Thursday April 5, 2018 1:57 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.
The most notable new chip is the first-ever Core i9 processor for notebooks. With six cores and 12 threads, Intel says the Core i9 is the highest-performance notebook processor it has ever designed. The H-series processor has a 2.9GHz base clock speed with a Turbo Boost frequency of up to 4.8GHz.
Given the Core i9 is a 45W chip, it is appropriate for the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro and could be included in a refreshed version of the notebook as early as this year. Apple last updated the MacBook Pro lineup with Kaby Lake processors at WWDC in June 2017, so a Core i9 model could debut at WWDC 2018.
Of note, while the Core i9 processor allows for systems with up to 32GB of RAM, this is unlikely to apply to the next MacBook Pro, since low-power DDR4 RAM is still not supported. Back in 2016, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller said 32GB of standard DDR4 RAM would compromise battery life.
The eighth-generation Core processor family also includes new quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 processors with base clock speeds between 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz and integrated Iris Plus graphics. These 28W chips, part of the U-series, are suitable for future 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini models.
Intel says the new Core i9, i7, and i5 processors for notebooks are based on its Coffee Lake platform and leverage its 14nm++ manufacturing process, enabling the chips to deliver up to 41 percent more frames per second in gameplay or edit 4K video up to 59 percent faster than the previous generation with the same discrete graphics, based on its internal benchmark testing.
As with Intel's Kaby Lake Refresh processors introduced last August, these new Coffee Lake chips pave the way for a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro should Apple choose to release one. The current lineup is limited to dual-core models.
Intel also expanded its lineup of eighth-generation Core processors for desktops today after an initial rollout last October. Two chips suitable for future 4K and 5K standard iMac models include six-core Core i5-8600 and Core i5-8500 chips with base clock speeds of 3.1GHz and 3.0GHz respectively.
The desktop lineup also includes six lower-power 35W chips with four or six cores and base clock speeds between 2.1GHz and 3.2GHz. While the current Mac mini lineup uses 28W chips, previous generations have used up to 45W chips, so the 35W processors could be suitable for future Mac mini models.
All in all, Intel has potentially laid the groundwork for a high-performance, top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro, quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro models, a long-overdue Mac mini refresh, and updated iMacs as early as this year.
Looking further ahead, Bloomberg News on Monday reported that Apple plans to design and use its own processors for Macs starting as early as 2020. Intel shares saw their biggest price drop in two years following the report.
Monday January 29, 2018 5:40 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple is developing at at least three new Mac models integrated with custom co-processors, including updated notebooks and a new desktop, according to Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg News.
The report claims the new models could be released as early as this year, but it doesn't specify which ones they'll be. Of course, Apple's notebook lineup includes the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, while its desktop lineup includes the iMac and iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and aging Mac mini.
In terms of notebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Pro are the most likely candidates for a refresh this year, as the MacBook Air has not received any meaningful updates since March 2015, nearly three years ago, and it seems like Apple is only keeping it around for its $999 price tag at this point.
MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models released in 2016 and later are already equipped with Apple's custom T1 chip that authenticates and secures Touch ID and Apple Pay respectively, and it's possible the notebook could be updated with a newer chip that offloads even more tasks from the main Intel processor.
MacBook models do not feature a custom co-processor, but unless Apple is planning to extend the Touch Bar to the 12-inch notebooks, it remains to be seen if there would be much necessity for a T-series chip.
There's also a single rumor from DigiTimes, which doesn't have the most reliable track record, claiming Apple will release a new entry-level 13-inch MacBook in the second half of this year. It's unclear if this model would be a potential MacBook Air replacement, or where else it would slot in Apple's notebook lineup.
Shifting to desktops, the iMac Pro is already equipped with Apple's custom T2 chip for enhanced security and integration. The co-processor integrates several previously separate components, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller.
The T2 chip has a Secure Enclave that makes the iMac Pro even more secure with new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. It's possible Apple could extend this co-processor to standard iMac models this year.
Apple has also confirmed it is working on an all-new modular Mac Pro, although it only revealed that its release date would come at some point after 2017. And the Mac mini has gone over 1,200 days without an update, according to the MacRumors Buyer's Guide, and the portable computer could sorely use a refresh.
Much of the Bloomberg News report is focused on Apple's shift towards in-house chip design, reducing its dependance on companies like Qualcomm and Imagination Tech, so further details about the new Macs are scant.
Friday January 12, 2018 5:37 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple rose to become the world's fourth-largest PC maker in 2017, as Mac sales increased to nearly 20 million during the year, according to the latest estimates shared by research firms IDC and Gartner.
The roughly 19.6 million total is based on Apple's reported Mac sales of 13.9 million units in the first three calendar quarters of the year, while IDC and Gartner estimate Apple sold another 5.4 million to 5.7 million Macs in the fourth quarter.
Apple officially reported sales of 18.5 million Macs in 2016, so the company is looking at year-over-year growth of around four to six percent based on the IDC and Gartner data. Apple sold over 20 million Macs in both 2014 and 2015, however, so 2017 was likely not a record-breaking year for the Mac.
Apple leapfrogged either Asus or Acer depending on which dataset you look at, as IDC and Gartner have slightly different estimates. Both research firms have Apple trailing behind HP, Lenovo, and Dell, which shipped an estimated 58.8 million, 54.8 million, and 41.8 million PCs respectively last year per IDC.
Apple's growth in 2017 is impressive given Gartner claims it was the sixth consecutive year of declining PC shipments. The year saw Apple refresh its MacBook Pro and iMac lineups with Kaby Lake processors, give the base MacBook Air a slight speed boost, and launch an all-new iMac Pro.
We'll know exactly how many Macs were sold in 2017 when Apple reports its next earnings results on February 1, but if these estimates prove to be accurate, it was a financially successful year for the Mac.
Wednesday December 13, 2017 6:27 am PST by Joe Rossignol
If you bought and own a Mac in Australia or New Zealand, your computer effectively now has warranty coverage for up to three years from its original date of purchase, even without purchasing optional AppleCare+ coverage.
Apple will now offer warranty coverage on most Mac parts for up to 24 months after its limited one-year warranty period, under consumer law in each country, according to an internal document distributed to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers and later obtained by MacRumors.
Apple is complying with existing Australia and New Zealand laws giving consumers the right to ask for a repair or replacement free of charge if a product experiences failure within a "reasonable" amount of time after purchase.
Mac owners can inquire about service under Australian and New Zealand consumer law at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider, but we can't guarantee that every employee will be knowledgable about this policy. The change in policy is effective from today—that's December 13, 2017.
Eligible parts include the display, battery, SSD or hard drive, RAM, logic boards, GPU, internal cables, power supply, and other electronic components, so virtually every aspect of a Mac is covered, according to the document.
Apple provides a summary of consumer law, its limited one-year warranty, and its optional AppleCare+ coverage on its website in Australia and New Zealand.
Mid 2011 models have officially been classified as vintage or obsolete as of November 30, 2017, according to an internal memo distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers and later obtained by MacRumors.
The distinction means that Apple and Apple Authorized Service Providers will no longer repair or service the 2011 Mac mini, given over five years have passed since it was last manufactured, except where required by law.
The only regions exempted include California and Turkey, where customers may still obtain service for up to two additional years.
Apple repairs and services products for up to five years after they are no longer manufactured, and 2011 Mac mini models have now eclipsed that coverage period after being discontinued in late 2012.
2011 Mac mini models were the first with a Thunderbolt port, and the first without an optical disc drive for CDs/DVDs.
It has been over 1,100 days since Apple last refreshed the Mac mini, according to the MacRumors Buyer's Guide. The computer is still powered by Intel's dual-core Haswell processors, now five generations old.
When Apple announced plans for a modular Mac Pro, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said the Mac mini "is an important product" in the company's lineup, but he didn't confirm if a new machine is in the works.
Thursday October 19, 2017 10:39 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's Mac mini celebrated its third birthday this week, marking three years since the device was last updated. The lack of attention Apple has given to the Mac mini has left many Mac users wondering about the future of the machine and whether there are updates to come.
MacRumors reader Krar decided to email Apple CEO Tim Cook to get an update on the Mac mini and he received a response. Cook said it was "not time to share any details," but he confirmed that the Mac mini will be an important part of the company's product lineup in the future.
Cook's response echoes a similar statement from Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who commented on the Mac mini when Apple's plans for a new Mac Pro were unveiled. "The Mac mini is an important product in our lineup and we weren't bringing it up because it's more of a mix of consumer with some pro use," he said.
Positioned as a "bring your own peripherals" machine that comes without a mouse, keyboard, or display, the Mac mini is Apple's most affordable desktop machine. The current version is woefully outdated though, and continues to use Haswell processors and integrated Intel HD 5000/Intel Iris Graphics.
It's not clear when Apple will introduce a new Mac mini, and aside from a single rumor hinting at a new high-end Mac mini with a redesign that "won't be so mini anymore," we've heard no rumors about work on a possible Mac mini refresh.
With 2017 coming to a close, we're not likely to see a new Mac mini until 2018 at the earliest. A refreshed machine could use Kaby Lake Refresh chips, and as all chips appropriate for the Mac mini feature four cores, a new machine would likely reintroduce quad-core performance.
Monday October 16, 2017 2:28 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Today marks the third anniversary of the last update of the Mac mini, Apple's most affordable and compact desktop computer. The Mac mini was refreshed on October 16, 2014, and since then, the machine has seen no additional updates.
The Mac mini is positioned as a "bring your own" machine that comes without a mouse, keyboard, or display, and the current version is still running Haswell processors and integrated Intel HD 5000/Intel Iris Graphics.
Pricing on the Mac mini starts at $499 for the entry-level base configuration, making it far more affordable than the iMac, which starts at $1,099 for a non-4K 21-inch version.
With the 2014 refresh, fans were disappointed as Apple ceased offering a quad-core processor option and support for dual hard drives, features that have not returned.
At this point, it's not clear if and when Apple will introduce a new version of the Mac mini. Prior to the 2014 refresh, the Mac mini was updated in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, so it's never before gone three years sans update.
Many Apple customers are eagerly awaiting a new Mac mini, including businesses that rely on the machine, like Brian Stucki's MacStadium.
When Apple announced plans for a modular Mac Pro, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said the Mac mini "is an important product" in the company's lineup, suggesting Apple doesn't have plans to abandon the machine. He declined to offer up any information on a potential refresh, though.
Aside from a single rumor from Pike's Universum hinting at a new high-end Mac mini with a redesign that "won't be so mini anymore," we've heard no details at all about work on a possible Mac mini refresh.
If a new Mac mini is in the works, though, it could use either Seventh-Generation Kaby Lake chips or Eighth-Generation Kaby Lake Refresh chips, both of which are available now.
The Mac mini typically uses the same 15W U-series chips that are found in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. With Intel's Eighth-Generation chips, the U-series all feature four cores, so should a future Mac mini adopt Kaby Lake Refresh chips or later, quad-core performance will return.
Given that it's October and there are no rumors, it's not likely we're going to see a Mac mini refresh in 2017, but sometime in 2018 is fair game.
Apple today introduced AppleCare+ for Mac, an extended warranty plan that provides accidental damage coverage for a service fee. AppleCare+ for Mac is available in the United States and Japan only. In other countries, the standard AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac without accidental damage coverage remains available.
AppleCare+ extends a Mac's warranty coverage to three years from its original purchase date, and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $99 for screen damage or external enclosure damage, or $299 for other damage. Prices are based in U.S. dollars.
AppleCare+ for Mac also includes 24/7 priority access to Apple experts by chat or phone. It replaces the AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac, which was essentially the same as AppleCare+, but didn't include accidental damage coverage like Apple has long offered for devices like the iPhone and iPad.
AppleCare+ for Mac is available for the 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini for between $99 and $379. The service fees are additional in the event of accidental damage. Prices are between equal and $30 higher than the old AppleCare Protection Plan, which doesn't cover accidental damage.
AppleCare+ can be purchased alongside a new Mac, or customers can buy it online or in store within 60 days of purchasing a Mac.
Intel today said one of its eighth-generation "Coffee Lake" processors delivered more than a 30 percent performance boost over an equivalent seventh-generation "Kaby Lake" processor in recent testing. Both generations of chips are suitable for Apple notebooks, such as the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro.
"We will have more to say about the 8th Gen Intel Core processor in the future but it's exciting to share that in the latest testing, we're seeing a performance improvement of more than 30 percent over the 7th Gen Intel Core processor," said Gregory Bryant, a senior executive at Intel.
Using the benchmark tool SYSmark 2014 v1.5 on Windows 10, Intel compared an unreleased Core i7 quad-core processor with an unspecified base clock speed, and Turbo Boost up to 4GHz, against its Core i7-7500U dual-core processor with a base clock speed of 2.7GHz and Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz.
Both are 15W chips, creating the possibility of a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro with Coffee Lake in the future.
Intel aims to make its Coffee Lake lineup available to computer makers in the second half of this year, and the eighth-generation processors should provide the usual benefits of faster performance and longer battery life in future Macs.
Apple has yet to update its Mac lineup with Kaby Lake processors in the first place, but the company reportedly plans to announce new 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro models equipped with the seventh-generation chips at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference next week.
It's still too early to say when we'll see the first Mac with Coffee Lake, but it likely won't be until at least late 2017 or early 2018 given Intel's roadmap.
Earlier this year, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple plans to launch a nondescript "15-inch MacBook" with 32GB of desktop-class RAM. He said the notebook will enter mass production in the early September quarter, but it's uncertain if Coffee Lake processors will be readily available by then.
Intel today also unveiled its Core X-series processor family for desktop computers, ranging from quad-core options to the high-end Core i9 Extreme Edition with 18 cores. The processors, codenamed "Basin Falls," are "coming soon." More details and tech specs are listed in this fact sheet and slideshow.
Apple's current Mac lineup uses a mix of Intel's older Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, and Ivy Bridge processors. Coffee Lake will be an iteration of Kaby Lake, based on a 14nm process, and it's not to be confused with Intel's upcoming "Cannonlake" processors based on an all-new 10nm process.
Apple did not share any specific details about the external display, but if the blog Pike's Universum is to be believed, it could feature an impressive 8K resolution. The report did not offer any additional details about the display, including a potential release date, but Apple said it won't be ready this year.
8K displays are just starting to reach the market now, led by Dell's new 32-inch UltraSharp 8K display, which retails for $5,000 in the United States. Apple has yet to launch a display with greater than 5K resolution, as found on the iMac with Retina 5K Display and the UltraFine 5K Display it partnered with LG on.
On the Mac mini front, the blog said that the next high-end model "won't be so mini anymore," suggesting the most expensive configuration might have a larger or taller design to accommodate for upgraded tech specs. Apple last updated the Mac mini in October 2014, a span of 903 days, per the MacRumors Buyer's Guide.
Apple recently said the Mac mini is "important" within its product lineup, but it remained tight-lipped about the prospects of future updates.
The current Mac mini models, which are designed to be connected to a display, keyboard, and mouse purchased separately, range in price from $499 to $999. The base model is equipped with a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000.
Pike's Universum is best known for spotting references to unreleased Macs or upcoming software versions hidden within Apple's operating systems. The blog does not have an established track record of reporting on Apple's plans based on its own inside sources, so this rumor should be treated with caution for now.
Tuesday April 4, 2017 6:27 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple today introduced reshuffled Mac Pro configurations and pricing, and revealed that it's working on a "completely rethought" Mac Pro alongside an Apple-branded pro display that will launch beyond 2017. However, Apple remained tight lipped about the Mac mini, beyond noting that it's an "important" product in its lineup.
"On that I'll say the Mac Mini is an important product in our lineup and we weren't bringing it up because it's more of a mix of consumer with some pro use. … The Mac Mini remains a product in our lineup, but nothing more to say about it today."
Apple last updated the Mac mini in October 2014, a span of over 900 days, according to the MacRumors Buyer's Guide.
The current Mac mini models, which are designed to be connected to a display and peripherals purchased separately, range in price from $499 to $999. The base model is equipped with a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000.
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