The introduction of Intel's new Haswell chipset in 2013 saw upgrades for most of the Mac lineup. The MacBook Air received a healthy boost to its battery, with the 13" model now capable of running for twelve hours of normal use on a single charge. Apple also refreshed the MacBook Pro Retina, utilising Haswell's more powerful Iris graphics capabilities to drive the demanding display. At the high end we were also introduced to a newly designed, and incredibly powerful, Mac Pro, with its cylindrical shape and shockingly compact size.
Two Macs not partaking in the new generation of Intel creations were the MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini. Although both still remain on sale in the Apple store it looks very likely now that this will be end of line for at least the older MacBook Pro. With the entry level retina model moving to a £1099 price point and the listing for the old Pro on the Apple store site relegated to the back pages, expect to see the model quietly disappear before too long. With it goes the end of an era, one where Apple laptops came with optical drives and could be upgraded by the user. From now on the Mac you buy will remain in that configuration for the whole of its lifetime, so choose wisely.
The Mac Mini is more puzzling. This little unit has been an excellent way for people to enter the OS X world without needing to spend the best part of a thousand pounds. It also enticed those switching over from Windows as they could still use their existing monitor, mouse and keyboard. The choice not to upgrade the internals suggest a few possibilities. One is that the focus has been on the raft of other products Apple has recently upgraded, and the Mac mini will be silently bumped up to Haswell when the Mac Pro arrives in December.
Another could be that the Mini will receive a new design, maybe to allow the inclusion of Intel's Iris graphics, which Apple claim boosts the performance of its 13" MacBook Pro retinas by up to ninety percent. Designers or anyone who relies on their Mac for graphically demanding work will be hoping that the new Mini has an option for Iris Pro graphics, as found in the 15in MacBook Pro Retinas, but it could be a while before the price point comes down to something we're used to seeing on the Mini range.
Of course the possibility exists that Apple will choose to discontinue the Mini range altogether. Certainly it would simplify the catalog, with customers having just the iMacs or MacBooks to choose between. It would also fit with the sealed unit designs that every other consumer-level Apple product now features.
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