Forget the MacBook Pro, Apple has something better

Forget the MacBook Pro, Apple has something better

MacBook Pro Apple

Apple leaks throughout the year pointed to October for the first M3-powered MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models. Recent reports are more cautious over the timing, but those looking to upgrade will be excited to read Apple’s plans for the next generation of macOS laptops.

Monday October 9th: Apple is not the only company working to improve laptop hardware. Intel supplies much of Apple’s competition with its range of CPUs. The Meteor Lake and Raptor Lake Refresh variants will both be here for the holidays, but the generation after that – Arrow Lak and Lunar Lake – has caught many’s eye this weekend.

This wekeend, the new Lunar Lake CPU was spotted in a benchmarking suite, specifically the SiSoftware Sandra suite. This chipset is expected to be the mobile processor laptop variant. Darren Allan reports:

“..this processor appears to be a chip with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, and that backs up a previous piece of speculation that the top CPU for Lunar Lake will be a 4+4 configuration here… Further specs detailed include boost speeds running up to 3.9GHz, and a base clock of 1GHz (clearly something to do with this being a sample chip). Power usage is shown at 17W, again aligning with expectations from the rumor mill.”

In other words, Intel is leaning heavily into providing better battery life and improved power efficiency.

If those two features sound familiar, it’s because these have been the tentpole benefits Apple’s marketing has leaned on for its Apple Silicon chipsets found in the macOS platform. The first M1 chips catapulted the first MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops comfortably ahead of the similarly priced laptops that were powered by Intel.

Since then, the x86 architecture has been improving to match and exceed Apple’s ARM-based chips. While some way out from a commercial release (mid- to late- 2024), Intel has risen to Apple’s challenge. The question now will be how big an advantage will the new M3 Apple Silicon family take before Intel delivers and what other hardware changes Apple can make to improve the laptop’s efficiency.

First reported by Digitimes, the next MacBook Pro models will switch to a more efficient display with mniLED backlighting. While the ability to increase the brightness by ten per cent more than the current displays is the headline figure, Apple could take the alternative approach to turn down the brightness to a similar level and take the increased battery life as the primary benefit.

While Digitimes are generally accurate in the features that will be added to consumer technology – unsurprising given it focuses much of its coverage on the supply chain – it’s less stellar around potential release dates and schedules. The same report suggests that these new MacBooks will be launched by the end of the year.

That’s a courageous call and one that doesn’t fit Apple’s expected timeline. Apple has yet to launch any M3-based Macs, and no major press events are scheduled before the year’s end. While Apple could launch by press release, the move to the M3 architecture may demand more.

The M3 technology is expected to be based around 3nm fabrications, just as the current A17 Pro chipsets in the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max smartphones. Apple is looking at long lead times on these handsets, and many believe that production limits around the 3nm chipsets is a contributing factor.

It would be a sensible choice to focus supplies on the iPhone during its most popular time of year.

Not only that, but the laptops under discussion are the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. When you look at the M1 and M2 portfolios, the larger professional laptops were launched several months after the consumer-focused MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops. The latter consumer models open up the new generation with the base Mxx chipset, and the former professional models introduce the Mxx Pro and Mxx Max chipsets that offer more power and potential.

Launching the new professional laptops before or alongside the consumer laptops, would be a departure from a pattern Apple has established over many years. Arriving in the first half of 2024 is much more likely.

That doesn’t stop the more efficient miniLED screens from being welcome. Still, if you are looking at a professional MacBook Pro laptop, the M3 family will offer significant updates with Apple Silicon, the design, and the display. It may be best to be patient.

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