Properly using Thermal Paste to keep your MacBook Cool

I hear a lot of people talking about how their MacBook is too hot.   They look at on-line forums and see that their MacBook is running at 83 C and get very concerned.  They learn from the forums that they need to re-apply the thermal paste to keep their computer cool, but virtually all the forums participants are amateur idiots that offer ridiculous procedures that are likely to damage your computer.

This article is the right way to address this problem.  

First, let's talk about why your computer is running so hot.

Computer CPUs get hot.  They're designed to get hot, consuming many watts in a very small surface area.  Ever touch a 25 watt light bulb that's been on for 5 minutes?  It will be painfully hot.  Take that 25 watts and put it in a much smaller package (think halogen), and it will be MUCH hotter.  That's a CPU - a 25 watt device in a very small package.

CPU manufacturers put temperature probes inside a CPU not so that you can look at the temperature, but so that the computer can regulate its own heat.  No heat sink is going to prevent that CPU from getting hot.  Instead, a heat sink is designed to take that heat and spread it across a larger surface.  Now if that heat sink was huge, you'd be done.  But a laptop is small, so a fan is then used to blow  room temperature air over the heat sink.

Your laptop has fan circuitry that is designed to regulate its temperature.  The fan's cooling ability is based on the ambient air temperature and airflow.  If the computer is feeling hot, it will spin up the fans to exhaust heat.  The amount of cooling is based on airflow and the temperature of the air going into the machine.

So, what about thermal paste?

Thermal paste is simply some heat conducting goop that helps the heat to move from the CPU to the heat sink.  Applying thermal paste is as simple as scribbling with crayons.  And it will last far longer than the life of any machine.  And therefore, "poorly applied thermal paste" or "worn out thermal paste" simply doesn't happen.

All that said, computers can get too hot, particularly when they get old.  Why?  It is almost always due to dust clogging up the airways of your computer, preventing the fans from blowing air over the heat sink.  When a modern computer gets too hot, it will automatically power off.  If you have that kind of behavior, the right response with your computer is to see if you need to de-dust the air passages. Another possibility is that the fan has failed.

So, in conclusion, leave the thermal paste ALONE.  Ignore the forums, as they are filled with idiots and shills that market stupidly overpriced thermal paste.  Let your Mac regulate its own temperature.  If the fan is spinning too hard, it is because you have a runaway process, or because your computer is full of dust.

LED Bulbs - Lifespan Review

I have converted to LED lighting, so here I want to talk about what bulbs have worked for me and which have not.

For those not good at the math of hours, there are about 8760 hours in a year.   Most traditional bulbs are predicted to last about 750 hours, and most LEDs are predicted to last about 22,000 hours.

I only have about 25 bulbs in use, with about 10 of them are on during waking hours (I work from home).

I have a handful of Ikea bulbs.  I have a couple 6.5 watt bulbs and a couple of 3.5 watt bulbs.  I put a lot of hours on these bulbs (perhaps 10,000 so far), with no failures.  So far they're all good.

I bought three small boxes of LE bulbs from Amazon.   I have two 6 watt candelabra-type bulbs, which have about 15,000 hours so far.  I also have a two 3 watt bulbs, at roughly 10,000 hours.  So far so good.  But I did have another set of four 3-watt LEs, and they all died after about 5000 hours.  The four dead bulbs were all from the same box, and I speculate that they all shared the same design or manufacturing problem.  So it's a mixed bag with LE so far, due to that one bad box I received.

I bought a couple of Target-branded bulbs from Target.  They are 6.5 watt bulbs.  One has prematurely failed after less than 20 months, and perhaps 1000 hours.  The other is still going.

I only have one Philips LED, and its the oldest LED bulb I own.  It's still fine.

I have a bunch of CREE bulbs.  One is quite old, with about 16,000 hours.  The others are relatively new.  None have failed.

So, there you have it!  I had one bad batch of LE bulbs, and one Target bulb failed.  Regardless, I saved somewhere around $1200, so it's all been a great investment.  But better bulbs will help me lower the effort I have to expend. 

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