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

(View all)
Avatar
19 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)
Avatar
19 months ago
That "sub $1000" rumor dried up and blew away like dead, autumnal weeds.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
19 months ago
They could have called it MacBook Air Professional 64 Bit Corporate Edition Volume license.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
19 months ago
So, big surprise: less features, less horsepower, for more money.

Ok so business as usual then.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
19 months ago
This is a new macbook, not a new AIR.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
19 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)

Top Stories

Apple Acquires Weather App Dark Sky

Tuesday March 31, 2020 10:22 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has acquired weather app Dark Sky, Dark Sky's developers announced today. Dark Sky is one of the most popular weather apps on the App Store, known for its accuracy and storm warnings. Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy. There is no ...

Zoom Accused of Misleading Users With 'End-to-End Encryption' Claims Amid Other Security Issues [Updated]

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:47 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Zoom is facing fresh scrutiny today following a report that the videoconferencing app's encryption claims are misleading. Zoom states on its website and in its security white paper that the app supports end-to-end encryption, a term that refers to a way of protecting user content so that the company has no access to it whatsoever. However, an investigation by The Intercept reveals that...

Case for Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Shows Up at Best Buy With Alleged April 5 Stock Date

Monday March 30, 2020 4:25 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has a new low-cost iPhone in the works, which is supposed to be launching sometime in the first half of 2020. Given the ongoing situation in the United States and other countries, it's been unclear if the device is going to launch within the planned timeline, but there are signs that it could be coming soon. We started seeing cases for the new low-cost iPhone back in early February,...

Bloomberg: Apple's 5G iPhone Still on Schedule for Fall Launch, But Future Products Could Be Delayed

Monday March 30, 2020 2:40 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple's 5G iPhone is still on track to launch within the company's typical annual fall release schedule, according to a new Bloomberg report on filed on Monday. Signs are that Apple's Chinese-centric manufacturing -- of which Hon Hai is the linchpin -- is slowly getting back on track. The next iPhones with 5G wireless capabilities remain on schedule to launch in the fall, partly because mass...

Testing Brydge's New Pro+ Keyboard With Trackpad for iPad Pro

Monday March 30, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Well ahead of when Apple introduced trackpad support in iOS 13.4, Brydge announced an iPad Pro keyboard with a built-in multi-touch trackpad. We have one of Brydge's new Pro+ keyboards on hand, and thought we'd check it out to see how it works with Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The Brydge Pro+ keyboard is similar in design to...

Apple's Work on New Upcoming Products Progressing Normally as Employees Adjust to Telecommuting

Monday March 30, 2020 11:58 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's development of upcoming products is progressing as usual despite the fact that Apple employees around the world are working from home, according to a new report today out from Bloomberg. Apple is still working on new versions of the HomePod, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMac, all of which could be released "as early as later this year" and have been...

Apple Releases ProRes RAW Beta for Windows

Monday March 30, 2020 9:33 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released ProRes RAW for Windows in a beta capacity (via Mark Gurman), with the software designed to allow ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ video files to be watched in compatible applications on Windows machines. According to Apple, the software will let the files be played within several Adobe apps: Adobe After Effects (Beta) Adobe Media Encocder (Beta) Adobe Premiere...

Apple Configurator 2 Updated With New Features, Including Support for Restoring Firmware on 2019 Mac Pro

Tuesday March 31, 2020 5:34 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple Configurator 2 has been updated to version 2.12 with several improvements, including support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro. The release notes:• Added support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro • Allow access to websites using TLS 1.0 and 1.1 • VPN: Configure Provider Designated Requirement for Custom SSL connection type • VPN: Configure network options for ...

Seemingly Unreleased Version of Logic Pro X With Live Loops Appears on Apple's Education Site [Updated]

Sunday March 29, 2020 7:23 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
Update: Apple has replaced the Logic Pro X image with an older version. Original story follows. A seemingly unreleased version of Logic Pro X has appeared on Apple's education site, as spotted by a Reddit user. The image from Apple's education products page shows a 16-inch MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X, but with a familiar interface that looks extremely similar to GarageBand's Live Loops ...

Apple's 2020 MacBook Air vs. 2020 iPad Pro

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:45 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple in March updated both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro, and with the iPad Pro increasingly positioned as a computer replacement, we thought we'd compare both new machines to see how they measure up and which one might be a better buy depending on user needs. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We're comparing the base model 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the base model...