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Initial 2018 MacBook Air benchmarks show modest improvement over 2017 MacBook

Results posted to benchmarking service Geekbench this week purportedly show Apple's new MacBook Air outperforming last year's 12-inch MacBook with Intel Core i5 processor, but falling short of the same model equipped with a Core i7 CPU.

MacBook Air Benchmark

Supposed MacBook Air benchmark from Geekbench.


If numbers from Geekbench 4, posted to the service's Geekbench Browser on Wednesday, are legitimate, Apple's new thin-and-light is indeed powered by Intel's new Core i5-8210Y.

The chip was officially announced through Intel's ARK database this week shortly after Apple unveiled its MacBook Air refresh. Specifications provided by Intel and Apple detail a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 4MB of L3 cache, support for up to 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory and integrated UHD Graphics 617.

Performance metrics for the Y-series silicon have been unavailable, as the CPU remained under wraps until the MacBook Air reveal.

According to Geekbench, Apple's new Air clocks in with a single-core score of 4,248 and a multi-core score of 7,828. The single-core performance is roughly equivalent to an aggregate of scores reported for the 2017 12-inch MacBook with Core i7 clocked at 1.4GHz. MacBook Air's multi-core scores fall expectedly short of the i7, but are higher than those put in by Core i5 MacBooks.

Existing MacBook models rely on 7th generation Core i5 and i7 Kaby Lake technology — or Core m for base configurations — while the MacBook Air's i5 is an 8th generation Amber Lake chip. Both families are built on Intel's 14-nanometer process.

Apple is trading performance potential for efficiency by opting for Amber Lake, though the newly designed CPU and integrated GPU pairing is a step up from the Broadwell architecture currently used by the non-Retina display MacBook Air. Apple's 2015 MacBook Air models relied on 5th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 U-series processors.

Interestingly, Apple has opted to incorporate an "active cooling system" — a fan — in the latest MacBook Air iteration despite the Y-series' low 7 watt TDP. By comparison, the previous Air's Broadwell chips ran at 15W, configurable down to 9.5W.