When Apple unveiled the 2018 MacBook Air this week, the company announced it would be powered by a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor… but the company didn’t say which processor.
Now we know. The thin and light laptop is the first device to ship with the previously unannounced Intel Core i5-8210Y processor.
That’s a low-power processor that’s in the same “Amber Lake” family as some of the 5 watt chips Intel introduced this summer. But with a 7 watt TDP rather than 5 watts, it should offer somewhat better performance in some situations when compared with the similarly-priced Core i5-8200Y.
The Core i5-8210Y has a higher base frequency (1.6 GHz vs 1.3 GHz), but a lower max turbo frequency (3.6 GHz vs 3.9 GHz).
It’s unclear what that will mean in terms of real-world performance, but Apple is promising long battery life: the company says you should be able to use the new MacBook Air for up to 12 hours while web surfing, or up to 13 hours while playing iTunes movies. I’d normally take battery life estimates from a manufacturer with a grain of salt, but Apple actually has a pretty good track record for offering realistic estimates.
Apple’s previous-gen Macbook Air laptops featured 15 watt Intel U-series processors. But last year’s model used a nearly 4 year old Core i5-5350U Broadwell processor, so it’s likely that the new Amber Lake chip will offer better performance for at least some tasks, despite consuming less power.
That said, it’s still interesting to see Apple using a low-power Y-series chip for a notebook that sells for $1,199 and up. Or at least it wouldn’t be Apple’s MacBook with a 7th-gen Intel Core M3 processor didn’t have a starting price of $1,299.
At least the new MacBook Air has an 8th-gen Intel chip.