I have a work-issued MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) running macOS Catalina, and it's not usable as a laptop, because it runs too hot, making it impossible to hold on the lap for any significant amount of time.
There's nothing in System Preferences to address the problem; I know it has very powerful fans, but they are generally turned very low and are inaudible, and there doesn't appear to be any free software that would automatically control said fans to attain a desired thermal profile (e.g., maybe 35degC or lower) to make it usable as a laptop on a lap. This is confirmed by third-party reviews as well, as Notebook Check shows that it can run as hot as 42 degC on surface, when the ambient temperature is merely 19 degC, which possibly means mine's running at maybe 45 degC at 23 degC ambient, which is surely not comfortable.
It is my understanding that the new Apple silicon M1 Chip are supposed to be much more energy efficient than the older processors; however, it's also the case that MacBook Air no longer has a fan in the newest iteration.
Are the new M1-based MacBooks finally usable as actual laptops, to keep on the lap for an extended period of time? (Or is there any free software for MBP 16" to reign in the thermal envelope?) And why doesn't Apple offer any "laptop mode" options for its laptops, to automatically spin up the fans if the temps get uncomfortable for keeping on the lap? Windows has software like SpeedFan that does that easily.