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A MacBook air would work very well for me functionally. However I expect that I may have to use it in a hot and dusty environment. Any idea how badly the cooling system would be affected by prolonged exposure to dust?

I took a look at the teardown done by iFixit and there is a single CPU fan. Would it be easy to clean this fan if required? and how likely are the air passageways to get clogged by dust?

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Dusty as…how dusty and what type of dust? This is very "hard to answer". – Martín Marconcini Mar 14 '11 at 16:57
I was thinking of coastal Southern India where summer temperatures are routinely in the high 90s with over 90 % relative humidity. There is a lot of particulate pollution in the air from diesel and two stroke engines. – Rangachari Anand Mar 14 '11 at 22:24
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I do not know about the dust (as a comment asked, it really depends on the amount and type of dust), but I would definitely not recommend using your MacBook Air as if it were heat resistant. Specific computers are assembled for warm (and damp) climates: if your MacBook Air, as I suppose, is not one of them, I would recommend that you do not take that risk unnecessarily, hoping for the best. Laptops can get damaged by lesser threats than prolonged exposure to heat, which is a serious one.

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According to the Apple specs page, you can use the Air in up to 95*F (35*C) temperatures, and up to 90% humidity. – Nathan Greenstein Mar 14 '11 at 19:50
Thanks for this pointer. Please see my notes above regarding the expected conditions. – Rangachari Anand Mar 14 '11 at 22:25
Thanks to both. The described climate seems so close to the upper limit of the MacBook Air that I would not recommend using it in these circumstances. – Fr. Mar 15 '11 at 1:21

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