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The larger of Apple's MacBook Air laptops featuring dual microphones and 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity.

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MacBook Air overheating and shutting down - what to do?

I have a Macbook Air (2013).

It is overheating and shutting down.

It seems to shut down at around 100+ degrees C on the cpu  (using magican poster to track it, but don’t know how to generate a temperature log file to see the exact temp at shutdown). It gets there when the cpu operates at around 50-60% (again not sure about this because I don’t have a log).

I’ve opened it up and cleaned the fan and exhaust, and there doesn’t seem to be a problem with the thermal paste (the paste that is exposed is still soft, and the exhaust feels as hot as the area around the CPU when rubbing in a high load).

It also seems to run well by forcing the fan to run at max rpm (6500) but don’t want to do that long term.

I’m told that macs are supposed to be able to handle temperature well on their own so I’m wondering whether there’s some other reason, either that the cpu is heating excessively or that the fan isn’t running at the speed necessary to keep it cool.

Any thoughts on this? Or should I just manually increase fan speed whenever I have a high cpu load?

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Has the computer ever come in contact with liquid? have you actually touched the CPU? an easy trick to tell if it is a sensor issue would be to turn it on with the bottom off and touch the CPU. if it is hot, the CPU is failing, if not, it is in fact a sensor issue.


Can't vouch for liquid since I pulled this thing out of the e-waste bin. The CPU is definitely running hot--it's almost painful to touch the top of the case right above the CPU (and right above the exhaust).

If CPU overheating is a sign of CPU failure, then yeah I believe it. My "solution" (which I'll post in detail separately) is to stop Turbo Boost and thereby make sure the CPU never runs too much.


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My “solution” is to disable Turbo Boost (using the free version of Turbo Boost Switcher). I guess that Turbo Boost was increasing processor speed (or the speed of individual cores) too much, leading to overheating. Since this was a recent development, I assume either a software update or some sort of slow degrading of hardware is to blame. Tim in the comments suggested that CPU failure could lead to overheating, so that’s a possibility.

In any case, after disabling Turbo Boost I have not had any sudden shutdowns, sensor temps have stayed in a much more normal 50-75 C range, and the area above the CPU has not been burning my fingers. So this has solved my problem, with the obvious caveat that I now can’t benefit from Turbo Boost when I have a high load. Not perfect, but posting this in case it’s helpful to others.

Thanks Tim and Casper for suggestions!

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First of all, a cpu temperature above 100 degrees is not normal!

I think a heat sensor is broken, because you mention that your cpu is fine when the fans go on max speed.

The computer is supposed to run those fans at max speed automatically if the cpu get’s a high load (what increases the temperature).

Another thing that could be a problem too is that your airflow isn’t that good anymore. It maybe doesn’t seem like it, but maybe one of your fans (or fan motor) is damaged?

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These are all great ideas, thanks! After a little longer using this computer, it seems that (measured) temps never go quite to 105 C, which is what I'm told is the shutoff point. So it definitely could be a heat sensor problem. But even running the fans at max when the CPU heats up doesn't seem to work anymore. I'm doing my best to keep airflow smooth--putting the computer on a hard flat surface and propping up the back when I can. But since it's an intermittent problem it's still hard to nail down what it is.

I don't *think* the fan is damaged--I can't see any damage and it seems to run at max RPM when I ask it too without any weirdness. But I suppose it's possible that the RPM measurement (using Macs Fan Control) is not correct, or that there's some other failure that's keeping the computer from cooling.


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