Too Soon? Apple Could Release M4-Powered MacBooks as Early as This Year

Too Soon? Apple Could Release M4-Powered MacBooks as Early as This Year

Sure, Apple may already have its M3 chip, one it dropped a little more than a year after the M2 saw the light of day. Sure, the company’s M-series silicon line has already proved a standout among computer processors, but even that wasn’t enough. According to the latest rumblings from the corner of 1 Infinite Loop, Apple is set to release another chip this year, the fabled M4, alongside a new production of iMacsMacBooks, and even a new Mac Mini. This new chip will be very AI-centric, and to be honest, we couldn’t be less enthused about it than if you had told us it was also made of candy.

The M3 has spent just five months in the cradle, but new reports suggest there’s a new baby on the way, and it’s already in production. Bloomberg’s Apple guru Mark Gurman wrote Thursday that Apple will again try to use a new chip design to help push even more laptops and computers. According to Gurman’s unnamed sources who have inside knowledge, the chip will yet again come in three distinct flavors.

Last year’s M3 lineup included the base chip, the M3 Pro, and the M3 Max. While Apple had previously released an M2 Ultra to be the biggest, enterprise-level processor available, Apple would instead prefer to update its entire Mac lineup to sport these new CPUs.

The Cupertino, California company could launch these new Macs sometime late this year. WWDC 2024 is set to take place in June, and we already expect it to be huge on AI, even though it will most likely focus on phonestablets, and perhaps other wearables. Gurman noted the company might talk up the M4 chip during its biggest tech conference of the year.

What New Apple Products Will Reportedly Sport a New M4 Chip?

So, if Gurman is to be believed, we’ll yet again see a new slate of Macs crowding the already crowded lineup. Bloomberg suggests we’ll get a new iMac (though no word on sizes, as much as we would like a new 32-inch model), a low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro, a high-end 14-inch, plus 16-inch varieties. Most interestingly, we might see a new Mac Mini, a design that seemed to skip entirely over the M3 chip. According to Bloomberg, the Mac Pro might also eventually get the most powerful version of the M4, which is currently called Hydra. There’s still no word on a new suped-up Mac Studio, so we’ll have to wait and see.

While Apple released its M2 MacBook Pro in January 2023, the company also brought out its M3 MacBook in October of the same year. They included some moderate performance updates, easily topping out as the most powerful MacBooks available, but they were also very similar to the previous M2 line.

The M4 chip will reportedly last through 2025, when the company will ostensibly release more products with the new chip, including new MacBook Airs. We initially hoped to get far more mileage out of the M3 than we apparently have, so who knows if Apple would also try and sell us on the M5 chip in that time. The Cupertino company is reportedly trying to make up for sluggish Mac sales from 2022 to 2023. Mac shipments were down early in 2023, and the company ended up down 27% in Mac sales at the end of last September. The company’s previous quarterly earnings report ending Dec. 30 of last year shows Mac sales only increased moderately compared to the same period in 2022.

Why Is Everybody Releasing New Chips All the Sudden?

Beyond the hype, Apple may be extra concerned about the competition and all the hubbub surrounding “AI PCs.” Intel started the ball rolling with its Meteor Lake series of mobile chips like the Intel Core Ultra 7 and Core Ultra 9. Most new Windows-based PCs this year all sport that tagline, along with a Copilot button, which is supposed to offer quick access to Microsoft’s AI based on OpenAI’s model.

Qualcomm is set to release Snapdragon X Elite, its ARM-based CPU, in June. The company has told Gizmodo (and gave us some insight in a few in-person benchmarks) that the new chip outranks the Ultra 7 in benchmark performance with up to 60% better power efficiency for the same capabilities. The company also claims its AI capabilities are 4.5 times better than Intel’s current chips.

These claims are all centered around the NPU, a neural processing unit Qualcomm says tops out at 45 TOPS, which stands for “trillions of operations per second.” Of course, Intel has yet another series of chips in the pipeline, the Lunar Lake series, which the company recently claimed also had 45 TOPS in its NPU alone, going further to say the CPUs could do more than 100 TOPS altogether. It’s a silly marketing speech, but that’s where we’re at today in the CPU market.

The funny thing is that Apple’s M-series chips already have a neural processing component; it’s just that the company hasn’t needed to talk it up until now. The company started mentioning it with this latest MacBook Air release, and it seems it will only get louder from here. We’ve stood the regular M3 chip side by side with an Intel Core Ultra 7 in a Dell XPS 14 and found them relatively comparable, though the M3 still wins in single-thread capabilities.

The current M3 chip can run a chatbot natively and not in the cloud (though not as fast as one would want, judging by our tests on the M3 MacBook Air). The same goes for the current Meteor Lake chips, though at the moment, you won’t find any of the biggest brands promoting that kind of software that’s not running in the cloud. The advent of the “AI PC” seemed extra premature when considering all the new chips coming out when they all want to claim they’ll have the capacity for on-device AI. Then again, we’re just so tired of the empty promises. It will be even worse if these new M4 MacBooks look and function the same as the M3, which look and function exactly like the M2. Knowing the speed at which these new chips are coming out, we’re not holding much hope.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.