Leak reveals new 13-inch MacBook Pro could pack Intel Ice Lake chips

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13-inch MacBook Pro from 2019
It's about time!
Photo: Apple

Leaked benchmarks believed to be from the next-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro reveal the machine could be powered by Intel’s latest Ice Lake processors.

The chips, which haven’t been used in a Mac before, will provide Apple’s newest notebook with a sizable boost in speed and graphics performance. They won’t be the only reason to buy a new 13-inch MacBook Pro, though.

Ice Lake is the name of Intel’s 10th-generation mobile CPUs, which were first launched in September 2019. They’re 10-nanometer chips, and they offer an 18% increase in performance (on average) over the Coffee Lake architecture.

The chips play nicely with faster DDR4 and LPDDR4X RAM, as well as Thunderbolt 3. And they support Wi-Fi 6 as standard. Ice Lake also offers an improved integrated GPU with support for DisplayPort 1.4A and 8K displays.

Apple is yet to adopt Ice Lake chips, but it’s upcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro could change that.

2020 MacBook Pro benchmarks leak out

Early benchmarks for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro reveal that at least one model could pack an Intel Core i7-1068NG7 processor. It’s a quad-core chip that has a base clock speed of 2.3GHz and can Turbo Boost to 4.1GHz.

This sounds very similar to the Core i7 chip Apple already uses in today’s 13-inch MacBook Pro on paper. What makes the Ice Lake chip better (aside from more powerful graphics) is its 10-nanometer design.

In a nutshell, it means that the millions of tiny transistors inside the CPU are placed ever so slightly closer together than they are in the 14-nanometer Coffee Lake chips the 13-inch MacBook Pro uses today.

This not only improves performance, but it makes the chip more efficient. The data from 3D Mark Time Spy suggests the new MacBook Pro will be around 12% faster than its predecessor in processing, and 30% faster in graphics.

The machine used for this test is obviously a high-end model; it also packs 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD.

More on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro

Despite these increases in performance, it’s likely the new 13-inch MacBook Pro will have even bigger selling points. We’re expecting it to adopt the new thermal design and speakers introduced with the 16-inch model late last year.

More importantly, it should also adopt the new Magic Keyboard with scissor switch keys. Replacing the butterfly keyboard, which has been plagued by issues since its introduction, is a primary reason to upgrade for many. Recent rumors have suggested Apple could launch the new machine this spring.

Apple could also bring Ice Lake chips to the 16-inch MacBook Pro with its next refresh. However, that is likely to get more appropriate Comet Lake chips instead.