Apple’s 15-Inch MacBook Air May Come with Two Chip Options — Neither of Which Will Be an M3

MacBook 15 Inch Concept Credit: AppleyPro / Twitter
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New reports are lending weight to recent hints that Apple’s upcoming 15-inch MacBook Air may only include last year’s M2 chip rather than the more powerful M3 that’s on the horizon.

Although rumors of the larger MacBook Air have been circulating for a little over a year now, it wasn’t until a few months ago that plans for the larger MacBook started to come into focus, with reports suggesting a possible spring launch.

However, these later reports couldn’t come to a consensus on what chips would power Apple’s newest plus-sized MacBook Air. While some of those early reports hinted at the same M2 chip as last year’s 13-inch models, many folks were skeptical.

It’s unclear whether those doubts were based on solid evidence or mere speculation; with the assumption that Apple was poised to unveil its next-generation M3 chip to power a new set of 13-inch MacBooks Air, it didn’t make much sense that Apple would release the larger MacBook with last year’s specs, only to have it quickly become outclassed by the newer M3 chip.

Over the past week or so, opinions seem to have gelled into believing that the 15-inch MacBook Air will indeed be powered by the same 2022 M2 chip as last year’s 13-inch models. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman was one of the first to reverse course, revealing evidence that Apple was testing a 15-inch MacBook Air with M2-like specs — an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU — and following that up with a statement that “the models coming in June probably won’t boast major new M3 chips.”

The specs Gurman shared aren’t necessarily conclusive; the M2 chip had the same number of CPU cores as the original M1 while pushing the GPU cores from 8 to 10. However, each of the CPU cores ran faster. A new M3 chip could take a similar tactic, increasing clock speeds without necessarily changing the number of cores. It’s only Apple’s Pro, Max, and Ultra chips that dramatically increase the number of cores.

Nevertheless, the similarity of the numbers Gurman saw to the existing M2 chip is a strong indicator that we may only see a slightly souped-up version of that chip rather than a whole new M3. More significantly, other leakers and industry analysts are backing this up with news from Apple’s supply chain.

The first comes from leaker yeux1122, who indicates that a Taiwan supply chain source has confirmed that the new MacBook Air will be equipped with an M2 chip, not an M3 “as originally planned.” yeux1122’s sources claim that the 15-inch MacBook Air is on schedule — contrary to some other reports, it was always slated for a June launch — but the M3 chip was postponed due to a combination of TSMC’s mass production schedule and Apple’s read on market conditions.

Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also weighed in earlier today, confirming that the new model will indeed be named the “MacBook Air” and will feature two versions of the “M2 series” of chips.

However, while Kuo had previously believed this would be M2 and M2 Pro chips, he now says it’s “more likely to be M2 with different cores.” Since Kuo compares this to the 13-inch MacBook Air models that have come before, it’s probable this will involve a “binned” configuration with one model having fewer cores than the normal spec.

Kuo also confirms that this is due to the M3 chip being behind the expected schedule, adding that mass production of the new chips won’t begin until the second half of this year, “slightly ahead of M3 Pro and M3 Max.” This suggests we won’t see the first Macs sporting the M3 until this fall. It’s an open question whether Apple will refresh the 15-inch MacBook Air with the new chip later this year, but it’s conceivable that it could end up lagging a generation behind the 13-inch models.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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