2020 air heatsink

Saul Giordani

macrumors newbie
Apr 5, 2020
23
25
I have been using the 2020 MBA i5 for two weeks. Only ever heard the fan when I was doing initial app downloads, setups and backup. It's a dream machine. Keyboard is not as good as my old 2015 MBA and old 2013 MBP.
Main downside is having to get sorted with some adaptors. My 4k USBC monitor is great for usb-a but I need a lightning to USBC and I've bought a RJ45 to USBC just to up backup and download speeds.

I'm a developer so use Xcode and some graphics apps for 2d buttons etc. Also use photos a lot and my browser is Safari.
I've in i7 and vc mades the fans go to 5-6k and temp around 74°.

Maybe apple put a very bad thermal paste on my laptop, but I'll really need the mod
 
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Mitsjke

macrumors member
Feb 28, 2015
56
87
Maybe anyone who could give me a recap? What is the easiest way to improve the cooling? And is there any improvement a noob can made? I know how to use a screwdriver, but that's it. So I don't want to damage my Macbook or void the warranty.
 
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Loog

macrumors member
Apr 14, 2020
99
104
First batch of custom shims ready to go, these will be out to the post office tonight shipping mostly to EU but as far as Australia and Canada. Thank you to those who have purchased, I look forward to the reviews. There are still a few left if anyone else would like to try these water cut 16.5mm x 22mm 0.3mm & 0.5mm. When they're gone, they're gone.
 

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nill1234

macrumors regular
Dec 22, 2012
166
71
Hope I did the right choice with 0.3 mm which thickness do you guys use and which thickness of the heatpad do you use? Will post a photo store if I receive them. At the moment im evaluating the perfect thermal paste...
 
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excelsior.ink

macrumors newbie
Apr 15, 2020
16
10
I don't have a copper shim so I used only Kryonaut (thermal paste). Here is Power Gadget while running Cinebench after paste replacement:
Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 19.06.18.png

and here is the increase in score (from 741 to 878):
Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 19.03.06.png

The CPU is an i5 and here are the pictures of the thermal paste (before and after):
IMG_3193.jpeg

IMG_3194.jpeg


I am by no means an expert. I applied more than needed probably, but better more than less, especially because it seems the contact is bad.
For today is enough. I will try soon with a copper shim, as soon as I get one.
 
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Loog

macrumors member
Apr 14, 2020
99
104
Hope I did the right choice with 0.3 mm which thickness do you guys use and which thickness of the heated do you use? Will post a photo store if I receive them. At the moment im evaluating the perfect thermal paste...
0.3mm and 0.5mm both work, 0.3mm seems to be the popular choice for the 2020 as the screws which hold the CPU in place have less thread contact than on the 2018, for which 0.5mm is perfect.

There have been some who have had both so it will be interesting if there is any difference in heat dissipation with shim thickness. Possibly, but I guess this will be diminishing returns, however good to know for the community.
- - Post merged: - -

My swap from 0.5 to 0.3 seems to have been the right choice for me.

View attachment 917371
Do you have any metrics between the two thicknesses to share @SeñorNewton ?
 
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vyruzreaper

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2015
102
90
I believe so. @vyruzreaper commented he has a i5 and he posted a picture a few pages back and it looks corrugated to me. Hopefully he will confirm i5 and corrugated.

I wish the MBA postures would put their machine spec in the signature, it would save typing and searching 😬
It was corrugated but with some extra cutouts within the corrugation.

I bought i5/16/256 (USA) and got a copper&corrugated heatsink.


More updates - normal use under this machine with mods keeps my temps below 40C most of the time. This includes YT, etc.
 

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Daino92

macrumors member
Sep 15, 2019
35
8
Colorado
This all seems fun, but i am completely uncomfortable opening the back of my MBA to apply these mods. Hopefully mine keeps preforming well as I hardly notice any issues. I VC every weekend and some weekdays and I don't think I've heard my fans kick in one time.
 
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Loog

macrumors member
Apr 14, 2020
99
104
This all seems fun, but i am completely uncomfortable opening the back of my MBA to apply these mods. Hopefully mine keeps preforming well as I hardly notice any issues. I VC every weekend and some weekdays and I don't think I've heard my fans kick in one time.
Glad to hear, long may it stay that way ! some of us have had real pain and not wanting to give up have sacrificed machines for science ... its been fun :)
 
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RiaKoobcam

macrumors regular
Apr 17, 2020
179
210
Glad to hear, long may it stay that way ! some of us have had real pain and not wanting to give up have sacrificed machines for science ... its been fun :)
I think one of the really interesting things is that some users have reported copper heat sinks and some aluminium on the 2020 line, with different levels of cut out etc.

A hypothesis might be that those (like us) that experienced high temps and intrusive fan noise had an early run, ineffective heat sink with poorer thermal properties than a later, amended part?
 
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vyruzreaper

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2015
102
90
0.3mm and 0.5mm both work, 0.3mm seems to be the popular choice for the 2020 as the screws which hold the CPU in place have less thread contact than on the 2018, for which 0.5mm is perfect.

There have been some who have had both so it will be interesting if there is any difference in heat dissipation with shim thickness. Possibly, but I guess this will be diminishing returns, however good to know for the community.
- - Post merged: - -

Do you have any metrics between the two thicknesses to share @SeñorNewton ?
I went with .5mm but sanded it down a little maybe to .4mm... mine's performing great thus far
- - Post merged: - -

I think one of the really interesting things is that some users have reported copper heat sinks and some aluminium on the 2020 line, with different levels of cut out etc.

A hypothesis might be that those (like us) that experienced high temps and intrusive fan noise had an early run, ineffective heat sink with poorer thermal properties than a later, amended part?
Nah, I bet you it's supply chain constrains and optimizations.
- - Post merged: - -

This all seems fun, but i am completely uncomfortable opening the back of my MBA to apply these mods. Hopefully mine keeps preforming well as I hardly notice any issues. I VC every weekend and some weekdays and I don't think I've heard my fans kick in one time.
Do only the Thermal Pad. That WILL help. It costs 5 bucks and all you do is cut it to size with scissors and then stick it (like double sided tap) on the heatsink. Put the cover back on. Won't see the same gains with the copper mod - but maybe 5% and marginally better thermals that reduce the time to 100C?
 
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srkirt

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2020
159
108
Barcelona
I still have not paid the first installment and I have lost the guarantee ... hahahaha I can not return it, nor can I take it when I fail ... it is the risk of adrenaline and the desire to see how they take the fool confusing many people as Apple does by restricting heat-based power ...
By the way ... my aluminum dissipation system (soon copper) towards the turbine has an advantage, I explain. The little air flow that enters forks between the motherboard (now think backwards ...) when it enters with ambient temp part of it goes between the keyboard and memory and the other part goes to the cpu that is face down ... the heat due to elementary physics tends to rise, by making the tunnel watertight we increase pressure and this heat instead of going through the plate comes out earlier but ... and all the circuitry that is under our keyboard and with the cpu for below?? Theoretically, half the air gets there when entering the machine and ends up leaving through a ridiculous hole near the turbine cable (I think about making a ramp) to mix with the cpu and be sucked by the turbine. It is a Jurassic design !!! worst impossible!!! Maybe some chip on the opposite side also needs cooling !! and sticking the radiator to the cover and it is insulated from the outside to promote convection to the turbine is a good idea !! It would be better to use the entire heatsink cover but we would burn ourselves ... that's why I fight to bring the heat to the cover and with copper that is dissipating towards the turbine, that heat does not heat the motherboard.
In short it is a theory. At the moment I have formatted and it even cools me more by having everything factory.
I recommend the Macs Fan sensor cpu 1 with minimum 55º and maximum 90º so there is always a breeze walking around the Mac, thus we avoid condensation, component wear and at those rpm it is inaudible ...
 

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vyruzreaper

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2015
102
90
People can claim that Apple created an elegant cooling system that airflow pressurizes from one vent opposite the fan and blow airs via the channels to the fan where the centrifugal fan suck in air from the top and blows it out. And they are right. However, that solution is less optimal when by adding a little bit more copper and better thermal paste -> the performance is 20% higher and cooling is much more effective.

Now there are tradeoffs like battery life, etc. But I think that should be at the choice of the consumer if they make us buy machines with Chips but don't let us use them. It's as if you bought a Ferarri but was limited to only 200HP out of the 650HP advertised because of thermals lol. Apple should have used a different chip, not included the quadcore OR added a heatpipe to the quadcore builds. My take is that this is the last MBA before they are all ARM.
 
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RiaKoobcam

macrumors regular
Apr 17, 2020
179
210
Nah, I bet you it's supply chain constrains and optimizations.
Actually I think I'm wrong - looking back through the thread, the 2018, 2019 and 2020 i3 MBA's all have aluminium heat sinks, whereas the 2020 i5s and i7s that have been posted have copper. There goes that hypothesis.

New hypothesis: the quad core 2020 MBAs have copper heat sinks and Apple's testing judged this to be an acceptable adaptation to the higher TDP of the i5/i7. Across all three models released in 2020, they still seem to have gone with the semi-solid, graphite-based thermal paste to contact the CPU/GPU die to the heat sink, despite the gap between the two.

Seems like this is a perfectly fine cooling solution for the dual core, but varies with the i5/i7. We've had users with the same apps/workload/OS report wildly different temperature/fan data on their i5s and i7s.

So to keep it real simple -

1. All three CPU options in the 2020 MBA are hard coded to particular performance limits by Intel/Apple.
2. It is possible to nudge this limit slightly upwards by modifying the thermal conductivity of the heat sink, but the main benefits are in cooling and fan noise.

So the flow chart goes:

Do you have a 2020 Macbook Air?

If yes, are you happy with how it performs, its noise level and its internal and external heat management?

If yes, awesome!

If no, you can:

a) return and hope for a better heat sink with your replacement,
b) return for a base model MBP if your main issue is with sustained performance which the MBA cannot match, even with the most extreme modifications, or
c) perform a simple modification with a copper shim and thermal paste which should fix internal and external heat management.
 
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Loog

macrumors member
Apr 14, 2020
99
104
New hypothesis: the quad core 2020 MBAs have copper heat sinks and Apple's testing judged this to be an acceptable adaptation to the higher TDP of the i5/i7. Across all three models released in 2020, they still seem to have gone with the semi-solid, graphite-based thermal paste to contact the CPU/GPU die to the heat sink, despite the gap between the two.
Is this 100% copper or just copper plating/wash? Weight difference is quite significant between the metals for an ultra book. A quick scrape would confirm from the brave?
 
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IngerMan

macrumors 68000
Feb 21, 2011
1,512
421
Michigan
I have 20, 20mm x 20mm x .3mm copper shims. I definitely will not have any use for all but 1 or 2.

I would be willing to mail out US only to 10 lucky posters. It’s going to be a few weeks because I’m not scheduled for my MBA till 1st week of June. I want to use it a few days stock and then complete the mod. Verify only 1 is needed. And it’s good material.

First 10 people to PM me they would like this will be on my list. Don’t send me your address till I reply for it when I’m ready. It’s going to be a one time process for me not a few here or there. Just giving back to MacRumors. You can see they are rather inexpensive that I purchased and If you want them now or feel 20 is better To have all to yourself. Below is what I have.

it will be a few weeks. US postage only, All you owe me is a 40 cent thank you.

6C90A462-0BFD-4EBF-AD73-0AA1D305ABEB.png
 
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kinchee87

macrumors regular
Jan 9, 2007
229
93
New Zealand
Is this 100% copper or just copper plating/wash? Weight difference is quite significant between the metals for an ultra book. A quick scrape would confirm from the brave?
Based on my memory, when I handled my "copper" heat sink, it felt quite light and didn't have the heft of a copper plate. The heat sink also sounded a bit "tinny" on the few times I lightly dropped it on my desk. My guess is that the contact areas are copper plated, but the bulk is aluminium.

Someone who wants to do the mod could first measure the weight and volume of their cleaned heat sink, from which we can derive its density. One could find out the volume by submerging heat sink a small measuring cup and measuring rise in water level.

Density of copper: 8.96 g/cm³
Density of aluminium: 2.7 g/cm³
 
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