Early 2011 model, A1278 / 2.3 GHz i5 or 2.7 GHz i7 processor.

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How critical is Dust inside laptop

In my desktop computers, dust in the fan and heat exchanger areas is critical but easy to remove.

In a mac laptop (I use an iBook, MacBook and now a MacBook Pro) how concerned should I be vs dust stuck in the heat exchanger area and how do I clean it (air can blowing inside?).

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Just watch your heat over the years. It's according to where you live as to how much dust build up you get. Also I've found that households that use a vacuum cleaner a lot are much more subject to dust build up in the machines. The dust stays in the air longer and your machine acts like a filter. Usually a machine is good for four years before you need to get in and clean out the heat sink vents and reapply thermal paste. But I've also seen up to 90% blockage of those vents. So, if it's not getting hot, don't fix it.

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