One Last Intel MacBook Could Still Be Coming This Year

16 inch MacBook Pro Credit: Apple
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Apple may be giving Intel one last hurrah before its transition to Apple Silicon, with new evidence suggesting that a new 16-inch MacBook Pro is the near horizon.

Even though Apple announced back in June that it would have its first Apple Silicon Macs out by the end of this year, we’ve actually long suspected that Apple still had at least one more Intel MacBook up its sleeve, since the 16-inch MacBook Pro has been lagging behind its smaller 13-inch siblings, which were refreshed a few months ago with Intel’s latest 10th-gen CPUs, and the larger MacBook isn’t due to get the Apple Silicon treatment until some time in 2021.

The 16-inch MacBook, which made its debut around this time last year, still remains saddled with an older 9th-generation Intel CPU, which has left Apple’s premium laptop a notch behind, and while Apple is expected to announce the transition of some of its MacBooks to Apple Silicon as soon as next month, there’s every reason to believe that will be limited to the 13-inch models, since Apple appears to be focusing right now on the more inexpensive and popular models that don’t include discrete graphics.

The idea of one more Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro isn’t all that strange either, considering Apple basically did the same thing with the 2020 iMac, which was released earlier this summer amidst rumours of a new design that never actually materialized. Instead, Apple bumped it up to a 10th-gen Intel chip and finally added the T2 chip and a 1080p FaceTime camera to its desktop Mac.

While the 16-inch MacBook Pro is already a slight redesign from the classic 15.4-inch MacBooks that previously made up the top end of Apple’s MacBook family for years, it wasn’t the major redesign that many analysts had been predicting, and like the reports of a redesigned iMac, we’re fairly confident that Apple is saving the big new designs to herald the arrival of its first Apple Silicon Macs.

What’s Coming

Rumours of a new 16-inch MacBook Pro have surfaced as a result of an update to Apple’s Boot Camp utility — the tool used to partition a Mac for a separate Windows installation — that makes a specific reference to an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Although Apple did release a new higher-end graphics option for the 16-inch MacBook Pro earlier this year, that was simply one configure-to-order option, and not enough to warrant a whole new model year; Apple still refers to all configurations of the larger MacBook as “16-inch MacBook Pro (2019).”

However, as discovered by readers of MacRumors, the release notes for the Boot Camp 6.1.13 update now include a reference to stability fixes on “16-inch MacBook Pro (2019 and 2020)” models.

While it’s possible that this could be a mistake — especially considering that it’s listing a fix for a problem that would have to still exist in an unreleased MacBook — the timing seems about right for Apple to refresh its 16-inch MacBook Pro, and not only has it already been pretty well-established that the larger MacBook isn’t ready for Apple Silicon yet, but the fact that Boot Camp is only supported on Intel-based Macs adds more weight to the idea that if a 2020 16-inch MacBook Pro is in the cards, it will still be using an Intel chip.

Apple is rumoured to be planning an event on November 17th to announce its Apple Silicon-based Mac lineup, although it seems more likely that an Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro would be slipped out via press release, much like Apple did with its 2020 iMac last summer, since it’s hard to imagine it sharing the stage with an entirely new generation of Apple Silicon MacBooks.

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