Rumor: Apple to update current MacBook Air models with new CPUs next week [u]

in Current Mac Hardware edited May 2014
Apple's existing designs for the 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air will allegedly see a refresh next week, likely with newer and faster Intel processors, according to a new report.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air was last updated in June of 2013 at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference. But new models may be in the works for next week, potentially dropping on Tuesday, according to MacGeneration.

The French site suggested that Apple will issue a speed bump with the new models, and could also offer new storage options. Given the latest chips available from Intel, it's likely that the refresh will amount to a small speed bump compared to current offerings, with new CPUs clocked at between 1.4 gigahertz and 1.5 gigahertz.

Those CPUs would remain with Intel's "Haswell" architecture, as chips featuring the company's next-generation "Broadwell" design are not scheduled to arrive until the second half of 2014.

As further potential evidence of an impending refresh, a number of MacBook Air resellers are currently out of stock of a number of models. Stock-outs through third-party channels are usually an early indicator of new models.

Current availability can be seen in the AppleInsider Mac Price Guide, included below:

Apparently not on tap for next week, however. is the completely redesigned 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display, said to remain in Apple's pipeline. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities expects that product to debut later this year.

Also on tap for 2014, according to Kuo, is a new iMac refresh, potentially with a lower-priced model that could help Apple compete with other all-in-one desktop models from HP and Lenovo. Kuo also believes that a new MacBook Pro with Retina display will arrive later this year.

Last June, the MacBook Air lineup gained all-day battery life thanks to Intel's ultra-low-voltage Haswell chips, providing up to 9 hours of uptime on the 11-inch model, and a whopping 12 hours on the 13-inch variety. Apple also added faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi to its redesigned 2013 models.

Update: A photo of what appears to be retail packaging for the upcoming MacBook Air corroborates previous rumors that Apple's thin-and-light update will receive only a minor spec bump in processor speed.

As seen in the photo above from 9to5Mac, the 13-inch model will apparently sport a dual-core 1.4GHz Core i5 chip with Turbo Boost topping out at 2.7GHz. This compares to the current MacBook Air, which is powered by a dual-core 1.3GHz Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz. The box description also shows the latest Air will retain the same chassis size, storage options and screen resolution as existing models.

According to Intel's roadmap, the 13-inch MacBook Air looks to carry the Core i5-4260U processor launched in the second quarter of 2014. The 11-inch version is expected to receive the same treatment, though the CPU may be underclocked for additional power savings. A faster Core i7 variant will likely be on offer as a build-to-order option.


  • Reply 1 of 66
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,613member

    Just a CPU refresh? I want my 12"/13" Retina MacBook Air!!!!

  • Reply 2 of 66
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 575member

    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


    Just a CPU refresh? I want my 12"/13" Retina MacBook Air!!!!

    If they offer a Retina MBA, it will at the beginning probably be optional. But it would be one hell of a machine!

  • Reply 3 of 66
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    I'm interested to see how aggressively Apple prices the 12" Retina model when it's released, and if it is 16:10. I don't think 16:9 makes much sense on a 12" laptop. It might potentially look cooler, but to me 16:9 only makes sense with big desktop monitors

    At circa 15" or smaller size you lose too much valuable vertical height when you go fully widescreen.

    I'd love to see Apple kill off the current MacBook Air entirely and move to a 12" Retina model and a 14" Retina Air Pro type model. The latter model would really be ideal for someone like me, and I'd bet many other people too. And then perhaps kill off the MacBook Pro lineup as well and release a thinner 16" model as the pro portable.

    12", 14" and 16" makes more sense to me. 1" bigger than each of the current models, and even thinner.

    This won't happen, but it would satisfy me very much if I did. And just brand them as MacBook Air with no Retina in the name (but shout about Retina during the keynote and on its webpage). And brand the 16" model as MacBook Pro.

    To me this would simplify and clarify Apple's notebook lineup, and would prove a more suitable lineup too. If thin and light enough I'd bet you'd find even more "pros" choosing the 16" model than chose the 15" model in the past. The 12" model would sell better than the 11" if priced aggressively. And I'd certainly move up an inch to the 14" model. I think 14" if really thin is probably the sweet spot size for an all-rounder notebook.
  • Reply 4 of 66
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,228member
    According to other sites the broadwell GPU is going to be 40% faster than HD5000. I am looking for a laptop but I find current ones to lack GPU power. Some the retina pro models have the 750m but they are way to expensive.
  • Reply 5 of 66
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    A small spec bump to those models doesn't completely negate the possibility of the 12" Retina model.....But it does indicate that the 12" won't replace them, and certainly won't be priced aggressively (read: expensive).

  • Reply 6 of 66
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    If the rumors of a retina fanless device are true I would imagine Apple would announce it at WWDC or some other event. Announce new things at WWDC not spec bumps on existing products.
  • Reply 7 of 66
    I think you are right about moving to those sizes. The 13 and 15 inch MacBook Pro retina are both too small. Hopefully once the initial ramp up of screen production for the new iPhones has settled down Apple will be able to find enough screens of these sizes to make that work. I suspect the current manufacturers make screens that are more easily divided into 11, 13, and 15 inch screens. Apple has the necessary Capital to make something like this happen even if it required retooling some manufacturing plants.

    Apple has to plan 3 years ahead to get the supply chain ready for their demand. This is obviously why it took the so long to match Samsung on phone sizes. Samsung controls the high end screen manufacturing market and Apple couldn't just go out and buy 50 million high quality screens for the iPhone 5. They had to literally build the factory's to match Samsung.

    Another issue for Apple is making the whole device work well with the bigger screen. The A8 chip will be better able to handle the larger graphics needed for the new careen sizes. Ditto getting iOS 8 ready, and finding a better balance of battery screen, size, and recharge cycles. A better battery could bring Apple to a 2 day charge for your phone. This would extend the life of the battery too. Apple gains market share when their old phones get handed down to children and resold for lower price points. This is really how they compete with Androids lower prices.
  • Reply 8 of 66
    inklinginkling Posts: 758member
    A modestly faster CPU is OK, but even my seven-year-old MacBook has enough moxie for what I use a laptop for. Of more interest would be a boost in the standard RAM from 4 Gig to 8 Gig. That extra $100 is far too much to pay for what's likely to soon be the necessary.

    Rumors are feeding high expectation for the next MBA, along with delayed purchasing. If Apple delivers a radically improved MBA, they'll have a runaway bestseller on their hands. If not, some will wait another year or two.
  • Reply 9 of 66
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,128member
    Quite so.

    only 4GB standard in a non upgradable machine is appalling.

    I was actually going to buy an 11 inch model on special last week, but turned out it was standard models only. And to get 8GB I had to BTO.

    So no sale.
  • Reply 10 of 66
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,742member

    And still, no update to the mini...  :(

  • Reply 11 of 66
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member

    4 gig of RAM for the entry-level model of MBA is plenty for most people/most tasks.  But I agree that going to 8 gig for all but the lowest-price model would be an excellent move, and probably more noticable than the CPU speed bump.


    I do hope we get some juicy MBA announcements in June.  I'm itching to get a new one.  My current 13" is working great for me, but I need more internal storage and wouldn't mind some new wow factor.

  • Reply 12 of 66
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,779member

    It would be better to offer a 12" iPad instead…MBA is worthless IMO. Lower the price of the 13" Retina MBP to Air prices and offer a 12" iPad for travel needs. 


    Why not update the Mac mini instead of this next gen netbook. You know, something that actually needs an update. 

  • Reply 13 of 66
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member
    Small spec bump now, full broadwell refresh in the fall. Makes sense, and they've done this sort of thing before. Nice when Apple realizes that selling year old tech at today's price is kind of a ripoff.
  • Reply 14 of 66
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    Keep in mind that this would count as a "new and exciting product," as mentioned by Cook in the last 532 conference calls.

    If everyone is waiting for the holodeck, it ain't gonna happen. It's going to be a slew of CPU speed updates that Cook can go back in time to prove that his company did do what he'd say he'd do in the previous call.

    "Don't you think this NEW MacBook Air is new and exciting (compared to the last MacBook Air)?! It is new, right? Is it exciting, right? Right? RIGHT??!!"
  • Reply 15 of 66
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,381member
    Nice. My bro was just about the buy a Macbook Air, told him to hold off just a bit. They're due for an update- even if it's a small one-, it's been since June.
  • Reply 16 of 66
    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post

    Keep in mind that this would count as a "new and exciting product," as mentioned by Cook in the last 532 conference calls.

    If everyone is waiting for the holodeck, it ain't gonna happen. It's going to be a slew of CPU speed updates that Cook can go back in time to prove that his company did do what he'd say he'd do in the previous call.

    "Don't you think this NEW MacBook Air is new and exciting (compared to the last MacBook Air)?! It is new, right? Is it exciting, right? Right? RIGHT??!!"


    Tim Cook said "new and exciting product categories" This wouldn't count as one. That sort of nullifies your whole argument. See the link underneath for what he actually said.


    Apple hints at 'exciting new product categories'

  • Reply 17 of 66
    Still waiting on a touch screen. Why? Because I develop iOS apps and there is no easy way to test them properly without hooking up an iOS device. That is a bit of a pain when I am on the road.
  • Reply 18 of 66
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,264member
    I don't see the MBA being in competition with the iPad at all. If you need to type and push a cursor around a big screen there is no computer on earth that provides a better ergonomic experience than the MacBook Air. Using an Air on your lap with you feet elevated is pure pleasure. Even the lightest MacBook Pro is still not quite where the Air is at from an ergonomic standpoint. The thinness of the Air really makes a difference - for me. If there's one thing that no other computer company has been able to copy or steal from Apple it's the amazing quality and responsiveness of the Apple trackpad + keyboard combo. I have a mid-2011 MBA i7 13" with "only" 4GB of RAM and 256 GB storage and it presents absolutely no problems and entails no sacrifices. I love it as much today as I did the day I brought it home. It's simply a wonderful machine. Would a Retina version make a huge difference to me? Not really. The Retina displays are awesome, but they're still an incremental improvement over a sufficiently capable non-Retina display. Maybe if I was 17 years old and could handle the Retina at its native pixel based resolution I'd feel differently, but the native resolution of the MBA 13 is damn good as it is. I also have a 13" MBP with Retina so I'm not trying to justify keeping the MBA. If they can get the Retina on the MBA without sacrificing weight or battery life or price that will be a nice perk, but not having Retina is not a showstopper by any means. Unless you really need massive computational power and storage to get your job or hobby done the Air is probably the one computer that best fits the computing needs of the most number of humans on the planet. Yeah, I know all of you are going to say that you really need to run 6 instances of PhotoShop and 3 instances of AutoCAD on your laptop, because you're really into taking pictures of your cat and designing knickknack shelves for your bowling trophies, but the other 99.9 percent of the population that don't give a rip about giga and tera geekdom would be thrilled to have what the Air delivers to their perfectly positioned and comfortably resting fingertips that glide across the MacBook Air human interaction surface. Touch? Maybe, if you don't mind staring at smudges and fingerprints.

    Get the full power of a Pro into the Air form factor with zero sacrifices, now that's a meaningful target for Apple to shoot for. Until then, the Air really has no equal.
  • Reply 19 of 66
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member
    Originally Posted by GrangerFX View Post

    Still waiting on a touch screen. Why? Because I develop iOS apps and there is no easy way to test them properly without hooking up an iOS device.


    Never. Going. To. Happen. Buy an iOS device, for heaven’s sake, if you actually care about development! The development software doesn’t emulate device RAM, so even with a touchscreen you wouldn’t have anything remotely resembling an accurate test.

  • Reply 20 of 66
    kevtkevt Posts: 195member

    Good to hear Apple is updating this. It's not so much the speed bump that interests me, it's whether Apple have sorted the WiFi disconnect issue that many are still experiencing  despite "updates".  9 months and no fix.

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