Apple on Tuesday continued its season of incremental Mac updates, announcing refreshed MacBook Pros with slightly faster processors and, in the case of its high-end configuration, a $100 price cut. In line with recent rumors, Apple also bumped up the base RAM in some models.
Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display still starts at $1,299 but now comes with a 2.6 GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, up from a 2.4 GHz model, and 8 GB of RAM, up from 4 GB in the previous model. The device still comes with a 128 GB PCIe-based flash storage drive. For $1,499, Apple bumps storage to 256 GB, and for $1,799, users can move to a 2.8 GHz processor and 512 GB of storage. Built-to-order options for the 13 inch model allow for up to a 3.0 GHz dual-core i7 processor, up to 16 GB of memory, and up 1 TB of flash-based storage. That setup will run $2,699.
Apple's 15 inch Retina model, meanwhile, still starts at $1,999, but now boasts a 2.2 GHz quad-core i7 processor, bumped up slightly from a 2.0 GHz chip in the older model, and 16 GB of RAM. Base storage capacity is still 256 GB, however. Apple's top-of-the-line model now runs $2,499, $100 less than before. It offers a 2.5 GHz quad-core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, and both Intel's integrated Iris Pro Graphics, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 750M card with 2 GB of memory. As was the case before, only the high-end model features a discrete graphics card. Buyers can max out the 15 inch model with up to 1 TB of flash storage and a slightly faster 2.8GHz i7 chip. Those updates bring the price to $3,199.
Apple also cut $100 from the price of its non-Retina 13 inch MacBook Pro, which hasn't been updated since 2012. The only model to still feature an optical drive, it now starts at $1,099 and offers a 2.5 GHz dual-core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB 5,400 rpm hard drive. Apple claims this model is particularly popular among Windows switchers.
With Intel facing delays in its next-gen "Broadwell" chips, Apple has focused in recent months on modest spec bumps and small price cuts. Last month, the company launched a new, modestly powered iMac for $1,099. While not exactly budget friendly, the device is $200 cheaper than the previous entry-level model. Apple also refreshed its MacBook Air lineup at the end of April, with slightly faster processors and $100 price cuts.
[Apple is facing many challenges. Read Apple iPad Loses Tablet Market Share.]
Over the last year, numerous supply chain reports and rumors have maintained Apple is working on a new 12 inch MacBook that will feature a Retina display, a redesigned trackpad, and a design that is both thinner than the current Air, and built without a fan. Recent reports claim that Broadwell delays could push the device, originally alleged to be a 2014 release, into early 2015, and that substantially improved, Broadwell-based MacBook Pros might not arrive until the spring, if not later.
Despite its focus on stop-gap upgrades, Apple's Mac business outperformed the market in the most recent quarter. According to the company's earnings report, it sold 4.4 million Macs during its fiscal Q3 and enjoyed 18% year-over-year growth. Interestingly, Apple's figures contradict those released by research firms Gartner and IDC, both of which said Apple lost ground. Looking specifically at the enterprise, other data indicates that Macs remain far outnumbered by PCs, but that more and more businesses are supporting Apple machines for at least some employees.
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