Is the New MacBook Air Faster Than the 12″ MacBook or MacBook Pro?

2018 Macbook Air Credit: The Quint / Tushar Kanwar
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We may be getting our first glimpse at the 2018 MacBook Air’s performance, thanks to new benchmarks that surfaced on Geekbench Friday.

The Geekbench data, if it turns out to be genuine, indicates that some of the new refreshed MacBook Air models run on Intel’s 8th-generation Amber Lake processors. Specifically, a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8210Y chipset.

New MacBook Air Score

Benchmarking stats indicate that a new MacBook Air model, equipped with the Amber Lake chip and 16GB of RAM, clocked a single-core score of 4248 and a multi-core score of 7828.

Last-Gen MacBook Air Score

As you probably expected, this is a significant improvement over the previous-generation MacBook Air — which packed a 1.8GHz Broadwell processor that scored single-core stats of 3335 and multi-core stats of 6119.

12″ MacBook Score

Interestingly, the 2018 MacBook Air is also incrementally faster than last year’s MacBook models despite being less expensive. The fastest available processor for the 12-inch notebook earned a single-core score of 3925 and a multi-core score of 7567.

Despite its improvements over the previous MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook, the refreshed 2018 notebook is still not a MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro Performance Score

The slowest base MacBook Pro model that Apple still sells, the 13-inch model without Touch Bar, clocked in with a Geekbench single-core score of 4314 and a multi-core score of 9071,which beats out all of the other models.

That’s largely because the new MacBook Air models are running on a lower-power Y-series chipset, similar to the low-power processors installed in current MacBook models.

Interestingly, low-power chips are used in the 12-inch notebook because of its thermal architecture and the lack of an “active cooling system” — also known as a fan. The 2018 MacBook Air, on the other hand, has a fan despite using a low-power chip.


While the benchmark stats aren’t necessarily indicative of how new MacBook Air models will perform in the wild, they do make sense.

The MacBook Air’s performance nestles right in between the 12-inch MacBook and the 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar.

That makes sense, given its form and function. It makes less sense when you consider that the 12-inch MacBook costs $100 more. At this point, without any refresh in sight, there’s little reason to buy a 12-inch MacBook unless users prioritize portability more than anything else.

On the other hand, previous rumors did point toward a 2018 MacBook refresh that could also sport Intel’s new Amber Lake processors. That would put the smaller notebooks on a more equal footing with the MacBook Air.

Like the 2018 MacBook Pros, Apple could debut new MacBook models via press release. But it remains to be seen is whether the 12-inch notebook will retain its price point or be bumped into the $999 price tier.

Today’s stats are only the first benchmarks that we’re likely to see. The 2018 MacBook Air, which was debuted this week, is slated to start shipping out to customers on Nov. 7.

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