Fanless AirJet cooler experiment boosts MacBook Air to match MacBook Pro's performance

Apple 13.6-inch Macbook Air M2 Laptop
(Image credit: Apple)

Engineers from Frore Systems have integrated the company's innovative solid-state AirJet cooling system, which provides impressive cooling capabilities despite a lack of moving parts, into an M2-based Apple MacBook Air. With proper cooling, the relatively inexpensive laptop matched the performance of a more expensive MacBook Pro based on the same processor.

The lack of a fan is probably one of the main advantages of Apple's MacBook Air over its more performant siblings, but it also puts the laptop at a disadvantage. Fanless cooling doesn't have moving parts (which is a plus), but it also cannot properly cool down Apple's M1 or M2 processor under high loads, which is why a 13-inch MacBook Air powered by M1 or M2 system-on-chip is slower than 13-inch MacBook Pro based on the same SoC. However, making a MacBook Air run as fast as a 13-inch MacBook Pro is now possible. 

To do so, one needs to cool down M2 using the Frore System's AirJet solid-state active cooling system. It is as efficient as typical cooling systems with fans, yet it is smaller and more reliable, according to a video posted to YouTube by PC World. The AirJet-equipped 15-inch MacBook Air matched the performance of the M2-based MacBook Pro in the Cinebench R23 benchmark, a testament to its AirJet's efficiency in maintaining optimal operating temperatures. 

However, there is a catch. AirJet is a membrane-based cooling system that uses ultrasonic waves to push air through itself to remove heat. Although it does not use a fan, it still needs airflow. As a result, Frore had to alter MacBook Air's design to use its Airjet. The company's specialists added intake vents near the laptop's hinge and repurposed the speaker holes to serve as exhaust outlets. These modifications were crucial to integrating the AirJet in the slim MacBook Air chassis, demonstrating the practicality and adaptability of this cooling technology in real-world applications.

Despite its impressive performance and potential applications, the AirJet is unavailable for consumer purchase. Frore Systems has no plans to release a consumer version of its AirJets or kits for modifying existing devices. The demonstration with the MacBook Air serves primarily as a proof of concept, highlighting AirJet's capabilities. Looking forward, integrating AirJet technology in products from companies like Apple could lead to more efficient use of internal space, paving the way for innovations such as larger batteries or more compact device designs.

An avid reader would ask why Apple does not use AirJet cooling systems itself. There are several possible explanations. Firstly, Frore is a relatively small company whose production volumes may be too low for Apple. Secondly, the AirJet cooling technology is relatively new, and companies like Apple would ensure its reliability first before using it for high-volume devices.

Anton Shilov
Contributing Writer

Anton Shilov is a contributing writer at Tom’s Hardware. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • bolweval
    Since the Airjet still needs to move air through itself to work, those passages must be very small, doesn't seem like it would take much dust to block it..I wonder how easy it is to blow it out?
  • hotaru251
    apple's always been form over function.

    They could of easily made them run cool just choose not to.
  • JTWrenn
    bolweval said:
    Since the Airjet still needs to move air through itself to work, those passages must be very small, doesn't seem like it would take much dust to block it..I wonder how easy it is to blow it out?
    The product can sit directly on a cpu so it moves air through itself, practically on top of the cpu/chip. The inlet and outlet are so small and the pressure is so high that dust doesn't build up, and the power usage and noise are lower. It's very cool tech that uses an odd vibrating film system to produce the airflow.

    It's basically a fan without a heat pipe or sink, instead directly attached to the cpu.

    Edit: FYI in this case they didn't do any of that, so this is a very generic tacked on just test of the thing. In a system designed for it the airjet could be directly mounted or mounted on top of a heatsink if you want to use multiples. The direct mount sounds much more interesting to me.
  • williamcll
    How much power do these fans take however?
  • thestryker
    williamcll said:
    How much power do these fans take however?
    Mini is ~1W consumed/~5W dissipated and the Pro is ~1.75W consumed/~10W dissipated (this is per unit). This test was with 3x Minis so ~3W of power consumption. I'm not sure how this compares to the fan in the MBP as I couldn't find any specs, but Steam Deck fan as an example uses ~2.5W max.