I'm a developer and often times I need to compile some packages or maybe even run some codes for couple of hours.

Recently I have noticed that whenever I use Homebrew to install something, it defaults to source, and compilation causes my CPU temp to go around 98 Celsius . Some of the compiles are quite long, couple of minutes, and I'm worried this might harm my MacBookAir.

  1. Should I be worried about this 98°C CPU temperature on MacbookAir?
  2. And if so, how can I fix that?
  • Is the temperature 98 degrees Celcius of Fahrenheit? – Pro Backup Aug 3 '12 at 7:06
  • @ProBackup Its Celsius – mmirzadeh Aug 3 '12 at 7:13
  • That seems quite hot. Even under stress, by 2011 15" MBP does not get hotter than 80°C. – gentmatt Aug 3 '12 at 7:30

Michiel's correct in that if the computer gets too hot, it'll shut down automatically. However, if you want to be on the safe side, you can check out smcFanControl and Fan Control.


smcFanControl lets the user set the minimum speed of the build in fans. So you can increase your minimum fan speed to make your Intel Mac run cooler. However in order not to damage your machines smcFanControl doesn't let you set a minimum speed to a value below Apple's defaults (MacUpdate).

Fan Control

Some MacBooks and MacBook Pros are just to hot for daylong use. Fan Control adjusts the minimum fan speed depending on the current CPU temperature. For safety, it leaves the original automatic fan speed control intact (lobotomo).

And remember, if your computer ever gets to 660.4°C, don't leave it on your lap, unless you want liquid aluminum all over you.


I found another tool called CoolBook that

lets you monitor the frequency, voltage and temperature of the CoreDuo / Core2Duo CPU. Registered users can also change the frequency and voltage of the processor.

Here's a list of features that are listed on the site:

  • Reduce heat (presumably by optimizing fan speed)
  • Reduce fan speed (presumably by lowering fan speed)
  • Extend battery life
  • Improve performance
  • Fine tune your CPU

This seems like a useful tool, but it does not support Lion and Mountain Lion, and does not work on Intel i3, i5, and i7 processors.

  • Here's a question. I installed smcFanControl, and it always remain at 2000 even when temp goes above 90. It was not like this in Lion ... (I have ML now) – mmirzadeh Aug 7 '12 at 9:32
  • @GradGuy - Did you actually configure it? – pasawaya Aug 7 '12 at 9:35
  • Configure smcFanControl? not really its on default – mmirzadeh Aug 7 '12 at 9:41
  • @GradGuy - I think it doesn't actually do anything without being configured. – pasawaya Aug 7 '12 at 9:43
  • oh yeah. I figured I could manually increase the fan speed. What I'm saying is shouldn't OS itself increase the fan speed when temp is around 90?! – mmirzadeh Aug 7 '12 at 9:44

A MacBook Air gets hot, just like any other laptop, although 100°C is relatively hot (if not, almost the maximum a Mac can handle).
There are reports where users complain about their MacBook Air temperature flirting with 100°C, so you're not alone.

Things you can do to prevent getting the Mac too hot is making sure you haven't covered his ventilating holes. Place it on a flat, hard surface (no lap, pillow or blanket as developers tend to do. At least, that's what I do once in a while :-)).
Other things you can do is make sure you don't run too much applications at the same time, or you could use a laptop stand to get extra fresh air under your Mac.

Or if it's really bothering you, you can always invest in a professional laptop cooler.

What you should keep in mind is the MacBook Air will shut itself down when there is any chance of damage.   So you've got nothing to worry about. Your Mac won't get harmed. 

  • Careful Michiel. That's in an ideal world. I've seen too many macs in the last 5 years burn themselves up. And by that I mean significant or irreparable damage to one or another component of the mobo. If the OP wants, he could run a test and leave it at the temp indefinitely and see how the machine protects itself… but I wouldn't recommend it… maybe the airs have a vastly superior method of self protection from heat. Most of the machines I've seen give in to heat/humidity were Powerbooks, Macbooks and Macbook Pros, from 2006 to late 2011 models. Only one was an Air and that was humidity. – NOTjust -- user4304 May 1 '13 at 23:50
  • "MacBook Air will shut itself down when there is any chance of damage. " - not really. The damage is not "always happens always above XXX degrees" kind thing. Computer parts have mean time between failures (MTBF) that often depends on temperature the part is being operated. So there is "a chance of damage", which increases with the temperature, and it is manufacturer's choice which temperature to allow/disallow. eeweb.com/demonstrated-mtbf-and-temperature – Wacek May 27 at 5:46

Damage of the type that "computer just burns" is unlikely, as Macbooks have protections against overheating. What should be the concern is increasing aging rate. Computer parts have mean time between failures (MTBF) that often depends on temperature at which the part is being operated. So there is always "a chance of damage", which increases with the temperature, and it is manufacturer's choice which temperature to allow/disallow.

Another thing that is CPU temperature is 98 degrees, it is quite possible it has already thermal-throttled to avoid damage.

I would take some action to cool it down - clear the insides, replace thermal paste.

more info: eeweb.com/demonstrated-mtbf-and-temperature


Don't worry about the temperature of your macbook... use it without any thought.

  • you essentially repeated the last paragraph of Michiel's answer above further without any sources. Also, see my comment to that answer. – NOTjust -- user4304 May 1 '13 at 23:52

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