I have a question related to how much heat is released by a given motherboard (say a macbook pro late 2011 motherboard) and then how much air of 'x' degrees celsius can be passed over it at a rate of flow of 'v', to keep the board of 'l*b' dimensions cool.

How can I related them into an equation?

Is this kinda question okay to ask or should I ask it on physics stackoverflow?


2 Answers 2


I would include what is the goal of your inquiry, what are you ultimately aiming to accomplish. I'd play down the Macbook aspect of the question. Other than that, this question should be alright, at least in principle.

If the question doesn't do well here on EE.SE, we can migrate it to Engineering.SE (they understand heat transfer too).


While I'm not an expert in thermodynamics I can see the following problems you'll have wherever you post it:

  • While the power consumed by the motherboard is probably a good enough approximation of the overall amount of heat it will generate in reality some components like the CPU and memory will generate most of the heat in localized spots.

  • Those high density components will probably also have the least tolerance to overheating, trying to determine how airflow will affect the temperature will vary between complex to impossible depending on how well you can model the design. That can include things like how much copper is beneath them which you won't really know for someone else's design.

  • You also need to know for each component what the maximum allowable temperature is, for some parts that's expressed as a junction temperature while for others it's the ambient temperature.

I don't think anyone will be able to change it into some simple equation. Maybe a better question would be how to experimentally determine if the airflow is enough, otherwise it would seem too broad to me. I'm not familiar with that particular motherboard but assuming it has a decent amount of on-board sensors maybe it would more fall into the realm of Super User and asking what some of the readings should be for a system operating normally.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ain't SuperUser more about software and overview knowledge of computers rather than in-depth knowledge relating to airflow, heat generation air convection? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2017 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlphaMineron it is, but what I'm thinking is you'll have too many unknowns to calculate this accurately. You might be better off from advice from people who overclock PCs etc and know some rules of thumb on thermal issues and cooling. \$\endgroup\$
    – PeterJ
    Oct 2, 2017 at 8:48

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