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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > [Pic] How Apple applied the thermal grease on MacBook

[Pic] How Apple applied the thermal grease on MacBook
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May 18, 2006, 11:05 AM
 
(From Apple service manual...)

Step One:



Step Two:



     
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May 18, 2006, 11:18 AM
 
OMG, it's a CPU not a sandwich!
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May 18, 2006, 11:24 AM
 
mmmm, core duo sandwich, yummy
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May 18, 2006, 11:41 AM
 
That's what... about 10X too much?
     
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May 18, 2006, 11:46 AM
 
buhaha. that's insane! And rather disconcerting considering I have a Macbook on the way
     
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May 18, 2006, 11:49 AM
 
I'm not gonna order a MacBook sandwich until Apple figures out that it's putting too much mayo on it.
     
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May 18, 2006, 01:10 PM
 
That's even more than "10x" too much.

Thermal grease/paste is designed to smooth out minute ridges between surfaces; nothing more. All that's needed is an extremely thin layer, or, before it's compressed, a ball about 2mm around on a surface like that - just enough that air gaps between the metal surfaces are filled - that's it.

At these levels of application, thermal grease becomes an insulator, and actually prevents heat from being dissipated from the designed areas of the chip: this is actually WORSE than having no paste at all. MUCH worse. Quite literally.

I can't believe that the engineering, design, and QA groups at Apple, Asustek, and Quanta let - and are letting - this one slip by.
( Last edited by piracy; May 18, 2006 at 01:21 PM. )
     
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May 18, 2006, 01:20 PM
 
Holy ****! That is horrible! What are they doing to that poor machine? That's not a f-ing sundae!!
     
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May 18, 2006, 01:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by piracy
That's even more than "10x" too much.

Thermal grease/paste is designed to smooth out minute ridges between surfaces; nothing more. All that's needed is an extremely thin layer, or, before it's compressed, a ball about 2mm around on a surface like that - just enough that air gaps between the metal surfaces are filled - that's it.

At these levels of application, thermal grease becomes an insulator, and actually prevents heat from being dissipated from the designed areas of the chip: this is actually WORSE than having no paste at all. MUCH worse. Quite literally.
My 10X was considering practical amounts for assembly lines. If they used 1/10th of that it would still be too much, but would be more feasible for assembly lines, etc. I'm guessing, as long as they pressed hard enough to thin out the goop. But then again, I don't do this for a living.

I can't believe that the engineering, design, and QA groups at Apple, Asustek, and Quanta let - and are letting - this one slip by.
It's the same for the instructions for the MacBook Pro.
     
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May 18, 2006, 02:09 PM
 
Hmmm. Maybe this explains the little heat problem seen in this review?
     
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May 18, 2006, 02:22 PM
 
Well, at least the MacBook looks like it's easy to take apart.

Not a big huge deal to go and put some Arctic Silver or something on there instead.
     
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May 18, 2006, 02:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by CaseCom
Hmmm. Maybe this explains the little heat problem seen in this review?
That reviewers MacBook is a joke! How on earth can it just give up after 30 mins of use because it is too hot!! I really do hope this is an isolated incident
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May 18, 2006, 02:59 PM
 
obviously.
machines aren't designed to crash every half hour.
they leave the store models on all day.
silly to review a defective product.
     
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May 18, 2006, 03:17 PM
 
My macbook definitely has heat problems. This is the hottest laptop I have ever owned. I've built and tinkered with systems before, so I'm not too worried about simply opening it up and reapplying with a dab of arctic silver, but does anyone know if there are warranty tags and stickers I might break in the process? I definitely do not want to void my 3 year warranty, and if opening my macbook does void it I definitely want to hide the fact that I did . Any thoughts?
     
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May 18, 2006, 03:38 PM
 
Hello, the voice of reason here:

Apple is one of the worlds biggest computer companies, and their machines are manufactured by some of the biggest fabricators in the world.

Do you not thing they know what they are doing ?
     
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May 18, 2006, 03:55 PM
 
Is the CPU soldered in? Kinda doesn't look like it from that pic. 'Course, I wouldn't really know either way.
( Last edited by greenamp; May 18, 2006 at 04:01 PM. )
     
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May 18, 2006, 03:59 PM
 
No, I am the voice of reason:

Yes, do NOT think they know what they are doing.

It makes me laugh whenever I hear some Apple fanatic trying to defend Apple when they overdo the thermal paste. It will NEVER be ok to put that much thermal paste on a chip, because it TRAPS the heat in the CPU, which then spreads to the motherboard and other parts of the computer causing potentially permanent damage. You are only supposed to put half a grain of rice worth of thermal paste so it fills in the microscopic gaps and holes in the surfaces of the CPU and heatsink. there is supposed to be as much metal-on-metal contact for maximum heat transfer. Trust me, this has been discussed many times in other forums, once you redo the thermal paste correctly the temps will drop 20C because the heatsinks will dissipate the heat properly so the heat doesn't build up inside.

BTW just to clarify I am an Apple fan, but not a fanatic. Apple is great, but someone has to call them out when they mess up.
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:11 PM
 
And you don't find it at least somewhat puzzling that Apple hasn't heard about the problem, hasn't checked with their engineers why they don't know something apparently every 12 year old that read the web knows, that their manufacturers in Asia that produce millions of notebooks a year for several major PC companies don't know, that they obviously don't care about it even though these additional 20C you quote are likely to reduce the lifetime of their hardware, increase return rate, increase warranty repair costs and ultimately reduce Apple's revenue? You don't find it puzzling that you know so much more than Apple even though they read the same web you do?

[Honestly, no offense intended, but although what you say might sound reasonable, it does strike me that Apple seems to not know this and I'm doubting they employ 20'000 idiots and not one is capable of making the same conclusion you do...]
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May 18, 2006, 04:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by Gee4orce
Do you not think they know what they are doing ?
No. Absolutely, definitely, categorically: no.

This is not a matter of opinion, nor up for debate.

Let me see if I can be clear: that is FAR TOO MUCH THERMAL GREASE, by well over an order of magnitude.

With that level of application, it is ACTING AS AN INSULATOR. Yes, thermal grease still conducts heat, but in comparison to the metal surfaces it should simply be filling air gaps in, it is a MUCH WORSE conductor of heat.

By every measure, standard, and practice, that is far, far, far, far too much thermal grease. The heat dissipates in an uncontrolled and unintended fashion, instead of through the heat pipes, heat sinks, and associated fans as was intended.

There is a band-aid solution in the recent MacBook Pro SMC update, but that doesn't change the fact that this could actually be described as a SERIOUS MANUFACTURING DEFECT, and that does NOT overstate the magnitude of this problem.
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:14 PM
 
The sad part is that Apple is deliberately caking on all that thermal paste assuming that this will make their notebooks niiiice and coooool. How ironic.

Considering that they take so much time and money in their designs and engineering, this is quite an embarrassment for them. Then again, they still don't think they are doing anything wrong!

Is anyone actually debating this? The proof is in the pictures - there is WAY too much thermal paste!
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:18 PM
 
OK, assuming you guys are right: Why doesn't Apple know? Why don't they care? It's their revenue and their rep that will suffer, why do they seem to not give a damn? And why do their engineers (many of them with a master's degree or PhD in EE) know so much less than some people posting on forums?

Doesn't that make you a little suspicious that there might be more to the story?
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May 18, 2006, 04:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
And you don't find it at least somewhat puzzling that Apple hasn't heard about the problem, hasn't checked with their engineers why they don't know something apparently every 12 year old that read the web knows, that their manufacturers in Asia that produce millions of notebooks a year for several major PC companies don't know, that they obviously don't care about it even though these additional 20C you quote are likely to reduce the lifetime of their hardware, increase return rate, increase warranty repair costs and ultimately reduce Apple's revenue?
Yes. I do find it puzzling.

If you want to get technical about it, what's actually happening is that a good deal of the surplus paste is getting "sandwiched" out anyway when the CPU heat dissipation point is mated to the heatsink/heatpipe. I wouldn't be surprised if someone figured "Better safe than sorry" in terms of the application of the paste.

In reality, however, all thermal paste is designed to do is smooth out microscopic imperfections in the surface of the two metals. Thermal grease itself conducts heat, but far less efficiently than the metals themselves do: the net result with properly applied thermal grease is the metals themselves touching whenever possible, and thermal grease filling the gaps in the minute/microscopic spaces that don't touch, thereby creating a uniform surface for heat dissipation.

Under NO cirumstances do you want an impervious LAYER of paste between the surfaces. With this amount of paste, that is precisely what is occurring. That is FAR too much thermal paste. There should be an extremely thin, barely visible uniformly spread layer of paste - that's it. That, though, is difficult to achieve in an automated manufacturing process. But during manufacturing, and DEFINITELY service, there should be at LEAST ten to twenty times less paste applied, and even that is being conservative.

Anyone who thinks Apple, Quanta, and Asustek, big companies though they are, is applying anywhere NEAR a remotely reasonable, correct, or appropriate amount of thermal paste for ANY circumstance is 100% wrong.
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
OK, assuming you guys are right: Why doesn't Apple know? Why don't they care? It's their revenue and their rep that will suffer, why do they seem to not give a damn? And why do their engineers (many of them with a master's degree or PhD in EE) know so much less than some people posting on forums?

Doesn't that make you a little suspicious that there might be more to the story?
Apple does care and I'm quite certain this is on the radar of the appropriate parties at Apple. But simple as the solution may seem, it actually might take quite a bit of planning to change the manufacturing procedures and processes that are applying the paste in the first place, and to change the service manuals, policies, infrastructure, documentation, and so on. It's quite a lot of work for even such a seemingly small or simple change.

As I said, Apple, as far as it goes, was likely familiar with the issues when it made the judgments to use that much paste, but made a grave error in presuming that most of the paste would be ejected when the components were mated. Even during automated manufacturing, a daub of paste *many* times smaller would result in a better heat conductive mating point by any and all measures.

But you don't have to believe me...for more information, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_grease
http://www.heatsink-guide.com/conten...compound.shtml

Notable quotes:

Because the thermal conductivity of heatsink compounds is so poor in comparison to the metals they couple, it's important to use no more than is necessary to exclude any air gaps. Excess grease separating the metal surfaces further will only degrade conductivity.

You should apply a very thin (paper thin) layer on the heatsink with your finger before installing it. Don't use too much - the thinner the layer, the better.
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:22 PM
 
You're preaching to the choir in terms of physics here buddy.

My issue is not the thermal paste. For the record, I know how to apply thermal paste, since it's part of my job. That's not my issue. I want to know why Apple is a company of 20000 morons that could easily learn proper EE design from reading macnn forums. That I find very hard to believe.
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May 18, 2006, 04:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by piracy
Apple does care and I'm quite certain this is on the radar of the appropriate parties at Apple. But simple as the solution may seem, it actually might take quite a bit of planning to change the manufacturing procedures and processes that are applying the paste in the first place, and to change the service manuals, policies, infrastructure, documentation, and so on. It's quite a lot of work for even such a seemingly small or simple change.
The MBP and MB are manufactured by different companies. There's no reason Asus should have to make the same mistake Honhai did. Unless of course Apple is a company of morons and explicitly tells them to do it wrong even though a simple glance at macnn would teach them how to build a proper computer.
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May 18, 2006, 04:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
The MBP and MB are manufactured by different companies. There's no reason Asus should have to make the same mistake Honhai did. Unless of course Apple is a company of morons and explicitly tells them to do it wrong even though a simple glance at macnn would teach them how to build a proper computer.
There are two separate issues here. One, Apple is providing the manufacturing specifications to the manufacturers, and, to a degree, they will follow them. There may have been some rationale why Apple wanted so much paste applied. Whatever the reasoning was, it is patently incorrect.

The other issue is how service providers are instructed to *replace* the thermal grease, if needed. The MacBook may indeed be being manufactured with an appropriate amount of thermal paste, especially in light of the severe MacBook Pro heat issues (and yes, they were, and are, extreme and severe). However, the service manual is still telling AASPs to apply FAR too much thermal paste. This indicates that the problem may not be completely solved in either the manufacturing or service channel.

Trust me, this is just as puzzling to me as it is to you, given Apple's reputation for quality engineering, design, and QA, and the reputations of Asustek and Quanta as well. I realize that it's easy to think that they must be right, but believe me when I say that applying that much thermal paste is just as "wrong" as it would be to run over the laptops with a forklift after they've come off the end of the assembly line.
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
You're preaching to the choir in terms of physics here buddy.

My issue is not the thermal paste. For the record, I know how to apply thermal paste, since it's part of my job. That's not my issue. I want to know why Apple is a company of 20000 morons that could easily learn proper EE design from reading macnn forums. That I find very hard to believe.
No, I know...but for the record, I find it hard to believe as well. ;-)

Oh well. Stranger things have happened, and I'm sure this will be resolved.
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:32 PM
 
Simon, I can understand why you want to give Apple the benefit of the doubt. They are a great company that employs many certified 'geniuses'. However, this issue is simply not debatable. I can't pretend to explain what Apple engineers were thinking when they drew up these ridiculous instructions for Asus, nor can I pretend to explain how Asus manufacturers let this kind of mistake slide. But make not mistake about it, both Apple and Asus F'ed up. Royally.

Check out this forum to see for yourself:
http://forums.somethingawful.com/sho...readid=1864582

This guy found the same problem on his MBP, and he fix it by wiping off Apple's thermal paste double layer cake and applying tiny amounts of arctic silver. His core temps dropped 20C. Argue all you want but hard numbers are staring you in the face.

All we can hope for now is that Apple will fix this issue in their next rev of MB so we can all trade for those. Otherwise, they better not make a fuss about my warranty when I go in and fix it myself.
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:34 PM
 
I think everyone is assuming (me included) that Apple gave the ODMs the directive to apply lots of thermal paste assuming it would keep things cooler. I don't think ODMs arbitrarily do anything without an order from the client. Perhaps with the switch to the hotter running Intel chips they (Apple) genuinely thought this would be best?

I agree that it's hard to believe that such seasoned computer manufactures like Asus and Quanta didn't get back to Apple and say, 'are you kidding me?' But, we don't know the whole story. Asus alone who makes VERY nice PC Notebooks (inside and out) should really know better.

I remember way back when Dell had a keyboard flex problem in one of their Inspirons and the 20,000 idiots running that conglomerate ordered the ODM (Quanta) to actually tighten the screws under the keyboard harder. The result? A flexing keyboard affixed to the computer with over-tightened stripped screws. The ODM knew it wouldn't fix the problem, but they did as they were told!
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:35 PM
 
in all the disassembly pictures i see of the MB, it looks like there is a reasonable amount applied during assembly. like this one http://www.lookinsideit.com/macbook/...-%2038_jpg.jpg . Clearly, however, the service manual is showing the application of enough thermal paste for 100 MBs
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by piracy
Trust me, this is just as puzzling to me as it is to you, given Apple's reputation for quality engineering, design, and QA, and the reputations of Asustek and Quanta as well. I realize that it's easy to think that they must be right, but believe me when I say that applying that much thermal paste is just as "wrong" as it would be to run over the laptops with a forklift after they've come off the end of the assembly line.
I think we agree. I'm not trying to suggest they're right. Actually, if they really apply as much paste as on that pic I know they're wrong. I'm merely pointing out that there might be more to the full story. There are many pretty skilled people working for Apple (and Asus for that matter) and I find it hard to imagine that they're all simply idiots that can't even read a Wikipedia page.

That said, as you point out, we have to keep in mind that this pic is intended for AASPs and it does not necessarily show what Asus or Honhai actually do in their plants. They may or may not be related; right now, there's no way to say for sure.
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May 18, 2006, 04:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by hookem2oo7
in all the disassembly pictures i see of the MB, it looks like there is a reasonable amount applied during assembly. like this one http://www.lookinsideit.com/macbook/...-%2038_jpg.jpg . Clearly, however, the service manual is showing the application of enough thermal paste for 100 MBs
I saw that pic too. It looks very different than the MBP pics we saw a few weeks ago.
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May 18, 2006, 04:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by hookem2oo7
in all the disassembly pictures i see of the MB, it looks like there is a reasonable amount applied during assembly.
Not in this pic:




http://www.suyama.co.jp/
     
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May 18, 2006, 04:48 PM
 
but even that one isnt a result of a giant pile of it like the service manual pics show...still not good though

edit::: here's a link to the high res version of that pic, the processor looks like it has too much, while the chipset core looks ok http://61.194.6.236/mb13/mb1329.jpg
     
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May 18, 2006, 05:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
I think we agree. I'm not trying to suggest they're right. Actually, if they really apply as much paste as on that pic I know they're wrong. I'm merely pointing out that there might be more to the full story. There are many pretty skilled people working for Apple (and Asus for that matter) and I find it hard to imagine that they're all simply idiots that can't even read a Wikipedia page.

That said, as you point out, we have to keep in mind that this pic is intended for AASPs and it does not necessarily show what Asus or Honhai actually do in their plants. They may or may not be related; right now, there's no way to say for sure.
One guy had some serious heat problems. He disassembled his MacBook Pro and saw TONS of goop. He just removed most of it and then reapplied the thermal paste and his temps dropped significantly.

In his pix, it really did look like someone followed the manual's advice of putting 5 tablespoons or whatever of paste on. The goop was all over the place.
     
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May 18, 2006, 05:24 PM
 
Can anyone clue me in on if fixing it myself nullifies my warranty? And if it does, will Apple be able to find out? I would really hate to see that $250 3 year warranty go to waste.
     
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May 18, 2006, 05:47 PM
 
Who has confirmed the OPs original picture as being real? It could be some random fake picture that does not exist in the Apple Service Manual
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May 18, 2006, 06:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by harrisjamieh
Who has confirmed the OPs original picture as being real? It could be some random fake picture that does not exist in the Apple Service Manual
Oh, it's definitely real. This is on page 94 of the MacBook (13-inch) Take Apart.

In fact, Apple even says as a preface to that picture:

"Although the amount shown appears to be plenty of grease, this is the correct amount that has been tested and verified on the production line."

Again, Apple's thinking is probably that the excess grease will be *forced* out from between the mated surfaces because of the tolerances between components and surfaces, leaving an "appropriate" amount of grease between the surfaces. That is a questionable strategy at best.
     
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May 18, 2006, 06:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by piracy
Oh, it's definitely real. This is on page 94 of the MacBook (13-inch) Take Apart.

In fact, Apple even says as a preface to that picture:

"Although the amount shown appears to be plenty of grease, this is the correct amount that has been tested and verified on the production line."

Again, Apple's thinking is probably that the excess grease will be *forced* out from between the mated surfaces because of the tolerances between components and surfaces, leaving an "appropriate" amount of grease between the surfaces. That is a questionable strategy at best.

Good lord, this just gets better and better! It actually says that? My faith in whoever is sanctioning these practices is waning.

I'm going home tonight to fire up my blackity black macbook for the first time. I guess I'll find out how hot it gets soon enough.
     
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May 18, 2006, 10:17 PM
 
I would like to put forward a theory:

Assume for a moment that the quality (and price) of the thermal compound used in the photo is low and it is not in the same class as Arctic Silver 5 (at $6/cc).

Assume that, given this compound, apple engineers have played with using different amounts and found that this massive pile was the 'best'.

The repair manual 'may' be correct, but only if you are using the compound supplied by Apple.

I could be way wrong here. I have no way to verify if the two above assumptions are accurate, or even possible.

There is no doubt that using a proper application of AS5 will dramatically lower CPU temperatures.
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May 18, 2006, 11:51 PM
 
Even the cheap generic paste dosen't require any more then artic silver, no matter what you are using that pile of goo is just wrong
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May 19, 2006, 01:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by puffarthur
This guy found the same problem on his MBP, and he fix it by wiping off Apple's thermal paste double layer cake and applying tiny amounts of arctic silver. His core temps dropped 20C. Argue all you want but hard numbers are staring you in the face.
Originally Posted by Eug Wanker
One guy had some serious heat problems. He disassembled his MacBook Pro and saw TONS of goop. He just removed most of it and then reapplied the thermal paste and his temps dropped significantly.
So is that what you guys suggest? And just how difficult is it to disassemble and get to the CPU? If it's four screws, I wouldn't sweat it, but anything difficult enough to make worry about not putting it back together again exactly right I would have to seriously think about.

Originally Posted by Eug Wanker
In his pix, it really did look like someone followed the manual's advice of putting 5 tablespoons or whatever of paste on. The goop was all over the place.
Got a link?
     
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May 19, 2006, 04:19 AM
 
Disassembling your computer just to wipe a little of the paste off is extreme and is definitely not the recommended course of action.
     
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May 19, 2006, 07:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
why they don't know something apparently every 12 year old that read the web knows,
Apparently, the Chinese government is firewalling that information, since their 12 year olds can't manufacture our Macbooks properly.
     
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May 19, 2006, 07:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Godfather
Apparently, the Chinese government is firewalling that information, since their 12 year olds can't manufacture our Macbooks properly.
Nice one.
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May 19, 2006, 08:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by Gabriel Morales
So is that what you guys suggest?
I do not.

And just how difficult is it to disassemble and get to the CPU? If it's four screws, I wouldn't sweat it, but anything difficult enough to make worry about not putting it back together again exactly right I would have to seriously think about.
It doesn't look easy, at least for me.

Got a link?
How to cool down your MacBook Pro: Before and After

His pictures aren't so bad. However, he thought his temps were too high and that's why he went ahead with his disassembly. It had lower temps after he redid the goop, although he didn't use the same type apparently.

Originally Posted by Icruise
Disassembling your computer just to wipe a little of the paste off is extreme and is definitely not the recommended course of action.
The guy above did at least go to Apple first, but Apple didn't want to do anything about it. Still, I agree. I would not have cracked open the case on this one, especially since his machine wasn't having problems.

BTW, while the MBP link I gave doesn't show insane amounts of thermal paste, it should be noted though that at least some MBPs ARE coming with as much grease as is shown in that manual:



( Last edited by Eug Wanker; May 19, 2006 at 08:30 AM. )
     
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May 19, 2006, 09:17 AM
 
YOW!!! That's WAY too much no matter what brand!

Now, I was going to say "isn't there something in the manual giving a specific amount to apply, say in ml?" But obviously thee isn't.

The "correct amount" is just enough to get squished out and cover the actual chip surface, with maybe a tiny bit oozing out over the edges. That applies to ALL CPUs, by the way. Just enough so that a thin, thermally conductive layer exists between the chip and the heat sink, no more.

So how are these machines actually working at all?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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May 19, 2006, 09:35 AM
 
This could have been going on for years, yet no one has known about it. The G4 iBooks / laptops were dead slow, yet they did (at least my ibook did) get surprisingly hot for their speed, just not hot enough for people to moan because the CPU just didn't produce that much heat due to its low performance.

Look at the G5s, and the size of the heatsinks those things need. Yes, they run hot, but it is possible that that heat is hindered by lots of gloopy thermal paste, has anyone actually ever looked to find out?

I may just be talking a load of bull*, though.
iMac Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 1.25GB RAM | 160HD, MacBook Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 13.3" | 60HD | 1.0GB RAM
     
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May 19, 2006, 11:41 AM
 
hold the mayo on mine please
     
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May 19, 2006, 11:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by harrisjamieh
This could have been going on for years, yet no one has known about it. The G4 iBooks / laptops were dead slow, yet they did (at least my ibook did) get surprisingly hot for their speed, just not hot enough for people to moan because the CPU just didn't produce that much heat due to its low performance.

Look at the G5s, and the size of the heatsinks those things need. Yes, they run hot, but it is possible that that heat is hindered by lots of gloopy thermal paste, has anyone actually ever looked to find out?

I may just be talking a load of bull*, though.

the g4 ibooks had thermal pads, not paste (or at least mine did), and wow, that mpb is drowning in paste. you can't even see the core (that = bad, paste is acting like an insulator instead of helping heat transfer)
     
 
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