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Troubleshooting Mac OS X 10.3.2: PowerBook fans and temperature; Slow startup times; more

Troubleshooting Mac OS X 10.3.2: PowerBook fans and temperature; Slow startup times; more

PowerBook fans and temperature Continuing coverage of more sensitive (turning on at a lower CPU temperature) fans under Mac OS X 10.3.2:

More sensitive fans means cooler surface temperatures While some users continue to report displeasure with the increased fan sensitivity (resulting in increased noise through the lower part of the temperature curve), the general consensus is that lower outer-case temperatures are worth the sacrifice of silence.

In February we ran a series of reports investigating uncomfortably hot PowerBook cases, and offered a number of suggestions for beating the heat, including using special stands, placing a granite tile under the system, and more.

It seems someone at Apple was listening. The more sensitive fan control in Mac OS X 10.3.2 noticeably reduces upper and lower case-side temperature (to the touch) of our in-house PowerBook G4 12" (USB 1.1). MacFixIt reader Pat Ward's experience was similar:

"I always run Folding@Home on my PowerBook G4 12", which loads the processor to 100% all the time. And before I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.3.2, the fan hardly ever came on. But the wrist wrest was always very hot to touch, almost unbearable.

"After I installed Mac OS X 10.3.2 I immediately noticed that the fan is always on whenever I run Folding@Home. The wrist wrest is now a very tolerable warm temperature. I believe that Apple is only addressing past complaints having to due with excessively high (uncomfortable) temperatures by lowering the temperature at which the fans are activated."

While we haven't taken exact surface temperature measurements on our PowerBook G4 12" after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3.2, it certainly seems cooler than the 103 degree fahrenheit temperatures (depending on your preference, 70-80 degrees is a standard comfort range) measured prior to the update.

Threshold for fan activation MacFixIt reader Christina Zeeh has some exact measurements regarding the decreased temperature threshold for fan activation under Mac OS X 10.3.2:

"It is down to about 51°C from 63°C, and in addition to that, there is now a different threshold for switching it off again: 47°C, which was 'below 63°C' before. This makes the PowerBook cooler, but also makes it impossible to use in environments that require a quiet laptop, like classrooms or offices.

Power concerns The increased fan sensitivity has led to concern that battery life may be reduced. On the contrary, most reports we have received indicate significantly increased battery power time after applying both the Battery Update 1.0 and Mac OS X 10.3.2. [Note: There may be other issues at play with extended battery life under Mac OS X 10.3.2 - see below).

Slow startup times One of the most common complaints we've received regarding Mac OS X 10.3.2 is increased startup time. Doubling, or even tripling of previously speedy startup duration are being reported.

One theory is that the increased startup time has something to do with a change processor cycling - while CPU temperature and power usage go down after the 10.3.2 update, startup time is extended and, in some cases, overall speed is reduced.

In fact, some users who benchmarked their machines using Apple's CHUD tools report almost a 25 percent decrease in baseline performance measurement.

MacFixIt reader Barry Lustig writes:

"After upgrading from 10.3.1 to 10.3.2 my Aluminum PowerBook seems to have slowed down significantly. It seems as though I cannot get it into highest performance mode in the Energy Saver. I've check in both the preference pane and the command line pmset. In both places it has the correct value. The tip off that something is wrong is coming from Thermograph. Before the upgrade, Highest with napping turned off (via CHUD's hardware pre pane) would get the cpu temp to over 140 degrees F. Turning napping on would bring that temp down to around 130F. I cannot get my machine's temp above 131 degrees F now."

So far, repairing permissions, clearing caches, and other typical procedures have proved unsuccessful. However, some users are reporting that Security Update 12-19-2003 restores normal performance and startup. Others report no difference after applying the security update.

G5 optical audio problems We have received corroborating reports indicating problems muting optical audio out on Power Macintosh G5s after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3.2. MacFixIt reader Justin Bellmor writes

"I have a PowerMac G5 with the Logitech 5.1 Sound System connected via the optical audio cable. Upon upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3.2, I am no longer able to mute the speakers (at any time). Another problem I am having with the speakers is that they do not seem to work when I first start up the computer. I have to go to the System Preferences->Sound->Output Tab and select 'Internal speakers' followed by reselecting 'Digital Out'."

Perhaps coincidentally, all of the reports that we've received thus far regarding optical audio muting problems involve Logitech speakers.

Standalone updater Apple has issued a standalone updater for Mac OS X 10.3.2, which can be useful if you are having problems successfully applying the upgrade through the Software Update mechanism. Apparently, this version is also a combo updater (capable of taking Mac OS X 10.3.0 to 10.3.2).

Odd password problems Some users have reported that their passwords are no longer case-sensitive (and therefore less secure) after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3.2.

Stranger, however, are reports that logging in will only work with opposite case settings. Reader Adisa writes

"On my Pismo 400, I updated to 10.3.2 today and had a problem logging in. After quite a bit of frustration, I found that my password would only work if I held down the Shift key. The log-in and file vault passwords both used lowercase letters, previously. Since the update, the passwords only work with the Shift key."

If you are having a similar problem, please drop us a line at late-breakers@macfixit.com.

Resources
  • reports
  • suggestions
  • Security Update 12-19-2003
  • standalone updater
  • late-breakers@macfixit.com
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