Thermal On My Mind

Too much heat is not always a good thing — even in the dead of winter.

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Oh heat, how I miss thee… in the dead of winter of course. And while heat is a good thing for my garden, it’s not so great when it comes to my, your and everyone’s electronic devices. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this topic since researching thermal management for my article, “Too Hot To Handle.”

You see, I have a favorite laptop. It’s a MacBook Pro with a nice, large screen and fantastic everything…until it gets hot, that is. Have too many apps running while watching YouTube videos and that thing will burn your lap! And then the video starts skipping and pausing. I literally have to shut the thing down and flip it upside down to let it cool off.

I know there are airflow vents and there must be a fan, so why does it get so hot? A little bird told me this week that ‘the fruit company’ has been known to overclock the CPU, which would explain the excess heat issue.

Come to think of it, I’ve even noticed on my iPhone 4 if one of my children has been playing a game for a while, when I get it back it is quite warm. And I know there is no fan inside this device.

What is the point to all of this you say? Well, frankly, figuring out how to design devices that don’t overheat requires math, physics, a whole bunch of skill and some art thrown in. It is quite fascinating and I tip my hat to all of you in the trenches doing this design work every day. Thanks for making sure I don’t burn my ear while using my smartphone!

~Ann Steffora Mutschler