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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

MacBook Air (Early 2020): Final Results for macOS Catalina

MacBook Air (early 2020) configuration: i7/16GB/1TB

Date of original mod: 3 June 2020
MacRumors: Post 1,675

I did my final mod by replacing the homemade tinfoil thermal pad with an EC360 GOLD (thermal conductance of 14.5W/mK). Other modders on MacRumors seem to have been able to get good (better?) performance with thermal pads of lower conductance. The thickness is 1.5mm -- it is thicker than necessary for the area near the edge of the case, but a good fit closer to the battery.

The thermal pad wasn't long enough so I used the off-cut to cover the right edge. I peeled the blue protective sheet prior to putting the back cover back on. For fun, I created a heat spreader from a disposable tin tray that sits between the fan and on top of the thermal pad. I coloured it black for some extra black-body radiation. I have no idea how helpful or detrimental it is!


To evaluate the success of the combined wind channel + heat sink + heat pad modifications, I ran the tests in Intel Power Gadget 3.7.0Geekbench 5.1.1Cinebench R20Unigine Heaven 4.0, and Unigine Valley 1.0. I used the same set up as before, but also waited for the CPU to cool down to around 40℃ before running the next benchmark. Each benchmark was executed at least three times and I report the average.

Intel Power Gadget 3.7.0

Test Type Original (GHz) Mod (GHz) Improvement
CPU (All Thread Frequency, Scalar) 2.25 2.80​ 24.4%
CPU (All Thread Frequency, AVX-256) 2.12 2.70 27.4%
CPU (All Thread Frequency, AVX-512) 2.00 2.50 25.0%
Intel Graphics Test (Max Frequency) 0.90 1.10​ 22.2%

Geekbench 5

Test Type Original (Points) Mod (Points) Improvement
CPU (Single-core) 1,214​ 1,288 6.2%
CPU (Multi-core) 2,992​ 4,043 35.1%
Compute (OpenCL) 3,825 8,931 133.5%
Compute (Metal) 4,285 10,461 144.1%

Cinebench R20

Test Type Original (Points) Mod (Points) Improvement
CPU (Single-core) 353 423 19.6%
CPU (Multi-core) 979 1,218 24.5%
MP Ratio 2.77 2.88 4.1%

Unigine Heaven 4.0

Test Type Wind + heat sink mod
(Points / FPS)
Wind + heat sink + pad mod
(Points / FPS)
Custom/Medium 714 / 28.4 764 / 30.4 7.0%
Custom/Ultra NA 613 / 24.4 NA

Unigine Valley 1.0

Test Type Wind + heat sink + pad mod
(Points / FPS)
Custom/Medium 1,226 / 29.3
Custom/Ultra 940 / 22.3