back to article Apple forgoes cooling systems in M2 MacBook Air

The engineers at iFixit have turned their tools on Apple's flash new M2-powered MacBook Air to find a startling lack of cooling. Before cracking the beast open, the teardown team took a moment to wonder at the amount of ports crammed into a machine that is even slimmer than its predecessor, noting the return of MagSafe, two …

  1. J. R. Hartley

    The title is no longer required.

    The accelerometer is so the laptop can tell it's falling and park the... oh wait...

    Hmm...

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: The title is no longer required.

      The electrons could get jiggled loose in a fall.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: The title is no longer required.

        Accidentally defragging your SSD?

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: The title is no longer required.

        I'm not concerned that they make a crap laptop lineup. I'm just amazed people still buy them by the bucket load and are happy about it? I mean I know pot is legal in some places, but even that does not explain things.

        1. Baudwalk

          What's crap about this one?

          At my pre-corona employer I had an Air M1 to play with, and it was an absolutely amazing machine.

          That kind of speed (including emulated Windows 3D games) in a fan-less laptop with instant (not just the near-instant seen on the best Windows laptops) wake-up, was fscking amazing.

          When I left, was tempted to buy one for myself. I 100% would have if I trusted Apple to maintain the Rosetta Intel emulation layer for any length of time. Apple's track record didn't leave me with confidence in that regard, so I opted for a Ryzen 4700U powered HP Envy 13 convertible.

        2. 45RPM Silver badge

          Re: The title is no longer required.

          Hmm. You haven’t actually used one have you? I have several laptops (Lenovo, Dell and Apple), and the MacBook Air is the pick of the crop. Even with umpteen programs (IDEs, Office, Zoom etc) all running at the same time, it never seems to struggle or skip a beat. It runs cool if not stone cold - and I never have to remember to bring a power supply with me when I go to the office because it will happily go 10 hours with battery life to spare without being plugged in. I wish I could say the same of my other laptops. Oh, and it’s slim enough and light enough that I can carry it on my bike for the 20 mile ride to the office without feeling like I’m carrying a lead brick.

          Yes, for video and render workloads there are quicker machines (that’s why the MacBook Pro exists after all), but for the work that most people need to do the Air is exactly the right machine for the job. And whilst Intel may have faster chips in absolute terms, it has nothing even approaching this level of performance in this form factor.

        3. Plest Silver badge

          Re: The title is no longer required.

          I have an old 2011 Macbook air, it's useless for OSX but I shoved Linux Mint on it and it runs likes a dream, all the hardware was found and worked perfectly. A testament to both the solid engineering of Apple kit ( 11 years old and still working fine! ) and also the Linux community to making an O/S that works perfectly off the bat. I remember fighting with Linux only 7-8 years ago to get stuff working, no longer the case.

          Macbook laptops are class items, I still have an old Macbook "whitey" up in the spare room that still works fine after 15 years, boots up and runs its old OSX version.

          If my current Lenovo Legion 7 is still working fine in 15 years time I'll be both very surprised and very pleased.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. seldom

            Re: The title is no longer required.

            I have an Inspiron from Dell (1520 CORE 2 DUO T7250 from 2007) that still runs win 10 fine. The soft touch yellow coating has degraded and feels digusting tho'.

        4. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: The title is no longer required.

          If they are crap, then why do an awful lot of people like them beyond their aesthetics?

          I absolutely swear by mine for DAW applications on the road, no x86 derivative has even the remotest price/performance/battery life and build quality for the same money.

          And I absolutely swear by one for the missus too, because I "know" I never have to deal with Windows Update shiat, ever.

          For the right applications they are cracking machines, and laptop-pricing is unlike other Apple products is generally competitive.

          Sure there are some annoyances like the direction of the app store, repairability etc. but that's mostly true of Windoze and other laptops in the same hardware territory.

        5. Lis

          Re: The title is no longer required.

          @NoneSuch

          I get it. You think they are crap. Well, why not just ignore the things then?

          And no one has called it "pot" for decades... I know this because I just asked my son if people still called it "pot". The answer? Only old people... like me. Oh...

          Ishy

        6. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: The title is no longer required.

          I'm sitting here typing this on an M2 Air. I didn't pay for it but I would actually buy one of these. It's been working all day, no cable attached and no sign of any heat related problems. Battery life is amazing, I would say a bit like an electric car with a 700 mile range, the difference between it and alternatives.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: The title is no longer required.

      The accelerometer is so the laptop can tell it's falling and park the

      That is exactly what it was originally added for, though I'm not sure why they've left it when that purpose is no longer valid. Perhaps it is using the same logic board as an iPad Pro, and the cost savings from removing the accelerometer the iPad requires is not worth maintaining a separate SKU?

      1. Spazturtle

        Re: The title is no longer required.

        That was a simpler type of accelerometer that only provided basic readouts, these M2 macs (and the new Studio Display) are the first to contain this newer accelerometer that provides readouts on multiple axis at the same time in high precision. Due to it's inclusion on the new studio display Apple might be planning to use it as part of their video stabilisation system.

    3. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: The title is no longer required.

      "The accelerometer is so the laptop can tell it's falling and park the"

      It's there so that Apple Genius Bartenders can evade warranty claims. "too many G forces!"

      iPhones have the water damage indicators for the same purpose.

      1. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: The title is no longer required.

        A MacBook does not have an IPX68 certified rating in the misrepresented water resistance claims the device is advertised/sold with.

        That being said, they are missing a servicing trick like with posh/expensive watches getting the water seal changed for regular fees.

        So if you put your watched up arm in a bath, pool, river, sink etc to retrieve a dropped iPhone - well within the IPX rating- Tag Heuer (other watch manufacturers are available) would not tell you to fuck- off/£500 to repair, whereas Apple would if they started to malfunction due to water ingress.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The title is no longer required.

        It's also likely that the accelerometer is required for Spatial Audio

    4. Oh Matron!

      Re: The title is no longer required.

      for older macs with HDDs there used to be a screen saver that used the accelerometer to move liquid around the screen as you tilted the mac. Was lovely to see. Useless, but lovely...

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Apple probably knows what it's doing

    Maximizing profit?

    1. Mishak Silver badge

      I might be the only one...

      But I find the whine of the cooling fan on my Dell very irritating at times...

    2. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Apple probably knows what it's doing

      Hopefully. Technically Apple is owned by its shareholders and they are mostly quite keen that it maximizes profit, though really what they want is maximum share price and perhaps dividends too.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Apple probably knows what it's doing

        Who needs a fan when you have a fanboi?

        1. Plest Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Apple probably knows what it's doing

          Mock all you like, I personally stopped buying Apple kit about 5 years ago as it was overpriced in my mind, but I still have my old Apple laptops 2007 and 2011 macbooksand they both still work perfectly. I no longer use them day to day as I've switched to Lenovo but much as people mock Apple, their kit is pretty hardy stuff and it does keep going long after Apple have abandoned support for it.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Apple probably knows what it's doing

      Everything they do is about maximising profit but, in this case, I can understand the thinking. The Air is predicated on maximum battery life, not data crunching and it's much, much easier to throttle chips than run a cooling system. This also makes it more reliable,because there a fewer moving parts, oh, and the fan doesn't need to be powered. And, with lots of cores and unified memory, the user is unlikely to notice cores being slowed down or switched off. Guaranteed that people who buy them will trumpet the battery life, lack of noise, heat over whether it has the best frame rate in a particular game.

      I won't be buying one of these myself because I think some of the other compromises would affect some of my work more, and I'm usually desk bound anyway, but I've seen far worse hardware compromises in mobile devices.

  3. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Adverts

    El Reg, did you know the slowness of your advertisements showing up is annoying

    Pls fix, if you can

    I would block them if I could

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Adverts

      uBlock Origin, friend. It Works.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Adverts

      Pi-Hole* on the network... noscript and uBlock Origin are a great combo!

      *I'm hoping if you're reading El Reg, setting up a Pi-Hole will be a no-brainer? Brave also offers some ad-block features.

    3. bryces666

      Re: Adverts

      'Blokada 5' on a phone (blokada.org)

    4. cosymart
      Meh

      Re: Adverts

      Adblock Plus works here - what ads?

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Adverts

        Privacy Badger FTW

    5. jgarbo

      Re: Adverts

      Opera browser, auto ad blocker and VPN (proxie). Never see an ad.

    6. A Yank for YES

      Re: Adverts

      See someonewhocares.org.

  4. FIA Silver badge

    and – strangely enough for an Apple product – a headphone jack.

    Haven't Apple computers always come with a headphone jack? Why is it strange?

    Come on El' Reg, I know you like to flog a joke, but it's been 5 years!

    The donkey's dead, the flies have all long since departed all that's left is the dull thump of a punchline on a long bleached skeleton.

    At least you stopped with 'fruit themed maker of computers' I suppose.

    1. breakfast

      I don't mean to suggest you don't know jack but...

      *Looks quizzically at two Apple computers on desk, neither of which has a headphone jack.*

      I can see a use for a headphone jack if this is being used to do video editing, as bluetooth often adds enough latency to put the audio out of sync and although a pro at their desk is likely to have a standalone audio interface, one would hope that it would be possible to use a computer at this price and performance level without external hardware being essential.

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: I don't mean to suggest you don't know jack but...

        Oh, I thought they pretty much all did. The 2 I own do (one M1 mini, the other an ancient air), the previous 2 I owned did (both iMacs), and the ones I checked on the website all do.

        Which ones do you have? Is it that macbook they did with like 1 USB-C port or something??

        I still think the joke's tired though. (Especially, as by the sounds of this they've taken it on board) ;)

  5. Blackjack Silver badge

    Apple is back to their old tricks, very old tricks, very Apple III like.

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Windows

      Old tricks

      I was thinking of the time Amstrad brought out a new model of it "PC compatible", just at the time everybody began putting fans on them. Amstrad hit the same performance but did not need a fan. Did people go, "Wow, now that's what I call /good/ design"? No, it failed in the market place because everybody ridiculed it for not having one. So they revamped it; "If they want a fan, give 'em a bloody fan" said Mr. Sugar. But it was too late, his brand image had gone and he pulled out of the computer market altogether.

      Fingers crossed for Apple this time round.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Old tricks

        You’re talking about the PC1512 there - and the whole fan fiasco was a smear by the manufacturers of competing, but much more expensive, IBM clones. Amstrad responded by releasing the PC1640 which had genuine improvements, not least EGA compatibility and an extra slot, as well as that unnecessary fan (in the monitor, not the system unit). It sold like hot cakes. Amstrads brand was certainly not dented - and they continued to sell well for another ten years or thereabouts.

        By that time though, the entire computing business was over-commoditised - every computer was super cheap and in effect an Amstrad. So Amstrad pulled out of the market, their niche now being occupied by everyone else. Of course, super cheapness meant no profit to innovate with - so killing the Archimedes, Amiga, the ST Falcon and very nearly the Mac. These were not good times to be interested in computers. But that’s another story.

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Old tricks

          I had a few experiences with the Amstrads, both 1512 and 1640. They were dreadful pieces of rubbish, a moderately decent technical spec let right down by rubbish engineering. The cases rattled and buzzed constantly, as soon as you fixed one irritating background noise, another one popped up.

          GJC

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: Old tricks

            Well that’s true. My dad bought me one. Worst computer I ever had - but my main problem with it wasn’t the flimsy construction. It was the woeful keyboard and mouse.

            But there’s no denying that they sold like hotcakes.

  6. mc nobby

    The accelerometer is there. So when you drop it and it stops working. When you take it into the apple store to be fixed. They can tell if your lying and have damaged their hardware. There should really also be a flex sensor in the lid. For when you trap something more than an atom thick in the lid and the screen breaks

    1. Coofer Cat

      My M1 has a space between the keyboard and screen of, as you say, about an atom. IMHO, it's a design failure - I can't use a privacy screen, nor can I get a camera cover. The latter Apple might argue away with "our software is secure...", but the privacy screen is a must-have if working anywhere in public.

  7. Robin

    Sticky Stuff

    I don't really understand how they're celebrating the fact that things are "modular, and not glued down" whilst also moaning about "dealing with ever more brackets and screws"?

    What's expected here? Velcro?

    1. James 51

      Re: Sticky Stuff

      Apple has a long history of keeping users out of the products they've 'bought'. I assume they're saying Apple is making it unnecessarily difficult for users and 3rd party repair services to get into the product.

    2. Oh Matron!

      Re: Sticky Stuff

      I found the narrative quite passive aggressive: The whining about getting the speakers out, for example. Just a bunch of screws and no swearing, unlike other mac's I could mention.

      If the repairability on this isn't 9/10 I'd be surprised

      1. James 51

        Re: Sticky Stuff

        Seven or eight would probably be a better score but we won't have long to wait I'm sure.

  8. OldCrow 1975

    ASUS TUF runs cooler

    That ASUS TUF made in Taiwan and the Philipines. Running Linux looks better by the second.

    Thatcway I have rid myself of two Flys. Microsoft and Apple.

  9. PRR Bronze badge
    Devil

    > the privacy screen is a must-have if working anywhere in public.

    I don't mind sharing my porn with the whole bus.

    1. razorfishsl

      Yep.. just like the filthy perverts in HK sitting on the MTR watching porn with school children about.....

      I was walking behind a guy the other day that had a tablet showing full gay on gay porn.

      That is shit that is going to be with me for the rest of my very short life.

  10. razorfishsl

    The issue is much of this crap is NOT field tested in Asia, even it is made there.

    The result is the "water detectors" turn red even if it has never been near real water, and the units. are ALWAYS throttling in a factory env.

    where >40Deg back ground is the norm.

    It is a complete pain in the ass to not have any sort of cooling, unless ur an Eskimo.

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