Apple's Rumored MacBook Air Successor Said to Use Intel's Kaby Lake Refresh Processors

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Apple is widely expected to launch a new lower-priced notebook later this year, likely with a 13-inch Retina display and a starting price below $1,000. It's unclear if it will be branded as a MacBook, MacBook Air, or otherwise, but it'll be a new lower-cost, lower-spec option below the MacBook Pro.


According to a translated report from Taiwanese publication Economic Daily News, the notebook will be powered by Intel's eighth-generation Kaby Lake Refresh processors, released in the second half of 2017.

The translated report suggests that Apple's decision to use the Kaby Lake Refresh processors, manufactured based on a 14nm process, is due to repeated delays with Intel's transition to Cannon Lake chips, based on a 10nm process. The latest word is that Cannon Lake won't be ready until the end of 2019.

The Kaby Lake Refresh lineup includes quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 processors with base clock speeds between 1.6GHz and 1.9GHz, and max Turbo Boost speeds between 3.4GHz and 4.2GHz. The 15W chips feature integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, with support for up to 32GB of DDR4 or LPDDR3 RAM.

This means Apple's lower-priced notebook would be significantly faster than the latest MacBook Air models, which is unsurprising, given they use Intel's fifth-generation, dual-core Core i5 and Core i7 processors released in 2015. It'd also be much faster than the 12-inch MacBook, which uses ultra-low-power chips.

Kaby Lake Refresh chips are already nearly one year old, and Intel will be releasing faster Whiskey Lake processors suitable for Apple's notebook in the second half of 2018, but they might not be ready in time, as manufacturing needs to begin over the summer for the notebook to launch in the fall.

It appears Apple will have a jam-packed September event, with a trio of new iPhones, Apple Watch Series 4 models, new AirPods, and AirPower, so the Mac and iPad Pro could see some attention at an October event.

It's not entirely clear how Apple will shake up its notebook lineup below the MacBook Pro. The new notebook could be the first MacBook Air with a Retina display, or replace the MacBook Air entirely, or slot into the MacBook family, with price adjustments across the line, but it all remains to be seen.

Apple's plans for the notebook have been detailed by reliable Apple sources Ming-Chi Kuo and Mark Gurman in recent months.

Beyond the mid-range notebook, an October event could see refreshes to the 12-inch MacBook lineup with Intel's upcoming low-power Amber Lake chips, a refreshed Mac mini with Kaby Lake Refresh chips, and new standard iMac models with faster processors and a significant display-related upgrade.

Article Link: Apple's Rumored MacBook Air Successor Said to Use Intel's Kaby Lake Refresh Processors
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2012
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It'll be interesting to see what they do here. If they drop all the ports and magsafe (which is expected) - it may be tough to find many buyers here, the CPU upgrade from Macbook may be enough though.
 
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tresmith

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Jul 25, 2014
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Something tells me the first version of this laptop is going to be fraught with issues.

(edit)

And by issues I don't necessarily mean of the technical kind.

I'm just thinking that an even thinner (cause Apple just can't help itself but to make things thinner) retina MBA for less than $1000 is going to be full of compromises and no telling what issues/problems those compromises will lead to.
 
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Relentless Power

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Jul 12, 2016
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Which is the most likely month of release?
They would likely have a separate Keynote from the iPhone, and if they did hold a MacBook/update, it would be October or November in all likeliness for 2018.
 
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leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
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I am sure they mean Whiskey Lake and not Kaby Lake R? Or maybe even Amber Lake for the MB refresh?
 

tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
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So these will wont be fanless like the Macbook, wonder how close to the form factor of the macbook they will be.
 

ghostface147

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May 28, 2008
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What'd be perfect for me is a non-Pro 15.6" MacBook and the four USB-C ports. Anything smaller isn't efficient for me, display wise. I use my current MacBook Pro for work (2011 17") and just use email, the web, RDP and occasionally a Windows VM for AS/400 work. Of course Apple isn't going to cater to me exclusively.
 

DNichter

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Apr 27, 2015
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Apple needs to move on from Intel, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the last Intel version of this machine. Drop the Air name, just roll with MacBook.
 
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zedsdead

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Jun 20, 2007
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I suspect it'll have Kaby Lake R in order to keep the price down ($999 is the goal)...Apple's main goal of a MacBook Air replacement will be cost so I suspect they won't wait for Whiskey Lake.

The Macbook is in a weird place of course, given the higher price point that still has not been reduced. I always felt a larger version like a 14" model of the Macbook would do well also.

But in general, Apple needs to differentiate and simplify the lines again. The "Macbook" naming screwed things up since in reality it was a rMBA for the future in philosophy but not cost. The current nTB MacBook Pro has similar components to the current AIR and is the successor in components.

It will be interesting to see if the nTB MacBook Pro simply becomes this new machine (feel like they would have to downgrade the screen a little bit to keep the costs down). Also, will there been any legacy ports at all (or even Thunderbolt 3 for that matter...they might just be standard USB-C ports like the Macbook).

Hopefully Apple will get its Mac lineup figured out finally.
 

Martius

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Jul 12, 2008
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I hope they will also introduce something a little bigger than 13". It would be really nice to have "portable" 15" laptop. I don't really need the MBP performance for webdevelopment, but I would like to have bigger screen with a little more performance than the basic MB, with optional eGPU and some reasonable price tag.