Loving that Fan Control

by Bruce Stewart

I've got a relatively new MacBook Pro, and like many others I'm pretty amazed at how hot this laptop can get. I've been using Mac laptops for a long time, and I'm used to their warmth. Heck on a cold evening I've been known to practically cuddle up to mine on the couch.

But this one seems hotter than the others. I work from a variety of places (including my couch) and actually do fairly regularly use my laptop when it's actually on my lap. And with the MacBook Pro I always need additional protection. (Does anyone else keep an especially flat pillow on hand in the living room for a personal laptop heat sink?)

So I was pretty interested to hear how people have taken the MBP fan controls into their own hands to combat the extreme heat problem. After reading an overview of the available fan control programs and installing a copy of CoreDuoTemp to easily monitor my system's temperature, I was ready to start playing with my fan settings.

There are several programs to choose from, but a couple of positive reviews steered me toward FanControl 1.1, and there will be no turning back for me now. I like that it's a System Preference pane -- this seems like the logical place for this kind of program -- and it offers the ability to set both upper and lower temperature thresholds. I'll admit to initially being a little concerned about going down this road, as I'm pretty sensitive to system and fan noises and realized that I was likely looking at a tradeoff between heat and noise. But as soon as I started tweaking the settings and significantly cooling down my Mac, I realized just how hot and bothersome it had been. My laptop's CPU temperature is now hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 30-40 degrees cooler than it was running before I took over the control of my fans.

I'm still playing around trying to find my ideal setting, and I do hear my MacBook Pro's fans kick in a little more than I used to, but I'm finding the tradeoff well worth it. I'm going to get rid of that old flat pillow, and start cuddling up to my wife again for warmth.



2006-11-10 20:43:25
Do be careful using a pillow on your lap as an insulator - the pillow can block the vents and cause worse overheating.

Better would be on of those laptop desks - a pillow or bean-bag with a hard writing surface on top. They were around long before laptop computers. Also, there are several brands of units that both serve as a tilting laptop computer holder on a desk top and as a lap protector. They are light and fold flat, to fit in your laptop carry bag.

2006-11-11 01:40:20
Well, whatever helps you and your wife :)
2006-11-11 04:58:44
Play on, Player.
Kyle Johnson
2006-11-11 06:04:49
Would you mind posting your settings? I've been playing with this for about 3 hours and my Mac Book Pro never gets below 142 degrees F, and that's with the fans running full tilt.
2006-11-11 06:58:01
Apparently, the new MacBook Pro Core Duo 2 that just started shipping runs a bit cooler and has had a vent redesign. Instead of short vertical vents along the display they are now long horizontal vents. The fans are noticeably running more frequently as well. Looks like Apple is trying to address the heat issue. Folks may still want to adjust the fan settings to fit their needs.
Bruce Stewart
2006-11-11 08:43:50
Kyle, right now I have the fan base speed set to 2300 RPM and have both temperature thresholds at the minimum settings (104 and 158) and CoreDuoTemp is reporting 101 degrees.
2007-04-08 20:04:54
Hey dude,
I'm also running FanControl on my MB Pro. Great program. I'm glad it's worked out for you also. And I'm sure your wife will be glad about it too!
Jagdish Tripathy
2007-05-01 09:58:05
hi bruce, is the tradeoff only between noise and low temp? does not increasing the rpm eat into fan life as well? I am about to try the program now, was wondering if FanControl is effective for C2D Macbooks as well?
2007-08-08 23:38:37
CoolBook is another _must_ have to accompany your laptop. I just found out about it and am definitely picking up a copy for my SR MBP.


Let's you tweak down your CPU voltages -- which can have a tremendous affect on temps. RMClock is an alternative for the PC crowd.

2007-08-16 12:08:52
Does anyone know of similar programs (CoreDuoTemp and FanControl) for PC's?
Peter da Silva
2007-09-26 17:45:37
I found the minimum "upper threshold" too high and set it to 60, that let me set the fan speeds a bit lower because they kicked off sooner and spooled up to max quicker than was possible. You do this from the package contents (right click and show contents) by editing the preferences nib file in resources, opening the inspector, and clicking on the upper threshold slider... then changing the minimum and saving.
2008-05-30 03:15:59
Actualy it's not a good idea to keep a pillow under the laptop. this blocks the air holes which are located under the laptop, the fan must push'out hot air and bring in cool air so the pillow makes the laptop even hotter which could resault in overburn. there are two solutions.

1. use any wood or plastic solid board like a table, desk, or if sitting the use something like a picture frame and put it between your legs and the laptop.

2. the best way is to buy a cooling board from amazon it costs around £10 $20 and it uses a usb port for power.

2008-07-14 00:50:04
New iMac and Extended MacBook/Pro Fan Control Versions

I've generated 2 new versions of Fan Control, one for the Intel-based iMacs and one for the MacBook/MacBook Pro which has some extended control capabilities over the original Lobotomo Fan Control version. For screenshots and (free) downloads (with source code) see:

iMac Fan Control

Extended MacBook/MacBook Pro Fan Control

The iMac version allows separate sensors to drive the control of each of its 3 fans and the extended MacBook/MacBook Pro version allows fan-control via the CPU and/or GPU temperatures (useful if you play games on your laptop). There are also some other minor enhancements (see the ReadMe files).

I've also tried to make it easy to adapt the source code for other systems ... e.g., a version for the Mac Pro that uses different sensors to control different fans (or groups of fans).

Hope these are useful to others.

BTW, there are some Mac Pro versions available via this forum posting.