Skip to main content

Reviewers agree: The M2 MacBook Air has a heat problem

Apple’s new MacBook Air with the M2 chip goes on sale today. It represents a new era for the MacBook, with incredible battery life and awesome graphics, but reviewers all agree the machine suffers from overheating.

Tech journalists and YouTube reviewers who got their hands on the new M2 MacBook Air voiced concerns about the overheating machine. Part of the problem comes from the M2 MacBook Air lacking fans or heat pipes, despite housing the same powerful M2 chip as the MacBook Pro.

A man sits at his couch using the M2 Macbook Air.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Verge loved the new industrial design of the M2 MacBook Air but was concerned about the heat throttling performance. The publications review puts it this way: “[…] the M2 Air is noticeably slower than the MacBook Pro M2, which has a thicker chassis and a fan to help keep the chip cool under long-running heavy workloads, like a 30-minute Cinebench 23 multi-core benchmark.” The review also mentioned the throttling that occurs to “keep its speeds capped in an effort to keep temperatures manageable” and that the bottom of the laptop still got “considerably warm” during these tests.

Endgadget was overall impressed with the new MacBook Air but warned that thermal throttling can slow the computer during more intense workloads, saying, “All of my testing made it clear that the MacBook Air is just as fast as the 13-inch Pro for most tasks. It even hit the same 30 fps average in Shadow of the Tomb Raider‘s benchmark, which means the game would actually be playable on a crazy thin ultraportable. But you’ll have to live with a bit of slowdown if you’re doing more complex work, like video editing or 3D rendering.”

TechCrunch gave the M2 MacBook Air a glowing review and called it the laptop for most people. However, they did mention the speed throttling because of the fanless design and remarked the M1 Pro can still run circles around the M2 Air, calling the fanless design a “bottleneck for truly resource-intensive tasks, but most people aren’t likely to encounter that day-to-day.”

It wasn’t only journalists discussing the issue with the M2 Air’s heating issues. Several YouTubers also mentioned it. Dave2D was the most forthcoming.

iJustine loved the new M2 MacBook Air, and her unboxing and initial thoughts are optimistic. However, she spends a few moments talking candidly about the heat throttling.

Reviewers overall were blown away by the redesigned MacBook Air, which brings it more in line with Apple’s new vision of hardware. The boxy, industrial design edges and the brilliant screen were praised a lot by reviewers. But every single reviewer mentioned thermal throttling issues.

Overall, this is probably the best MacBook for most casual users. Those hoping to do anything intensive, such as video editing, photoshop, or gaming, will want to skip this one in favor of a more powerful M1 Pro MacBook Pro.

Editors' Recommendations

Nathan Drescher
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nathan Drescher is a freelance journalist and writer from Ottawa, Canada. He's been writing about technology from around the…
Why you should buy a MacBook Air instead of a MacBook Pro
The MacBook Air on a table in front of a window.

The MacBook Air has officially caught up. Now with the M3 on board, the MacBook Air has gained the benefits of the new chip, which was previously available just on the MacBook Pro and iMac.

Choosing between the M3 15-inch MacBook Air and the 14-inch MacBook Pro is tough, and requires an in-depth look at differences in ports, displays, speakers, and more. It's a legitimately hard decision to make.

Read more
The MacBook Air 15 vs. MacBook Pro 14: the easy way to decide
Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air placed on a desk with its lid closed.

Picking out a new MacBook isn't as easy as it used to be.

The hardest choice in the lineup might be between the 15-inch MacBook Air and the 14-inch MacBook Pro. Both are now offered with the same M3 chip, despite there being a $300 difference in the base models. But when similarly configured, there's actually only a $100 difference between these two laptops.

Read more
Apple quietly backtracks on the MacBook Air’s biggest issue
The MacBook Air on a white table.

The new MacBook Air with M3 chip not only allows you to use it with two external displays, but it has also reportedly addressed a storage problem that plagued the previous M2 model. The laptop now finally has much faster storage performance since Apple has switched back to using two 128GB NAND modules instead of a single 256GB module on the SSD drive.

This was discovered by the YouTuber Max Tech, who tore down the entry-level model of the MacBook Air M3 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. In his tests, thanks to the two NAND modules, the M3 MacBook Air is nearly double faster than the M2 MacBook Air. Blackmagic Disk Speed tests show that the older M2 model with the problematic NAND chip had a 1584.3 Mb/s write speed, and the newer M3 model had 2108.9 Mb/s for the M3 model, for a 33% difference. In read speeds, it was 1576.4 Mb/s on the old model and 2880.2 Mb/s on the newer model.

Read more