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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.


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)


Top Rated Comments

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3 weeks 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????
Rating: 34 Votes
3 weeks ago
That "sub $1000" rumor dried up and blew away like dead, autumnal weeds.
Rating: 31 Votes
3 weeks ago
They could have called it MacBook Air Professional 64 Bit Corporate Edition Volume license.
Rating: 26 Votes
3 weeks ago
So, big surprise: less features, less horsepower, for more money.

Ok so business as usual then.
Rating: 16 Votes
3 weeks ago
This is a new macbook, not a new AIR.
Rating: 15 Votes
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 12 Votes
3 weeks ago
I’d be curious to know if this was Apple’s laptop roadmap all along or if the rMB/non Touch Bar rMBP were supposed to replace the Air but customers weren’t biting so it forced Apple to update the Air? I mean there’s nothing radical in the re-design of the Air. Certainly not anything that couldn’t have been done 2-3 years ago. Would love the real story on this.
Rating: 11 Votes
3 weeks ago
Performance to price ratio terrible. 2 core CPU while latest Zenbooks have similar form factor and base on Intel Whiskey Lake platform with 4 core CPUs like i5-8265. Video hardware decoding on famous T2 chip. Seriously Voodoo accelerator or DVD hardware decoding card in late 2018?
Rating: 10 Votes
3 weeks ago
CORPORATE GREED !!

This chip is useless other than web browsing and think and iPad Pro can run circles around it. My MacBook Air is an i7, 2.2 which is really fast compared to this and bought it years ago !!
Rating: 9 Votes
3 weeks ago
They should discontinue 12 inch MacBook. It was never a good size at first place.
Rating: 9 Votes

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