Slimmer 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models sans optical drive currently in production, say sources

“Apple has revised its MacBook Pro to become slimmer by removing the optical disc drive, with 13- and 15-inch models in production for initial monthly shipments of 100,000-150,000 units, according to sources at its supply chain partners,” Aaron Lee and Jessie Shen report for DigiTimes.

The MacBook Pro will no longer have an optical drive enabling thinner designs, the sources indicated,” Lee and Shen report. “Despite the slim profile, the new devices will feature more advanced specs than the MacBook Air in terms of CPU performance and storage capacity, the sources said.”

Lee and Shen report, “Production for the next-generation MacBook Pro has already begun with shipments to Apple kicking off in March, the sources noted.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

54 Comments

  1. “Despite the slim profile, the new devices will feature more advanced specs than the MacBook Air in terms of CPU performance and storage capacity, the sources said.”

    That’s reassuring at least, that those of us who love our storage capacity won’t be required to cut down from 750GB to 512GB and pay over $1,000 for the privilege. However they do it, if they can keep the same level of storage at the same price, that’s a win. 🙂

    1. “if they can keep the same level of storage at the same price, ”

      ——

      No doubt the move will be to SSD, but it’s doubtful we will be seeing 750GB to 1TB drives for the same price. 512GB is more like it.. Wait… Didn’t we have this conversation yesterday?

      1. We did, and I (and other MDN readers) stick to my same position – going from 750GB max to 512GB max is not progress, no matter what tradeoffs you use in the process. Increasing the price by $1,000 to do so is not progress.

        Now, as some of the other commenters on that other thread have stated, maybe we should wait and see, maybe Apple has found a way to get us that 1TB of storage in SSD and keep the prices down. Or maybe they’re only dropping the optical drive now and will drop the HDD later once they can do so. But if you expect me to agree that going from 750GB to 512GB is progress, I just won’t concede that. Ever.

        1. Sure, 1TB SSD would be great, I don’t disagree. However, it’s not a realistic expectation at this time. 512 GB is. And my point is that the benefits of SSD far outweigh, the loss of 256gb in storage for most users..

          A “pro” audio/video user likely has Gigs and gigs and TB’s and TB’s of data archived in external drives. So the benefit of speed, instant on, reliabitliy far outweigh a measly 256GB that they can access via iCloud, back to my mac, dropbox, FTP or an external drive.

          1. Well, I still disagree. No matter what I’m getting in return, to me, the loss of 256GB is the lost of 256GB. Period. End of story.

            Again, maybe they’ll surprise us and announce that they have found a way to make 1TB realistic. But if they don’t, you still can’t (nor will you ever be able to) convince me that simply losing that 256GB is a good thing.

            1. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m just pointing out that the trade-off between HDD and SSD is more beneficial for MOST users. And there are alternatives for accessing additional data.

              Soon enough 1TB SSD will be here, but there has to be a ‘jump in’ point and it’s looking like Apple have decided that the next gen will be that jump in point. We shall see.

            2. I doubt it. The more I read, the more the articles talk about the loss of the optical drive, and they don’t even mention going exclusively to SSD. When the MBA came out, the fact that it was exclusively SSD was one of the features that was heavily mentioned. This time, not a peep. So maybe HDDs will stick around for a little while longer in the MBP, which is geared towards the pro market who needs that storage space anyway, and that’s probably why they’re getting the MBP instead of the MBA anyway. That’s why I did.

            3. possible, but doubtful. If they are doing a re-design and slimming the enclosure of the 15″ and removing the optical, i’d put all bets that they are removing HDD as well, and will probably keep a 17″ with HDD.

              They are gradually progressing to all HDD. First the MBA, then the MBA replaced the MB, now a 15″ MBA is replacing the 15″ MBP. The 17″ will be next.

            4. I’m still going to bet that it won’t happen. When they dropped floppy drives, the CD-ROM was a viable alternative – adoption of CD-ROM technology was high (as well as CD-R and CD-RW), and the storage space on a CD-ROM was a large order of magnitude higher than the floppy disk. When they introduced the MBA, they could launch that line with SSD, because they still had the MB that still used HDD, and more critically, they had the MBP line that had the option. This is different. There are plenty of users who still depend on that storage space, and that’s why they depend on the MBP instead of the MBA. Those that don’t, well, they would have moved to the MBA by now. So until they can get SSDs to the point where they can meet those storage needs, HDDs still have to be at least an option, and I’m sure Apple realizes this.

            5. Eric, you’re going in circles failing to see that speed, size, weight, form factor, reliability are a bigger benefit to MOST pro users than a measly 256GB of storage that they can access anyway.

              My bet is 512SSD in the new 15″. Heck a little over a year ago 512GB was the largest HDD that MBP shipped with anyway.

              Those who need more likely already have TB’s of external storage anyway. Plus, the 17″ will likely still remain HDD for another generation or two.

            6. I think _you’re_ the one going in circles here. In response to the rumors that the MBP might remove the HDD option altogether, I and many others have pointed out that internal storage space still matters to us, and that’s basically the MBP’s raison d’etre (sure, there are other internal components and such, but for me, it was all about the storage space). Your response has essentially been, “no it doesn’t.” To which our only possible response has been to say, “Um, yes it does.” And then you go back to “no it doesn’t.” For those of you for whom storage space doesn’t matter, fine, you’ve got the MBA. There’s a world for you, and there’s a world for us who want that storage space in the MBP. We’re not holding back your progress by wanting the MBP to still be able to hold the amounts of storage space we’re used to, especially when we actually _use_ that amount of space. I, for one, have a 500GB partition which I use Mac OS on to work on music and artistic projects, and then I have a 250GB partition which I use with Boot Camp to run Windows (Yes, there are those of us who run Windows on our Mac) to do programming projects.

              I think the MBA is capped out at 512GB because it uses SSD. For those of you for whom that’s sufficient, that’s fine. There are those of us for whom it isn’t, and there’s no reason for you to come in and tell us we’re wrong for saying that we’re willing to temporarily forego those improvements in speed so we can keep the GBs of storage space we do crave. That’s why the MBP exists in the first place.

            7. The MBA caps out at 256GB, not 512GB.

              You keep saying “We’ and “other MDN readers”, but the only one I see arguing against reason here is YOU..

              I understand that storage is important for you. It’s important for me as well. The point I’m making is that its not the ONLY factor. Technology is moving into a new era, and SSD drives are the future. Rather than fight it, and obsess over the difference of a 256GB storage capacity, you should try to look and embrace what SSD can offer. A lighter, slimmer, faster, instant on more reliable laptop. Meanwhile, you can still to access all the storage you wish.

              Things change. You can either adapt or die. Im out. Cheers 🙂

            8. Let’s see here, on the other thread where you proceeded to argue with me, there was FTB, DRMS SDB, Sense, and Fingerinthesocket who all agreed that removing the HDD option would be a bad idea if it reduced available storage space. Each one had valid reasons why the “alternatives” you suggested were not viable. And we’re just the ones who spoke up. Many others may not even read MDN.

              (I got the feeling that Derek Currie also implied this when he said “I don’t want an Air,” but I didn’t want to make any assumptions, so I’ll let him speak for himself. 😉 )

              Let’s hope Apple has thought this through more than you have. Dropping the ODD, I can see. Dropping the HDD option, not so much.

            9. For decades, computer storage space needs had been more-or-less keeping pace with computer storage growth. I remember, some 20 years ago, my office desktop PC had a “massive” hard drive of 80MB (that’s MEGAbytes). When the PC was new, I had no idea how on Earth I was ever going to fill all that empty space. Over the years, it slowly became filled. This trend continued (my next office PC was 250MB; then 1GB; then 8GB; then 40GB, then 120, and now 160GB). Same thing for my home Macs, although there, the storage was comparably much larger than at my ofice PC. Nonetheless, for many years, the trend was the same: I get a new Mac, and the storage is bountiful; as it approaches its third year, I begin to economise, as I’m approaching 80% capacity. All this until about 5-6 years ago, when my Mac went above 250GB (The current one is at 500GB). Apparently, my storage needs no longer grow as fast as does the storage space of new Macs.

              The point of this is, much like all other items Apple has eliminated, they will continue to carefully survey the actual usage of storage space by the consumers. If vast majority of MacBook Pro owners never put more than 300GB of data on their hard drives, Apple really has no need to offer devices with more than 512GB of storage. People aren’t exactly too excited to pay for something they never use. As I mentioned before, much like with the floppy, modem, Ethernet, Firewire, VGA, DVI, ExpressCard, etc, Apple will tweak their offering to provide most bang for the buck (eliminating the stuff that would only inflate the price, consume battery and take up space without ever being used).

              Unfortunately, such moves often tend to leave some users in the dust. For them choices will likely be hard: either an inelegant solution (thunderbolt external disk), or the unfathomable one (a Windows laptop with the good, old-fashioned spinning disk). Or perhaps the renegade one (a Hackintosh laptop…).

            10. I’m just glad I have the latest quad-core MBP. I think I’m going to be holding on to this one for quite some time.

              Count me as someone who sees 512GB as being woefully insufficient in a “Pro” anything.

              But it’s more than going from 750GB max to 512GB max. You can easily put TWO 1TB drives in a current MBP, giving you a total of 2TBs.

              That’s kind of a big deal.

              Predrag: “If vast majority of MacBook Pro owners never put more than 300GB of data on their hard drives, Apple really has no need to offer devices with more than 512GB of storage”

              That makes sense, if the IF is true. I doubt that it is, as represented by the market for much larger hard drives.

              MikeK: “A “pro” audio/video user likely has Gigs and gigs and TB’s and TB’s of data archived in external drives. So the benefit of speed, instant on, reliabitliy far outweigh a measly 256GB that they can access via iCloud, back to my mac, dropbox, FTP or an external drive.”

              How often do you see an audio/video pro recording to cloud storage?

        2. Yup. No idea why people are hyping a move to exclusively SSD. It’s just too expensive for 500+ GB right now.

          I have plenty of external storage, but I take my laptop everywhere with me and want some things (music, photos, 10 yrs of experimental files, slide decks, etc) available at any time, not just when I have access to the cloud.

          People can write until they are blue in the hands about how they think things should be, but that is how it is for me and, I’m sure, a good enough portion of users to justify the option.

    2. It’s funny reading this thread, because none of us ACTUALLY know what form the new MBP will take. Just because there is the MBA, with it’s very slim form factor, doesn’t mean that the MBP will follow that slavishly.
      I suspect that the design will echo the MBA, but not to that extreme degree.

      1. I know. It sounds like there are some people on this thread who are so invested in trying to make us feel like, unless we’re willing to drop everything old (even recently old) for the latest and greatest technological advance, we’re somehow holding back progress. It sounds like a thread I participated in a while back on LinkedIn where a guy was trying to convince the rest of the thread that, unless a business completely abandoned the notion of having a website and moved all their online presence to Facebook, they were living in the dark ages. Even those of us who agreed that Facebook was rapidly becoming a valuable marketing tool and a marketplace, but still maintained that a business website has its place, were somehow thwarting the forward march of progress in his eyes. What do you want to bet that, if the new MBP is released without an ODD, but the option to have an HDD is still there, there will be those who are still claiming they wish we would give up our attachments to HDDs and let progress move forward? (I for one, have no particular attachment to HDDs. I just have attachments to GBs. 😉 )

      2. @Robbo, you’re right. No one knows for sure.. What we do know is that Steve Jobs himself said several years ago that all laptops would eventually be modeled after the MBA in the not too distant future..

        However, If they are doing a slimmer re-design (signs point to yes,) then both the optical and the HDD must go as they are both about the same thickness.

        The new 512GB SDD chips are the natural evolution.

  2. You know my three year old put a paper clip in the optical drive a year ago and I have not needed in that time. This will be a good mid model between the pro and the air.

  3. There are always going to be those who will be affected by Apple’s moves to eliminate some specific technology from their computers (floppy, analogue modem, FireWire, ExpressCard, and now optical). But to me, this clearly shows that Apple will continue to pursue Steve’s philosophy of simplicity. Eliminate as many possible superfluous components as necessary before you begin to affect a meaningful percentage of your user population. The fewer components, the simpler, easier and more intuitive the device is to use, not to mention less battery-consuming, and cheaper. For that affected percentage, provide add-on solutions as options (USB modem, thunderbolt-to-firewire cable, external superdrive), and the rest of the population will be happy.

    In my own white MacBook (2010), there is a superdrive, but honestly, I don’t even know if it works or not; it has NEVER been used. Literally ALL software I have was installed by copying/downloading from other places. I may have physical media for some things, but the original discs I always package into DMGs and store on a single external drive, which can go wherever I need it.

    If the new MBP becomes lighter, slimmer, cheaper and lasts longer on single charge without that superdrive, I’m all for it.

    1. I’ll admit, I use my optical drive all the time. My wife and I watch DVDs on my MBP that we bought off eBay (and we watch them on the laptop because we can hold it up close, rather than the TV that sits on our chest of drawers on the other side of our bedroom), but somehow I suspect that we could still do with an external optical drive. However, I have heard of others who would prefer to keep the optical drive for whatever reason, and I’m sure we’ll hear those here in this thread. I think of greater concern is internal storage space.

      1. Ripit ($35) to rip DVD and any copy protection
        Handbrake (free) to transform Rip to m4v
        Subler (free) to add images to chapter tracks
        Metaz (free) to add artwork and other information
        Import to iTunes.

        You will never need to use your DVD again, and files can be easily transferred to any iDevice you own, anytime, to be watched anywhere. The convenience is extraordinary and worth the effort. I just ripped 250 of my DVDs over the past month and have no further use for them anymore. I don’t want an optical drive on a laptop and now have no functional need to ever have one.

        1. Good way to eliminate the need for an optical drive. Of course, on the other hand, this probably underscores a reason _not_ to decrease the amount of internal storage, even on the consumer side. When you go back and watch these movies, TV shows, whatever, do you really want to be buffering those from a USB 2.0 hard drive? Video takes up space, my friends, and trying to push those large files all at once through a USB cable, not good.

      2. ” I think of greater concern is internal storage space.”

        And this is where your argument completely collapses on itself. 

        I’m certain there are a plethora of dinosaurs out there who back up oodles of data to disks who would be more than happy to sacrifice internal storage capacity; if only they could just keep that critical ODD in there. 

        Times change. Apple can’t and shouldn’t continue to cater to the legacy needs of customers. The future of affordable colossal internal SSD storage will arrive one day. And the sooner Apple starts, the sooner that day will arrive. 

        You have a multitude of external storage options if you need that new SSD MBP. if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t fucking buy one until it does. Nobody is forcing you. 

        1. I’d hardly call internal storage a “legacy need.” It’s still very, very current, as many of the commenters on this and other threads have demonstrated. There are still plenty of reasons why external storage doesn’t work, why cloud storage doesn’t work, etc., for a wide range of today’s users. There are plenty of ways around the ODD, but internal storage space is still very critical, no matter how much SSD zealots want to bark otherwise.

        2. As for no one forcing me to purchase new hardware, it may be true that no _person_ is forcing me, one day, I will be forced to buy new hardware by the fact that hardware inevitably wears out, and my AppleCare plan on my current MBP will eventually expire, and so I will eventually need to buy a new computer. I want to have some assurance that I can store at least the same amount of data on the next MBP I buy as the one I currently use. It’s a logical concern, is it not? And yet, for that, I and others on this board are being attacked as being enemies of progress somehow.

          We’re not asking to hold on to HDDs for all of eternity. We just want some assurance that we can store our data where we want to store it, and where it makes sense to store it, rather than having to cause performance problems in other areas by some supposed standard of “progress.”

    2. EXACTLY.

      In technology, you either move forward or backward. Unlike Microsoft, Apple has never been concerned with the past or being “backwards compatible” or those who whine about change and new ways of doing things.

  4. I would like to see space for a standard 2.5″ drive along with an Air-style SSD, in an almost as thin as an Air- form factor. Somehow doesn’t seem like an Apple thing to do though.

  5. Sorry, as much as I would like to have a machine w/o an optical drive, they are still necessary for work in the media world. The DVD is still by FAR the preferred method of distribution of corporate training and distributed learning. Try telling the Marketing Director of a company that the only way to access precursor builds of training materials is in the cloud. NOT READY.

    1. Well, actually, I know of plenty of corporate training modules that are accessed through a secure web-based player. But I see what you’re saying where some companies might still prefer to use a DVD based medium either for security or network bandwidth reasons.

  6. Predrag hit the nail on the head. If Apple didn’t think about simplicity we would not have had the MBA (or iPod, iPhone or iPad come to think of it).
    The MBA is a great example of how to evolve an existing product line (which Apple invented of course) into something more efficient and user friendly for its purpose.
    The MBA start out as a third product line for mobile Macs and then eventually replaced the Macbook completely.
    This could happen with the MBP. A third category that fills the low end need for MBPs until the SSD capacity matches those needs for the mobile power user.
    I’m looking to replace my aging MBP and am hoping for the following specs:
    Lighter weight
    Better CPU and GPU performance than the MBA
    At least 250GB disk space (can be SSD)
    No optical drive.
    Longer battery life

    We have 3 macs in the house. All the DVD drives have failed (in some cases have been replaced in the past and failed again). I had to buy an external DVD drive since I hook my mac mini to my TV to play DVD on the big screen. No other use for it. Haven’t installed software via disk for years. Luckily Lion could be installed via the internet otherwise I would

  7. I’m the biggest Apple geek on Earth… I’m usually an early adopter.

    But, I’ve been postponing my Apple purchases for the last couple of years… Waiting for a 15″ MacBook Pro/Air hybrid, Retina iPad, iPhone 5, and whatever radical new Apple TV is on the drawing board.

    Seems like 2012 is going to be the year for me.

  8. I need an ODD. This is why I ordered a maxed out a 15″ MBP Tuesday last.
    I got the MBP, a 1TB drive for TimeMachine, AppleCare, a VGA cable, and a snap-on case.
    I need a MacBook Pro, not an over-sized MacBook Air re-branded a MacBook Pro.

    1. So that is your need. Is that what the majority are looking for? My guess is that the maxed out Mbp will be around for a while to meet your type of need. In a year or two time a1Tb SSd will be the same price as a hard drive.
      What I would love is an additional slot for another SSd card. This would allow users to upgrade their disk memory and keep the core files on the original SSd. Not really apples mo but would be really cool.

  9. Any thing is an improvement on my MacBook Pro 2,2. I am holding out, barely for the new MBP. I am fighting a losing battle with my ram maxed at 3gb and running lion. Please Apple release the hounds. I am running at capacity.

  10. Storage. Space. Call it what you will, I need room to grow. I’ve been waiting to move up to this new generation MBP because I’m under the gun of MobileMe going away the end of June, and my black MB doesn’t make the iCloud cut. I’m fine losing the OD – I own an excellent late-model external LaCie OD drive already – and rarely use either the on-board or external ODs. But space? But I would be VERY unhappy to lose space, and would not be that thrilled to pay SSD prices to get it back. My current MB weighs in at 650GB, and I back up to a 2.5″ 1TB external HD. I would be pleased to have that same 1TB drive inside my new MBP. I know SSD is the future, but price is an issue to me today, and space is paramount.

  11. I will have $3000 to purchase a MacBook Pro (2.5 GHz) by the end of March – just waiting for the money.

    I don’t know how I feel about this. I use the SuperDrive all the time to digitize my CDs to ALAC because the AAC files Apple sells through iTunes suck in terms of sound quality. Last week I gave my wife my MacBook 2.4 GHz (unibody) in preparation for getting a new MacBook Pro.

    Apple has a golden opportunity here. For people that have been crying out for official Blu-ray support they could release a FireWire 800/Thunderbolt Blu-ray burner that people could use to play movies and use for data storage (what I want it for). They could bring Blu-ray support to the Mac and sell a ton of these external drives – new revenue stream. 🙂

  12. Okay, for those of you who think having actual GBs of storage space is somehow a “legacy need,” let me break it down for you.

    I have a 750GB hard drive on my MBP. That’s the highest amount that you can currently have.

    I have 250GB of that partitioned with Boot Camp to run Windows 7. I don’t dare do something less than that, for fear that when I do run Windows, it would slow down to a crawl (as Windows is want to do). That leaves me 500GB on the Mac side.

    Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate 8 (that’s the latest version, for those of you who are wondering) takes up 195GB for the full installation. And you wouldn’t want to try and stream those instruments from an external hard drive. You want those in your library folder so that they can actually be used. So now we’re down to 305GB left.

    Logic Pro can take up to 19GB of hard drive space (again, the latest version) So that takes us down to 286GB.

    Now you’re asking me to slice of 256GB of that (now or sometime in the future) and leave me 30GB of internal storage to work with a file while I’m actually using it. (I’m not talking about archiving a file, but actual real-time usage of it).

    And we haven’t even discussed how much space Apple’s pre-installed software takes up, nor any other programs I might want to install like Microsoft Office(or iWork, if you prefer), Quickbooks, Firefox, etc. So it’s really _less_ than 30GB to spare.

    Now do you see why the pro market still needs internal storage space to work with?

    If you are one of the users that doesn’t use applications like I’ve listed above, and you can get by on 256GB of internal storage, then great. The MacBook Air is for you. Don’t turn the MacBook Pro into the MacBook Air until SSDs can handle the storage requirements demonstrated above.

    1. And lest we forget, there are always new instruments being developed in the computer music world. So let’s say, for the sake of argument, I wanted to expand the musical styles I want to produce and add Maschine to the mix. That’s another 11GB of internal space I need, so now we’re talking about 275GB left. And you want to cut off 256GB of _that?_

      Again, storage space is not a “legacy need.” HDDs might be, but only once SSDs can meet the storage requirements demonstrated above.

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