Extending the life of a groaning, whirring, narcoleptic MBP (Circa Mid 2014)

Hi all, :wave:.

I’ve used the heck out of my maxed out 13" MBP (Mid 2014):

  • 3 GHz Intel Core i7
  • 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • Intel Iris 1536 MB
  • 500 GB Flash Storage (157 GB still ava.)

I use it for writing (G Suite), reading (Devonthink), Tinderboxing, video conferencing (Zoom, Skype), screencasting (Screenflow), email (Mailmate), planning (Omnifocus, Omnioutliner), and lots of web use for research, grading, and goofing off (Chrome). There are the occasional other uses (Photoshop, Illustrator, Word, etc.), but the apps I’ve mentioned are the most used. I also have a bunch of apps running the background (Alfred, Amphetamine, Rocket, Magnet, Fantastical, Keyboard Maestro, Text Expander, Karabiner, Hazel, Adobe CC, Google Drive, Cardhop, Forecast Bar, Freedom, Dropbox, Day One, Hooked, Be Focused, and Bartender).

Writing it all out like that, no wonder the fans are regularly whirring!

I’m feeling the computer strain under pressure. My main problems are two-fold:

First, if it’s not plugged into power, it won’t wake up reliably. This has been happening for a couple years now, seems worse in the cold. It wakes up for a minute and then goes back to sleep convinced it has no battery (if you plug it in, and get it to wake up again — always harder the second time), it usually has batter of 30-50%, sometimes upwards of 65%. This definitely wastes a good 5 minutes sometimes more every time I wake it up and if I don’t have a power cord, I can’t use the computer at all.

Second, the fans turn on and stay on about half of the time now. It suspect that Chrome is to blame, but I am tied to G Suite and Canvas for teaching and Chrome is a far better browser than Safari for those tools.

I’m wondering if it’s time to upgrade, but I also would be happy to extend the life of this machine. I gather that a new battery may eliminate my first problem, do folks concur? For my second problem, is there anything I can do to address the overload? Any obvious apps I should uninstall or strategies I should use for making Chrome behave or for upgrading my overloaded machine with more resources?

Thanks!

Have you tried Firefox? It tends to be less processor intensive than Chrome. A running joke between myself and some friends is we never need heating, just open Chrome and Slack and we’re good.

According to EveryMac it looks like your machine supports 16GB of RAM, so if you’re going to go down the life support route then I would suggest that and a new battery.

That said, I’m really not sure it’s worth trying to get more life out of this machine at this point. It’s 5 years old which is not an unreasonable lifespan, a new machine will definitely be lighter and more powerful.

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VHave you tried using an app like Fruit Juice to assess the health of your battery? Fruit Juice has a 14 day trial period, so you may want to check it out and see where your battery health is at. I have a late 2011 MacBook Pro that is still at 85% after over 1046 charges thanks to the use of this application which encourages regular maintenance cycles.

Also: you said that you’re maxed out yet only using 8GB RAM. Does the 2014 MBP allow for more to be user-installed? I found out my 2011 MBP was upgradable to 16GB total, so that was the first thing I installed (this was back in 2013, I think). You may want to check into that to get a bit more efficiency.

@RosemaryOrchard and @Aaron_Antcliff — thanks for these helpful answers. In my memory, I maxed out everything, but appears I didn’t. (I bet it was the case that the Mac store didn’t have that on hand and I was too impatient to wait for it to be shipped.) According to the Everymac site, it was an upgrade that had to be made at purchase.

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Okay, I couldn’t remember what year they started soldering RAM to the boards. I would take @RosemaryOrchard‘s suggestion on trying out Firefox, Chrome is a known system drainer (at least it was when I gave it a go a few years ago).

I’ll give Firefox a go.

I just installed the trial of FruitJuice and it says 53% original capacity and 995 out of 1000 charge cycles. Also, its birthday is November 8, 2014. :birthday:

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Have you had someone look at the battery? It seems that causes the sleep/wake issues.

As for the overload: I would get rid of the bad macOS citizen, and see if alternatives work. (Firefox as @RosemaryOrchard suggested)
I have removed Chrome from all machines as soon as I could use Firefox for critical stuff. Chrome on the mac is like facebook on iOS: bloatware and cpu hungry.

Create a new user account, and try using your apps (minus Chrome). If the system performs better you probably have cruft of some kind in your user account which is spinning up the fan or otherwise causing your overload. If the new user account fixes the problem then just over your files to it and repopulate apps randomly (so as to not carry over possible corrupt settings files etc that cause problems), then nuke the original user account.

Also, try using Brave or Opera or Microsoft Edge Canary, which use Chromium browser code without Google’s ad-tracking, and which should be all usable in G-Suite, as well as being able to use any Chrome extensions. (I use Brave.)

A spent battery indeed seems part of the problem, but if you keep your machine plugged into AC it should be fine as a desktop computer. That’s what I did 16 years ago with my Powerbook Duo 230.

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I must disagree on the recommendation of FruitJuice. Modern batteries don’t require cycling like the NiCads of old did. Also, modern battery life is based on cycles. Using apps like FruitJuice or Katie’s WeMo system to discharge the battery uses up battery life. Apple’s explanation of how it works. Just use your machine :slight_smile:

Edit: It looks like Apple will replace your battery for $129. Using the configurator over at MacSales, a system like yours (looks like they only have 2012 models), would go for about $800, if that has bearing on your repair/replace decision.
Unfortunately, the battery is glued into your machine, so unless you’re really adventurous (using acetone and heat, and this 33-step process) or have an adventurous friend, replacing the battery is probably not an option.

As an alternative to Chrome, I recommend Brave. I use it on all my devices, and don’t notice excessive battery drain. It’s like Chrome, without the baked in evil. I use it with Canvas and don’t have any problems.

As for the fan noise, if they are abnormally noisy, they may have a load of dust in the blades. You can use a pentalobe P5 screwdriver to remove the bottom cover, then blow the fans out with canned air. You’ll want to keep track of where the screws go, as shown in step 1 of the iFixIt teardown instructions.

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The three researchers responsible for lithium ion battery technology were awarded the Nobel Prize this year. And well deserved. The increased energy density of batteries has changed our lives and the way our societies work and play.

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Interesting how they drew it so no man stands in front of the other.

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A very astute observation. I hadn’t noticed that.

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The prize deformed on the airplane home.

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This is probably battery degradation. The more your battery degrades, the lower it’s max voltage gets. Batteries also dislike cold in general. It’s probably not able to provide enough oomph to wake the machine anymore.

Edit: looks like this was already discussed. I should have read the whole thread haha.

Edit 2: You don’t need fruit juice to assess your battery health. Alt-clicking on the battery icon will tell you in a word if it’s degraded enough to warrant service.

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