Apple M4 chip — everything you need to know

 MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch) on a patio table.
MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch) on a patio table.

The Apple M3 chip is still relatively new but it seems the Cupertino-based tech giant is preparing to refresh its entire Mac line with Apple M4 processors.

This news comes to us by way of Bloomberg reporter and Apple tipster Mark Gurman. According to his sources, the M4 processor will come in “at least three main varieties” and is “nearing production.” Apparently, the new chip will “highlight” artificial intelligence features — no doubt to compete with the slew of “AI laptops” hitting the market.

Apple plans to release the first M4-powered computers by the end of 2024, with more launching in early 2025. This includes new iMacs, MacBook Pros, Mac minis and MacBook Airs. A new Mac Studio and Mac Pro are also expected.

Everything we currently know about Apple M4 comes from Gurman’s recent report. As such, take everything we’re about to discuss with a grain of salt. Here’s what we know about the Apple M4 chip so far.

Apple M4 chip: Release date and price

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

According to Gurman, we won’t have to wait long for Macs featuring an M4 chip.

The first wave of M4 Macs will arrive later this year — possibly around October and November as we’ve seen in the past. This will include “new iMacs, a low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro, high-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, and Mac minis — all with M4 chips.” Of course, this is subject to change, says Gurman.

More M4 computers will ship throughout 2025. This includes updated 13- and 15-inch MacBook Air models in spring, the Mac Studio near the middle of the year and the Mac Pro in the latter half of 2025.

Right now, the entry-level M3 iMac 2023 costs $1,299 while the 14-inch MacBook Pro costs $1,599. The M3 MacBook Air 13- and MacBook Air 15-inch laptops cost $1,099 and $1,299 (respectively). Lastly, the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro starts at $1,999 and a 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499.

Gurman didn’t discuss prices but it’s possible Apple won’t bump up the costs too much, if at all. Of course, we can't say that for certain.

Apple M4 chip: Different chip models

Apple iMac M3 review unit on desk
Apple iMac M3 review unit on desk

The M4 chip line will reportedly come in three main flavors: an entry-level version called Donan, more powerful models named Brava and a higher-end chip codenamed Hidra. Apple reportedly plans to highlight the AI processing capabilities of the new chips and how they’ll integrate with the upcoming version of macOS.

Gurman’s report claims the entry-level MacBook Pro, the new MacBook Airs and a low-end Mac mini will sport the Donan chip (presumably the entry-level M4 chip). The Brava chips will run the higher-end MacBook Pros and a “pricier” Mac mini model. The new Mac Pro, which is Apple’s highest-end desktop, will reportedly pack the powerful Hidra chip.

Apple is also testing different versions of the Mac Studio — one with a yet-to-be-announced M3 chip (perhaps an M3 Ultra?) and another with a variation of the M4 Brava processor.

Speaking of the Mac Studio M4, Apple is considering having it support up to a half-terabyte of memory. In comparison, the existing Mac Studio and Mac Pro top out at 192GB of unified memory (RAM).

Apple M4: AI features

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 open on a desk
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 open on a desk

Apple’s M-series chips have sported a Neural Engine from the beginning. Now that AI PCs are all the rage, it’s no surprise that the company wants to boast about the M-series’ AI capabilities — as we’ve seen with the launch of the M3 chips. To that end, Apple “plans to add new artificial intelligence features across its products,” according to Gurman.

Apple is reportedly planning to preview “a slew of new features” at WWDC 2024. The majority of these features are designed to run on-device rather than on remote cloud servers. If that’s the case, then the M4 chips (which will presumably be faster than the existing M3 chips) could power these tasks more efficiently.

We’ll apparently get a preview of the new macOS during WWDC and see how these new AI features will integrate with the operating system.

Apple M4 chip: Outlook

The Apple M4 chip is firmly a rumor at this point so it’s best to take everything detailed above with a healthy dose of skepticism. That said, it’s not unreasonable to assume the company will eventually release a follow-up to its M3 chip — even if it’s faster than expected. If Mark Gurman’s sources are correct, it won’t be long until we see what the reported M4 chips can do.

We’ll update this post with any M4-related news we come across so please stay tuned for more!

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