Apple's New MacBook Air Uses MacBook-Class Amber Lake Chip [Updated]

Apple's newly upgraded MacBook Air is equipped with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, a chip configuration that does not match any of the 8th-generation chips that Intel has announced to date.

Intel, in fact, lists only a single 1.3GHz dual-core processor in ARK, which does not line up with the chip Apple is using in the MacBook Air.

macbookair
Instead, Apple appears to be using an unannounced Intel chip that, according to AnandTech, is part of the 5W Y-Series Amber Lake chips. Intel announced these Amber Lake chips, traditionally used in the MacBook, back in August.

And while the company never names the specific processor models they use, the specifications here - 3.6GHz turbo with Intel UHD Graphics 617 - do not match any known Intel chip, even when factoring in various cTDP options. We've heard rumors of Intel putting together a Core i5-8210Y, and we've reached out to Intel to try to confirm.

Historically, Apple has used 15W U-series chips in its MacBook Air upgrades, but power wise, this will put the new MacBook Air on par with any future MacBook upgrades that also use Intel's Amber Lake chips.

Though the MacBook Air is now using a lower power Y-series chip, because the previous-generation MacBook Air was still equipped with a Broadwell chip, the new model is still going to see significant performance improvements. Unfortunately, the performance gain isn't going to be as impressive as it would have been had Apple stuck with U-series chips.

Using a 5W chip has allowed Apple to significantly cut down on power consumption, which explains why the MacBook Air has the longest battery life out of any of Apple's notebooks.

The new machine offers up to 12 hours of battery life when web browsing and 13 hours when watching iTunes movie playback, which is two hours more battery life for web browsing and one to three hours more when watching movies compared to the MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Apple is only offering a single processor for the MacBook Air, and there are no build-to-order options to upgrade it to a faster speed.

Using a MacBook-class chip in the MacBook Air makes some sense if Apple plans to keep the MacBook in its lineup. With the MacBook Air's slimmer bezels and new Retina display, there's not a lot separating it from the 12-inch MacBook. If it also used U-series chips, it would outperform future MacBook models, and it would make little sense to purchase a MacBook.

This way, the MacBook Air offers a Retina display, MacBook-class performance, and a slimmer body, while the MacBook retains its position as Apple's thinnest, lightest machine, presumably with faster Y-series chips once an upgrade is released.

Apple's revamped MacBook Air can be purchased from the online Apple Store for $1,199, $100 cheaper than the MacBook, but $200 more expensive than the previous-generation MacBook Air.

Update: Intel has added the new MacBook Air chip to its ARK database. As AnandTech guessed, the MacBook Air is using a Core i5-8210Y Amber Lake Y processor, but at 7W, not 5W.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

sniffies Avatar
53 months ago
I'm still baffled by their decision to keep using the Air brand

The lineup and its naming has become a huge ugly mess

Could've been so much simpler and so much more streamlined:

Mac - Mac Pro
iMac - iMac Pro
MacBook - MacBook Pro
iPad - iPad Pro
iPhone - iPhone Pro

Air is a freakin' monkey wrench

Don't even get me started on XS Max


What are they thinking????
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lesser Evets Avatar
53 months ago
That "sub $1000" rumor dried up and blew away like dead, autumnal weeds.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pearple Avatar
53 months ago
They could have called it MacBook Air Professional 64 Bit Corporate Edition Volume license.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThunderSkunk Avatar
53 months ago
So, big surprise: less features, less horsepower, for more money.

Ok so business as usual then.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mprime_17 Avatar
53 months ago
This is a new macbook, not a new AIR.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oldmacs Avatar
53 months ago
Wow so to thin the bloody thing down and keep the battery life they had to sacrifice performance?

Would have been a killer machine if they'd just kept the old enclosure and updated it accordingly.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Black Friday Deals 2022 Blue

All the Apple Black Friday Deals You Can Get Right Now: AirPods, Apple TV, Mac, iPad, and More

Saturday November 19, 2022 8:00 am PST by
Last week was jam-packed with early Black Friday deals, and now that the shopping holiday is right around the corner, we're going back through all of the best sales you might have missed over the past week and updating as prices change and new deals arrive. As with all holiday shopping, there's no guarantee that better prices won't come around later in the season, but if you want to shop early,...
iphone 14 pro hands snowflakes 1

Best Black Friday iPhone Deals Available Today

Wednesday November 23, 2022 1:55 pm PST by
Cellular carriers have always offered big savings on the newest iPhone models during the holidays, and Black Friday 2022 is no different. Right now we're tracking notable offers on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro devices from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For even more savings, keep an eye on older models like the iPhone 13. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors....
new airpods lineup black friday

Best Black Friday AirPods Deals Available Today

Tuesday November 22, 2022 10:01 am PST by
Although we've been tracking Black Friday deals for a few weeks now, the shopping holiday is officially kicking off this week and we're highlighting the best sales for each of Apple's product lines. In this article, you'll find the best Black Friday sales on AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods Pro 2, and AirPods Max. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors....
Walmart November Deals Hero 2

Walmart Reveals Black Friday Plans With Week-Long Sales Starting Today

Monday November 21, 2022 8:35 am PST by
Retailers have been waiting longer and longer to reveal their specific plans for the week of Black Friday, now that the shopping event begins as early as October and most companies focus on "early Black Friday" deals first. Today, we've finally got more information from Walmart and all the official Black Friday discounts you can expect to shop this week. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner ...
Best Buy November Deals Hero

Best Buy Reveals Black Friday Plans With Sitewide Sales Available Now

Tuesday November 22, 2022 3:49 pm PST by
Following in the footsteps of Target and Walmart, Best Buy this week detailed its plans for the Black Friday shopping holiday and its schedule looks a lot like other retailers. In terms of sales, Best Buy has the expected list of TVs, appliances, video games, computers, streaming devices, and more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a...
apple watch gold ornaments

Best Black Friday Apple Watch Deals Available Today

Wednesday November 23, 2022 9:31 am PST by
We're tracking all of the best Apple product discounts for Black Friday this week, and the Apple Watch always makes a great gift around the holiday season, so you're guaranteed to find solid discounts right now. In this article, you'll discover the best Black Friday sales on Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these...
apple wallet drivers license feature

These U.S. States Will Let You Add Your Driver's License to Your iPhone

Tuesday November 22, 2022 1:42 pm PST by
Earlier this year, Apple launched a feature allowing residents of participating U.S. states to add their driver's license or state ID to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, providing a convenient and contactless way to display proof of identity or age. As we wait for IDs in the Wallet app to expand to additional U.S. states, here is everything you need to know about how the feature ...