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It might be easy to forget that Apple still makes Macs. The only model that's been updated since the launch of the iPhone 4S is the MacBook Pro, and we've seen two iPad models since the Mac Pro's last refresh--but that's about to change. According to the rumors, Apple seems poised to revamp its entire line of computers (or most of it, anyway) when Intel's new Ivy Bridge processors, a more efficient, turbo-charged enhancement to the Sandy Bridge chips currently powering Apple's family of Macs (except the Xeon-based Mac Pro), release at the end of the month.
Much like the A5 chip inside the new iPad, the Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge processors offer a serious graphical boost over their predecessors, via Intel's new integrated graphics chipset, dubbed HD 4000. In fact allegedly leaked Intel slides uncovered by Xbit-labs late last year show a modest improvement in performance due to "architecture improvements and higher Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 frequencies" and a "faster, larger cache," but on the graphics side of things, the performance boost approached 200 percent in some tests.
Of course, we've learned to be skeptical of in-house company data, so we were pleasantly surprised by a recent benchmark of a Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge "Hackintosh Mac Pro" running 10.7.3, which received a Geekbench score of 13453, about 1,000 points higher than the best iMac money can buy.
Similarly, comparison Windows 7 desktop tests done by Anandtech found a 5 to 15 percent increase in performance and "significant" graphics gains--up to 50 percent over Sandy Bridge--along with "pretty good" power savings. Japanese site EXPreview also found a near 85 percent GPU improvement with HD Graphics 4000, all of which should be rather useful for the rumored "retina" MacBooks and all those HiDPI Mountain Lion apps and icons.