Temperature Test: Apple MacBook vs. Dell Latitude D620

“Due to the recent media hype surrounding the new MacBooks and the lack of actual experimentation, I decided to take matters into my own hands,” Brian Krische writes for Krische onLine.

“Since I work in the IT department of a factory that uses all Dell computers, I was able to borrow a brand new Dell Latitude D620 for a few hours. Also readily available to me was an Oakton InfraPro infrared thermometer and my very own MacBook,” Krische reports. “There has been a significant negative response to the amount of heat emitted from the MacBooks. Since I own a MacBook, why not put it it to the test?”

Krische pitted the Apple MacBook against the Dell Latitude D620 with each laptop playing the same film (The Hills Have Eyes) without interruption while running from battery power. Krische checked the temperature of four zones on both the top-side and bottom-side of each portable and recorded the exact temperatures upon the successful startup of the operating system, after one hour of playtime, and at the end of the movie (1 hour 45 min).

Krische writes, “In the end, it appears to be that, in certain spots, the MacBook is significantly hotter than the Dell, but its average temperature is very close to that of the Dell. Take this information as you will. I ensure you that both laptops were checked with the upmost scrutiny. In my opinion, I think that the MacBook is a great alternative to the PC dominated computer market. It does run a little bit hotter than the Dell, but I remind you that the MacBook lacks cooling fans that are built into the Dell.”

Full article with graphs and charts showing the precise temperatures of both units here.

MacDailyNews Note: The MacBook does indeed have a cooling fan. See video of it in action (and “mooing”) here.

Related articles:
Washington Times: If you want a stylish, great, capable portable, buy an Apple MacBook – July 18, 2006
AP: Apple’s MacBook should give makers of Windows-only notebooks nightmares – July 07, 2006
Survey shows big jump in consumer interest in buying Apple Mac; Dell takes steep slide – July 06, 2006
Boston Herald: Apple MacBook superior to iBook predecessor in every way – July 03, 2006
Report: Apple MacBook shipments stronger than expected; 15-inch MacBook (not Pro) model planned? – July 03, 2006
MSNBC’s Krakow: Apple’s MacBook ‘the best notebook computer I’ve ever used’ – June 28, 2006
The Washington Times: Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook ‘is one powerful, affordable Mac portable’ – June 23, 2006
Apple offers special deal prices on select Apple Certified MacBook, MacBook Pro models – June 20, 2006
Review: Tom Bihn ‘Smart Alec’ backpack for Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro models – June 19, 2006
IT Business Net reviews Apple 13-inch MacBook: ‘Insanely great value, Strong Buy recommendation’ – June 13, 2006
Computeract!ve: Apple MacBook ‘the best of both worlds’ – 5 out of 5 stars – June 13, 2006
Washington Post: Apple MacBook leaves iBook in the dust – June 11, 2006
Mossberg: Apple’s new MacBook surprisingly inexpensive, offers vastly superior Mac OS X – June 08, 2006
Time Magazine on Apple’s 13-inch MacBook: ‘Dell and HP should be very worried’ – June 07, 2006
Apple says MacBook heat issues due to plastic strip – June 06, 2006
Thurrott: Look at Apple’s MacBook and ‘you might just find your perfect notebook’ – May 31, 2006
CNET writer won’t buy Apple MacBook because it lacks 2nd mouse button (uh, two-finger right-click?) – May 30, 2006
Personal Computer World review: Apple MacBook – May 22, 2006
Amazon offers US$100 and $150 rebates on Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro models – May 22, 2006
Ars Technica reviews Apple MacBook – May 19, 2006
iTWire’s Beer: My next notebook is an Apple MacBook – May 18, 2006
Analyst: MacBooks are best consumer notebooks Apple has created, sure to be big winners – May 18, 2006
Apple’s new MacBooks are mobile HDTV media centers – May 17, 2006
Analysts expect Apple’s new MacBook to drive market share gains in near future – May 17, 2006
PC World: Hands on with Apple’s new black MacBook running Mac OS X and Windows – May 17, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s new MacBook costs a bit more than iBook, but will sell strongly – May 16, 2006
Close-up Apple MacBook photos (keyboard, glossy screen, and more) – May 16, 2006
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31 Comments

  1. That extra 10-15 degrees in some spots will be enough to push some components past their temperature tolerances, or at least significantly reduce their lives.

    The “Average” comment is just dumb. The problem is a concentration of heat in a point which ins’t being removed or spread out, which will lessen component life and/or cause a failure.

    “why would we expect that the MacBook would run hotter OR cooler than any other laptop with the same technologies?”

    From an engineering point of view, a laptop which has hot spots 15 degrees higher than another unit is running significantly hotter, even if the average temperature of the case is the same. The curves for component life are not linear with tempeature. That last 15 degrees hurts you much more than the first 105

  2. This setup for generating heat emission is highly inappropriate:

    – MPEG movie decoding is i/o intensive rather than cpu intensive

    – Due to different codec implementation and optimization cpu usage will greatly differ on MB and Dell.

    – Probably only a single core is used and the cpu clocks down to 1.5 Ghz or less. Otherwise different settings for image resampling (e.g. de-interlacing) might contribute to cpu usage diversion.

    – Battery operation triggers power saving mode, which will also have an effect on heat production.

    – The DVD drive itself will prodice heat emission.

    In a proper setup both units have to be connected to the power supply and usage of each core on both cpus should reach 100% for a constant period of time.

  3. wait, how come everyone here is so pleased with these results? So what, the Dell is somewhat cooler – or as warm as the current setup. But how can this be good news??? Didn’t a Dell blow up because of overheating some week ago? I’d say that Apple better be worried about these news. Next time it might be one of those 15′ macbooks going of in a crowded Airbus.

  4. To Micro$oft #1, it is also a lot hotter in Miami Beach than it is in Redmond, WA, but just like using a Macbook, the beauty and performance and things to see and do are a lot greater.
    Be a sheep with your Micro$oft 3rd party hardware conglomeration, or be something unique and individual with a Mac. You get to choose, troll.

  5. It would have been nice if the RAM had been identical. In some cases – not likely this – it matters (more swapping out to virtual memory adds heat from disk use).

    Good thinking to test four quarters and tops and bottoms. Now maybe someone will be able to figure out where extra cooling is needed.

    Cooling devices have been around longer than any MacIntel, not just the MacBook. I bought this small structural-foam device a couple of years back after noting my G4 iBook was ‘warm’. All it does is raises the hinge end up the better part of an inch to provide better free air flow through, and under, the computer – and insulates your lap. For a lot more money I could have bought a device that did all that and blew air against the bottom of the system … adding the effect of an external fan to that of the internal one. No, this is not unique to MacBooks.

  6. ” I ensure you that both laptops were checked with the upmost scrutiny. “

    That’s “assure” not “ensure”.

    And it’s “utmost” not “upmost”.

    Jeeze, what the hell is happening to Americans that they can’t seem to spell or use spellcheck.

    MDN should have at least caught these and annotated with [sic].

  7. Most mac fans will put up with anything it seems ….

    As for me this is just unacceptable … this heat issue … and I’m holding off on my new laptot until some cooling scenario is developed …

    Why should we be happy that its as crappy as a Dell heat wise ..?

  8. “Next time it might be one of those 15′ macbooks going of in a crowded Airbus.”

    Wow, where can I get a 15 foot macbook? Of course, it would still have to fit in my backpack…

  9. “That last 15 degrees hurts you much more than the first 105”

    —> Good point. Agreed.

    Also, regarding heat issues on the MB and MBP read this article (*no*, not bashing – just info that some may find helpful):

    http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2006/7/18/4689

    Seems heat and battery issues are a real (as in *not* perceived) issue. In fact, the author of the article stated that her MBP was shutting off randomly about 2 times a day:

    “Yes, dear readers, even your humble Infinite Loop writer has had a random MacBook Pro shutdown at least once (often more than once) every single day for at least two weeks.

    *Many* people are experiencing the same. If you’re having a problem, check that article out. READ THE COMMENTS SECTION – that’s where most of the help/info is. One person posted a dump like this:

    Jun 17 12:49:19 xxxxxx-powerbook kernel[0]: Power Management received emergency overtemp signal. Going to sleep.
    Jun 17 14:05:05 xxxxxx-powerbook kernel[0]: Power Management received emergency overtemp signal. Going to sleep.
    Jun 17 14:59:01 xxxxxx-powerbook kernel[0]: Power Management received emergency overtemp signal. Going to sleep.
    Jun 17 14:59:02 xxxxxx-powerbook kernel[0]: Power Management received emergency overtemp signal. Going to sleep.
    Jun 17 14:59:04 xxxxxx-powerbook kernel[0]: Power Management received emergency overtemp signal. Going to sleep.
    Jun 17 14:59:05 xxxxxx-powerbook kernel[0]: Power Management received emergency overtemp signal. Going to sleep.
    Jun 17 14:59:06 xxxxxx-powerbook kernel[0]: Power Management received emergency overtemp signal. Going to sleep.

    Hope the article helps anyone with the same issues. I was hoping MDN would link it.

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