The next Macs: What we expect

Along with a likely iPad Mini, Apple also looks ready to announce one or more new Macs next week. Here's a look at what's probable -- and what's not.

Sarah Tew/CNET

By now, the fact that Apple is holding a press event on October 23 is old news. It's widely agreed that the long-rumored smaller iPad will finally be unveiled. But it's likely that the iPad Mini isn't the only thing that Apple will have up its sleeve. Expect to see at least one new Mac grace the stage during Tuesday's event.

CNET's live coverage of Apple's event next Tuesday

There are a couple of reasons I'm confident that we'll see new Macs. First off, they're overdue -- Apple refreshed MacBooks last summer, but the desktop models are still running 2011 Intel chips. Secondly, this is a great time for Apple to play spoiler: Microsoft is launching Windows 8 next Friday. It makes plenty of sense for Apple to try to dampen some of that thunder with news for the Mac stalwarts.

Of course, the rumor mill is far from a consensus as to which model will receive an update. Rather than try to predict what Apple might do, following is the status, rumor-based or otherwise, of each Mac system that has not yet received an update this year.

iMac

Last update: May 3, 2011
Latest rumor: "Details of redesigned iMac surface in China"
Apple has traditionally updated its flagship desktop line on a fairly regular annual basis. Now approaching 18 months between updates, the iMac is due for a refresh to Intel's new Ivy Bridge CPU family. A Chinese forum post claiming inside information says we'll see a new 21.5-inch iMac soon, followed later by a new 27-inch model. Fans are clamoring for a Retina screen on Apple's signature desktop, though it's unclear if such a large high-res screen will result in an impossibly high price.

Mac Mini

Last update: July 20, 2011
Latest rumor: "New Mac Minis said to join rumored iPad Mini debut"
9-to-5 Mac cites unnamed sources in its prediction for a new Mac Mini next week. Right now Apple is 14 months between Mac Mini renewals. That might seem like a lot, but it's only the second-longest gap between models for Apple's slim budget desktop.
Apple

Mac Pro

Last update: August 9, 2010 (minor CPU update June 11, 2012 )
Latest rumor: More like a confirmation. "Apple CEO says Mac Pro update to come 'next year'"
Apple could always move up its production time table, but CEO Tim Cook went on the record earlier this year citing 2013 as the date for the new Mac Pros.
Sarah Tew/CNET

MacBook Pro

Last update: June 11, 2012
Latest rumor: "13-inch Retina MacBook Pro due with iPad Mini, report claims"
9-to-5 Mac and NPD analyst (and CNET alum) Richard Shim both think we'll see a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display soon, if not officially during Tuesday's event.

CNET's live coverage of Apple's event next Tuesday
 

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