Report: Apple to release low-cost MacBook and ‘Pro-focused’ Mac mini this fall

A new report from Mark Gurman and Debbie Wu at Bloomberg says that Apple is going to
release two new products this fall that have been hotly
anticipated among the Mac community: a low-cost MacBook with a
high-res display, and a new Mac mini aimed at enthusiasts and
pros.

A MacBook Air with Retina display

Bloomberg’s sources, who asked to remain anonymous, say that
the new laptop will look similar to the current 13-inch MacBook
Air. While the display will remain around 13 inches, it will
finally step up to “Retina” resolution. 

The MacBook Air was updated last year with a new processors
that are decidedly behind the times: the new CPUs are Intel’s
5th-generation Broadwell line, rather than the state-of-the-art
8th generation Kaby Lake R or Coffee Lake line. The laptop
features USB Type-A connectors and the MagSafe power connector,
rather than the USB-C connections common to other MacBooks.

It is said that the laptop is geared for those looking for a
cheaper Apple laptop and for schools who buy in bulk, which
means that it is likely to cost a lot less than the $1,299
starting price of the current MacBook, and might even come in under the $999
starting price of the MacBook Air.

If so, it would certainly obsolete the current MacBook. Apple
may simply consolidate the product line—if it has a modern
processor and Retina display, there’s only need for one
thin-and-light brand in the Apple lineup. 

A more powerful Mac mini

The Mac mini hasn’t had an update in four years. If you thought
the MacBook Air was out of date, the Mac mini is only available
with fourth-generation Haswell Intel processors. Ouch.

Bloomberg’s sources don’t detail what we can expect in the new
Mac mini, but they note that it will be aimed at the sort of
“Pro” and enthusiast users who current use the Mac mini for
software development, home media servers, and those running
server farms. The current model starts at $499 and comes with no keyboard,
mouse, or monitor, which suits those users just fine.

The price can quickly escalate if you choose more powerful
options: a fully-loaded Mac mini, with 1TB of SSD storage, 16GB
of RAM, and a (outdated) Core i7 processor, costs $1,999.
Bloomberg notes that the processor and storage options in the
new Mac mini are likely to increase the starting price above
the current $499 level. 

What might the new Mac mini look like? We don’t know, but we
think the new Hades
Canyon Intel NUC systems
might give us a clue. Intel packed
a very powerful 8th generation Core i7 processor together with
AMD Vega graphics into a tiny package. It’s got all the
features Apple should be looking for, including Thunderbolt 3
for high-resolution displays and fast internal storage, HDMI
output for home media servers, and two ethernet ports for those
server farm users. Wrap it up in an aluminum enclosure, and you
have a killer Mac mini.

We might hear about these new products at Apple’s September
event, but that is likely already stuffed to the gills with new
iPhones, Apple Watch, and iPads. In the past, Apple has
sometimes held events in October to introduce new Mac products,
and we would expect the same is likely to happen this year.

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