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  1. #1


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    WARNING: Clam Shell Mode = Problems!
    I've been running my Macbook Pro on clam shell mode for a while now, as I primarily keep my laptop on my desk using a wireless keyboard and mouse with it. I like to use a bigger screen when at my desk as I'm usually doing music or photo editing.

    This has lead me to nothing but problems with the power source of my laptop. Since you have to supply power constantly while running clam shell mode, it tends to shorten the life of the battery. I've already replaced two batteries within a year, and the laptop is no more than 2 years old. Luckily my Apple Care warranty covered it, others may not be as lucky.

    Now recently, my charger stopped working. I took it in to get replaced, and they gave me a brand new one. Brought it home, had it plugged in over night, and the next morning it stopped working as well. However it works on other Mac's I've plugged it into. I don't know if it's my laptop or what, but ever since I've been using clam shell mode, I've experienced nothing but problems. I'm posting this just to give fair warning to anyone else who may want to use it or experiment with it. Maybe I'm a little behind on the curve and this is old news, but oh well. Just thought I'd share my problem for others to know.

  2. #2

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MBPro89 View Post
    I've been running my Macbook Pro on clam shell mode for a while now, as I primarily keep my laptop on my desk using a wireless keyboard and mouse with it.

    This has lead me to nothing but problems with the power source of my laptop. Since you have to supply power constantly while running clam shell mode, it tends to shorten the life of the battery. I've already replaced two batteries within a year, and the laptop is no more than 2 years old. Luckily my Apple Care warranty covered it, others may not be as lucky.

    Now recently, my charger stopped working. I took it in to get replaced, and they gave me a brand new one. Brought it home, had it plugged in over night, and the next morning it stopped working as well. However it works on other Mac's I've plugged it into. I don't know if it's my laptop or what, but ever since I've been using clam shell mode, I've experienced nothing but problems.
    Honestly I do not believe using your computer in "Clamshell Mode"....had anything to do with all the power issues. In my experience...the statement below has no truth to it:

    "Since you have to supply power constantly while running clam shell mode, it tends to shorten the life of the battery."

    My laptop is plugged in 99.98% of the time (yes I did do the calculation to determine this percentage)...and my battery is as good as new when I first installed it almost 2.5 years ago.

    I think that what happened to you was total coincidence (clamshell mode & power problems)...that would have happened regardless if you were using your laptop in Clamshell mode or not.

    Don't get me wrong...I'm glad that you got your laptop repaired under Applecare for free...and that everything is fine now! But I think that we are talking about a total coincidence here...and that your laptops "power system" had some sort of a defect in it...which would have surfaced regardless of how the computer was used (that's why Applecare covered it...a manufacturing defect).

    Congrats again getting everything fixed,

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  3. #3

    chscag's Avatar
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    I agree with Nick. I've been running our MacBook for three years using clamshell mode and the battery condition is still excellent. No effect on the charger either.

    It sounds like from your description of the troubles you've had that there is something else wrong with your machine. I'm guessing that your power supply (DC input board) is probably defective. Make sure you get that taken care of before your Apple care runs out.

  4. #4

    Doug b's Avatar
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    I'm going to chime in and agree mostly with chscag and Nick. I say mostly because I too have been running my MBP in clamshell mode for about three years, but not without a hitch. Last year, I ran into an issue where the battery just wouldn't take a charge anymore. No charge light or anything. Brought it into an authorized dealer (was in Hungary) and they ran diagnostic tests and such.

    Not only did they say that the battery was no longer good, but that part of the Logic board wasn't working. Likely the part which chsg mentioned. So, I got a new battery and a new logic board. This was done courtesy of Apple via my Apple Care plan, which to this day I thank my lucky stars I was able to use. Hopefully it won't happen again, because my Apple Care runs out this coming June.

    Whether or not there is a connection between running in clamshell mode and the battery/logic board failing remains to be seen. We are perhaps in the extremely small minority of folks whom have run into what might just be a coincidental occurrence between running in clamshell mode and having these things fail.

    For the record, my MBP is the early 08' version. Since then, the battery technology has changed a bit, as has some of the hardware on the logicboard of the MBPs. So, if it boils down to there being an issue with earlier models, hopefully it was just an isolated thing.

    Doug

  5. #5


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    Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
    Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
    Homer: Thank you, dear.
    Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
    Homer: Oh, how does it work?
    Lisa: It doesn’t work.
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
    [Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
    Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

  6. #6

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug b View Post
    I'm going to chime in and agree mostly with chscag and Nick. I say mostly because I too have been running my MBP in clamshell mode for about three years, but not without a hitch. Last year, I ran into an issue where the battery just wouldn't take a charge anymore. No charge light or anything. Brought it into an authorized dealer (was in Hungary) and they ran diagnostic tests and such.

    Not only did they say that the battery was no longer good, but that part of the Logic board wasn't working. Likely the part which chsg mentioned. So, I got a new battery and a new logic board. This was done courtesy of Apple via my Apple Care plan, which to this day I thank my lucky stars I was able to use. Hopefully it won't happen again, because my Apple Care runs out this coming June.

    Whether or not there is a connection between running in clamshell mode and the battery/logic board failing remains to be seen. We are perhaps in the extremely small minority of folks whom have run into what might just be a coincidental occurrence between running in clamshell mode and having these things fail.
    Doug,

    As you mentioned...it really does sound like this is coincidence...because there's really no logical reason for a Mac laptop used in "Clamshell" mode to somehow have a connection to a laptop developing battery or charging system problems...solely due to operating the laptop in clamshell mode.

    If two sets of users:

    - one set of 100 users used their MacBook in clamshell mode for a total of 1000 hours
    - a second set of 100 users did not use their MacBook in clamshell mode (they used their laptops built-in display) for 1000 hours

    Assuming everything else these two sets of users did was exactly the same...the results/data of this experiment would help us understand things better. We don't have this data...so it's hard to say if there really is or isn't a connection. Thus I think that the OP's "warning" is a bit premature.

    My guess is that using Macintosh computers in ""Clamshell Mode" does not make a significant difference when it comes to battery/charging system issues with Macintosh computers.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  7. #7


    Member Since
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    Hey guys,

    The only reason I stated that it is affecting the power supply is because that is what an apple employee told me at the store when I went in to get the battery replaced the first time. I told them I was running it in clam shell mode, and right away he said that since I don't unplug the power source, it doesn't allow for the battery to cycle through completely. This would explain the battery problems, but not the problem I'm having with the chargers not working...

    Thanks for all the input guys, sorry if my information is false... just getting frustrated is all.

  8. #8

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug b View Post
    I'm going to chime in and agree mostly with chscag and Nick. I say mostly because I too have been running my MBP in clamshell mode for about three years, but not without a hitch. Last year, I ran into an issue where the battery just wouldn't take a charge anymore. No charge light or anything. Brought it into an authorized dealer (was in Hungary) and they ran diagnostic tests and such.

    Not only did they say that the battery was no longer good, but that part of the Logic board wasn't working. Likely the part which chsg mentioned. So, I got a new battery and a new logic board. This was done courtesy of Apple via my Apple Care plan, which to this day I thank my lucky stars I was able to use. Hopefully it won't happen again, because my Apple Care runs out this coming June.

    Whether or not there is a connection between running in clamshell mode and the battery/logic board failing remains to be seen. We are perhaps in the extremely small minority of folks whom have run into what might just be a coincidental occurrence between running in clamshell mode and having these things fail.

    For the record, my MBP is the early 08' version. Since then, the battery technology has changed a bit, as has some of the hardware on the logicboard of the MBPs. So, if it boils down to there being an issue with earlier models, hopefully it was just an isolated thing.

    Doug
    I have an early '08 model, and FWIW, it's on its third battery. I drain the battery fairly frequently, but it does stay on the charger 10 hours a day at work, most days. The first battery showed way more cycles than it actually had, so they replaced it with no fuss. The second battery started showing the "!" symbol in the Menu Bar and had a message that read "service battery". Called Apple again, and they replaced it with little fuss.

    I find this pretty odd as I've never had a battery on one of my personal machines wear out so quickly (and I always use them in the same manner). I even suggested to AppleCare last time that I wondered if there was a problem with the power adapter. They didn't seem to want to replace it, so I just carried on. It's been about a year now and this one is showing excessive cycles too.

    Now, I have never used my machine in clamshell mode, but it does seem odd to me that the batteries in this model seem to be so readily replaced by Apple. I wonder if it's just their good graces, or if this model really does have some kind of hushed up defect.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

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  9. #9

    EvenStranger's Avatar
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    Here's what we were told in training years ago... which might have changed with newer battery technology. The two conditions that are bad for your battery are to leave it plugged in charging all the time and to sit it on a shelf and never charge it. The chemicals in the battery rely on the charge/discharge process to stay fresh and continue holding a charge. Charging constantly or never charging can both weaken those chemicals, leading to shorter battery life. The controller chip in the battery helps to regulate that, in order to maintain optimal battery life.

    Again, I'm going on what we were told, and current technology might have rendered that moot, but figured it was worth throwing out there anyway.

  10. #10

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvenStranger View Post
    The two conditions that are bad for your battery are to leave it plugged in charging all the time and to sit it on a shelf and never charge it.
    I definitely agree. I would say (at least in my particular situation) that the amount of periodic discharge doesn't have to be very much or very often.

    As I stated above....my MacBook Pro's battery is:

    - about 2.5 years old
    - has 26 charge cycles on it
    - my laptop is plugged in 99.70% of the time.

    That works out to be about 2 hours of discharge I do/month...which I do purposely to keep the "ions" flowing. I probably do this discharge about once every 2 weeks. I run my laptop on the battery for about an hour...which takes it from about 100% charge to about 75-80%.

    After 2.5 years of doing this...Coconut battery still reports that my remaining battery capacity is at 100% (it actually reports over 100%). So at least in my case (a user that basically keeps their laptop plugged in all the time)...this procedure seems to be working well!

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  11. #11

    chscag's Avatar
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    I basically do the same thing that Nick does and my battery continually shows its health in the 90's. And my machine is three years old.

    And believe it or not, I have an old Toshiba Satellite from 2003 that I can still get about 1:30 from the original battery. That old Toshiba is like a tank!

  12. #12

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    I basically do the same thing that Nick does and my battery continually shows its health in the 90's. And my machine is three years old.
    Great to hear someone else is doing something similar...and had similar results!

    It would be nice if someone (company or university) with a lot of money could do some sort of experiment/study with laptop battery usage...and publish some definitive results (with different battery usage scenarios)...so that we could "put to bed" at least some of these rumors people keep hearing regarding laptop batteries.

    I know that the various ways individuals use their laptops make it tough to address every individual situation...but two scenarios (at each end of the "usage spectrum") could be a good place to start:

    1. A user that leaves their laptop plugged in 100% of the time.
    2. A user that ONLY plugs their laptop in to charge the battery...then always uses it on battery power.

    These two scenarios would sort of represent a minimum & a maximum way of battery usage...and it would be interesting to see the results. Then various other scenarios would be tested to develop some sort of "battery life curve"...to at least provide a guide on what is the best way to maximize battery life (that is battery life with the battery always installed in the computer & not sitting on a shelf).

    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    And believe it or not, I have an old Toshiba Satellite from 2003 that I can still get about 1:30 from the original battery. That old Toshiba is like a tank!
    I have a 2000-2001 vintage G3 Clamshell iBook that still gets around 60-90 minutes runtime on a full charge. I don't know if it's the original battery. I bought the computer for like $40 bucks about a year ago...so I would assume the battery is pretty old. Luckily it's a Lithium-ion battery which probably helps vs. a nickel-cadmium...which I believe was the battery technology that had the "memory effect" problems.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  13. #13


    Member Since
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    Greetings all -

    I came across this older thread while researching the use of a Macbook in Clamshell mode. I wanted to make sure it wouldn't over heat. I never thought about battery problems... and here's why:

    1. I have been using a windows laptop in clamshell mode for the past nine years. Current Dell unit is 4-years-old. Is plugged in at least 99% of the time, and the battery lasts at least 90% as long as it did when new.. for those 1% of times that I use it on battery power.

    2. Leaving the laptop plugged in all the time is NOT the same as "charging the battery" all the time. Any charger worth anything knows the temp and voltage of the battery - and controls how much current goes into charging or maintaining the batter. This is not (or better not be, Apple!) a toggle situation where the battery is either being charged (plugged in) or not (unplugged). that would make me very angry as I gear up to purchase my first Apple Notebook. If the battery is truly being charged at all times when plugged in, the battery WILL degrade. Of course it will also constantly be hot, so this would be pretty obvious. And I just can't see Apple screwing this up. They didn't with the iPhone.

    3. Charge/discharge cycles are NOT health-making for Li-Ion batteries. You may be thinking of NiMH - something that hasn't been used in laptops for quite a while now! Those liked to be exercised for sure. Li-Ion would be happiest just sitting at some state of charge between 40% and 80%. Li-Ion has calendar life issues (degrades whether you use it or not) and it has cycle-life issue (the more you use it the faster it degrades). So NOT using it doesn't make it degrade any faster. USING it does. But it'll still degrade if you don't use it.

    4. About what the Apple pros tell you: I'm here because the genius told me that I "shouldn't ever run it in clamshell mode because it would be like running an iMac with a blanket over it. It needs airflow!" And she told me this after first telling me that there's no way to run the Apple in clamshell mode because it'll just go to sleep. So I bring all this up to make obvious that you can't believe what you hear from the "experts" every time, can you?? That little chat episode left me decidedly non-plussed.

    So anyway... thanks for the thread and the comments. I plan to purchase a Pro 13" and use it clamshell mode for weeks at a time. Fingers crossed that this works!

    - Darell

  14. #14


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    Oh... and after talking to the chat genius, of course I find this official page on HOW to use your laptop in clamshell mode. You know... the way you aren't supposed to use it.
    Mac notebooks: How to use your computer in closed clamshell (display closed) mode with an external display

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