Why I drilled holes in my MacBook Pro and put it in the oven

“My MacBook Pro and I had a wild weekend: I reflowed the solder on its logic board three times in one day, then drilled 60 holes in its bottom case,” Sterling writes for iFixit. “Why? I first started noticing heat issues about a year ago. My model of MacBook Pro is notorious for running too hot. And I run mine pretty hard: I’m a programmer for iFixit, and in my spare time, I game and make electronic music. On an average day, my laptop hovered between 80º and 90º C. One time I saw it climb as high as 102º C—hot enough to boil water.”

“So I tried some simple fixes. I blew out the inside of my laptop with compressed air. I bought a laptop stand and stopped using it on my lap. I enabled smcFanControl, a program that lets me run my fans at the max speed of 6200 rpm all the time,” Sterling writes. “But it still ran hot. And one day in March, it died. I was working on it when the screen suddenly went black… The likely fix? Reflow it: Heat it up until the balls of solder melt back into their assigned spots.”

“I cracked open the back of my laptop, disconnected all eleven connectors and three heat sinks from the logic board, and turned the oven up to 340º F. I put my $900 part on a cookie sheet and baked it for seven nerve-racking minutes,” Sterling writes. “After it cooled, I reapplied thermal paste, put it all back together, and cheered when it booted. It ran great for the next eight months. Temperatures averaged in the 60s and 70s C — although recently, they began creeping up again… Finally, we sent it back into the oven—for seven and a half minutes, in case getting it a little hotter made a difference. And while it baked, we decided it was time to break out the bigger guns. That is, we pulled out a drill.”

Read the whole sordid story here.

Related article:
Apple hit with class action lawsuit over 2011 MacBook Pro defect – October 28, 2014


    1. Holes are good and bad. Most cheap PC laptops are full of holes in the bottom. Good for allowing cooling air. Bad for allowing liquids directly to your pc board and parts.

      I recently had to open a new MacBook Pro and found it had cooling slots in the side of it. What a great idea to allow more air flow to the cooling fan. However, one of their kids spilled some tea and you know where it went…. along the table right up and into the cooling slots.

      I would like to see Apple spend a little more time working on the cooling efforts and decreasing the temperature of the cpu units. They can run hot.

  1. I can’t stand iFixIt. They are living in the early stages of semiconductors and think that every product must have every transistor mounted on a socket and every pixel be repairable. If they had their way, we would all be using 19″ racks and mother/daughter cards with ZIF sockets. There would be no iPhones, iPads or any MacBook Airs.

    iFixIt is run by dinosaurs and dodo birds.

    1. Boloney. Phones and iPads entire function revolves around being slim and its understandable if they can’t have user replaceable parts.

      But that doesn’t hold true for the machines that don’t have to light and thin as sheet of foil. If any common sense ever leaks back into the engineering department of Apple, it would be nice to be able to replace hard drives in an iMac, upgrade the RAM in a Mac Mini and replace the battery in a MacBook Pro.

      1. I agree. I greatly admire Apple’s design and engineering abilities, but the focus on thin and light can be taken to an extreme. I understand the integrated design approach for iPods, iPhones, and iPads. But surely Apple engineers can maintain most of their computer design aesthetics while still supporting basic upgrades/replacements, such as RAM, HDD, and batteries.

  2. Damn, that might be just crazy enough to actually work really well. Maybe all Apple repair technicians should start drilling “speed holes” in the 2011 Macbook Pros they keep getting for repairs.

  3. Just what we need, a bunch of people reading this article and baking their MacBook Pros, iPads, etc. Then all the complaints will be about how Apple doesn’t build its products to withstand the rigors of a GE oven.

    1. He didn’t just stick a fully functional Macbook Pro into an oven. He stick one that was so broken it could not turn on, due to a known defect in the 2011 model’s running temperature and soldering.

      If he can inspire others to turn their thousand dollar paperweight into a functioning Macbook Pro, more power to him.

  4. Ok the thin design is a shroud for lowering manufacturing costs and defect rates off the line,.. It’s sold as design. The oldest trick in the book take a negative and sell it as a positive to the public. Apple needs to show max profit for their stock holders. Removing every socket on every machine reduces costs of parts, labor, design, at a multiple that’s worth the marketing efforts to sell it as thin and light. But we have seen how long term this isn’t good for the consumer in upgrades repairs and dependability. Solder also being nothing like it used to be. The new solder has forced manufacturers to use new formulas to be more earth friendly it has made these machines less reliable. So get used to it,

    1. Bunsen burner
      Propane torch
      Short burst of a laser
      Plasma cutter (held at the proper distance of course)
      Maybe an Arc, MIG, or TIG welder

      Just some tools one might find useful for the purpose.

  5. I had the same problem, sought of. I beat my meat on the toilet seat. It rose above above 98.6. Rebooted just fine until tomorrow I’ll have to go thru the process again. Wait, I know realize we’re talking about 2 different things.

  6. My best guess is that Apple saw how many repairs they were having to make for customers who wrongly replaced RAM/batteries etcetera, or saw how many second hand machines had problems in these areas, and decided to lock everything in. It is, after all, a very Apple thing to do. (It just works.)

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