A new video from Linus Tech Tips today sheds light on the MacBook Air’s thermal design and how various different tweaks can affect performance and heat dissipation. The results show an increase in performance, but not quite as you would expect.

The video starts by explaining Apple’s somewhat odd design decision. Instead of placing the fan right next to the CPU, where the majority of the heat is generated, Apple placed the fan on the far side of the MacBook Air. This leaves the MacBook Air CPU with around 10W of CPU cooling capacity, the video explains.

In the video, a variety of different cooling tests are performed with the 2020 MacBook Air: including a laptop stand with fan, a fan with no bottom, new thermal compound, thermal on chassis, and water cooling. By modifying the heat sync and improving airflow, the MacBook Air sees a 14% increase in CPU performance.

Apple’s thermal designs have been questioned in the past. For instance, the high-end 2018 MacBook Pro was criticized for for its aggressive thermal throttling. Apple released a software update to help resolve the problem, but even still, the concerns remained. As we’ve pointed out before, throttling on a laptop as thin as the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air is to be expected. It’s something that affects both Apple and other PC manufacturers, but Apple has been questioned for its seemingly more aggressive thermal throttling.

On a somewhat related note, Apple is expected to announce the Mac’s transition to ARM processors at WWDC tomorrow. This is expected to bring a notable performance improvement and likely related improvements to thermals and heat dissipation as well.

Check out the full video below from Linus Tech Tips and let us know what you think of it down in the comments.

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