New MacBook Airs likely launching tomorrow

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Update: Here are the specs…

Apple is preparing to launch a refreshed line of MacBook Air laptops as soon as tomorrow, according to multiple sources. These sources say that shipments of new MacBook Airs have begun arriving in large quantities to Apple Stores across the country. Another source adds that Apple Stores are scheduled to re-arrange the placement of Macs in stores to focus on the MacBook Air tomorrow morning…

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RIP Mac optical drives? Rumor suggests Apple to drop last non-Retina MacBook Pro this year

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DigiTimes is claiming that Apple will cease production of the non-Retina version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro this year as it prepares to launch refreshed Retina models toward the end of the year.

Apple is expected to stop production of the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the second half of 2014 and will replace the product line with thinner models equipped with a Retina display. Meanwhile, Intel will offer second-generation ultrabooks in the fourth quarter of 2014, pushing the notebook industry further into the ultra-thin era, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers …  Read more

Tired of waiting for Apple to upgrade the Mac mini to Haswell? Make your own …

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If you’ve decided you’ve waited long enough for Apple to update the Mac mini with a Haswell processor, you can always create a Hac mini.

A user posting on the Hacintosh site tonymacx86.com has documented his successful squeezing of an Intel DH61AG motherboard with i3-3225 CPU (55w TDP), 4GB Ram, 128GB mSATA SSD, half mini PCIe Wifi and an external Dell laptop power supply into a 2010 Mac mini case …  Read more

Thinner, lighter, FASTER: Early benchmarks show 50-65% improvement in MacBook Pro’s Iris graphics

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Macworld’s benchmarks

…less expensive, better battery life too

Apple’s relentless improvement iterations continue unabated. Macworld’s early benchmarks on Apple’s new base model 13″MacBook Pro with built in Intel Iris Graphics are in and show huge speed gains in graphics performance:

The most impressive improvements in the new laptops came courtesy of the new Iris graphics. Compared to the HD 4000 graphics in the early 2013 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the Iris graphics posted between 45 and 50 percent higher frame rates in Cinebench r15’s OpenGL tests and the Unigine Valley Benchmark. Unigen’s Heaven benchmark showed the new systems with about 65 percent improvement in frame rates over the earlier model.

Iris Graphics also support displays up to 4K at 24Hz, a first for Apple’s entry level Pro laptops.

CPU performance improvement is slight but the Intel Haswell architecture adds a few hours of (Apple’s estimated) battery life while the machine actually got thinner and lighter. Meanwhile, Apple loaded up faster 802.11ac Wifi and speedy Samsung PCIe SSDs up to 1TB and Thunderbolt 2.0.

Price? Dropped $100  to $1299. (we are already seeing discounts/tax advantages in our Products section). Read more

Opinion: Is Thunderbolt doomed to be the new Firewire, or can the new Mac Pro save it?

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I’m a huge fan of Thunderbolt. A single wire carrying both DisplayPort and high-speed PCIe data is an incredibly elegant approach to minimising cable clutter even if you don’t need the blistering speed, especially when you can use an Apple Thunderbolt Display as a hub for your USB devices.

I also admire clever tech. The reason you can daisy-chain up to six separate devices is because Thunderbolt automatically multiplexes and de-multiplexes the signals as needed. Thunderbolt 2 takes this approach one step further, combining two 10Gbit/s channels into a single 20Gbit/s connection, with the the Thunderbolt controller again doing all the work. It’s impressive stuff.

A fast, clever technology developed by Intel and enthusiastically marketed by Apple ought to stand a fighting chance at mass-market adoption. Sadly, there’s so far not much sign of this happening. It’s all looking rather reminiscent of Firewire …  Read more

Fasten your seatbelts, Mac Pro CPU cracks 30,000 in updated Geekbench tests

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There was much disappointment back in June when the new Mac Pro‘s CPU – the 12-core Xeon E5-2697 – delivered a surprisingly low Geekbench score of 23,901. It had been widely expected to break 30,000.

Some cautioned then that the score, based on a 32-bit build of Geekbench running on an early pre-release version of the CPU with a beta version of Mavericks, might not tell the whole story, and new tests by Tom’s Hardware on V2 of the chip appear to confirm this …  Read more

Apple announces refreshed MacBook Airs with Haswell, 802.11ac, 12hrs battery life

As we expected based on our intel leading up to the event, Apple just introduced refreshed MacBook Airs live on stage at it’s WWDC 2013 keynote address today. Apple announced that the new MacBook Airs will be arriving with the new Intel Haswell chips, as expected, and spent most of the time talking about increased battery life for the devices which now includes up to 12hrs battery. The 13-inch model now boasts battery life up to 12 hours (up from 7 on the previous generation), while the 11-inch model is expected to get 9-hour battery life (up from 5 on the previous generation).

Apple also announced that the new MacBook Airs would include the faster 802.11ac with “a maximum data rate of 1.3Gbps, almost three times faster than 802.11n.” Other specs that Apple mentioned: dual microphones, a FaceTime® HD camera, a high-speed Thunderbolt port and two USB 3.0 ports.

All models will be available with a 1.3 GHz processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6 GHz and 4GB of RAM, but Apple will also make a BTO option available with a 1.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD.

Apple said the new MacBook Airs include up to 40% faster graphics, 2x GPU execution units, and more energy efficient CPUs, while the machine itself now meets ENERGY STAR 5.2 and EPEAT gold environmental standards.

Apple will be shipping the new MacBook Airs starting today starting at $999 for a 128GB 11-inch model and $1099 for the 128GB 13-inch model. An extra $200 will bump you up to the 256GB models, but Apple didn’t provide any other details on any other upgraded internals.

Earlier this month we received SKUs indicating that Apple had some MacBook refreshes in the works for today’s event that would include an upgrade to Intel’s new Haswell chips and upgraded internals. At the time, the SKUs pointed to availability of the refreshed MacBooks this week, but it was unclear when the models would ship and if some would arrive before others.

Apple’s full press release below: Read more

MacBook Air refresh looks set for WWDC, potentially with faster Wi-Fi

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Apple appears set to release new versions of its MacBook Air notebook computer at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, according to information provided by a source. Earlier this week, we reported that Apple is planning to release four new Mac models at WWDC, and we narrowed this down to either new MacBook Pro with Retina display models or MacBook Air models.

Today, we have received specific pricing for the aforementioned SKUs, and the price-points correspond to Apple’s current pricing for the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models. We have yet to receive pricing information that points to the imminent availability of new MacBook Pros (as some had hoped), but perhaps the next refresh to Apple’s Pro portables will arrive in the coming months. Supply constraints to the Retina MacBook Pro line seems to imply that…

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Intel officially launches 4th gen Haswell processors bound for next-gen Macs just in time for WWDC

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We’ve told you several times in recent months about Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors that are largely expected to replace Apple’s current Ivy Bridge offerings in the next round of Macs. Now, ahead of Apple’s expected WWDC announcements, Intel has just officially launched its next-gen processors. The company confirmed that quad-core versions of the chips are available now with availability of ultrabooks, all-in-ones, laptops and desktops planned for this summer.

Intel says the processors provide up to a 50 percent improvement in battery life (the biggest gain in the history of Intel’s processors), and double the graphics performance of previous generation chips thanks to its ‘Iris’ technology.

Delivering Intel’s largest generation-over-generation gain in battery life enablement in company history, 4th generation Intel Core processors can bring an 50 percent improvement in battery life over the previous generation in active workloads when watching movies or surfing the Internet, and two to three times improvement in standby battery life. For some systems coming to market this year, over 9 hours of active use battery life or 10 to 13 days of standby with fresh data on a single charge is expected.

Earlier this year we saw stats from early performance tests showing Haswell will provide some notable performance boosts for MacBooks, and we’ve also heard reports that the 4th-gen Intel processors will be headed to iMacs and Mac minis towards the end of the year.

In a more recent report, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple will introduce new MacBook Pro and Air updates next week at WWDC that will include an upgrade to Haswell. Yesterday, we posted even more evidence with SKUs showing that Apple is likely planning a MacBook refresh. Read more

Intel announces 2014 Thunderbolt update with 4K support; opens door for Retina iMacs?

Retina iMac mockup via MacSpoilers

Retina iMac mockup via MacSpoilers

Today, Intel announced a new version of its Thunderbolt technology that will ship with devices in 2014. The new Thunderbolt technology supports up to 20Gbps throughput, which is up from the 10 Gbps supported by the current version of Thunderbolt.

Notably, the new technology supports 4K resolutions, which could open the door for even higher-resolution Mac displays. Perhaps, this is the technology that Apple needs to work with in order to begin a Retina display rollout for its all-in-one desktop computer, the iMac, or even Mac Pro compatible Thunderbolt displays.

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Haswell preview suggests similar gains to Ivy Bridge over Sandy Bridge

A detailed performance test of a prototype Core i7 Haswell chip by tom’s Hardware suggests that it will offer a 7 percent to 13 percent performance gain over equivalent Ivy Bridge CPUs—a similar gain to that experienced with the move from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge.

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The integrated HD 4600 GPU experiences an impressive speed boost of almost 30 percent, but the website noted that this still won’t allow for comfortable gaming on HD monitors, so gamers will need discrete graphics chips.

While performance gains reached up to 75 percent in the case of some specific tasks, the gains for typical desktop applications are relatively modest.