New Apple MacBook Air refresh could finally add 10th-gen Intel CPUs later in 2019

MacBook Air 2019
(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s MacBook Air, which was refreshed not so long ago in July, will be updated again before the year is out, with a beefier processor being introduced according to a new rumor.

This comes from analyst firm IHS Markit, which told Forbes that the MacBook Air will receive another update in 2019, without offering any details on what will be introduced save for the fact that the new model will come with a 10th-gen Intel processor.

The previous July refresh added True Tone technology to the MacBook Air’s Retina display (to automatically modify the color temperature for a more comfortable viewing experience – and more natural colors), as well as giving the entry-level model a price cut.

In our MacBook Air 2019 review, we noted that True Tone was a useful addition, although not hugely compelling, and we were more concerned about the refreshed MacBook Air being hampered by sticking with the dual-core Intel Core i5-8210Y processor, which leaves the machine feeling “underpowered and overpriced” (despite that price cut).

As we further noted in our review, it seemed odd that Apple didn’t hold off this refresh until it could get one of Intel’s new quad-core mobile chips in the MacBook Air, but according to this speculation, that’s exactly what’s about to happen.

What’s in a name?

IHS Markit believes that the new MacBook Air will run with an Amber Lake processor, and this is where matters get slightly confusing thanks to Intel’s convoluted and frankly at times incomprehensible naming conventions.

In fact, it seems that the new processor will be one of Intel’s freshly-revealed Comet Lake models, 10th-gen CPUs which will be headed up by the quad-core Intel Core i7-10510Y in the Y series (ultra-low-power and highly efficient mobile chips).

The confusion on IHS Markit’s part seemingly arose due to the fact that these 10th-gen Y series chips are actually referred to as ‘products formerly Amber Lake Y’ in Intel’s processor product specifications database – as are some 8000 series chips. Why are they labelled like that? That’s anyone’s guess, although it does seem that Intel is wilfully – and mystifyingly – obtuse with these names at times.

Anyway, Intel actually confirmed to Forbes that the aforementioned Core i7-10510Y is indeed a Comet Lake chip, and we don’t really have to worry about the name too much. The point is that the allegedly incoming MacBook Air will have a 10th-gen quad-core CPU – it’s not clear which one, mind – to drive a much-needed leap forward on the performance front.

If the analyst firm is on the money, of course, but let’s hope this is the case, as it will remedy the biggest issue we have with 2019’s refreshed MacBook Air.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).