If your MacBook is making unusual noises and getting hot, there are a few potential causes to investigate. The fan inside your MacBook spins faster when the device needs additional cooling. Excess heat buildup and loud fan noises could indicate hardware problems, software issues, or simple maintenance needs.
What Causes a MacBook Fan to Run Loudly?
The most common reason a MacBook begins making noise is that the fans kick into high gear to cool down the laptop’s processor. As your computer works harder, excess heat builds up inside. The internal fan activates and spins faster to create airflow and prevent overheating of components.
Some potential causes of an overactive MacBook fan include:
- Using processor-intensive software like video editing or 3D rendering programs
- Having too many browser tabs and apps open at once
- Dust buildup blocking cooling vents
- Running newer operating systems on an older MacBook model
- Software bugs or performance issues
- Faulty temperature sensors
If the fans are excessively loud even during light usage, it likely indicates an underlying hardware or software issue needs troubleshooting.
Why Does My MacBook Get Hot?
Heat generation is normal for electronics like laptops when components work hard. But excessive heat can also be a sign of problems. Potential causes of an overheating MacBook include:
- Blocked air vents filled with dust and pet hair
- Thermal paste needs replacing on the CPU and GPU
- Internal fans have failed or spin too slowly
- Damaged battery swelling against internal components
- Defective logic board components
- Running intensive apps for prolonged periods
A MacBook that gets burning hot even when idle or only running simple tasks is likely experiencing hardware failure or needs repairs.
How to Diagnose Noise and Heat Issues
Here are some steps to begin diagnosing what’s causing loud fans and excess heat buildup in your MacBook:
- Restart your computer and check for changes – This clears any memory leaks and stops runaway processes.
- Check Activity Monitor for spikes – Look for any application using high CPU.
- Update your macOS to the latest version – This fixes bugs and optimizations.
- Check fans and vents for blockages – Use compressed air to remove built-up dust.
- Monitor temperatures with an app like iStat Menus – Look for abnormal spikes.
- Reset SMC and PRAM – This recalibrates sensors and settings.
If basic troubleshooting steps don’t improve the noise and heat issues, it’s time to examine hardware components. Problems like a damaged battery, failed fan, loose internal connectors, or inadequate thermal paste application could be the culprit.
Tighten Loose Internal Parts
If you notice rattling or buzzing along with the loud fan noises, loose internal components may be the issue. Over time, the constant vibrations inside a laptop can cause screws and connectors to become less snug.
Open up the MacBook case to visually inspect for anything rattling inside. Check that ribbon cables, logic boards, daughterboards, and fans are securely fastened in place. If needed, tighten loose screws. For connectors, carefully press down to reseat them.
Replace Faulty Cooling Fans
With older MacBooks, worn out cooling fans can begin to seize up and spin slowly. Replace any fans that are making grinding noises or failing to spin properly. Swapping in new matching fans will restore normal airflow.
Follow manufacturer instructions to detach the faulty fan. Make sure the replacement fan plugs into the same connector. Compare the fan labels and colors when possible. Apply new thermal paste before reattaching the logic board.
Apply New Thermal Paste
The thermal paste between chips and heatsinks can dry out over time. This paste facilitates heat transfer away from delicate components. Replacing dried-out paste can significantly improve temperatures.
Use rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to gently remove the existing paste from chips and heatsinks. Apply a small dot of fresh paste directly onto the CPU and GPU cores. Avoid any overflow. Let it set before reassembling loosened components.
Clear Out Blocked Air Vents
Prevent overheating by keeping your MacBook’s air vents clear of obstructions. Dust and pet hair easily get trapped and should be removed. With the computer off, use compressed air to safely blow out any vent blockages.
Focus on the back case vents and those along the bottom. For older models, also clear dust from the keyboard, speaker, and side grate vents. Finish by wiping the outer vents clean with a dry microfiber cloth.
Replace a Swollen Battery
An expanding battery is extremely dangerous and can damage internal parts. A swollen battery can apply outward pressure against the trackpad, warp the bottom case, and lead to heat issues. Immediately power off and stop using a MacBook with a swollen battery.
Take the laptop to Apple or a repair shop to have the built-in battery safely replaced. Attempting to pry out the battery yourself risks dangerous punctures and chemical leaks. Your MacBook will run cooler once the swelling battery is removed.
Check for Unseated Cables
If your MacBook took a recent tumble, it’s possible for internal cables to come loose. Unseated connections between components can cause abnormal heat production and fan behaviors as signals struggle to get through.
Open up the case to check that the logic board cables are properly attached. Reseat ribbon cables at both ends by gently pressing down. For diagnostics, detach and reconnect battery and SSD wires. Improper cabling can mimic hardware failures.
Excessive fan noise and heat from your MacBook most likely indicates a performance issue needs troubleshooting. Begin with simple software fixes like closing apps and updating macOS. If problems persist, examine the laptop’s hardware – clean the vents, check cables, replace the battery, apply fresh thermal paste, and swap any failed fans.
With diligent maintenance and properly functioning components, your MacBook should run quietly and smoothly. But if hardware diagnostics reveal component failure, board-level repairs may ultimately be needed. Contact Apple support for assistance if you’ve exhausted all standard troubleshooting methods.
Why does my Mac get hot when watching videos?
Streaming high-resolution videos pushes your MacBook’s processor and graphics card to work harder, generating excess heat. This is normal, but the fans should ramp up to provide cooling airflow. Make sure vents aren’t blocked. Also close other apps using CPU resources. Watching downloaded videos instead of streaming places less demand on components.
Why is my MacBook hot with nothing open?
If your MacBook heats up when idle, software processes or hardware issues are likely the cause. Check Activity Monitor for any background processes hogging resources. Updating macOS and resetting NVRAM can improve system performance. Thermal paste may need replacing or vents could be blocked. Failing internal components like the logic board or battery may need repair.
Why is my MacBook getting so hot?
Common causes of MacBooks getting hot include blocked air vents trapping heat, intensive processing tasks overworking components, faulty temperature sensors misreporting readings, inadequate thermal paste allowing heat buildup, expanding batteries making contact with internals, and failed cooling fans preventing proper airflow circulation.
How hot should a MacBook get?
Average external temperatures under normal use typically range from 90-100°F (32-38°C) on the bottom case, 100-115°F (38-46°C) on the keyboard, and 100-120°F (38-49°C) around the air vents. Short spikes somewhat above these levels are normal when performing demanding tasks. If surfaces exceed 140°F (60°C), there likely is an issue with overheating.
At what temperature do MacBooks throttle?
To prevent overheating damage, MacBooks contain temperature sensors that trigger automatic CPU throttling. Different models have varying shutoff points, but CPU throttling generally occurs between 195-220°F (90-105°C). This slows processor speeds to reduce heat output and lower internal temperatures.
|MacBook Model||CPU Throttling Temperature|
|MacBook Air M1 2020||195°F (90°C)|
|16-inch MacBook Pro 2019||212°F (100°C)|
|13-inch MacBook Pro M1 2020||203°F (95°C)|
|MacBook Air Retina 2020||185°F (85°C)|
How to reset Mac SMC and PRAM?
Resetting the SMC and PRAM can help calibrate sensors and fix software issues causing heat and fan problems. To reset SMC, shut down, unplug power, press shift-control-option and the power button simultaneously for 10 seconds, then reconnect power. For PRAM, power off, press command-option-P-R during reboot until hearing the startup chime a second time, then release.
When should I be concerned about MacBook heat?
As long as temperatures stay around 100-120°F (38-49°C) under moderate use, MacBook heat is generally normal. But consistent spikes over 140°F (60°C), burning sensations on the case, loud fans, slowed performance, crashes, or shutdowns indicate a concerning hardware or software issue that requires troubleshooting.