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Thermal Greasy: Apple Sics Lawyers on Something Awful

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

After a Something Awful denizen took apart his MacBook Pro and discovered that Apple had slathered on far too much thermal grease, he found that using a more modest amount dropped his MacBook Pro's temperatures by several degrees. Now the forum has recieved a threatening letter from Apple's legal staff, requesting a link to this image [pictured above] be removed because "The Service Source manual for the MacBook Pro is Apple's intellectual property and is protected by U.S. copyright law."


Of course the real problem isn't the single excerpted page being linked from Something Awful, but instead the fact that the image shows the extremely sloppy manufacturing process that is causing the MacBook Pro to run at temperatures as high as a 95 degrees Celcius under full load. (A temperature so high that the processor is at risk of malfunctioning.) Rather than addressing the problem of the shoddy workmanship, documented not only by those who purchased Apple's $2,500 laptop but by Apple's own service manual, Apple is trying to silence those from the Macintosh community who are trying to help other Mac users fix Apple's mistake.

My MacBook Pro has the problem with the whining screen, too. Perhaps I'll wait until they acknowledge the sloppy application of the thermal grease before I go in to request repair. In the meantime I will keep telling people how much I love using my Mac while silently questioning my devotion to a company who would rather use the law than service to assuage their customers' complaints.

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Ok, enough arguing about things you dont really understand. Regardless of the fact that these are Apple laptops that have a problem, the fact remains that Apple has not seen fit to correct the problem. Chances are, the affected systems will fail shortly after the 3 year warranty most of you Apple customers pay for, assuming of course that this system cannot handle the conditions that they are being subjected to.

There are many similar cases in other fields of engineering where failures like this happen, such as construction workers not following engineering diagrams to the letter, causing raised walkways to collapse killing dozens of people (instead of using a single support column they used a series of short ones and bolted the things to each walkway, meaning the net stress at the connection point was far more than normal, due to forces pulling each way, and the support column no longer being one solid beam.

The fact that too much thermal grease was used means that although air is still not getting into any gaps between the heatsink and the processor, it doesnt matter, because you are better off to not use grease at all after a certain point. The grease has a much lower thermal conductivity than the metal, and only serves to increase the surface area of contact between the two metal pieces. if these two metal pieces are not directly in contact at all, your thermal conductivity falls down to the lowest link in the chain, that of the grease. This means, that the heatsink, heatpipes, fans, and all the heat transferring mechanisms that were put into place are not able to properly move the correct amount of heat out of the system, and the lifetime of the components in the case decreases as a result. Additionally, if the heat pipes arent being subjected to the correct amount of heat, the temperature sensors may not function correctly, and if the fans are told they dont need to speed up to deal with the heat, things just get worse. This thermal problem has been spoken of on several different sites, and it has pretty much been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be true. Whether or not the true amount of heat the system is being subjected to will reduce the lifespan or usefulness of the product enough to be noticeable depends on what the technical specifications of the product are, so before you say for sure that its ok or its not ok, at least try and look up some product specs first, such as the temperature range the processor can be subjected to.

Products such as processors are designed so that they will last a certain length of time before they begin to fail (MTBF), and when these devices are pushed beyond spec, although they dont fail immediately, however their lifespan is decreased. I think it is obvious that if these things are running so hot that you cant use them on your lap, then this system these people are paying for is no longer meeting the specification of being a laptop computer, it is a defective product. If all of a sudden a bunch of these systems fail at the 4 year mark and everyones 3 year warranty proves worthless, then a serious wrong will have been committed by Apple to their customers. Only time can tell what will happen about that. I would like to mention the fact that most people who can afford to buy a $3000 laptop will probably throw the thing out before it reaches anywhere near the end of its lifetime anyways, so apple may or may not ever have significant problems with this product, but then again, this does not mean that nothing is wrong with the product either.

Regardless of any reasons of why this happened, or who is responsible, the fact remains that something is wrong with this product, and people are upset about it.