Skip to main content

Apple may ditch Intel for an Arm-based MacBook within the next 18 months

Reports about an Arm-based MacBook have been in the works for years. But according to a new prediction from noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the timetable for these new products is being pushed forward.

Kuo states that a Mac with an Apple-branded processor will be released within the next 12 to 18 months. According to 9to5 Mac, Kuo cited a “more aggressive” pursuit of 5nm process processors as a reason for this push, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus. These 5nm processors are supposed to be an important part of Apple’s platform for 2021 devices, including the Mac.

This doesn’t mean necessarily that Apple would move its entire Mac lineup to Arm. Apple could lead with an entry-level device like the MacBook Air and keep its Pro-level devices with Intel. The Air would be a good contender for the A-series treatment as it currently uses a slower dual-core Intel processor.

MacBooks have been running on Intel processors since 2005, marking this change as a serious departure from the previous era of Apple laptops.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

An Arm-based MacBook faces some challenges in terms of user experience. Because these Arm chips aren’t based on the x86 instruction set, they can’t install many of the traditional Mac apps you might be used to. That’s likely we Apple is using its Catalyst development program to help developers port their apps over to the Mac App Store from iOS or iPad. The first of these apps came from Apple itself, which ditched the legacy iTunes application for a trio of Catalyst apps.

We expect to get some kind of update to Catalyst in June at Apple’s annual developers conference.

There have also been reports that Apple is considering a switch to AMD in MacBooks this year. AMD launched new Ryzen laptop processors that feature an astonishing eight cores in as little as 15 watts. These could make dramatically increase the content creation capabilities of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple usually saves its biggest MacBook updates for later in the year, such as 2019’s late launch of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. That said, a March 31 event has been rumored, which could bring a keyboard and processor update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Other rumored products at the event include the iPhone SE 2 and the AirTags.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
How long do MacBooks last? Here’s when you’ll need to buy again
The M3 MacBook Air in front of a window.

There’s no doubt that Apple’s best MacBooks have a reputation for long-lasting quality, but what sort of longevity can you expect to get out of one? And just how long will Apple continue to support your laptop? Finally, what are the differences between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro?

These are no doubt important questions to consider when buying a new MacBook or even considering an upgrade. Here's everything you know about the longevity of your MacBook.
Lifespan of MacBook hardware

Read more
Why Samsung’s answer to the MacBook Pro can’t quite compete
The Galaxy Book4 Ultra open on a wooden suruface.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the king of the creator laptops, and it's been that way for several years.

But there have been a wave of new Windows laptops attempting to challenge the MacBook Pro on its own terms. The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra is certainly a contender, packing some impressive specs in a portable chassis. When you compare the two straight up, the MacBook Pro 16-inch clearly comes away with the upper hand, even when considering its higher price.
Specs and pricing

Read more
MacBook Pro OLED: Here’s everything we know so far
Halo running on a MacBook Pro.

While many of Apple’s laptop rivals have embraced OLED screens, Apple has stuck firmly with mini-LED in its MacBook Pro -- and the results have been spectacular. As we said when we reviewed the M3 Max MacBook Pro, it has the best display out of any laptop, bar none.

Yet, there whispers that Apple is working on something even better: its own brand of OLED display that could take the MacBook Pro to the next level. It’s still early days, and there are all sorts of different rumors flying about, but it seems that something big is definitely in the works.

Read more