Mac status report: More laptop and desktop upgrades still possible for 2014

MacBooks and iMacs have already been updated this year, but these systems have not.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read

All eyes will be on Apple's September 9 media event, where products from new iPhones to updated iPads to a potentially category defining wearable might be unveiled. One thing not expected at the 9/9 event is any new Mac hardware, such as updated MacBook laptops or iMac desktops.

That's not because Apple is neglecting the Mac line. Quite the opposite, so far this year we've already seen updates to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines, in multiple screen sizes, as well as a new entry level 21.5-inch iMac all-in-one desktop. But not every Mac has gotten a 2014 update. The models below still have a few months to get new components, designs, or prices, and there's one long-rumored new Mac that might be well-timed with Intel's late 2014 CPU plans.

Mac Mini

This cult-favorite small-form-factor desktop computer may fall into the category of products Apple calls "hobbies," but it still has legions of fans. It's a shame then, that the Mac Mini has not been seriously updated since 2012, which is pretty close to forever in computer terms. The current Mac Mini is a couple of generations behind in its Intel CPU, and could easily benefit from newer processors and newer integrated Intel graphics, plus more efficient SSD storage.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Mac Pro

This unique desktop powerhouse was only released in December 2013, but that means it's nearly one year old, and perhaps ready for an update. But, there's no newer version of the Intel Xeon processor than that in the model we reviewed at launch. The physical design is unlikely to change anytime soon based on the history of Mac Pro designs, but I suppose there's a small chance we could see lower-cost versions with consumer-level Intel CPUs, such as the new high-end Haswell-E series.

Sarah Tew/CNET

27-inch iMac

We saw a new 21.5-inch iMac model earlier in 2013, which hit a new lower price by essentially swapping in laptop-level internal components, making that new model basically a MacBook Air in an iMac body. One could conceivably see a similar update to the larger 27-inch version of the iMac , but a major CPU upgrade might have to wait for Intel's fifth-generation of Core i-series processors, also known by the codename Broadwell, which are not expected to show up in products until early 2015.

James Martin/CNET

The mythical 12-inch Retina MacBook

One new Intel chip that is expected, however, is the Core M, a low-power, low-voltage CPU intended for slim, lightweight, premium-priced laptops, hybrids, and tablets. That could be the perfect platform for a long-rumored new MacBook model with a 12-inch display and slim Air-like body (and hopefully a higher-res Retina display). It's not likely to show up at Apple's 9/9 event, but could be seen later in the year, when Apple often likes to announce computer updates.