New MacBook Pros coming?

A couple of Apple-centric sites are signaling that a refresh of MacBook Pros is likely in the next few weeks. But don't expect anything along the lines of a redesign. Most likely it will just be internal tweaks.

Just when you thought it was safe to buy a new Apple product. New MacBook Pros may be on the way, according to a pair of Apple enthusiast Web sites.

Apple

9to5Mac kicked off the speculation last week when it claimed new MacBook Pros may be launching soon.

And Apple Insider is now chiming in, saying the launch date may be later than 9to5Mac's wager on next week.

Apple Insider adds that the shutdown of facilities at Catcher Technology --which makes the aluminum chassis for MacBook Pros--isn't helping matters.

Whatever the timing turns out to be, updates to all MacBook Pro models have appeared in Apple's inventory system for the 13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch screen sizes, according to 9to5Mac.

If new MacBook Pros do indeed materialize in the next few weeks, don't expect a redesign, however. It would likely be more of an internal refresh of existing designs. Which means faster Intel "Sandy Bridge" processors.

Wondering what new Sandy Bridge chips may find their way into new 15-inch and 17-inch Pros? This Intel model list may offer some guidance. The quad-core Sandy Bridge models at the top are the newest.

For example, the i7-2860QM is rated at 2.5GHz with a "max Turbo Frequency" of 3.6GHz. The launch date is listed as "Q4'11"--one of Intel's newest processor SKUs. Another candidate might be the i7-2960XM rated at 2.7GHz.

Pricing for the new MacBook Pros is the same as the models they would be replacing, 9to5Mac says.

If you're waiting for an even bigger MacBook update to Intel's USB 3.0-packing next-generation Ivy Bridge processor, don't hold your breath. That likely won't happen until late spring or early summer 2012.

And note that Best Buy--though likely not related--is offering discounts on current MacBook Pros. For example, a new 15.4-inch MacBook Pro (model: MC721LL/A) is now going for $1,709.99. That's $90 off the regular price.

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