MacBook Surgery

As it turns out, my AppleCare coverage has run out this month. Since I bought my laptop, it's covered the replacement of a crashed hard drive, defective battery and broken optical drive so I'd say it's paid for itself and then some. The good news is, since the warranty expired, I can't void it if I take apart my laptop. Excellent.

I've noticed lately, that it's been running extraordinarily hot. Like, melt cheese hot. I did some research, and it turns out the thermal paste on the processors was done rather shoddily. They decided to respond to this problem by sending out a system update that underclocks the processor. So now everyone's laptop is running 30% slower or something like that. Wonderful. I bought a tube of Arctic Silver 5 a few days ago to try and fix a broken Xbox (unsuccessfully), so I figured it was worth trying to reapply the thermal paste to see if it would quell my laptop's fever.

I decided to take some average temperature readings and this is what came up:

At Idle, 57ºC seems pretty normal for a laptop, sure. I then checked the temperature at full load by running two terminal shells using the >/dev/null command for about 10 minutes. The results were rather warm to say the least.

Here it is, the first time I opened the laptop up. I recently took apart my broken Xbox so I was feeling technologically emboldened.

Scope this out, the fan exhaust vent was clogged with enough lint to knit a scarf with.

There's the old thermal paste job on one of the chips. It looks like they used a trowel to slop it on there. Come on Apple, it's a processor not a sandwich.

Some more gunked up paste on the heatsink.

I took some Goo Gone and q-tips and cleaned this mess up... Look at these beauties now.

A little dab will do now, apparently this Arctic Silver 5 paste is the stuff to get. You only need a little bit, just enough to spread a very thin layer on the processor so that it has full contact with the heatsink. The problem with Apple's (or rather the foreign laborers they outsourced the work to) job is that they put so much on that it was insulating the processor rather than transferring its heat.


Hey look at that, I'm not a complete moron and was able to reassemble my laptop. It turns on too. I took a few readings again:

I entered the dev/null command once more and allowed it to run for 10 minutes at which time the temperature didn't exceed 85º. Awesome. I let it idle for a while and the temperature dropped VERY quickly to an average of about 50º.

The proof is in the pudding, Apple's lousy thermal paste job has been remedied, and hopefully the life of my laptop has been prolonged.