MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2019).
When the 13-inch MacBook Pro is running hot here are some ways to keep that extra heat under control.
I’ve been splitting my time between the new 16-inch MacBook Pro (late 2019) and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (mid-2019). One critical difference is how the two MacBooks dissipate heat.
My unscientific but practical litmus test is how hot the palmrest gets. The bigger (and newer) MacBook generally doesn’t get hot, even under larger workloads. The 13-inch, however, needs a little help sometimes.
The MBP 13 CPU load in my case is, in order of the biggest heat triggers: (1) running an LG UltraFine 5K display at 5,120-by- 2,880 resolution, (2) intermittent live video news feeds, (3) 15 to 20 active Chrome tabs, and (4) productivity stuff (Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneDrive, and/or photo editing).
The single biggest trigger is the LG UltraFine 5K. But it’s the use of the LG UltraFine in combination with other software that gets the MacBook hot.
Problem: On larger workloads (delineated above) the 13 MBP palmrest often gets too hot to work with comfortably. In other words, my hand is sitting on metal that’s radiating temperatures between 95 and 105 degrees F.
The heat can vary depending on what I’m doing and other variables that, frankly, are a bit of a mystery. Sometimes Apple’s built-in thermal management works. Sometimes it doesn’t — again, a mystery on why Apple’s thermal management comes up short in some cases.
Solution: I’ve tried various fixes but the one that has been most consistently effective for me is Mac Fans Control. The program allows you to set CPU core temperature fan triggers and upper CPU core temperature limits. Or, alternatively, you can set custom RPM (revolution per minute) values.
The bottom line is, Mac Fans Control can bring down palmrest temperatures in many cases. Temperatures often drop enough that I can work comfortably for longer periods with large workloads.
Other solutions: there are other, simpler ways to fix overheating.
—A simple reboot sometimes does the trick because that will jettison background processes that may be unnecessarily gobbling up CPU cycles. This can be surprisingly effective. But it’s hardly a permanent fix.
—Or switching browsers: while all browsers are resource hogs, Chrome is notorious for the “Google Chrome Helper” that appears very conspicuously in Apple’s Activity Monitor utility eating up processor cycles and ratcheting up CPU core temperatures. This is not necessarily a permanent fix, though.
—Or you could also invest in a cooling pad — which is one of the most popular traditional fixes.
—Or opt for the 16-inch MacBook Pro which, based on my testing so far, handles bigger workloads just fine.
Noise: when the MacBook Pro 13 is doing something like video streaming or running a dozen or more Chrome tabs, the fans get active — even without a program like Mac Fans Control. But the fans do kick in a little earlier with Mac Fans Control than they would otherwise. That said, fan noise doesn’t bother me because it is barely audible and the duration is short.
Not for everyone: As a disclaimer, the Mac Fans Control program is not meant for everyone. Also, you run the risk of overtaxing your fans if you max out the settings — among other possible risks including breaking the warranty.
But I would also argue that a program like Mac Fans Control is necessary. Apple didn’t do its homework when, for example, the MacBook Pro 13 is hooked up to LG’s UltraFine 5K display (which Apple sells at its Apple Store — both online and physical stores). In short, some professional workloads break Apple’s thermal modeling. After all, the reason you purchase a MacBook Pro — with “Pro” being the operative word — is to run Pro-level software.
Anyway, proceed with caution. That’s what I did.