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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.

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.

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Nathan Drescher
Nathan Drescher is a freelance journalist and writer from Ottawa, Canada. He's been writing about technology from around the…
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