New M2 MacBook Air. M2 MacBook Pro. Dual M1 Max iMac Pro. M1 Max Mac mini Pro. Quad M1 Max Mac Pro. And maybe, just maybe, a new Xeon AMD Mac Pro. Wait what?!
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I’m going to get to the upcoming ultra low power Macs — the next generation in a minute, but just a reminder: Nothing is official or CONFIRMED until Apple announces it on stage or drops a press release on the net. They’re a logical company that sticks to pattern right up until they don’t, so a lot of this really makes the kind of sense that does, but if 2020 and 2020 Jr have taught us anything, it’s that things can and will change, especially schedules… even in 2020… 2.
First up, a new MacBook Air with a sleeker, slimmer redesign, off-white bezels, and all the 24-inch iMac inspired taste the rainbow of skittle pop flavors. And I’m not even going to lie, I’m so beyond hype about this. Mini-LED display, because larger sized OLED panels are still problematic in ways Apple finds even more irksome than blooming or jittering, and fanless M2 silicon inside. Which should mean slightly better performance power cores, way better efficiency cores, way, way better graphics cores, maybe some hot media engine action, but… probably not much longer battery life. I’m guessing Apple will spend that bigger efficiency budget on a smaller casing again.
But, that’s what the new 2-port MacBook Pro will be for. Almost as portable as the MacBook Air, not quite as powerful as the real-deal MacBooks Pro, it may not get the colors, or at least the same colors, stick to a black bezel, go full-on mini-LED and M2, but in an enclosure that’s slightly roomier, with batteries that are slightly bigger, and with an active cooling system that’ll let it run slightly hotter, for slightly longer. Maybe with even better battery life, unless Apple shrink-wraps a new casing around it as well. Either way, think of it less as a MacBook Pro Air and more of a MacBook Air Pro.
As to whether or not Apple will put an M2 in the current M1 Mac mini, it’s legit hard to say. The entry-level mini has already suffered through a decade of neglect, including a couple of years from 2018 to 2020 where Apple blipped it completely out of existence. Gave it’s room to a pricier, space grayer model and everything. I’m a firm believer that Apple should update everything, every year. I know some people hate that. They want Apple to only ever make something when they’re ready to buy and then not make anything ever again until they personally are ready to buy again, but that’s so bleak. Apple should have piping fresh Macs ready every year, because any given year, someone is going to buy, and everyone deserves the most recent, up-to-date, longest lasting device they can get any time they want to buy.
Ditto the 24-inch M1 iMac. I can’t see Apple doing a big update to the entry-level all-in one again so soon, not since it only just went all-new. But I’d love it if Apple refreshed it with M2. Just, yeah, M2 all the things. Same way they used to spec update Intel… whenever Intel could actually ship a chip… Do that with the Macs. Only trouble spot I see is M2 availability. iPhone will always get priority on any node, new or old. But then supply will go to the new machines, like the MacBook Air and the MagSafe iPad Pro. Only then, only if there’s enough yield, and it fits within the bill of goods, will Apple start looking at refreshes. And normally, I’d push hard for it. But, third year in a row, I figure nothing will be normal about 2022 either.
Now, before we get to Xeon, there are some ultra high performance Apple Silicon Macs to talk about.
The 27-inch iMac Pro leads that particular pack. And yeah, the latest rumors have moved away from 32-inch and settled on 27-inch, with matching stand-alone Apple Cinema displays to complement them. I just did a whole entire video on those, link in the description right below the like button. Thinner body, thinner bezels, maybe just silver and space gray but maybe more colors as well, just not those classic Apple logo colors like the 24-inch. Mini-LED display with ProMotion up to 120Hz adaptive refresh and, fingers crossed, a nano-texture option. I mean, I’m going to go glorious gloss, but I feel for those who can’t. MagSafe and more ports, as all pro machines should. And then M1 Pro or M1 Max inside, just like the recently unleashed new MacBooks Pro. Yes, MacBooks, it a West Wing thing, relax about it. And since Apple silicon runs so much cooler than intel, maybe, just maybe, a dual M1 Max option to really kick the iMac up a notch.
And there’s rumored to be a new Mac mini Pro to go right along with it. Or instead of it. Not an all-in-one, but a all-in-none. None in one? You know what I mean. Smaller enclosure, maybe with a polycarbonate top, maybe with some iMac-matching colors splashed in. MagSafe and even more ports. And M1 Pro and M1 Max inside. Maybe a dual M1 Max option as well, depending on how much smaller Apple makes the enclosure, and how much the resulting thermals can really handle. Then just attach it to one of the hot new 24-inch, 27-inch, or 32-inch new displays, or an old broken one, and forget letting it rip. Let it roar. Because I sincerely think this’ll be the Mac mini every pro has really been waiting for.
Will there be M2 Max MacBook Pros in 2022? Never say never, but I’d bet against it at this point. Apple only just pushed out the M1 Pro and M1 Max, almost a full year after M1, so I wouldn’t expect M2 Pro and M2 Max until early 2023… or maybe never. And by that I mean, Apple could go straight to M3 Pro and M3 Max instead. Because Apple doesn’t always make extended or pro versions of every silicon generation. There was an A10X, an A12X and Z, and an A14X in the form of M1, but there was no A11X or A13X, so it’s not hard to imagine Apple might apply that same strategy here. Especially since it’ll let them push out even more impressive updates, thanks to A16 and M3 likely being on TSMCs next-generation 4 or 3 nanometer nodes. Those… aren’t actual sizes. They’re just marketing terms. But they’re smaller, which will mean better efficiency and performance, and a bunch more transistors for Apple’s silicon team to play around with.
Then, the Mac Pro. First, a smaller version with M1 Max, Dual M1 Max, and… hold onto your butts, Quad M1 Max options. That’s the kind of space and thermal overhead Apple will save from ripping out those blast furnaces and associated hellicarrier fans with Intel and AMD logos on them. Jury’s out on how modular it’ll remain with Apple Silicon and Unified Memory. Apple’s done off-package memory for iOS devices before, so I’m ruling nothing out, but it might also take another generation or two before Apple fully matures their next-generation expansion pack system. So, while even the idea of 4x M1 Max pretty much lights my brainstem on fire, for those who really still need a more traditional system…
Yeah, Intel Xeon and AMD RDNA Mac Pro. And I’ve been hearing whispers of this — one final big metal upgrade — since 2020, when Apple was pushing out all of their other last calls on the Intel line up. But, as time went on, Intel delays mounted, and shipping chips had little to nothing to offer for Apple’s set enclosure sizes, I kinda figured the odds we’d ever see it were getting less and less likely. Firefly reboot less likely. But now it sounds like Intel might just have it’s Xeons back in order, AMD is still pushing extra try hard, and Apple could spin out one last traditional Mac Pro to tide over power users and studios that still depend on traditional x86 software, especially niche and in-house software that needs even more time to make the Apple Silicon Switch. Basically, Apple’s going to have the motorcycles. The cars. Even the SUVs and trucks. All converted over, all by Tim Cook’s 2-year deadline. But they’re still going to keep one Intel bulldozer out back, at least for another year or two, until Apple Silicon scales all the way to… forget trucks and dozers. To Optimus Prime.