Apple's latest MacBook Air with the M2 processor is a lean-and-mean performance machine. However, heat is the svelte and lightweight device's biggest enemy. TechTuber Max Tech (opens in new tab) has found a simple and cheap fix to mitigate the M2 MacBook Air's overheating problems, but unfortunately, it'll void your warranty.
The MacBook Air features a fanless design, which is why the laptop is only 1.13cm (0.44 inches) thick and weighs 1.24kg (2.7 lbs). The only compromise is that the device's cooling solution lacks active cooling, relying on a passive heatsink to keep the internals cool. It isn't a huge setback in normal usage, but once you begin pushing the system more aggressively, performance starts to degrade.
To keep the temperature under control, the laptop throttles the M2 chip to prevent overheating and damage to the internal components. The throttling problem isn't new to the MacBook Air lineup. The M1 MacBook Air also exhibits the same behavior.
The DIY fix involves installing thermal pads on the M2 MacBook Air's motherboard to help dissipate the heat into the chassis. The YouTuber used Thermalright's Extreme Odyssey 1.5mm thermal pad, which retails for $15.99 on Amazon (opens in new tab). According to his results, the stock M2 MacBook Air took 28 seconds to hit 108 degrees Celsius, whereas the modded device took one minute and 23 seconds to reach the same temperature. The thermal pad mod doesn't completely solve the processor throttling problem, but it mitigates the issue and enables the M2 MacBook Air to outperform the more expensive M2 MacBook Pro in short workloads.
The stock MacBook Air took two minutes and 55 seconds to export 50 48-megapixel images in Lightroom Classic, whereas the MacBook Pro finished the same benchmark in two minutes. The modded MacBook Air took one minute and 56 seconds, which is 3% less time.
The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro scored 8,551 and 8,557 points in the Cinebench R23 stress test benchmark, respectively. The modded MacBook Air checked in with 8,684 points, a 1% lead.
It would seem that the MacBook Pro's fan profile is a bit conservative, which allows the modded MacBook Air to outclass it for short periods. The YouTuber noted that the device takes a bit to crank up the fan speed when it already hits 100 degrees Celsius in Cinebench R23. However, the MacBook Pro will come out on top in more demanding and prolonged workloads exceeding 15 to 20 minutes.
Adding the thermal pads positively affects the M2 MacBook Air; however, one would wonder why Apple didn't incorporate it into the design. Additionally, while the mod is easy, it'll void your device's warranty, so it probably isn't worth risking your $1,199 investment.
Damn beat me to the punch, precisely that, its their low end product, they cant have it look good vs their more expensive stuff, and its cheaper so why pump more money into it. Then when it breaks they'll just buy a new one anyway because why hold Apple accountable for their design flaws.
I've performed this mod on the M1 MBA and while it worked very well to maintain temp and performance, the base is super hot under sustained load without a fan cooling it.
But I suppose that it would cut too much into Apple's profits if the machines lasted longer ...
No offense but that was nonsensical doublespeak. The average person doesn't know how hot they get because they don't need to. They don't need to why?
Because properly designed machines that aren't allowed to get that hot. A properly designed machine does not throttle after just 1 minute of even an intensive task. This is a CLEAR indication that air-cooling was never sufficient but they did it anyway.
It's an indicator that cooling wasn't enough when a system throttles after one minute? No joke. Gee, almost as if I pointed that out...