Gaming News
Computing

Thermal Pad ‘Mod’ Makes M2 MacBook Air Faster Than 13″ M2 Pro

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

A few weeks ago the first M2-based notebook was released, and it was a bit of a letdown. The cooling system for the system has been called inadequate based on the temperatures the device hits when loaded for more than a short burst. Online reviews used headlines such as, “Why does this exist?” and “Steve Jobs would be pissed!” It turns out the single fan it uses for cooling is not sufficient when it’s pushed to the max for more than a short burst. Now the M2-based MacBook Air has arrived in reviewer’s hands. Since it doesn’t even have the luxury of a single fan, people were curious if it would also have cooling issues. It turns out that when it’s pushed hard, it certainly does, as expected. However, YouTuber Max Tech has discovered the Air’s cooling issues can be drastically reduced with a simple mod: $15 worth of thermal pads.

As a refresher, previously Max Tech did a teardown of the M2-based Air. That process revealed there was thermal paste on top of the M2 chip, but not much else. The entire motherboard was just face-down in the guts on the laptop, with just a metal EM shield on top of it. There’s no heat spreader, no heat pipes, vapor chambers, or anything to help cool the chip. It just radiates its heat to the chassis, basically. This leads to it hitting the same stratospheric temperatures at the M2 Pro under load: 108C. Obviously most people who buy the MacBook Air aren’t going to be rendering and exporting content for long periods. Still, he wondered whether an application of thermal pads might increase cooling. It did.

The M2 MacBook Air motherboard. (Image: Max Tech)

As you can see at the top of this article, he laid down a blanket of thermal pads on the back of the motherboard. This covers the area with the M2 SoC, the Wi-Fi chip, the SSD, and nearby circuitry. The mod presses the thermal pads up against the bottom of the laptop. This should more effectively transfer heat from the motherboard to the chassis.

The results from this simple addition were impressive. The first test he ran was an export of 50 images from Lightroom Classic. The thermal pads allowed the export to be completed one minute faster than the “stock” M2 Air. It even beat the M2-based MacBook Pro, which has a fan to cool the M2 chip during the export. The reason for the increased performance is the M2 never throttled, thanks to the pads.

He also tested his modded Air in Cinebench R23 and found similar results. The thermal pad version outpaced the M2 Pro once again. The M2 Pro scored 8,557 compared to the modded Air with 8,684. That was just a single run though, so there wasn’t much chance to throttle. After 15 runs the results were quite different. The Pro was still faster over the long haul, but the modded Air beat the stock Air by a healthy margin. Both laptops experienced throttling, but the modded version throttled a lot less. This gave it an advantage of 443 points after all those runs.

The same benefits applied to gaming, since the GPU is also embedded in the M2 chip. To test this he ran 3DMark’s Wild Life stress test for 20 minutes. The modded version made it through seven runs of the benchmark before throttling. The stock Air made it through only three rounds before it began to throttle.

Overall, this seems like a simple and easy-to-do mod for those who want to use their Air for some content creation. The best part about it is you don’t have to remove the motherboard to make it work. All you need to do is remove the bottom plate and put the pads down. We’ve never taken a MacBook apart, but it seems like it’s not difficult if you have the right tools. If you’re interested, here’s a non-affiliate link to the pads he used.

Now Read:

Related posts

Rumor: TSMC to Slow 3nm Expansion Amid Delays From Intel

admin

AMD Shows Off Zen 4 Overclocking, But Questions Remain

admin

Apple Has Begun Testing New M2 Silicon in Nine Upcoming Macs

admin