Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

This Apple Inc. MacBook Pro Rumor Is Probably False

By Ashraf Eassa - Oct 5, 2017 at 11:21AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Apple is unlikely to use these new Intel chips for an upcoming MacBook Pro refresh.

NotebookCheck.net recently spotted an entry in the result database of popular processor performance test Geekbench 4 that appears to indicate Apple (AAPL 1.62%) is preparing a next-generation MacBook Pro using Intel's (INTC -2.86%) recently announced Kaby Lake Refresh processors.

The Kaby Lake Refresh chips are notable because they include twice the processor cores as their predecessors (known simply as Kaby Lake) do. This means that they deliver better performance in tasks that can effectively use multiple cores, such as video editing, as well as a smoother multitasking experience.

An Apple MacBook Pro computer.

Image source: Apple.

However, I believe that this entry is a fake (these types of entries can potentially be spoofed) and that investors and customers alike shouldn't expect a Kaby Lake Refresh-based MacBook Pro to hit the market.

Kaby Lake Refresh isn't suitable for MacBook Pro

Intel develops versions of its low-power notebook processors with more basic Intel UHD Graphics as well as pricier ones with more powerful Iris Plus graphics. For its 13-inch MacBook Pro line, Apple generally uses the chips with the higher-end Iris Plus graphics, and the most recent 13-inch MacBook Pro model is no exception.

The Kaby Lake Refresh parts, unlike the standard Kaby Lake products, don't come in versions with the higher-end Iris Plus graphics -- they only feature Intel UHD graphics. So if Apple were to refresh the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Kaby Lake Refresh chips, it would deliver improved CPU performance at the expense of graphics performance, a trade-off that Apple is unlikely to make.

Early next year, Intel is expected to launch a family of low-power notebook processors based on its Coffee Lake architecture. Those chips should enjoy the same upgrade to four processor cores that the Kaby Lake Refresh parts did, but they'll also include Intel's Iris Plus graphics.

Those parts should offer a true upgrade to the Iris Plus-based processor inside of today's 13-inch MacBook Pro.

What does this mean for Apple and Intel?

Because of Apple's desire to use Intel chips with superior graphics capabilities, the tech titan will be late to transitioning its 13-inch MacBook Pro product to quad-core processors, but I don't think this will ultimately impact the competitiveness of Apple's computers significantly in the marketplace.

I suspect that most Mac buyers aren't buying these systems for the chip inside; they're buying them for the overall user experience, which is something that's influenced by far more than the number of cores in the processor.

All Apple really must do is refresh its MacBook line, ideally with additional features beyond just a better processor, so that it has something new to sell each year. As long as it can do that -- and I think Apple's finally back on track to such regular product updates after dropping the ball for a little while -- then the performance of Apple's Mac business should continue to be solid.

As far as Intel goes, it's in the company's best interests to have new chips ready for when Apple wants to refresh its MacBook Pro line. Apple isn't Intel's biggest personal computer chip customer by units or revenue (I estimate that Intel generates about $3 billion in annual revenue from chip sales to Apple), but with the rumors swirling that Apple is considering moving its Mac product lines away from Intel-based chips in favor of home-grown chips, Intel should want to do everything possible to keep Apple happy. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Intel Corporation Stock Quote
Intel Corporation
INTC
$36.34 (-2.86%) $-1.07
Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$138.93 (1.62%) $2.21

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
316%
 
S&P 500 Returns
112%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/04/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.