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LAPTOPS

SVALT Cooling Stand models S and S Pro with 16-inch MacBook Pro and model S Mini with Mac Mini, and SVALT Cooling Dock model D with 16-inch MacBook Pro

Heat Generation

Before diving into laptop cooling system components, it is important to understand why cooling is needed. Computers generate work through processors. The more work they do, the more power they pull, and the more power that goes through the system, then the more heat is created. Processors generate so much heat that temperatures will rise to the point of causing errors, reducing hardware durability and even leading to immediate hardware failure.

To avoid frying the computer, a built-in cooling system attempts to remove a portion of the heat that could cause hardware damage. However, when the cooling system is not sufficiently sized, as is often the case for laptops and compact desktops, then processing power is throttled. Throttling helps to protects hardware, but it results in slower performance. If not already familiar with throttling, then we can learn more on the Throttling page.

While processors (CPUs and GPUs) are the primary heat generating components within a laptop, essentially all electrical components generate some heat. For instance, the power system’s internal power supply and batteries can also generate significant heat when being charged or when being rapidly discharged. The computer memory (RAM) and storage (hard drive) modules also generate heat, especially with large data transfers.

Apple laptops, as with most laptops, use a built-in cooling system to remove internal heat. These cooling systems consists of the following components that will be reviewed in greater detail in the subsequent sections: 1) the external aluminum enclosure heat sink, and 2) the air cooling system that includes one or more processor heat sink, heat pipe, heat radiator fan, cool air intake vent and hot air exhaust vent.

Aluminum Enclosure

The first production Mac laptop with a metal enclosure was released in 2001, and by 2006 all Mac laptops began to use an anodized aluminum metal enclosure. Using metal instead of plastic allows the enclosure to act as the device’s structure, frame and chassis onto which mechanical and electronic components mount. This helps create a structure that is light, strong and rigid, as well as creating a durable and beautifully finished surface.

The aluminum enclosure also acts as a heat sink, absorbing heat from internal heat generating components through direct physical contact (conduction), heat waves (radiation) and hot air (convection). This means that the aluminum enclosure is an important component in the laptop’s built-in cooling system. For the aluminum enclosure to function as an effective heat sink that absorbs heat from internal heat generating components and then expels it into the surround environment, the enclosure needs to be uncovered and as open as possible to the surrounding environment. For the most effective cooling, then the enclosure should be exposed to cooling airflow or another heat sink.

This means that running the laptop with the screen open will allow for greater cooling, so if you prefer running with the screen closed in clamshell mode, then supplemental cooling becomes essential. This also means that while covers may serve their purpose in decorating and protecting surfaces, those made of insulating materials such as plastic and wood will negatively impact cooling by insulating the aluminum enclosure and preventing heat from escaping. Each particular setup has its advantages and disadvantages, so a user decides what best serves their needs.

Air Cooling System

All recent Mac laptop models with a built-in air cooling system include one or more processor heat sinks, heat pipes, heat radiators, fans, cool air intake vents and hot air exhaust vents. The processor transfers heat to the heat sink, which then transfers heat to the heat pipe, which then transfers heat to the radiators through which the fan blows air that extracts heat through the large surface area and expels it outside of the laptop. The fans pull cooling air through intake vents, and depending on that laptop, the cooling air path will help to directly cool components as it is pulled into the fan, or will not reach them. The processors, heat sink, pipe and radiator are typically represent the areas on a laptop with the highest temperatures. All of these components are located towards the back edge of the laptop, approximately at the center upper section of the keyboard.

Keeping the laptop intake vents open with access to fresh and cool air helps with cooling performance, while keeping the exhaust vents free of obstructions is essential for maintaining proper laptop function. Restricting hot air exhaust vents can quickly lead to higher temperatures, and sever restrictions of blacking the vents could result in hardware damage. Even placing an external fan that pulls heat from the laptop can cause damage if the fan is not pulling more exhaust air than would normally be discharged by the laptop’s internal fan, or if the external fan is stopped by the user or by a fan failure.

  • Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch Touch Bar 2019-2020 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Touch Bar 2016-2019 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Touch Bar 2016-2020 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch non-Touch Bar 2016-2019 cooling system
MacBook Pro 13/15/16-inch Touch Bar 2016-2020+ : The MacBook Pro Touch Bar generation includes two long cool air intake vents along the underside edge of the sides. The larger 16 and 15-inch versions include two hot air exhaust vents at either end of the underside back screen hinge. The 13-inch version also includes two exhaust vent along the underside back screen hinge, although, some entry level models include only a single exhaust vent along the underside back screen hinge. The SVALT Cooling Stand model S Pro has been optimized to provide the most powerful and quietest cooling solution for these laptops with the screen open or closed (clamshell mode), while the Cooling Dock new models D2 Pro, D1 Pro, and D have been optimized for closed screen (clamshell mode).


  • Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina 2012-2015 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina 2013-2015 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina 2012 cooling system
MacBook Pro 13/15-inch Retina 2012-2016 : The MacBook Pro Retina generation includes two shorter cool air intake vents along the underside edge of the sides, as well as an intake vent in the center portion of the underside back screen hinge. The larger 15-inch version includes two hot air exhaust vents at either end of the underside back screen hinge. The initial versions of the 13-inch included a two exhaust vents along underside back screen hinge, while the later versions included only a single exhaust vent along the underside back screen hinge. The SVALT Cooling Stand model S Pro has been optimized to provide the most powerful and quietest cooling solution for these laptops with the screen open, while the Cooling Dock original model D1 Legacy has been optimized for closed screen (clamshell mode).



  • Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch Unibody 2009-2011 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Unibody 2008-2012 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Unibody 2008-2012 cooling system
MacBook Pro 15/17-inch Unibody 2008-2012 : The MacBook Pro Unibody generation does not include intake vents along the side, and instead includes sections of intake vents along the underside back screen hinge. The location varies between models and configurations. The larger 17 and 15-inch versions typically include two hot air exhaust vents along underside back screen hinge, but the vent location varies between models and configurations. The 13-inch version includes a single exhaust vent along underside back screen hinge. The SVALT Cooling Stand model S Pro has been optimized to provide the most powerful and quietest cooling solution for these laptops with the screen open or closed (clamshell mode), while the Cooling Dock new models D2 Pro, D1 Pro, and D have been optimized for closed screen (clamshell mode).

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch Retina 2018-2020 cooling system MacBook Air 13-inch Retina 2018-2020 : The MacBook Air Retina generation does not include intake vents along the side, and instead includes a single intake vent at one end of the underside back screen hinge and a single exhaust vent at the other end of the underside back screen hinge. Unlike other air cooling laptops, the processor’s heat sink is not connected to a heat pipe, radiator and cooling fan. Instead the processor heat sink has cooling fins that transfer heat to internal airflow generated by the built-in cooling fan. The SVALT Cooling Stand model S Pro has been optimized to provide the most powerful and quietest cooling solution for these laptops with the screen open or closed (clamshell mode), while the Cooling Dock new models D2 Pro, D1 Pro, and D have been optimized for closed screen (clamshell mode).

  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2008-2015 cooling system
  • Apple MacBook Air 11-inch 2015-2018 cooling system
MacBook Air 11/13-inch 2008-2017 : The MacBook Air generation does not include intake vents along the side, and instead include a long intake vent running from the center to one end of the underside back screen hinge, and then a single exhaust vent at the other end of the underside back screen hinge. The SVALT Cooling Stand model S Pro has been optimized to provide the most powerful and quietest cooling solution for these laptops with the screen open, while the Cooling Dock original model D1 Legacy has been optimized for closed screen (clamshell mode).

Apple MacBook 12-inch Retina 2010-2015 cooling system MacBook 12-inch Retina 2015-2018 : The MacBook Retina generation lacks an internal built-in air cooling system and as a results relies only on the external aluminum enclosure to act as a heat sink for cooling. The SVALT Cooling Stand model S Pro has been optimized to provide the most powerful and quietest cooling solution for these laptops with the screen open or closed (clamshell mode), while the Cooling Dock new models D2 Pro, D1 Pro, and D have been optimized for closed screen (clamshell mode).

Apple Silicon Macs 2020+ : The new November 2020 Apple Silicon laptops are a very exciting and welcome addition to the Mac lineup. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon includes a single fan with exhaust vent along the underside back screen hinge, while the new 13-inch MacBook Air with Apple Silicon does not include an active air cooling system. Both of these models include the same M1 processor and the performance difference will depend on the system’s cooling capacity and management of Throttling. Apple Silicon processors are more efficient than equivalent Intel processors, which results in less power used to deliver equivalent performance. This extends battery life and reduces temperatures given the same battery and cooling system. Apple has reduced the built-in cooling systems within the new Apple Silicon laptops compared to the Intel versions and even eliminated the air cooling system from the MacBook Air. It is expected that the new laptops with Apple Silicon will have reduced heat generation, but that they will continue to generate significant heat when run hard for a longer duration and will therefore continue to benefit from supplemental cooling. The SVALT Cooling Stand model S Pro has been optimized to provide the most powerful and quietest cooling solution for these laptops with the screen open or closed (clamshell mode), while the Cooling Dock new models D2 Pro, D1 Pro, and D have been optimized for closed screen (clamshell mode).

SVALT is Cool by Design

The above represents some of the insights into cooling that SVALT uses to help create the world’s most effective cooling solutions; a creation process that begins by studying how laptops work and then uses that understanding to design products that help them perform at their best. SVALT products optimize the laptop’s built-in cooling systems (external aluminum enclosure heat sink and internal air cooling), and then add supplemental cooling to increase total cooling capacity and boost performance potential.

SVALT cooling comparison diagram by models Cooling Diagram : The diagram above provides an approximate overview of total potential cooling capabilities. The upper half of the diagram shows the approximate amount of supplemental cooling that a given SVALT model can potentially provide. The lower half of the diagram shows the approximate amount of heat potentially generated by the computer that will then need to be removed to avoid throttling and achieve optimal performance. In some instances the computer can be operated in different configurations, such as with a laptop screen open or closed in clamshell mode. These different configurations will decrease or increase the amount of heat within the computer, and therefore impact the overall cooling performance. For instance, while the Cooling Dock D2 Pro provide significant cooling power it also has more heat to remove with the screen closed in clamshell mode compared the Cooling Stand S Pro with the screen open.

You can deep dive into all of the ways SVALT obsesses over details to create the most extreme cooling performance solutions by going to the Cooling Stand product page, Cooling Dock product page, and Compare page.

Please contact us with any questions, feedback or general inquiries and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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