Any hope for an overheating MBP?

My old reliable late 2011 MBP (16 ram, 1tb ssd) might be nearing it’s end. I was hoping to get another year out of it, but according to iStat Menus, it’s running hot at an average 148 degrees F. I run the fans at a “medium” fan setting (4000) that just barely cuts the heat to 128-133F, (fast enough that I can actually feel the exhaust coming up through the keyboard). I keep minimal tabs open on Safari, and generally never run more than 4-6 apps at once.

Is it worth it to try something like changing the thermal paste? Other suggestions welcomed as well.

Side note - if this thing is knocking at death’s door, this might be my push to pick up an M1 MBA, but I’d like to see if this 2011 is somehow salvageable for another few months to a year.

In your experience, what temperature is “normal” for this machine?

I would consider baseline around 100-ish

Anything under 160F is fine but I understand your concern. Since you mentioned changing thermal paste I assume you are comfortable opening your machine. The first thing I would do is make blow the dust out. That may be enough but of course you will have to reassemble the machine to check. If it still runs hot you might try changing the thermal paste, or you could get one of those cooling pads. A quick look at Amazon shows prices in the $20-$30 range.

Edit: Before digging into the machine (and after, if still necessary), try resetting your SMC, and run Apple Hardware Test. The diagnostics include testing the fans.


Thanks for your suggestions, I didn’t even think about Apple Hardware Test. Good call, I might have something malfunctioning.

Okay, ran Hardware Test, there were no reported issues. Reset SMC, then got a temperature warning. I shut it down for a few more minutes, now currently at a temp of 180(!) fans running at 4099. Yikes.

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I had success on my 2012 MBP by applying fresh thermal paste. For reference though, my stock 2019 16" MBP hovers around 125F (50C) None of that is bad and I’ve grown accustomed to tracking temps in celsius. If you’re around 50-60C you’re doing just fine. These things will hit 90C+ on the CPU and that’s still within the CPUs tolerances.

I think applying new thermal paste is a good idea at that age either way, but your temps really don’t sound bad.


For reference, my i9-9880H in mine has a limit of 100C.



Time to take a look inside.

Mine consistently runs higher temps, I’d consider anything above 200 “hot”
Your temps would be my average (even slightly lower)

Why would 148 avg be “running hot”?
I’d consider that “running cold”


I’ll give it a shot. I ended up having a couple more thermal warnings and then it shut down again. Currently wondering if taking it to an Apple genius is worth it for such an old computer.

Yeah I reckon so. I did order some thermal paste and will pick up some compressed air. I’m comfortable with taking it apart, it’s had a couple different SSD drives in it over the years.

Once I get to 200F it sounds like a jet preparing for take-off! That really isn’t a bother so much as now it’s giving me thermal warnings and shutting down.

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Tried Turbo Boost app?

Worst case scenario, it’s a great time to buy a cool and quiet new Mac. :slightly_smiling_face:


Believe me the draw is there :slight_smile: I may check one out tomorrow.

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Your 2011 MacBook Pro sounds similar than mine. I don’t have an SSD in mine. It still runs and is used by the kids for school at this point. I have a 2020 MacBook Air (Intel) that has been up to my tasks with no trouble. I haven’t had any overheating issues on my machine during its whole operating life. I would have thought mine would develop this problem with the additional moving parts. The thermal paste suggestion makes the most sense to me, assuming that the internals are relatively free of lint, hair, or other sorts of fuzz. I have a dog and 2 cats, so that is something I am always conscious of.


Recently I took the back off my 2015 15” MBP and blew out the dust. It seems to have made a difference and wasn’t difficult.

You might have the same or more dust with your 2011. It’s worth thinking about (if not actually doing).

(I’ve opened up my 2011 13” MBP twice - to replace things - so that reinforces my view.)

I wish someone made a chiller unit for a laptop, rather than just a fan. I’ve considered wrapping freezer blocks in a tea towel to do that. (Not sure a tea towel prevents condensation.)


Do you have iStat Menus? It might help you pinpoint the offending component(s).


Thermal Paste will arrive today, so I’ll get it cracked open tonight or tomorrow and see what’s going on in there. At worse, it will no longer be a daily driver type of machine and will be good for surfing on the couch.