Macbook Air M3 loses 50% performance in ‘clamshell’ mode – but there is one expensive solution

Two computer monitors displaying skull and crossbones symbols, indicating a security threat or piracy, with a MacBook Air M3 in clamshell mode in front.

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Apple’s launch of its high-powered MacBook Air M3 predictably brought a ton of fanfare. After all, the world-renowned tech company designed it with the mighty M3 chip, previously only available on the wieldy and relatively more expensive MacBook Pro. Now, more often than not, you’ll likely be using the Apple laptop on the go since its compact size and weight makes it ideal for professionals who constantly travel. However, those who work from home and prefer a larger display can also use it with a convenient dual monitor setup. Unfortunately, that’s where this robust laptop also exhibits its biggest weakness.

According to YouTube channel Max Tech, the MacBook Air M3 loses over 50% of its performance in ‘clamshell’ mode. For those unfamiliar, this mode is when you close your laptop completely but can still use it when connected to a display. Based on the stress tests they conducted, the laptop’s lowest loop score fell from 5,916 while open to 4,198 while closed, meaning if you prefer using dual monitors with your M3, you will inevitably see much more drastic performance issues and slowdowns. Luckily, Max Tech did provide a solution to this problem, though it might not be practical for some.

MacBook Air M3 ‘clamshell’ performance requires an expensive solution

The culprit for the M3’s drastic performance loss is likely due to its nonoptimal fan-less design, which is only exacerbated when the laptop is in ‘clamshell’ mode. Now, Max Tech, as mentioned before, did provide an ideal solution for this problem, though it will set you back nearly $300. Using the SVALT Cooling Dock, the MacBook Air M3’s performance, while closed, jumps up to a whopping 7,628. That’s only a 4% difference with the more powerful MacBook Pro, making it a must-have for anyone who prefers working with a bigger display.

Of course, its premium price tag of $279 makes it less than ideal for those who want an affordable solution. But since it provides an immediate fix to its clamshell mode performance issues, this makes it a savvy investment in the short and long term. Of course, if you aren’t convinced of this laptop’s capabilities, have a look at our comprehensive MacBook Air M3 review round-up. This should at least give you some idea of how Apple’s latest release compares to its predecessors.

Nico is a Tech News Writer for PC Guide. He is also adept at finding a good deal every now and then, stemming from his days penny-pinching as a broke college kid.