Thermals: The Leg Test

At the end of my 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro review I mentioned that the bottom of the chassis can get uncomfortably warm. The higher peak power draw of the Core i5/i7 combined with the discrete GPU of the 15-inch MBP can result in more heat dissipated than the previous model.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is built off a mature yielding 45nm Core 2 Duo CPU. Given how long Intel has been making this CPU it's safe to assume that this chip is running as cool as physically possible. While the mobile Core i5/i7 still have a lot of improving to go through. While the base of the 13-inch MBP can get warm under normal use (aluminum conducts heat very well...towards your lap), it's not as bad as the new 15-inch. I'd say it's pretty much on par with last year's models.

To quantify these differences I pointed an infrared thermometer at the bottom of a few MacBook Pros and reported the surface temperatures. They were taken in a room with an ambient temperature of 76F.

At idle the 13-inch MacBook Pro is about room temperature. The new 15-inch is a few degrees warmer and the 2009 15-inch is actually the warmest. Remember that the Core i7 in the 15-inch has a very low idle power thanks to Intel's power gating.

While browsing the web the temperatures climb up considerably. The new 13-inch is still cooler than anything else, while the new 15-inch model's power efficiency let's it run cooler than the previous model.

Running Half Life 2 Episode 2 changes things dramatically. Now all three machines are running at or above 90F and the 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro is finally warmer than the previous model. If I measure temperature near the exhaust fan on the notebooks the new 15-inch model peaks at 105F compared to 99F for the previous generation and 92F for the 13-inch.

In all cases the new 13-inch MacBook Pro keeps surface temperatures under control. In most situations the 2010 15-inch MBP is actually cooler than the previous generation, it's only when the dGPU is active or under heavy load that the surface temperature can go well above what the older model would do.

The Display: Just as Good TRIM Support On the Way?
POST A COMMENT

93 Comments

View All Comments

  • Setsunayaki - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    While I am not a fan of Apple by any means in any sector, I like their consistency within battery life. They offer laptops that at least wont discharge rapidly. I don't like the 1280x800 resolution simply because I do more things, and if the resolution was so low...

    then I rather opt for something much cooler...

    Rather than spend money on this and everything needed to get started, I prefer spending that money to build my own desktop PC to have at home and buy a netbook as well. The combination of the two would be far more valuable for the money, considering in my own usage..

    I don't play many 3D games on the road, or do many heavy things on a laptop...unless I am working off-site with a team of course.
    Reply
  • intelpatriot - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Is there that meaningful a difference between a core 2 and an i5 (even an i7), anyway?

    I'm guessing it's going to be nothing like the performance gain stepping up a GPU price bracket/generation.
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    The performance gain for stepping up a GPU price bracket and/or generation might be zero if you don't even use Aero and the most difficult graphic activity on your laptop are sliding menus.
    Games are a totally different thing, and some people don't use games (or other applications) that benefit from high performance graphics.
    As for Core2Duo (E6550) versus Core i7 920:
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/47?vs=61
    Over 10% faster in worst case (Fallout 3 1680x1050 medium quality), and triple the speed in a couple of benchmarks (Sorenson Squeeze pro5, Cinebench R10 multithreaded). The E6550 is similar (slightly better) to one of the first "high performance" Core2Duo that appeared, and I think the price at launch was somewhat similar.
    Reply
  • Howierr - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Has anyone tried using a X-25M G2 (80gb or 160gb) in the early 2010 MacBook Pro 13", and installing Windows 7 through Bootcamp? I tried this with 2 different brand new X-25M SSDs, and the MacBook has a hard time detecting the SSD consistently on boot up. When installing Windows 7, sometimes no disks are detected, and it takes many reboots to get the SSD to be detected. But after a successful installation, whenever I reboot the MacBook Pro, there is a very good chance that the question mark icon shows up, meaning that it cannot detect any bootable devices.

    I installed one of the X-25M into a mid-2009 MacBook Pro 13", bootcamp Winodws 7 and it works flawlessly reboot after reboot.

    Could this be an isolated incident, or do all early-2010 MacBook Pro 13s dislike the Intel X-25M G2?
    Reply
  • Zok - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Not quite to your question, but I installed a 160 GB G2 into my 2010 i5 15" MBP and have had no issues whatsoever. There have been reports that the NVIDIA chipset's SATA implementation is somewhat subpar compared to Intel's, as is in the new 2010 15" MBPs. Reply
  • Jamor - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Would it be possible to get WoW results in OSX at similar settings?
    That'd give something to compare Portal/Half Life results to.

    My gut feeling is, the OSX/Win performance difference is more in the drivers and the way OS handles 3D, less in the porting.
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    How can a 2 chip platform (core i series) not fit when a 3 chip platform (core 2) already does? Reply
  • BlendMe - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Well the Core i platform in itself is a 2 chip solution, but only if you stick with Intel's graphics. If you want something more powerfull you have to go with a discrete GPU which makes it a 3 chip solution (like on the 2010 15" & 17").

    The C2D platform in the 13" is a 2 chip solution, because you have the CPU and a Nvidia chipset with integrated GPU, which is much more powerfull than Intel's on-chip graphics.

    I am disappointed about the missing Core i in the 13", but then I kinda understand Apple's decision.
    Reply
  • gcor - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Last June I reluctantly bought a 13" MacBook Pro for university as it seemed the only 8+ hr machine with big enough screen and performance to get me through the day.

    Having been a Windows person since 3.11 (I used to be a sys admin & software engineer), I was not looking forward to the learning curve of OS-X and becoming savvy enough to fix problems.

    I got to say though, the laptop has meet all my needs admirably, with a tiny learning curve. Also, maybe I was just unlucky with the ~15 PC's I had beforehand, but the machine seems rock solid stable in comparison. It's definitely saved me a ton of time in terms of; no BSOD's, no driver compatibility issues, no anti-virus machine hogging, no bloatware, no OS patches killing the machine, etc.

    Basically, when I want to use it, I just lift the lid and I'm away. I never turn it off & have re-booted no more than a handful of times in a year.

    About the only trouble I've had is the occasional Office crashes (I wonder if the manufacturer has done this intentionally?)

    Anyway, after a one year experiment, I feel the additional price has been well worth it. It's an absolute work horse that is always ready to let me get the job done. Other than games, there is nothing I miss from Windows that would convince me to swap back.

    To all the die hard Windows folks out there (like I was), if you want a machine to get your job done without needing to mess about with the machine itself, I strongly recommend giving one a go. Keep a PC around for gaming and you'll be fine.
    Reply
  • killerclick - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    I've been trying to convince all my moron friends who can't handle Windows to give Mac a try. "It's so simple, an idiot could use it!" I keep saying but to no avail, most of them insist on struggling with an operating system which is clearly too taxing on their mental abilities. I wish we could simply force all Windows users to use a Mac for a day, that would do the trick! Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now