New MacBook Air Machines Rumored as Not Bringing in a Discrete Graphics Chip

March 14, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

The grapevine buzz about Apple’s upcoming machines in the MacBook Air line suggest that the iGiant is less likely to put a separate graphics card in the low and mid range products.

Being Apple’s thinnest laptop line, MacBook Air presently comes with a stock Intel graphics chip integrated into the processor. A look into the history of the devices in the line up will be interesting to understand Apple’s preferences on separate graphics chips in the line.

The first generation of the machines surfaced in 2008 with Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel X3 100 graphics. But the machine ran into problems with poor battery life and heating issues, besides a poor performance of the Intel graphic chip.

So when the next-gen machines surfaced by the end of the same year they tried NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with the same processor and found better results. The graphics issue was solved, though battery life and heating issues persisted.

With gen 3 which came down in 2010, the graphics chipset was swapped with GeForce 320M, all issues were solved and better performance was assured.

But last year, when the fourth gen surfaced, they went back to Intel, coupling Intel Sandy Bridge processors and Intel HD 3000 graphics. Results were cool.

Now with the fifth gen it is sure that Ivy Bridge chips will replace Sandy Bridge, so the question is about the graphics front. If it will go for stock Intel HD 4000 or consider a discrete one from NVIDIA or Advanced Micro Devices graphics is a confusing question.

Now, what we feel is that Apple is less likely to integrate a separate chip in low and mid range MacBook Air devices since Ivy Bridge chips have already exhibited their exceptional performance.

In addition, an additional graphics chip will suck out battery life for no reason in low end systems. What do you think?

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