The highly effective 4¢ macbook Pro cooler

As anyone who has ever used a Macbook knows, these suckers run hot. the Pro models are even hotter. If you look through my previous posts you will see that I run CPU and memory intensive apps which may classify me as a power user. Recently I had a thermal issue in the middle of the work day. I decided I needed a cooler of some nature as the bottom temp sensors were almost always over 180F and the fans ran at high speeds nearly constantly. During my research I started looking at the mechanics of the various coolers and realized they all had one deficiency. They rely on adequate clearance between the bottom pan and the cooler surface to allow for air movement.

Me being the rocket scientist that I am considered the very low clearance between the bottom pan and the desk surface. “Self,” I said, “there may a simple solution to this problem that costs less than $100”.

“You know, you may be on to something. Is 2mm really providing adequate airflow? What do you think self?”

“If we consider that plastic Dell, it has 5mm of clearance.”

“Hmmm… Let’s see, I have 2 quarters, a dime, 2 nickels, and 4 pennies. There is a plastic spoon, a blackberry, a few USB connectors and a whole bunch of used coffee cups. Coffee cups?”

“Listen you, snort will beat you will a stick if you get coffee in Mac. Not to mention those paper cups have been soaking in that coffee for a couple of weeks. They may not be all that strong. Let’s try the pennies.”

Self and I put one 1.2mm penny under each foot of Mac. That was 2 weeks ago. Since then the average temp is down to 150F with occasional spikes to 180F. Fans speeds stay low (<1000rmp) until we kit a spike.

If you find yourself with a hot potato Macbook, you may want to consider the 4¢ cooler. I don’t think you will find as effective a product for as low a price.

Note: Make sure you use 4. Anything less is likely to cause torsion stresses in the case which might lead to deformation and component damage over time. You might be able to get away with 2 if you put them on the same edge, but the whole thing hinges on increasing overall airflow via increased clearance. So just use 4.

I see your 4 cents and raise you $7.91

I’ve been using a Mac laptop since the mid 90s, and have pledged my allegiance to the Church Of Running Cool. Every one of my Mac-using friends has had some kind of hard drive/motherboard issue in the last decade or so, but I never have – and I owe it, in my mind, to my zealous efforts to run the thing under 55° C (about 130° F).

My system: The iCurve + this fan, which sits about a foot to the left of my iBook (the fan’s motor gives off a slight magnetic charge, so I don’t want it too close.)

Granted, we’re talking about a solution that is over 1000 times more expensive than Jaysen’s – but it’s a solution that has lasted for about 13 years, and keeps my computer nice and cool (and my office nice and not stuffy!) Added bonus, I don’t have to reposition pennies every time I move my Mac.

I have a new Macbook en route from Shanghai as we speak, and the iBook is about to become our “downstairs” browsing-iPod-charging-recipe-managing-bill-paying computer – and the Caframo and iCurve are going with it. I have replacements on the way.

I submit that the title of this thread be renamed to:

Recently I had a thermal issue in the middle of the work day.

Again, the beauty of a small fan near one’s desk.

Should we define this as a “Hot Topic”.


Mr. Coffee,

The glory of the 4¢ cooler is that you nearly always have change in your pocket and it has required no additional components other than the 4¢. So even if i am not equipped with my office based pennies AND I am broke from buy vic-k drinks, I will probably succeed in constructing a new cooler by asking someone for 4¢. You get a lot of looks, but most folks are so intrigued by the idea that they will go and find any pennies they are missing.

Which brings up the point I missed in the original post. I move around a bit so portability is a big factor. Hard to be more portable than 4¢.

And did I mention that this is the 17" unit for which there are virtually no coolers available? What is the deal with that?

As to you miscreants and AmberV who are focusing on the “thermal” and “issue” … allow me to borrow from Mr. K.


One thing I have always wondered about, with these incline-based cooling supports, is what impact that has on the longevity of the hard-drive. I know with standard drives (like externals) you are only supposed to run them at level, or 90º angles. Are laptop drives somehow fortified against this limitation with a more rigid drive arm or something? I suppose the same would go for the modern iMacs which have all of the computer’s components in the tilt-able screen, as well. Perhaps that is why they use laptop drives in iMacs.

I do like the idea of the cheap portable cooler there Jaysen!

I found a cheap privacy screen to along with it


te hehehe

there is no difference in technology. The rational or 90/0 is stability and cooling. For an external drive to be angled you most likely have an unstable surface (meaning not secured). All you need for a really bad day is to have the enclosure slide to the floor breaking the mobo socket and destroying the drive. Just to back this statement up, I have a system that uses standard drives that mount in the cage at roughly 30. Oldest drive predates me (2000) and is a WD Caviar 2GB.

the biggest thing with drives is don’t move them when they are spinning. I love seeing some “important” person working with their laptop in their lap, bouncing their knee. Complete data loss is in their future.

Okay, that’s interesting. Of course stability and a lack of motion are paramount, but I always figured since the limitation was expressed in degrees that it was a mechanical optimum rather than a stability guideline.

Ha. And that maniac I saw the other day waving his MacBook around with one hand as he walked across the coffee shop, system booting up. You really couldn’t wait to turn it on, could you? Anyway, good to know. I’ve had my eye on these little semi-sphere detachable “feet” things that incline the laptop by about 10º. Not as cheap as coins, but I’m often without those anyway. They also have the added advantage of making your laptop resemble an animé bunny.

Couple of other things to think of.

Pencil erasers make great feet if you have no coin available. :slight_smile:

A surface (like a piece of metal) that allows heat transference (like how a heat sink works). The trick is the surface needs to be SMALLER than the feet so the bottom is in direct contact with the metal plate so transfer of heat occurs. (An example is placing a hot dish on a cold countertop. The countertop absorbs the heat). or drill holes in the metal plate so the feet fall through it.

A “cold pillow” to put between your legs and the laptop (Warning this could cause electrocution or numbness of legs if not done properly).

Picture of “Cold Pillow” :slight_smile:

Or using a Notebook Ring Binder to not only elevate the laptop but also to store external HD

Or use the laptop in a very cool environment (DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS)

the ideal solution that does not seem to exist is a combo of all this. Basically
• Metal plate that is in direct contact with bottom pan.
• Plate sits at 10º
• Electro-thermal device attached to underside of plate
• Micro fan used to dissipate heat from electro thermal device or plate without thermo.
• Entire thing powered via USB.

The problem is portability. Still working that out. thinking that it would be a little bigger than the current USB keyboard. Hoping to have a prototype before too long.

Name it


Because I have a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse setup, I use an upside-down wire basket (the kind used in those nefarious storage “solutions”) as my stand. MacBook goes on top, so there’s heaps of nice air circulation beneath. To stop my machine from slipping, I just place a sheet of non-slip rubber (the kind you line drawers with) between the two. Seems to work for me.

The kind of drawer liner I mean:

That’s funny – I use the same method with my MacBook when I’m not working in my recliner and need to use a desk. The wire mesh basket makes a terrific heat radiator because it allows air to get under the MacBook. But I never thought about turning the wire basket in-box upside down, like you do. I just put it in the top tray (it’s a stack of four), but that’s always been a bit of a pain because I have to unplug the power cord and USB cables (to the keyboard and stereo) and plug them back in ever¥ time, because the tray isn’t wide enough to let me slide the MacBook in with them attached. So after reading your post, I just flipped the whole thing over, as you suggested, which lets me just plop the MacBook on it every time I leave my office or use the desk. Thanks for the suggestion!

When I am at my desk, my laptop sits on this: … ts_id=5204
(Note the price is Australian dollars, which was once close to parity with USD and is now about 0.63)

The other solutions may be cheaper, but I am quite happy to have made that purchase. Keeps the laptop a lot cooler, and elevates it to a better height to work with a second screen.