The new MacBook Air is an excellent laptop, but one considerable shortcoming might dissuade power users from purchasing Apple’s least expensive notebook. If you’ve been keeping tabs on the latest model, then you know the limitation I’m referring to: heat management. Under a heavy workload, the fanless MacBook Air with M2 gets toasty and, to protect itself, throttles performance.
Why exactly does that happen? We know the MacBook Air, like the Pro model, lacks a fan and relies instead on the efficiency of its M2 processor. What we didn’t realize is that it doesn’t even use a heat spreader. This revelation comes from the fine folks at iFixit who tore down a MacBook Air and found it void of cooling parts. Sure, there is a healthy heaping of thermal paste and graphite tape, but no room was spared for heat sinks.
I’m of two minds about this baffling decision. On the one hand, this proves the incredible efficiency of the M2 processor, which delivers exceptional power to the MacBook Air without requiring any active cooling or even heat distribution elements. The bad news is that, as various outlets have noted, the Air will get hot when running heavy workloads over time. Even the MacBook Pro, with its cooling fans, appears to have serious heat management issues and reached temps as high as 108 degrees Celsius in a stress test run by Max Tech.
The same YouTuber tore down the MacBook Pro and discovered that the 256GB model has a single NAND storage chip instead of two 128GB NAND chips, resulting in significantly slower speeds than the other versions and even the MacBook Pro with M1.
Getting back to the MacBook Air heat problems: some folks have already found a solution, and it’s a pretty simple one: spend 15 bucks on thermal pads and slap them inside the chassis. We wouldn’t recommend doing this, but at least one version showed to significantly boost performance while lowering temperatures. It makes you wonder whether more could have been done to reduce the internal temperatures of the MacBook Air.