Mac desktop and laptops due for refreshing: Buy now or wait?

If you need to buy new Mac systems, the question is buy now or wait and see how the rumored model refreshes go. Here's a quick rundown of the possibilities from Erik Eckel.

About the only regret a Mac customer ever experiences is buying a new Mac immediately prior to faster or improved models being released. If you're preparing to purchase new Macs in your business, depending upon the models needed, you may wish to wait. Here are the details.


While a business that needs a new Mac desktop immediately really has no choice but to buy the needed system now, organizations that have the option to hold on for a bit might want to evaluate the new iMac, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro models that are just around the corner.

The iMac series was last refreshed in early May 2011. Rumors run rampant that Apple may leverage anti-reflective glass in the next generation, which may well include faster Intel CPUs. Current iMacs can be ordered with Quad-Core Intel Core i5 CPUs and include 4GB of RAM by default.  Users can specify up to 2TB of storage with the 21.5" 2.7GHz edition or 27" versions.

Mac Minis, meanwhile, haven't been updated since July 2011. The bring-your-own-display small form factor computers are typically refreshed every 230 to 330 days, which places the Mac Mini within its upgrade window. Intel Core i5 CPUs power current Mac Minis with 2GB to 4GB of RAM by default, depending upon the model. Users can specify up to a 750GB hard disk in the workstation models or 1.5TB of total storage on the server version.

Mac Pros, designed for the most demanding of workstation tasks, haven't been fully revved since July of 2010. Common rumors suggest new models may switch to using Nvidia graphics cards (replacing ATI Radeon graphics engines) and upgrade to Intel Xeon E 5 series processors. Current systems leverage Quad-Core Intel Xeon Nehalem or Westmere CPUs. However, current Mac Pros can still be configured to meet the needs of the most demanding environments, with a 12-core option capable of supporting 64GB DDR3 RAM and 8TB of preformatted storage.


Businesses needing MacBook Pros before May or June should be okay, but there are never any guarantees. Although the platform was last updated in October, Apple often updates the MacBook Pro line quickly. MacBook Pro rumors suggest current inventories are running low due to Apple's preparing to release refreshed 15" versions. But should your organization need a fast 15" or 17" Mac laptop right now, you will find that current models boast excellent power and capacity (Quad-Core i7 CPUs, 4GB RAM by default and up to 750GB hard drives).

MacBook Airs, meanwhile, were last refreshed later than the MacBook Pros. Some rumors claim 14" models may be in development. Regardless, Apple rarely lets a year pass before the platform is updated, and the last Air editions were released in summer 2011, so new systems could be arriving soon. Currently, Intel Core i5 dual-core chips and Intel graphics engines power 11" and 13" versions. The ultra-lightweight systems boast flash storage holding 64GB to 256GB on the 11" versions or 128GB to 256GB of storage on the 13" models. Most Airs ship with 4GB of RAM, although the entry-level 11" version by default includes just 2GB.

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