Early reviews of the M2 MacBook Air are out, and throttled performance has been a common refrain. Now, a YouTuber has found a solution that uses just $15 in materials.
After the fix was tested, the modified M2 MacBook Air purportedly even beat the M2 MacBook Pro in some benchmarks.
In order to make the MacBook Air as thin and light as possible, Apple designs these notebooks to operate without any internal fans. A MacBook Air will always be perfectly silent unless playing media or signaling you of a notification or other alert. The latest M2 MacBook Air is quite popular and Apple clearly knows its customers.
The only downside to such a slim and lightweight device is heat. Within the new MacBook Air’s case, the M2 chip can power through heavy workloads almost as well as its fan-powered sibling, the M2 MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air can be configured exactly the same, but it still can’t match the long-term performance of a MacBook Pro on challenging tasks. At some point, a thermal limit will be reached and then the system slows down so it can begin cooling to prevent overheating, which could damage the components.
Getting back to the solution, the YouTube channel Max Tech demonstrates installing inexpensive thermal pads inside the chassis of the MacBook Air to aid in cooling. It seems unlikely that $15 worth of thermal pads would make a significant difference. but they do apparently. While this might allow Apple’s budget-priced M2 MacBook Air to outperform the M2 MacBook Pro, the benchmarks ran only for a few minutes.
As time passes, the thermal pads won’t be able to outperform the active cooling system built into an M2 MacBook Pro. For challenging workloads that run for about 15 minutes, the thermal pads work beautifully. After that, the heat builds up and throttling still occurs.
To try this out yourself, you’d have to open up the case of your new M2 MacBook Air and make modifications. The changes aren’t permanent and are relatively easy to do, but this would invalidate your warranty. That means it probably isn’t worth the risk of damaging a new computer or losing the Apple warranty for this short-term gain. It certainly is an interesting experiment though. External cooling solutions might have a similar effect and several laptop stands include cooling fans for this purpose.
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