This nifty MacBook Air cooling design could take performance to the next level

smiling person freelancer outdoors working on laptop computer MacBook by Apple with smartwatch Apple Watch, iPhone smiling, show thumb up, like gesture.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The MacBook Air is one of the best thin-and-light laptops money can buy, and a revolutionary new cooling solution could make future MacBook Air models even faster, while keeping their whisper-quiet fanless design.

The Frore AirJet is a ‘cooling chip’ for laptops and PCs that uses ultra-thin membranes vibrating at ultrasonic frequencies to generate airflow without the need for fans. I discussed the AirJet’s potential earlier this year, noting that it could spell doom for the ever-irritating drone of laptop fans. But what if that technology was put inside a laptop that relies solely on passive cooling?

Frore Systems has now demonstrated its most impressive use case yet: an internally modified MacBook Air 15-inch that uses three AirJet Mini chips to cool the M2 chip at its core. The results speak for themselves.

As reported by The Verge, the MacBook Air equipped with the AirJet chips outperformed the factory-standard model in virtually every area. The initial performance differences were minor, but the longer the laptop ran, the wider the gulf became. When testing Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Verge’s Sean Hollister noticed that a 1fps difference became a 5fps difference after just half an hour of game time.

Let’s face it: the MacBook Air needs more than passive cooling

I’m going to be totally honest here and say that I really hate passive CPU cooling. Years ago, I built a fully passively-cooled gaming PC for a feature for Maximum PC magazine, and while it ran completely silently, it sort of sucked (or more accurately, it didn’t suck enough, due to the lack of fans).

The passive cooling used in the MacBook Air ultimately holds it back compared to the actively-cooled MacBook Pro – and owners of older models, like the still-pretty-great 2020 M1 MacBook Air, can likely attest that the laptop gets pretty toasty after extended use. We live in an era where one of the biggest obstacles to processor performance is thermal limits; if your computer’s CPU gets too warm, it’ll usually self-throttle its own capabilities to keep from overheating.

The Frore Systems AirJet Pro and AirJet Mini cooling chips.

(Image credit: Frore Systems)

The M2 chip (and Apple’s new M3 chip, which isn’t yet available in the MacBook Air) is an impressively powerful processor, so it’s a shame to see it hamstrung by thermal safety barriers. If Apple were to implement Frore’s cooling solution in the hotly-anticipated M3 MacBook Air it could be the best Air yet – and would keep Apple’s fanless design ethos intact. And come on, Apple – your product literally has the word ‘Air’ in the name. It’s a match made in heaven.

Frore isn’t just taking aim at Apple, either. The startup company has enjoyed a whopping $116 million in investor funding, and has been pushing to implement its innovative cooling tech in all sorts of products, most recently a silent mini workstation PC from Zotac. It’s no surprise, really: the AirJet genuinely does have the potential to completely change the game when it comes to PC and laptop cooling, and I personally hope it can replace both fans and passive cooling in the years to come.

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Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.