Monday, Jul 25, 2022, 14:03 Hardware

Video – Speed Up Your MacBook Air M2 With An Additional Thermal Pad

When a processor gets too hot and can no longer dissipate heat throughout its housing, one of two things has to happen: Either a fan has to turn on to further aid adequate cooling or the internal heat development has to decrease. Without either one or both of these options, processors wouldn't last very long. Heat development is can be decreased by reducing clock rate – a process otherwise known to the field as "throttling". The Mac scene was seriously introduced to this phenomenon for the first time in 2018 – when the at the time recently introduced MacBook Pro was discovered to lose some of its performance when running hot, such that it actually worked considerably slower than its predecessor. The dilemma (and the poorer performance than that of the previous generation) was mostly due to a temperature management software error, although there were many other circumstances under which throttling did play an intended role in the device's performance. After the launch of the MacBook Air M2, the exciting question on everyone's mind was how the passively cooled notebook would perform under extended load – now there are finally some solid observations, some of which we even reported on Wednesday.

Tuning Via New Thermal Pad?
Dependent upon the nature of the resource intensive, extended performance or task, the M2 chip in the MacBook Air can lose anywhere from 20 to 25% of its performance – although quite some time is required before the full effects of the throttling become apparent. During daily usage, which normally only places occasional, short demands on performance – there's no dip in processing speed. It's only under multiple minutes of running under full power that any throttling whatsoever becomes noticeable – however, is it possible to delay this even further? MaxTech asked himself this very same question and acquired a MacBook Air with M2 to tinker with. Of course, any such tampering with the device does void its manufacturer warranty – the primary goal was to discover whether or not a significantly larger thermal pad would add any oomph to the notebook.

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Test Documents Substantial Impact
The MacBook Air M2's inconspicuous conduction system (check out this report concerning a surprising find in the device made by iFixit) was replaced by a considerably larger thermal pad. This is meant to help dissipate heat into the device's housing, enabling the processor to work at maximal capacity for longer. The results were extremely impressive – prior to modification, the completion of the test took 2:55 minutes, whereas afterwards only 1:56 minutes were required. Whereas the M2 in its original state could reach up to 109 degrees Celsius, the measurement with the new pad remained in the double digits, not surpassing 97 degrees Celsius. Throttling effects were only noticeable after 10 minutes.



Points in Cinebench's fourth test.


An Exciting, Yet Risky Experiment Without Much Benefit To Daily Use
This interesting test does not mean that everyone should take to tuning up their new MacBook Air's M2. Firstly, there's not a significant difference to performance in most areas of the device's usage, and additionally – the long term effects of the introduction of a larger thermal pad aren't known, especially in the event of altered heat distribution within the device. As previously mentioned, any such tampering or tinkering would also void the manufacturer warranty, all for a modification that only a very small minority of the owners of a MacBook Air would even see any benefit from. Thus, the results of this test can only be seen as an informative experiment – and not as any kind of improvement nor beneficial project for the average user.

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