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TheRosta Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Hey everyone, I discovered a problem on my 2011 MBP 17" which I was told that "it's perfectly normal' and I want to see if you guys can reproduce it on your new 2011 models as well (please indicate your screen size).

In summary, I noticed that depending on CPU usage, the battery reacharge time will greatly fluctuate to the point where the laptop just stops charging the battery. I noticed the giant fluctuations in time when I booted one of my VMs which used up like 15-20% overall cpu usage. I was at 5% battery life and the computer was plugged in recharging and the battery indicator all of the sudden went from somewhere around 2.5 hours recharge time to 10 hours to 15 then 20 hours. Then at some point the magsafe light went green and the battery indicator showed 'Not Charging'.

I thought that I may have a bad MagSafe so I tried the one from my 2009 MBP (both are the 85W version) and bam same problem. I figured that this may be due to a design flaw where the power unit cannot supply enough tower to feed a CPU that's being somewhat taxed (i'm talking about 25-50% usuage) and recharge a battery.

Here is a simple way to try to reproduce the problem:

1. Let you battery drain to about 80% or less.

2. Close all open programs.

3. Change your battery indicator icon in the menu bar to display the info as 'Time'.

4. Plug in your MagSafe and let the recharge time in the battery indicator calculate and stabilize (give it about 2 mins to get a stable time value).

5. Open up safari and go to Hulu and play any TV show to drive up your cpu usage.

6. Then open Terminal and type the command 'yes' (without the quotes) and hit enter. The 'yes' command basically causes an infinite loop of the letter 'y' to be display in the terminal window which also taxes your CPU in addition to the video playing in Hulu.

7. Now watch the battery indicator's recharge time value and you should notice that it'll start going up significantly in time and at some point it'll say 'Recalculating' and eventually it'll give up and say 'Not Charging'. I have a 2009 MBP 17" C2D 2.66GHz, and although the recharge time goes up by 20-30% in the exact same test, it at least still charges the battery.

I was able to reproduce this at the apple store on a 17" 2011 model as well but I'm curious if this also happens on the 15 and 13 inch models. I was told by the engineering team on the phone that this is 'perfectly normal'. I guess it falls in the category of malfunctions as designed...

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2011 MBP 17" anti-glare, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • jkirker Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    You aren't alone - mine is doing this too... And my cycle counts are going up sometimes 2 in one day. I've got screen shots which I've sent to support which show 13 to 214:30 hours to full charge.

    Nutty these new MacBook's are.
  • jkirker Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    BTW - I'm on a 15" i7 MBP 2.3...
  • Zapatillo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have the 15" 2.2ghz model (2011). If I play World of warcraft, it will not only stop charging, but actually drain the battery to a point where the mac turns itself off.

    What I have found of information tells me that the Macbook Pro family can´t get enough power from the 85W (?) magsafe, and under extreme tasks (gaming, editing ect.) it will use both the Magsafe and the battery to power the GPU / CPU.

    Just one thing: My mac died because I used it without the charger until it went to sleep, THEN i plugged in the charger and continued playing. If i have 100% battery b4 starting to play, it will drain so slowly that there is no danger of the mac dying Nevertheless, if this is the case, I am very disappointed. I´ve used so much money on a "Pro" mac and it cant use its hardware without slowly dying...

    - Zapa

    Message was edited by: Zapatillo
  • TheRosta Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Did the latest OS patch resolve this problem/feature? Or is it still possible to stop charging the battery and eventually drain it to zero forcing a shutdown while plugged in under heavy load?
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    TheRosta, jkirker and zapatillo: Everything you report is normal. Under heavy load, more power is delivered to the CPU/GPU/other hardware and less to the battery charging circuitry. Under very heavy load, all power goes to the processors and none to the battery, and under extreme loads, power is drawn from the battery to supplement what is provided by the AC adapter. All of this is by design.

    You might well ask why Apple didn't just provide a more powerful AC adapter. I don't know Apple's reason(s), of course, but one possible explanation is that the machine couldn't dissipate the additional heat that would be generated by feeding 20, 30 or 50 more watts into it. If that's the case, then maybe the present 85W adapter is the best compromise Apple could devise between providing sufficient power and managing heat effectively, without completely redesigning and enlarging the MBP case to accommodate bigger fans and heat sinks and more air circulation space.
  • TheRosta Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for the explanation,

    So basically I have all of this power, and if I utilize all that power for extended periods of time, the computer will eventually shut down even though it's plugged in, by design, because it has to use the battery to augment its power needs.

    Long story short, use the laptop for short burst tasks and not for long extended CPU intensive operations. If it really is as simple as creating a new power adapter, why not create one or allow third parties to do so?
  • TheRosta Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Just thought of something else, isn't this bad for the battery? If the computer while plugged in slows charging, stops charging, discharges at points, then recharges, wouldn't this cause accelerated wear on the battery? Is there a utility to block the laptop from charging altogether while plugged in until the user wishes to enable it? That way at the very least, it's only discharging at worst and then I could just turn on charging at night before I go to bed.

    I say this because it's not that hard to make the laptop stop charging. A 'yes' command in 1-2 terminal windows and hulu running is enough for the laptop to cut off charging to the battery.
  • XtremeArtists Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    I would like to report on an fully-loaded early 2011 17" MacBook Pro I also have the following problem:

    Under heavy load while plugged in, the battery charge indicator will begin dropping from 100%.

    I would not say this is "normal" or "expected" behavior for a machine that retails for $2,900.

    The 10.6.7 update did not address this issue on my machine.
  • kunalk83 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    same problem with my 2.2 15" MBP.
    Went to the Genius Bar and the guy said that this behavior is not normal. He has arranged a return and replacement for me. Will try the new piece when it comes in. If that doesn't work too, I plan to return and get a full refund. Not worth $2300.

    BTW: During simple Netflix movie watching, my MBP CPU temp showed 198F (96C)...!!!!!
  • bradfordo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    My two week old 17" MBP is also doing it, my 13" 2004 2ghz macbook is beating it in battery times ridiculous, why would apple consider calling this normal problem for the $2800 this thing cost
  • Beantownsfinest Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi everyone,
    This is my first post in an Apple forum. Sadly I am here to +1 to the charging issue. I noticed today when I plugged in my power adapter that it sad "(Not Charging). I was shocked at first, now I'm just aggravated. This computer is not cheap, and didn't see this one coming. I noticed the more applications running the more time it would take to charge. So I quit just about every application and it said 2:17 to full. I closed the mbp went out for an hour and came back to it saying it was 20 minutes until full, I have open currently skype, ichat, chrome, and pokerstars and it pretty much stalled 17 minutes until full. I have limited knowledge of computers and would like some input. Thanks.

    Message was edited by: Beantownsfinest
  • kunalk83 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Just received my replacement mac.

    The problem seems to be exactly the same with this one too. But one thing which I tested on this one was:
    Playing netflix on Safari did not cause any temp spikes and battery discharge
    Same movie on chrome/firefox caused the temps to go upto 195F when fans started rumbling. Also, battery was getting discharged quickly. I put in the charge and it said 20hrs to fully charge and sometime not charging.
    moved back to safari, fans stopped, charging complete in 20 mins, temps went down to 150F.

    What is going on???
  • Largehandguitarman Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    My new mac hasn't shipped yet, but this CPU behavior for movies happens on my 2007 MBP. I believe it is simply due to optimizations in safari allowing it to run faster on the mac compared to the other browsers. I always just use safari for any youtube/video etc that needs to use flash or silverlight because of this trend.
  • Adam Urban Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    +1 here too... 2011 2.2GHz i7 MBP, 85w charger it came with. Watching movies with netflix/silverlight/chrome causes this problem to manifest (results in 100% CPU usage on a single core).

    Doing so almost immediately results in the battery stopping charging, a clear indication that the supplied power supply cannot, in fact, supply enough power to the machine under load to both run and charge it. Incredibly annoying/disappointing, I haven't yet spoken to apple about this, but I will... (Especially since this greatly increases my battery cycle count!)
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