MacBook Pros, an “M1X” Chip, and More to Expect at Apple’s October Event

Apple could get ready to show us the next step in MacBook Pro development.
Enlarge / Apple could get ready to show us the next step in MacBook Pro development.

Another month, another Apple event. After a September event that delivered new updates for the entire iPhone lineup, new iPads, and a slightly modified Apple Watch, Apple is gearing up for another event on Monday, October 18. And this time around, we expect the company to focus on the Mac, which is still in the midst of a transition from Intel chips to Apple Silicon chips that make new Macs exciting and important in a way they haven’t done it in years.

We’ll be watching live from 10 a.m. Pacific on Monday, but in the meantime we’ve rounded up all the current rumors and put together a list of things we’re most likely to see (plus a couple of things this is not as likely). The short version is that Apple should finally get ready to show us some high-performance Apple Silicon chips.

The “M1X” chip, or whatever its name

Just like the MacBook Air, the latest 13in MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, and the 24in iMac all use the same M1 chip, we expect the next Mac series to share the same silicon as well. Commonly referred to as “M1X,” the exact specs of the chip are a bit of a mystery, as Apple’s chip designs are among its best-kept secrets. But it’s not hard to guess the gist of what we’ll get: new chips that improve the performance of the Intel processors they’re replacing while allowing for a dramatic increase in battery life. Recent Intel MacBook updates have struggled to deliver either of these things, but the M1 Macs have managed to do both.

To replace the high-end Intel Macs, the M1X will need to have a bit more of everything compared to the M1: more processor cores, more GPU cores, and support for more monitors and Thunderbolt and USB ports. Without adapters and docking stations, the M1 can only drive two displays at a time, including the computer’s internal display. We would also expect configurations with more than 16 GB of RAM, the current maximum for Mac M1.

A report late last year suggested that a higher performance chip for MacBook Pros could include up to 16 of Apple’s performance cores, although more recent reports suggest we may be considering a chip with eight performance cores and two low power. kernels of efficiency. Even eight performance cores should be able to beat the 4, 6, 8, and 10-core processors in current Intel Macs. The M1X would also be available with 16 or 32 GPU cores, compared to the seven or eight GPU cores included in the standard M1 (Apple could also improve graphics performance by increasing memory bandwidth, as it did in some older processors. iPad, but we haven’t heard anything specific about it).

New MacBook Pro

The new MacBook Pros that replace the four-port 13in MacBook Pro and 16in MacBook Pro are what we’re most likely to take away from Monday’s event.

Apple’s early Apple Silicon Macs were very conservative from a design standpoint: the MacBook Air, dual-port MacBook Pro, and Mac mini all gave new guts to computers that looked the same as they did. replaced. But the new MacBook Pros could be a little more adventurous, in the vein of the 24-inch iMac.

For example, persistent rumors claim that the 13-inch MacBook Pro could become a 14-inch MacBook Pro. And the breadcrumbs left behind in some beta versions of macOS suggest that Apple is working on laptops with higher resolution displays that could avoid the need for the scaled, non-native resolution than all current MacBooks. use ready-made. With a more efficient chip, Apple could also take the opportunity to reduce the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s huge 100 Wh battery, reducing the size and weight of the laptop by 4.3 pounds. Other improvements could include a more power-efficient mini LED backlight for displays and maybe even a 120Hz refresh rate (the ratio for the 120Hz refresh rate is slim, but it would fit well with macOS Monterey support for external monitors with varying refresh rates).

Other rumors suggest that Apple will revisit some of the more controversial changes to the MacBook Pro in 2016, the last time laptops underwent a complete overhaul. Suspected patterns from the start of the year suggest the MagSafe power connector could make a comeback, along with a full-size HDMI port and an SD card slot. These changes would reduce the number of Thunderbolt ports to three, but having a few types of ports would still make laptops more convenient to use, overall, for people who frequently use external displays or SD cards. The Touch Bar can also be removed in favor of a physical row of function keys.

A faster Mac mini

The Apple Mac mini 2020 equipped with M1.

The Apple Mac mini 2020 equipped with M1.

Samuel Axon

We’d say the new MacBook Pros are pretty much a sure thing, but there are a few less likely but still possible Mac updates that Apple could introduce.

Apple already has an Apple Silicon Mac mini, but you may have noticed that the company continues to sell a version of the 2018 Intel Mac mini with more ports and up to 64GB of RAM. Recent rumors suggest that Apple may replace this machine with some sort of “Mac mini Pro”, which would take advantage of the improved performance and extended connectivity of the M1X. The current Apple Silicon Mac mini is great for basic use or even light photo and video editing, but a Mac mini M1X would be a better workstation for code compilation or professional video editing, tasks that draw generally taken advantage of all the processing performance they have. to have.

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