Apple’s M1 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Goodbye, fan noise!

To some folks, fan noise really matters. If you do a podcast, you’ve no doubt spent some time finding and reducing as much noise as possible from your studio setup. And fans are subtle culprits.

In the video below, The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern does a fun job talking about the gift of silence we’ve all gotten with the powerful, fanless M1 MacBook Air.

But in this review, John Gruber makes the case that the new M1 MacBook Pro’s active cooling system is no slouch at silence:

Apple, in its keynote last week, emphasized that the M1 MacBook Air has no fan. (Intel-based MacBook Airs most definitely do. The defunct 12-inch no-adjective MacBook was Apple’s only fanless Intel Mac.) Apple’s point there was to brag that the M1 runs so cool that a high-performance MacBook could be designed without one. Some Mac users, I think, mistakenly took this to mean that the Air had an advantage over the M1 MacBook Pro, in that the fanless Air would always run silently, if sometimes slower. I think this assumption was wrong: the M1 MacBook Pro is, to my ears, always silent as well. Whatever its active cooling system is doing, it isn’t making even a whisper of noise.

This is a point worth noting. The lack of a fan definitely pushed me towards the MacBook Air. The lower cost and smaller size also brought value, so no regrets, but I think Gruber’s point is well taken. The MacBook Pro can run silent, even if you push it.