The text below comes from a shooting script for the video above; it may not perfectly reflect the dialogue of that video.
This summer’s M2 MacBook Air is looking like a Donna Summer—as in hot hot hot. We didn’t expect to find active cooling in this base model M2 Air, but we didn’t find much of a passive cooling system either—not even a heat spreader? But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Exterior and Ports
Even without the slimming wedge shape, the flashy new M2 Air is not only thinner than its predecessor, but also manages to pack in more ports—the glorious return of MagSafe, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a headphone jack.
It’s also got a clever trick up its sleeve … or, spine. Speaker grilles! No more perforated top case—the sound is pumped out between case and display. And while they’re not the best speakers ever, Apple’s obsession with sound still comes through, and they sound great.
Speaking of speakers, Creative Electron gives us our first look at their new placement, and they look—small? We also get a glimpse at the keyboard—not super serviceable, but at least it’s not as fragile as keyboards from the Butterfly era.
It’s been, oh, 14 years since a joke like pulling a MacBook Air from an envelope was relevant, but this machine has come a long way in that time. Let’s open it up.
Just four screws guard the entry, and after the same mildly terrifying tugging as in the 14” MacBook Pro, the lower case is free. Cue mild panic—where’s the battery connector? Hopefully not under the logic board … Time to go digging for likely targets. Some pint-sized screws and brackets later—hey, that’s a neat little trap door. Turns out the battery socket was right here all along, using a tiny iPhone-like connector.
Battery safely disconnected, we start excavating the logic board, dispatching more brackets, more screws—some of them hidden—and yeah a couple more fiddly bits, and the logic board is free. But it’s not much to look at ‘til we take the clip-on shield off.
Heat Management—Or Lack Thereof?
Under the lid we find: an impressive amount of empty space! The empty pad makes sense—it’s for the extra SSD chip we didn’t pay for—but, where’s the heat spreader? What’s with this big gap? How does this thing cool down? Sure it had a lot of thermal paste and graphite tape, and yeah the M2 is efficient, but this shield is super thin, so it’s not helping much—and the case is lighter than last year, so? Maybe the M2 Air is secretly an iPad … or maybe Apple is just letting it run hot.
On this densely packed board, we find a wealth of chips. Highlights include:
- The soldered-down octa-core M2 + unified memory package, with integrated GPU
- A single soldered 256 GB NAND flash memory chip (instead of two 128’s)
- A seemingly Apple-made Thunderbolt 3 driver, instead of the Intel chips we’re familiar with
- A USI chip that is likely just Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- And, a little birdy pointed out an accelerometer, slightly unusual in a laptop—the Studio Display has one too. If you’ve got ideas why Apple might put an accelerometer in their new laptop, let us know.
Can’t get enough M2 Air silicon? The iFixit community has your back—check out the full M2 MacBook Air Chip ID teardown for a detailed breakdown of all the chips on this board.
Before my brain overheats, let’s get to some hardware that makes sense: a few screws, and some escape-artist washers, and the trackpad is free. (And I’m free, from its annoying cable.)
I’m sure you want to hear about these two, sorry four, speakers, but it’s gonna take a lot of digging to get there. There’s some obvious screws—like the ones that secure them to the case—and some that are buried under these annoying hinge covers. (They help reinforce the hinge, which is a good thing, but wow they are no fun to remove.)
Audio Board and Ports
While we’re up here, let’s grab that super thin audio board. It’s adhered, but comes right up. Even better, every single port—the endangered headphone jack, prodigal MagSafe charger, and both USB-C ports—are modular, and not glued down. We love to see it! Finally, the TouchID button comes out through the top case with ease.
On to the battery! With no markings it’s hard to tell, but this almost looks smaller than last year? The four cells are held into the case with a combination of a metal tray with repair-friendly screws, and stretch-release adhesive. Not to brag, but I got every strip out intact—granted these are a very slick horseshoe-shaped adhesives, which means if one tab breaks, the other tab will extract all the remaining adhesive! Stretch-release honestly just can’t be beat—except by these screws. Ah, reusable fasteners my old friends …
Like with iPhones these days, the specs are on the back, giving us a rated capacity of 52.6 Wh. And while it has four cells, it wires the top two in parallel and the bottom two in series, making it operate like a 3-cell battery. Maybe don’t think too hard about why; it doesn’t make sense to us either.
Once those finicky hinge covers are removed, twist out some screws, and the display pulls right off.
When it’s all said and done, the Air still fits in a simple envelope. The Mac has been headed in a positive direction these days—more and better ports, a better keyboard, and a return to some more repairable ideas.
I don’t know if I trust a fanless, heatspreader-less, non-upgradable laptop—especially at this base model spec. But at least the shadow of the original Retina era seems to be passing. Plus, Apple tells us we’ll get parts for this one, so check back in a few months, and maybe we’ll do a repair together! Until next time, keep on fixing!
Did we miss anything? Should we debunk some more weird internet claims? Let us know in the comments!