I picked up a MacBook13 Black the other day with 2GB of RAM and a 120GB hard drive from the good people over at the Yaletown location of MacStation. (Thanks Paul and Harald!)
This is probably one of the nicest pieces of Apple hardware I have ever had the good fortune of owning – sort of. With the Core Duo processor, the hardware has FINALLY caught up with the software. It feels almost as snappy as OS 9 on my old Pismo was about four years ago. THAT was a long wait. But OS X is of course MUCH more stable, handles multi-tasking much better, and just feels better, especially now that it’s at version 10.4.
I was not keen on the glossy screen when I first got this machine but on balance, I have enjoyed the crisp colour a lot more than I have been bothered by any glare from ambient light so it has been a positive overall.
But this machine has heat problems. And apparently I am not alone. Try googling “MacBook fan constantly on” and you’ll see a list of blog posts and Apple Discussion Forum threads on the heat and fan problems that are apparently plaguing the entire MacBook and MacBook Pro line.
One way to test it is to download the Core Duo Test from Versiontracker. Apparently a temperature between 45C-65C is acceptable. Immediately upon turning my laptop on, it climbs up to 78-81C and stays there. It only takes a minute or two to get there and once it crosses 80C, the fan kicks in and then never stops.
APPLE: What are you planning on doing about this? It sounds like the later firmware updates have made the problem worse for quite a few people. And a bunch of people have sent their laptop back to Apple for replacement. Remember how we suffered through the fan and heat problems in some of your earlier Powerbooks and how you eventually solved the problem? I have no doubt you will do the same here.
Here is an idea: Tell us you know about the problem, admit that you are working on a fix, and give us a temperature rating threshold above which you will immediately replace the laptop and below which you will not. In other words, don’t do what you have done over the years and replace the laptops of only the loudest customers. Step up to the plate, admit the issue and we’lll help you work through it. It’s not like we haven’t had to work through bad hardware with you before.
What do you say?
UPDATE 1: I took the machine to the dealer today and they checked to see if there was an SMC firmware update for this model but it appears that there isn’t one. Apparently the computer is scared of being sent back to the farm. Soon after returning from the dealer, it started running at about 65-70C. Weird.
As a side note, the battery life on this thing is awful. I would carry my iBook to a conference and use it on maximum energy saving mode and get a full day out of it (with breaks and sleeps in dull spots) but this one seems to burn out in just a couple of hours of meetings.
UPDATE 2: This machine has continued to operate around 65C-70C since that last update. Maybe there was something that had to burn off the components? And it definitely still appears to be an issue across the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines if the forums are any indication. But at least THIS one is not doing it anymore.