Tuesday, August 21, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Forthcoming MacBook and Mac mini Updates

Mark Gurman and Debby Wu (tweet):

Apple Inc. will release a new low-cost laptop and a professional-focused upgrade to the Mac mini desktop later this year[…]

[…]

Apple is also planning the first upgrade to the Mac mini in about four years. […] The computer has been favored because of its lower price, and it’s popular with app developers, those running home media centers, and server farm managers. For this year’s model, Apple is focusing primarily on these pro users, and new storage and processor options are likely to make it more expensive than previous versions, the people said.

This sounds kind of like the xMac, which could be a good thing. I’m not sure that a low-cost modular Mac remains an important niche. But I do hope the new MacBook is priced a lot lower.

Previously: On the Sad State of Macintosh Hardware, Mac mini Turning 3.5 Years Old

Update (2018-08-22): John Gruber:

A new MacBook at the $999 price point and a new Mac Mini are both genuine news. But there’s no way around the fact that this report raises more questions about both products than it supplies answers. Is the new MacBook an updated MacBook Air with a retina display and smaller bezels, or the existing 12-inch MacBook with a lower price? Or is it the no-touch-bar MacBook Pro with a lower price? Or something else entirely? We don’t know, and this report doesn’t say. How can Gurman know these things are imminent but not know the details about them? Or maybe he does know the details but can’t say? At a meta level I find this fascinating.

Michael Simon:

But if Apple is indeed giving the Mac mini a reimagined revamp, there are a few things it absolutely needs to include if Apple hopes to return it to its glory days.

Ben Bajarin:

On the rumor of a lower price Mac, see this article I wrote for iMore three years ago outlining how the Mac could eat into PC market share in a big way.

Update (2018-08-23): John Gruber (tweet):

But the more I think about it, the more I think that something along the lines of the “just put a retina display in the MacBook Air” scenario seems the most likely. Nomenclaturally it makes no sense. The computer named just-plain “MacBook” should logically be the one that is the baseline best-selling model for the masses. The one named “Air” should be the one that is as thin and lightweight as is feasible. But today we’re three years into the era when the just-plain MacBook is the radically thin and light model, and the Air is the best-selling baseline model that isn’t really any thinner or lighter than the Pro models. Well, so what? We drive on parkways and park on driveways and no one is confused.

See also: Hacker News.

Update (2018-08-30): Brian Stucki:

Let it be known: I was there when the original Mac mini was announced, have been promoting it constantly for 13 years, and have purchased 1000s of them. Most of my career has been built on this box. When the new one arrives, I’d like to be there.

Stefan Constantine:

Curious to see what this so called MacBook Air refresh is going to cost, because stuff like this makes recommending Apple (or even Windows) laptops hard.

Juli Clover:

Intel this afternoon officially debuted its new eighth-generation U-series “Whiskey Lake” and Y-series “Amber Lake” chips, which are designed for use in thin, light notebooks like the MacBook and the MacBook Air.

See also: The Talk Show, Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2018-09-08): Riccardo Mori:

So, what I’m thinking is that Apple could equip this purported low-cost MacBook Air successor with a ‘good enough’ Retina display, maybe a high-density display that’s not as full-featured as the one in the MacBook Pro line; it could lack wide colour gamut support, for example.

Or, Apple could produce a MacBook using less premium materials, while maintaining the thin-and-light design. I’m insisting on this aspect because, firstly, I see a lot of competitors manufacture decent laptops that feel nice, are affordable, and retain a certain design quality without necessarily being assembled with costly materials.

Update (2018-10-19): Joe Rossignol:

The latest Mac mini, introduced on October 16, 2014, is four years old as of this week.

[…]

The good news is that the long wait for an update may be coming to an end, as two reliable sources in Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Apple scoopster Mark Gurman both expect a new Mac mini to be released later this year.

Kuo didn’t have a lot of information to share on the Mac mini, but he said a processor upgrade is expected. Gurman revealed more ambitious plans, claiming that the Mac mini is set to receive a “professional-focused upgrade,” with new storage and processor options likely to make it “more expensive” than previous models.

Ilja A. Iwas:

Doesn’t sound good. I want an entry level Mac with a good price/performance ratio, not another overpriced ‘Pro’-Mac.

Meek Geek:

Mac mini 2014 was a downgrade:

- Server models with 2 drives & quad core CPUs axed

- No removable SO-DIMM RAM slots: BTO at Apple’s RAM prices

- Removable bottom cover gone: Hard to DIY upgrade hard drives

- Radeon GPU model gone

In effect, 6 years since a decent refresh.

4 Comments

There is no way they could do a cheaper Mac without switching to either AMD or their own SoC. The Intel CPU, Chipset, and Thunderbolt Controller represent from 30% to 50% of BOM cost. And at this moment, Intel promised of Open Thunderbolt spec has yet to happen. Which means ~$50 are being paid for 4 TB3 port.

I have always said if Apple wasn't at war with Qualcomm, and Intel is now their (only) friends for iPhone Modem, they wouldn't have let the Mac slide into its current state.

@Ed I don’t think Thunderbolt is a necessity for a low-end Mac, and without that there are tons of PC laptops with Intel for under $500. Plus, I doubt it would be 4 TB 3 ports since Apple only offers that on the MacBook Pro (and the MacBook has none).

@Ed How much does a battery, keyboard/trackpad, and screen cost? Add 140% (to cover Apple's sacred profit margins) of the cost of those three items to the cost of a basic mac mini, and you have what they could sell a low priced macbook for.

I guesstimate $50 for a screen, $100 for a battery, another $50 for odds and ends. Call it $250, plus margin is around $350. Apple could sell an entry level Macbook for around $850 and still make their accustomed margins.

Bad Uncle Leo

Whatever Apple does, they won’t go back to the commonsense days of 2012.

Whatever they *do* come up with, I predict that we’re all going to be mocking it as “the lunchbox Pro” —and not paying $1500 for the privilege of something that is not user serviceable at all.

If I really need another replacement Mac Mini, I think the choices are obvious. If you don’t want to hackintosh, whatever Other World Computing has for second hand is more than reasonable.

Apple hasn’t given power users what they’ve wanted for years...Why should they start now?

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