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12-inch MacBook gains new gold hue, but misses out on Amber Lake Y, more

The 12-inch MacBook only scores a fresh coat of paint. (Source: Apple)
The 12-inch MacBook only scores a fresh coat of paint. (Source: Apple)
As expected, Apple has unveiled a new Mac mini, MacBook Air and new iPad Pro models. However, one device that missed out on getting a chipset refresh was the 12-inch MacBook, leaving it essentially unchanged since June 2017 barring a new gold hue.

Apple’s MacBook line up is a tad confusing these days. Prior to the launch of the all-new MacBook Air, the outgoing model sat well below the 12-inch MacBook in the range (at least in price). It was also thought that the 12-inch MacBook would eventually become cheaper and replace the MacBook Air once Apple decided to retire it (along with the “Air” nomenclature). Now, however, the 12-inch MacBook sits just above new 13.3-inch MacBook Air (US$1199) priced at US$1299.

Product line confusion aside, the 12-inch MacBook hasn’t been updated since June 2017 when it received Intel’s 7th gen Kaby Lake Y-series 14nm internals. While an update to Intel’s newer 8th gen Amber Lake Y chips might have been expected, Apple seems to have decided to wait for the sequel as the latest chips from Intel only feature slightly higher clock speeds and are a stop gap measure given the difficulties Intel has experienced with its troublesome 10nm process.

Instead, Apple has seen fit to give the 12-inch MacBook a simple coat of new paint, and that only applies to the gold model, which adopts the gold hue found on the new MacBook Air. What that also means is that connectivity continues to be limited to just a single USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port capped at 5 Gbps while its slightly cheaper, but better equipped, thicker and heavier all-new stablemate picks up not just one, but two, Thunderbolt 3 ports with transfer rates of up to 40 Gbps.

The other downer facing customers who simply want the thinnest and lightest MacBook possible is that the lack of upgrades to the 12-inch model also means that it is stuck with Apple’s fault-prone second-generation butterfly mechanism keyboard. Apple has updated this design to a third-generation that addresses the failure rate of the previous two generations with a membrane that lies between the mechanism to stop dust and dirt from fouling its function.

Given that scenario, the new 13.3-inch MacBook Air is probably the model for which to opt until Apple launches a third-gen 12-inch MacBook. Unless Apple deletes it altogether, which remains a possibility as it is known to drop products if they don't sell in sufficient volumes. It is likely that the launch of the updated MacBook Air could see demand for the 12-inch model fall off a cliff.


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 10 > 12-inch MacBook gains new gold hue, but misses out on Amber Lake Y, more
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2018-10-31 (Update: 2018-10-31)