/310048/93837

A brief timeline:

After 5 months of daily crashes…

  • 2018-12-12: the shop replaced the battery, but it still crashes randomly.
  • 2018-12-13: I disabled the Thunderbolt driver.
  • 2018-12-27: crashed again, for the first time in 14 days, which is a huge improvement. Turns out the latest macOS update re-enabled the Thunderbolt driver. Re-disabled it.

marked as duplicate by Graham Miln, Allan, fsb, Ɱark Ƭ, Nimesh Neema Dec 6 '18 at 5:12

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • I would consider other possibilities rather than looking only at overheating when you haven't really established that overheating is the problem. You could for example have a faulty RAM module. Try running a RAM tester for example to exercise all of your RAM and ensure it is OK. – jksoegaard Nov 29 '18 at 20:52
  • Could a RAM issue have caused the CPU to reach 100°C ? – Fabien Snauwaert Nov 29 '18 at 20:56
  • Yes.............. – jksoegaard Nov 29 '18 at 21:09
  • Intel CPU works up to 125C, Mac shuts down at 110 C. Your repair store did not apply the thermal paste correctly. Every Crash creates a Crash report. Take look. Also If anything. gets hot it is the CPU – Ruskes Nov 29 '18 at 21:17
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    Fabien, just a couple of initial thoughts. Firstly, you're really approaching this from an XY Problem perspective rather than a troubleshooting perspective. Secondly, a MacBook Pro running at 100°C should not crash, at least not because of reaching that temp. I suspect the repair store in Hungary didn't do something quite right (most likely the thermal paste, but that's only an educated guess). My recommendation would be to start from scratch and troubleshoot from the beginning. – Monomeeth Nov 29 '18 at 21:22
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I don't suggest this but you could use macs fan control to slow down select fans to cause overheating of certain components. I'd recommend using TG-Pro from Tunabelly Software. It allows you to control various fans speed and monitor the temperature while you do it.

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They make cooling bases to set these things on. That is a bad sign. I'd buy a 16X16" chunk of aluminum, as fat as you can find, to give your mac a proper heat sink. Opening the mac up and blowing out dust that's accumulated in there can also help. If it's got one of those centrifugal cooling fans, blow in it to make it spin both ways. Stuff like cat-hair gets stuck on the fan blades. It comes off easily if you spin the fan in reverse of the normal direction.

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