My Macbook seems to be running pretty hot lately. iStat Pro is stating that my CPU temp is nearing 180 degrees F, and that the heatsink is approaching 150. The laptop is noticeably warmer than normal on my lap even as I type this.

The usage patterns for the laptop really haven't changed all that much, except that my wife takes it to work with her now that she's started her new job as a realtor.

Thanks for any advice.

  • I just searched for "macbook temperature" at support.apple.com. While reading the specs for a mid-2010 MacBook (yours must be from 2008 or so?), it lists an operating temperature of 50 to 95F. However, I'm almost certain that this refers to the recommended environmental conditions for using the MacBook, rather than the expected temperature range of its internal components. I'm not sure how to find the information you're seeking.
    – bneely
    Feb 4, 2012 at 0:26

2 Answers 2


It's the fans. They are clogged with dust and other debris from the years of use. Notebooks are not air-tight and intake quite a bit of air over their lifetime (they need to push the air to the central components like the CPU/GPU to cool them). The units must be opened and cleaned periodically (depending on environment) to maintain peak operating performance. High fan speeds and poor thermal dissipation are signs that the fans aren't doing their job (they are likely clogged with dust and the exhaust is also likely blocked, preventing the output of the hot air blown off from the processing units). Computer fans work by pushing air taking from the environment onto the CPU/GPU. The hot air blown off the chips move through air vents in the back of the unit. Over time, dust settles on the fans, dropping their efficacy, and the vents, preventing the hot air from escaping. This bakes the components and results in the spike in over temperature.

Visit www.ifixit.com and pull up a guide on how to partially dismantle your notebook. If you are not technically proficient, bring it to a credible repair shop.

There are no "normal" operating temperatures for Apple notebooks, but there is an acceptable gradient. 82 degree Celsius is pushing the limits. The CPU's thermal threshold is 105 degrees Celsius (when that temperature is reached, the system will shutdown to prevent thermal damage).

And just an aside, regardless of locale, all temperatures should be reported as Celsius, never Fahrenheit when dealing with computer components. Official documentation always refers to Celsius.

  • Can you cite an example of the official documentation you mention?
    – bneely
    Feb 4, 2012 at 13:56
  • @bneely Intel is a company that makes it's home in the center of Silicon Valley (Santa Clara, California, USA). If you refer to their data sheets (I've linked the one for their Intel Core i7 processor), they alway refer to temperatures in Celsius (abbreviated to "C"). See page 72: intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/datasheets/… This is just one example, but traditionally, metric units are always used to report temperature values among engineers, no matter the locale.
    – user10355
    Feb 5, 2012 at 2:59
  • Thanks for the link cksum. Popped the lower case off and blew out the fan and vent. Seems to hover around 63-65 Celsius now.
    – Spaniard85
    Feb 8, 2012 at 2:15
  • @Spaniard85 No problem, glad to be of help. This is probably the most overlooked bit of maintenance for all computers. You should try to do this at least once a year. Additionally, you can also oil the fan bearings while you're in there too with high-quality teflon-based bearing oil: amazon.com/Products-002-70003-Pen-Oiler-Carded/dp/B0001CUIEU It'll keep your fans in tip-top shape (prevent them from "grinding"). With a bit of maintenance, computers can last decades (barring their components, like the hard drive, don't die).
    – user10355
    Feb 8, 2012 at 2:29

I've got a late-2007 white Macbook and 180/150 isn't unusual.

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