Dealing with the Zoom Overheat

Today’s adventure in working from home: my machine has been overheating because of running Zoom, a browser full of tabs, Arduino, VS Code, and a few other things. I got the overheat notice on my mac several times, and finally a message I’d never seen, that the mac had to shut down because of the heat.

It’s not just Zoom’s fault, it’s also the fact that my desk is in the sun for a couple hours at midday. But still, after opening the lid (I use an external monitor) and fanning it as I worked, I finally found a solution out of desperation: I put a gel-filled icepack under the laptop. It kept the laptop cool enough to finish the last meetings, and to make a couple videos. Not bad.

In the process, I also learned a new macOS command line tool: powermetrics. You have to run it using sudo:

$ sudo powermetrics

The results are useful, especially this part:

**** SMC sensors ****

CPU Thermal level: 0
IO Thermal level: 0
CPU die temperature: 53.55 C
CPU Plimit: 0.00
GPU Plimit: 0.00
Number of prochots: 0