MacBook Running Hot?

Recently my faithful MacBook Black (2006 – 2GHz Core Duo) has started to get a little hot under the collar.

When I say hot under the collar, I really mean the underside of the chassis gets so hot that you can’t put it on your lap comfortably – even with jeans on! And what is hot? My processor is getting-up to 190 degrees plus….resulting in 6000+rpm processor fans and the spinning beachball of doom.

Time for a little investigation – hardware, software or both?

First things first – before troubleshooting, close all open applications. This will restrict your troubleshooting to just hardware issues, and processes that run as part of your ‘normal’ OS.

First place to look is Activity Monitor from /Applications/Utilities. On launching Activity Monitor, select ‘All Processes’ from the drop down menu, then sort columns by CPU used. Is there one thing using 90+% constantly, when no applications are running? Two main suspects that cause a lot of issues:

  • ‘iavd’ process. There is an issue with some versions of iAntiVirus which will try to scan files constantly, even if there is no file activity. If you find this, checkout your installed version and look for updates at: http://www.iantivirus.com/.
  • ‘locum’ process. This handles the trash process and can sometimes get into a tailspin when doing large or secure file deletions. Finder > System > Advanced can remove the Secure Delete defaults, this sometimes fixes this roque process.
  • There are others! If you do find a rogue process that is eating your CPU and giving you hot legs / fast fans / spinning beachballs – have a look at Apple Communities for others who have seen the same and their solutions.
Second option is to reset the PRAM for the processors of your MacBook. Hold down Command / Control / P / R at start-up will do this nicely and may sort the temperature issue.
The third way to look at this is to use a monitoring tool to look at the temperature of your processors. iStats is a useful widget that can be installed to interrogate processors for more information and potential issues. (iStats will also help with running processes). Download it here: http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/status/istatpro.html
The last possibility is hardware fault. Best place to start here is the Apple Hardware Test CD if you have one for your MacBook, or an appointment at your local AppleStore or Apple Specialist. To make an appointment:
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About Jeremy Bowman
VMware-certified Solutions Architect, Virtual Systems Designer / Administrator, Mac-Enthusiast.

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