MacBook with ARM processor reportedly launching this year in huge blow to Intel

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

MacBooks have always been a step behind the Windows competition when it comes to featuring the latest and fastest Intel processors. But it looks like Apple is about to blaze its own trail with a laptop CPU of its own.

Apple will reportedly announce its first ARM-powered MacBook in late 2020, which would go on sale in early 2021. This would be a huge blow to Intel, which has supplied processors to Apple’s computers for decades. 

AppleInsider reported on this news based on a research note from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. What’s not clear from the note is which MacBook this chip will power. Our bet would be a MacBook Air as opposed to the more powerful MacBook Pro, or Apple could bring back the MacBook, which had been discontinued.

Kuo also reports that the new scissor-switch keyboard has been very well received in the 16-inch MacBook Pro. In fact, he predicts that this Magic Keyboard will be moving to the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook as well. And it will presumably be offered on the new ARM-powered MacBook as well.

Apple has already proved that it can make the world’s fastest phone chips with its A series processors, such as the A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11 series and iPad Pro. So it will be very intriguing to see what the company can do on the laptop front.

On the Windows side, others have tried to launch ARM-powered laptops with little success. For example, the Microsoft Surface Pro X has received negative reviews because of compatibility issues with critical Windows software. The SQ1 chip inside the Surface Pro X was developed in partnership with Qualcomm.

The key difference for Apple is that it is making its own chip and would own the hardware and software sides of the equation. 

Last but not least, Kuo predicts that Apple will release an entirely new MacBook Pro design in the second or third quarter of 2021.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.