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Mackbook Fan very loud, video/flash runs slow and choppy

My Mack book worked great about a year ago when I got it second hand. Now when I use flash or do any type of animation or watch any videos (online or on the computer) it suddenly gets very slow and choppy and sometimes even freezes. when this happens the fan also starts to kick in and get VERY loud. Sometimes it also gets very hot.

Any ideas? I was thinking that maybe I need to clean the fan. I live in a small community and the nearest Apple service place is about 3 days drive away (or a $500 flight away). Warranty has expired. Is there anything I can do myself. My husband is a computer tech, but doesn't know much about macs.

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  • tmcalder Apr 14, 2009

    Thanks for your advice. I am running Leopard - which I just reinstalled in an effort to fix the problem to no avail. It was very slow again as I was downloading the widget.
    Fan speed was at over 6100rpm and the temperature was 33 degrees. I looked at processes and nothing seemed too stick out. Firefox (my browser) was at 2.1% and Entourage was at 9%

  • tmcalder Apr 14, 2009

    Here is a bit more info - while attempting to watch a video on utube

    HD: 32
    CPU: 120
    Heatsink A: 120
    Heatsink B: 125
    Enclosure bottom: 30
    Northbridge2: 50

  • tmcalder Apr 14, 2009

    One last thing - while watching a youtube video - Firefox went up to 58% in Processes

  • Nathanh29 May 11, 2010

    Hi tmcalder,

    I don't think that this is a problem with the fans being dirty.

    I would suggest that you download this free widget called istat nano.

    When you have this installed, just do what you would normally do to cause the fans to run at a high speed.

    Then using the widget, have a look at the cpu % being used. Also, it should show you which processes are taking up the most of your computing power.

    Could you please let me know what these are? Any other information you think is relevant would be great too.

    A few more questions:

    Which operating system version are you using? You can check this by clicking on the apple in the top left corner of your screen and selecting "about this mac."

    Which web browser are you using?
    Do you have the latest system updates installed? To do this, click on the apple in the top left hand corner of your screen again, and select "software update..."

    I look forward to helping you further,




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That temperature is very low. Mine is currently sitting at 55 degrees Celsius.

Unfortunately the fans in previous generation macbook laptops do get very fast and very loud when doing anything more than simply word processing, emailing, or surfing the web.

This is due to the fact that the older models use integrated graphics. This would account for the fans running quite loudly during more intensive tasks.

If the websites you visit contain flash or video, this can also cause your fans to speed up. However, simple downloads shouldn't cause a problem.

Finally, the heatsink may have dust buildup, stopping heat from escaping quickly. This should only occur if you use the macbook in dusty environments.

The fact that nothing is taking over the cpu when you experience problems is really quite strange. As is the fact that you didn't have these problems when you first had your macbook.

The only other thing i can think of (other than going to an apple store, or calling them up on 1-800-MY-APPLE) is asking if when you installed leopard, you selected upgrade, or did a fresh install.

An upgrade may hold onto some faulty drivers, while a fresh install may take care of these problems. ***But beware***, a fresh install will remove all your current settings and files. Including your ical and address book. Make sure you backup everything first, if you choose to try this option.

Personally, i do a fresh install every 8 months or so. It gets rid of applications i don't us much, and all of their remaining files. I just backup what i want.

I hope this helps. I will submit this as a solution as i think i've provided a few more options for you. If everything fails, i would call apple and calmly explain your situation. They do on occasion offer to courier your computer to their support center.

Good luck,


Posted on Apr 14, 2009

  • Nathanh29 Apr 14, 2009

    Yes this is indicitive of video taking up processing power.

    This is completly normal, and in fact my computer does this too.

    The macbook processor is decoding the video information so that it can play on your screen. Therefore it has to work harder, and thus heats up.

    If you look at your CPU temperature, this is very high. This is the main temperature we are interested in, because the fan primarily cool this part of the computer. I should have being more clear, sorry.

    The fans will continue to run for a long time while they attempt to bring the temperature back down.




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