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September 13, 2013 - Dave Hecei
Now that we have new iPhones, or at least we will come September 20, it’s time to update some Macs. It’s easy to see that Apple is very mobile-centric these days. After all, most of their profits come from the mobile end of things, and all that goes with it. But Apple is still in the computer business and we are long overdue for updated minis, iMacs, and MacBook Pros. At least the Mac Pro has been previewed and promised for later this fall.
The iMac was last updated back in December of 2012 (It was actually updated in October but didn’t really ship in numbers until December). The mini came out back in October. The MacBook Pro was last updated back in June while the Retina versions came out the beginning of this year.
The way things are going, it looks like this fall is going to see all new Macs, except for the Air. The Mac Pro is the oldest Mac on the books not having a significant update since 2010. Apple announced an all-new Pro model due out sometime this fall. They previewed the new Pro model during this years WWDC event last June. The new Pro is nothing like the old Pro, which may or may not be a good thing. This is all up in the air until it ships and we see both the pricing and how it performs.
With that said, all current Macs, except the Air, are currently using the third-generation Intel processors. This is kind of sad since Intel has been shipping the fourth-generation chips since the beginning of summer. All new Macs due to be released will have the new Haswell chips. These chips tout much improved power (i.e. heat) management along with faster integrated graphics. The speed improvement will be there, but since the previous generation i5 and i7 chips are plenty fast you won’t see a significant difference.
The one thing that will improve the overall speed of any new Mac would be a switch to PCI-E based SSD storage. The new MacBook Air that was released in June uses a PCI-E interface instead of the more traditional SATA drive connection. Using PCI-E allows for tremendous speed improvements. Currently, the only Macs that have this type of storage are the new Air and the Retina MacBook Pros. It is also the proposed storage system in the upcoming Mac Pro. The ideal solution would be to use this type of storage in all Macs.
The prices for SSD based storage have come down significantly, but they are nowhere near the bargain prices of spinning drives – or the storage capacity. Using less storage is a way to compensate for the pricing differences (128GB or 256GB SSD instead of a 500GB or 1TB spinning drive). Since we live in an age where we stream our video and audio onboard storage is not as critical as it used to be. If you need more storage you can always connect an external drive or better yet have a NAS in your home or office (Network Attached Storage).
Here’s hoping that Apple will hold another press event soon. There are plenty of us waiting for new Macs. Let's not forget that Apple is also about to release the next version of OS X - 10.9 code named Mavericks. Since Apple didn’t show off new iPads or iPods along with the new iPhones, there is likely an event in the plans for those too. The next few months should be pretty busy at Apple.
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