Older Mac Mini getting hot

I have been using my 2011 Mac Mini to edit videos with Imovie 10.1.12 -
It does good with basic editing, but when I edit a video using a green screen
method, it gets the fan spinning real fast and loud. I have applied new heat
sink paste and put an SSD into it when I bought it. it had Intel graphics HD3000
w/ 512MB of vramm I guess. An intel core I5 - 2.3 ghz

My question is, if I remove the bottom access panel, will that help to let more air
for cooling ? I built a stand to allow it to stand on it’s side (pictured) below.
I am trying not to melt the Mini. I am going to add another 8gigs of ramm later.
I can’t afford a newer Mac right now and don’t want to fry this one.

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Your stand is restricting the air currents from cooling the mini. It needs to lay on its base and have nothing on top of it so the convective currents can rise directly from the top. (Hot air raising and all that.)


Yep. I’d say at a minimum reduce the height of the vertical pieces of wood…make them just high enough that the mini stays in place.

So did you clean the ports and screens if it has them while you had it apart? If its a ducted fan you might need to used canned air to hose out the fins inside the duct.

+1 for cold air in the bottom and hot air out the top - maybe you are trapping hot air inside due to being on its side and the port locations.

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Yes, it was very clean when I got it. It looked like it just came off the assembly line. I re-pasted everywhere I could. The pic of the stand from the top angle, I should have included it in the original post. It dose get plenty of air around it. I thought by taking the bottom panel off and putting a nylon screen over the opening to keep dirt out might help when I put it under a load running an app like Imovie.

As the others have said, the heat disipation is designed to work with the Mac mini laying flat. That means that heat is rising to the top of the case, not escaping through the circulated air.

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I’ll take the advice given, no problem, just tight for space right now.
This is a “Link” to share folder of pix of old Macs that I have owned in the past.
Never had a Mac Mini before, still learning this unit. I know in windows machines one can manipulate the air flow, I thought I could do a little of that on the Mini.

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The Mini is aluminum for a reason. It is a radiator (yes the ENTIRE mini, well the upper aluminum portion.) It has a circular fan to expel air from the back slot, but I believe that is for overflow heat not dissipated by the chassis. So it needs air circulation around the aluminum, and given that heat rises, it wants to lie flat for best heat radiation.

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I am a true believer in empirical data. Removing panels, and standing the mini on its side sound great, but you really have no idea how that has affected the internal temperature other than the sound of the fan and how long it runs. My approach would be to get access to the internal temperature sensors and monitor them under different conditions (basic editing, video editing), fully enclosed and lying flat first, then with bottom panel removed, and then in your stand. You probably do not have to monitor each configuration for long based on the fact the fan revs up fairly quickly under load (I assume). You might find that the Mac Mini is normally operating very close to the temperature where it revs up the fan, and running high usage applications is just enough to go above the trip point. Or, maybe you are cooking the device.

It appears the mini has three internal temperature sensors. So far, I cannot find a simple way to monitor the temperatures without installing a third party app. Really surprised Apple does not provide this information, but it must exist if the third parties can access it.

I found one called Macs Fan Control. Not sure I particularly like or recommend the idea of messing with the actual fan control, but it appears to provide access to the sensors. I’m in the process of backing up my MBA with SuperDuper prior to installing the free version of the app, available at:


Oh, I never thought of the Mac Mini case as a heat sink, makes sense now. The fan did calm down a bit when I laid it down flat. I’m so used to PC case design and air flow that it never dawned on me to think of the MM case in that manner.

I don’t think a fan control app would be good idea for me. I might make the heat situation worse. I’ll have to be a little bit more careful with my editing. Thanks for all the help with this.

Was not my intent to recommend using any app to modify Mac Mini cooling fan control, just to use one as a way to monitor the actual temperature sensors inside the Mac Mini that are used by the system to control the fans.

If anyone cares, here is what I found after installing Macs Fan Control on my 2011 MacBook Air.

The app makes no changes to any fan control without direct input by the user. The main display shows all sensors being monitored. I was surprised to see the MBA has 14 sensors. The app will also show the temperature sensor readout from any S.M.A.R.T. enabled external drive connected.

I can add the output of any one of the sensors to the right hand corner of the menu bar for real time monitoring. The sampling and update time appears to be well under 1 second.

Under the Custom selection, I can change fan speed to a constant speed, or by changing the control temperature limits of any sensor. It also displays the current Min/Max setting for each sensor, which I assume ore the defaults set by the MBA system. I plan on testing that doing a SMC reset will return any changed values to the default.

Using Little Snitch, I have seen no activity to attempt to access the internet by the app.

I have watched temperatures under nominal conditions. Will put the system under pressure later.

Bgeeoz , I didn’t think the fan app would damage my Mac mini, I was saying that I would do the damage by using it in the wrong way. My win pc has setting in BIOS to control the fan speed as I wish. And I use an app called Speccy to monitor the temp of the system heat. Speccy doesn’t work on a Mac, I wish it would. I’ll look at that app, and try it if I think I won’t use it in the wrong way. Thanks

I know exactly what you mean. I installed Macs Fan Control simply to see how it displayed temperature sensor data, but could not just quit there. Just had to play with the fan controls. It wasn’t that I could do it better, but put a button in front of me, and I just have to find out what it does. The good thing is that as soon as I put the app’s controls back to Auto, or close the app, everything appears to return to normal. Being a trusting soul (not), I still could not walk out of the house yesterday without shutting down the Mac.

This is likely the problem…I agree

I’m aware of that concept, just was not thinking that the case / body of the mini was a heat-sink. I mistakenly was comparing it to the air flow of a PC case. Apple hardware is very good, it was the physical design that threw me for a loop. I’m beginning to see why Apple products last a very long time. The Mac O/S is more stable than windows O/S. I would still be using My old 15 inch G4 Lamp and 17 inch 2006 Imac if Apple would let them upgrade to newer O/S.
I put that fan control app on, just going to monitor it for awhile. The mini is doing better now that I laid it flat on the base.

If I didn’t learn something new each day, I’d feel dumb as a rock.


You can always put Linux on the old Mac. I have a Mac Mini from 2006 acting as a server on my network, running Ubuntu Linux.

Yay, this is good to hear.

Yup, as long as we admit none of us knows everything, we’ll all keep learning from each other. How boring would it be to know everything and have nothing new to do because you’ve either done it all or know it’s not worth doing?


I popped the bottom plate off my mini, and saw that there was a lot of air restricting dust collected on the grill. Then I purchased 2 fans off Amazon. They have Rubber feet on both sides. The mini (without the bottom plate) sits on one fan, and another fan sits on top. The fans are USB, so a power strip with my desk lamp and a couple old iPhone USB charging bricks for power, and when I switch on the lamp, my fans run. It doesn’t make a huge difference, maybe 10 degrees F, but I’ll take what I can get for gaming (WoW) on the mini. It was super easy and works for me.

Dadanox I did think of something like that as a possibility to the heat problem. Good photo by the way. Air flow is important. I put that fan control app on my Mini, and have been watching the changes in temp and fan speed. Fan gets up to 5300 RPMs, temp gets a bit over 200 F. under a load. Then it settles down to normal, 1800rpm / 124 F. if that is normal. I do need to get more ambient air circulating around the case, a more open space.

I have been doing a lot of video editing for my YouTube channel on this Mini in Imovie. Until I get half good with it. But, I’ll eventually put De Vinci Resolve on my PC that is more powerful.

I am not good with Linux other than set up and browsing. I hope Leo gets that show
" Hands on Linux " up soon, so I can learn to do more than browsing with it.