“Due to the recent media hype surrounding the new MacBooks and the lack of actual experimentation, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Since I work in the IT department of a factory that uses all Dell computers, I was able to borrow a brand new Dell Latitude D620 for a few hours. Also readily available to me was an Oakton InfraPro infrared thermometer and my very own MacBook. There has been a significant negative response to the amount of heat emitted from the MacBooks. Since I own a MacBook, why not put it to the test!“
Heat: MacBook vs. Dell Latitude
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2006-07-19 7:02 amaent
The temperature of the CPU isn’t as much of an issue without a battery as if someone is plugged in, they are more likely to be sitting on a desk. If they aren’t, chances are the battery is probably in there, and they might even be charging it, and thats most likely going to make the macbook even hotter and expand the Dell Latitude’s lead.
2006-07-19 4:39 pmma_d
If it were in C the laptops would likely no longer work after the test…
Have you ever seen something that’s 80 degrees Celsius at room temperature (the startup is basically going to be room temperature).
It’s something he missed, but if you honestly can’t guess which it is then something is wrong…
2006-07-20 2:49 pmlfeagan
Oh, indeed I have seen a laptop hit 85C. It was finals week and I was working on a project. I was doing some heavy compilation and so I set my laptop to disable CPU throttling. I accidentally failed to suspend my laptop before placing it inside of my fitted neoprene case (with a flap to seal it well). I then went to dinner with the person I was working on the project with. After 1 hour with virtually no possible way to release much heat (as neoprene is an awful absorber/transmitter of heat) I pulled out the notebook and saw the temperature at 85C! The keyboard was almost too hot to even touch quickly. I think the conclusion of this sad tale is obvious–the logic board had to be replaced. The system was totally flaky after that experience but has been rock solid ever since having the solid board replaced.
2006-07-19 8:14 pmschwarzy
if you dodnt notice, it says:
“The ambiente temperature of the room remained at 75F”
and so you can guess it’s talking about F…
The author writes that the MacBook doesn’t have fans. I dunno about his, but mine certainly _has_ an internal fan that occasionally runs… I like the MacBook’s form factor. I like its design. I like its keyboard by now, as well. *BUT* I simply want the Energy Saver preference pane to allow me to turn off one core (can do that with CHUD tools, though) and restrict the other to 1 or 1.33 GHz. When I’m only writing stories in TextEdit and browsing occasionally, I _don’t_ think I really need two cores running at 1.5-1.83 GHz. :/ Of course, I’d _actually_ expect Apple to implement such energy saving methods themselves.
2006-07-19 12:08 ambutters
Is it possible to clock the cores of a Core Duo or Core 2 Duo differently? Is there a new SpeedStep extension for Core (beyond Enhanced SpeedStep for Pentium M)?
2006-07-19 12:27 amDittoBox
Are you talking about CPU frequency scaling (IE dynamic underclocking) and doing this under Windows?
FWIW this is what my brother –who owns a new Latitude with a 2ghz core duo– uses in place of the old SpeedSwitch XP, which doesn’t support Core Duo (AFAIK). It’s called Notebook Hardware Control. It’s not free but it is cheap and he said it was well worth the money. I’ve never used it myself as both of my laptops are non-windows (Tibook and Inspiron 8200 with Ubuntu).
Notebook Hardware Control:
2006-07-19 3:05 amrayiner
That’s an odd thing. The Core Duo should downclock quite a bit lower than the 1.5 GHz minimum Apple runs it at. That’d improve the heat issue quite a bit in the typical “web browsing while sitting on the couch” scenario where heat is the most important.
It’s a MacBook – not MacBook Pro.
I have the black version myself and while it’s warm it’s far from the temperature of the MacBook Pro or even my 12″ PowerBook G4 – even during full load on both cores for extended periods of time. It’s perfectly comfortable to have in my lap, though I mostly use a koolsink(.com) for tilting and better air flow. I actually got it because of all the “OMG it’s so hot” posts on the internet, so I didn’t know how hot it was going to be. It doesn’t really make so much of a difference on the MacBook temperature-wise, but it sure made a huge difference, when I tested it with my old Powerbook. Before it would shoot right up to around 60 degrees after ten minutes of full cpu load, but using the koolsink it took around 50 minutes to reach it – and unlike before the fans could actually get it down below the threshold where the fans stop again automatically.
So yeah, if you have an aluminium (or other metal) laptop, you can get excellent results. It’s not rocket science and you can even build one yourself if you have the tools – but the quality and finish was worth it for me.
The interesting thing I thought was how the temperature in each quadrant varied between each laptop.
It seems that whilst they both had similar overall temperatures, the MacBook seems to distribute the heat so that most of it is at the rear of the laptop. In other words, Apple seem to have designed the machine so that the bit of the laptop where your wrists are stays coolest.
I would also quite like to know which Energy Saver setting the Macbook was running on, and the equivalent for the Dell.
2006-07-19 12:59 amLu-Tze
As far as I understand it, the hottest quadrant is where the CPU is. Almost all laptops/notebooks have the CPU in the distal half since it is easier to make vents blowing out air there than at the user. The reason the temperature of Mac is more confined to the region near the CPU is probably simply because the fan rarely runs on this machine therefore there is little spreading around…also little dissipation. So you may right, it might be a conscious design feature but it is probably also why it runs hot for some people. Since, in people “finding it hot”, maximum temperature is probably more important than average temperature.
Edited 2006-07-19 01:00
I particuarly like it after actually gathering interesting data the author went and wasted it all by presenting a simple average 🙁
My lap doesnt care about the average temperature, it cares about the scolding hot quadrant burning my thigh!
2006-07-19 4:09 pmllanitedave
“My lap doesnt care about the average temperature, it cares about the scolding hot quadrant burning my thigh!”
With one foot in a bucket of glowing charcoal and the other foot in a bucket of ice water, on average, you’re comfortable!
Yeah, I think it’s that localized hot spot causing all the complaints. If Apple engineers could find a way to spread that heat around a little better, then most of the complaints would go away.
The test was clearly meant to mimic the average use. Most everyone will use the default setup, no BIOS changes, speed changes, and certainly not removing the battery.
I haven’t (and most of the industry has not) used the term “laptop” since they stopped putting trackballs on systems. Since that time, portable systems have been called “notebooks”
It would be nice to look inside both an see how the parts are layed out.
Last time I dimantled a Dell P4 laptop, I had no idea what to expect (it was sort of dead). I would expect to see the cpu pretty close to the rear exhaust vent with a heat pipe actually taking all the heat to the vent heatsink fan so unless the fan is running, the heat stays well inside.
That sort of makes me think the entire backside connector area should be one long extended extruded Al heat sink block with the ports attached in holes and the heat tube running along its length. Probably never need a fan period. HiFi power amp style. Would add some strength too, maybe some wieght.
These 2 machines, performing a task that doesn’t ask much of the CPU, have similar heat curves. There is not enough data to draw any sort of conclusion when the sample space is 1 for each population.
How about I pull 2 “random” people off the street and measure their characteristics and then draw a conclusion from that? That wouldn’t be very scientific, and neither was this test. We just need a few thousand people to do the same test on a few thousand Dells and Macbooks to see what the numbers really average out to be for each platform..
2006-07-19 12:02 pmcadtag
you’re ignoring the fact that people are not manufactured to specificatiosn. Both of these manufactured devices are much, much closer to norm than a random set of two people would be. So a sample space of 1 per population is reasonably valid in this instance, because each population has undergone a qa/qc process to eliminate under/over performers. It’s not like Dell is going to slip in couple of PII 350 versions in the Latitude D620 model run!
All this talk about heat with Intel chips is interesting, but I dunno so I’ll ask… What is the story with PPC? While not quite as fast, I seem to recall they actually ran cooler. And what was the stated reason for moving to Intel? Power consumption? Heat? I thought they went together.
Like I say, perhaps someone can help me sort this out. Thanks.
2006-07-19 1:13 pmrayiner
The stated reason for the transition was performance/watt. Apple’s basic problem was that the G4, while being rather power efficient (of course it was — it was meant for routers not laptops…), was slow. The G5, while being decently fast, was power hungry. Intel’s Core/Core 2 line of chips offer performance that in many cases exceeds that of the G5, while having a power dissipation that’s not to much higher than the G4.
My old G4 iBook only gets HOT when running from AC power (so the battery is charging) and performing processor intensive tasks.
I’d like to see the same test but whilst charging the battery. THAT would get hot.
Given my experience servicing apple laptops, I’d be more interested in the INTERNAL temperature than the external. Apple is usually very good at keeping the internal temperatures internal, usually at the cost of absurdly high internal temps… (just look at the G3 and G4 iBooks for examples on how NOT to cool a laptop)
That it’s getting up to 119F given how apple usually does things, those internal temps have to be up in the 180’s or more, well into hysterisis.
Does anybody know whether it’s possible to alter the fan settings and/or temperature management in the BIOS to make the machine run cooler?
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Now there’s the sudden restart problem too:
Google cache of the article:
Of course, since the actual data is in the images and Google doesn’t cache images… oops 😉
Was movie played from hdd or DVD?
Was it impossible to turn off Latitude’s fan?
what was difference in battery usage?
It’s the lap of steel. What it takes, I don’t know why they even call mine a laptop, no human could possibly hold it for over an hour.
I wasn’t too surprised that the average temp isn’t that different since my Dell D505 that I have for work gets about as hot as my MacBook.
First, are those temps C or F, I really hope they are F.
Next, Though it’s good to see how it does as a whole, I would suggest you remove the battery from both and run again. Since you have two heat sources, CPU, and Battery. One may get hotter then the other due to the battery heat. But one of the goals is to see if the CPU is cooled the same.
I believe the new Mac Books your Pouch Batteries (lithium polymer) this run hotter then Lithium Ion, which could explain the difference too. be nice to see the difference with this variable removed.