A thinner MacBook Pro with no optical drive

While you might imagine Apple would make the MacBook Pro resemble its Air line, the latest rumours suggest that's not the case. Slashgear reckoned the case will remain much as it is in the current models, but the space will be used differently: the optical drive will be removed, the battery will be increased in size, and SSDs for boot drives would become standard (possibly Samsung's fast 830 series, according to 9to5Mac).

9to5Mac also said in May that Apple would ditch the optical drive, but thought it would nonetheless reduce the MacBook Pro's thickness a little, but the case won't taper like the Air's.

Developer Marco Arment added that Apple could ditch the glass in front of the display in favour of glossy plastic, like in the Air, to save on weight.

MacBook Pro 2012 gains USB 3, loses FireWire

The 9to5Mac report said the 2012 MacBook Pro will be the first Mac to sport USB 3, offering three ports. Other ports include one each for charging, audio in, audio out and an SD card slot, and two for Thunderbolt. The new MacBook Pros will ditch Ethernet and probably also FireWire. Arment explained that will be down to the thinness of the case not providing enough room for those ports, and quipped: "Expect video pros to complain."

MacBook Pro to gain a Retina display

As reported by AppleInsider and others, DigiTimes was naturally first to claim the MacBook Pro would sport a Retina display, boasting a resolution of 2880-by-1800 pixels on the 15-inch model. This would, it said, differentiate the laptop from those made by other brands.

An Ars Technica report in March added fuel to the fire, having unearthed double-sized images within OS X Mountain Lion. Interestingly, the 9to5Mac report added Apple might ditch pixel-based resolution settings with the new MacBook Pro, instead using descriptions such as 'big', 'small' and 'optimal'.

However, CNET put a spanner in the works by noting relevant displays already exist but are $100 more than those Apple currently uses.

The Cupertino giant will save some money by ditching an optical drive and using its massive cash pile to secure displays for the cheapest possible price, but the question is whether the MacBook Pro will nonetheless see a price-rise in an increasingly competitive market.

Ivy Bridge processors in the MacBook Pro

According to Bloomberg the 2012 MacBook Pros will run on Intel's Ivy Bridge processors with Nvidia graphics.

According to the previously mentioned 9to5Mac report, this combination is "perfect for a high-end professional notebook", and will boost performance while also potentially improving battery life. MacRumors in May appeared to confirm this rumour with a report on Geekbench database updates that included a 'MacBookPro9,1' entry.

The relevant model was running OS X 10.8, had a 2.7 GHz processor, and its score was 12,252, compared to 10,500 for the corresponding current MacBook Pro processor.

No 17-inch MacBook Pro - at least for now

In a MacRumors report on Retina display costs, Eric Slivka noted that the issue of the 17-inch model was 'unaddressed', not least because it would require a display of 3840-by-2400, which could mean a massive price-hike.

In the report, Slivka suggested the 17-inch model would, as usual, simply lag behind the rest of the line in terms of updates, although in an earlier article he cited a research analyst that said the 17-inch model would simply be quietly discontinued, in order to streamline the range.

MacBook Pro 2012 release date

According to the Bloomberg report, the new MacBook Pros will be unveiled at WWDC 2012, starting June 11.

Typically, Apple gets its kit on to the store extremely quickly after such announcements, and so it's possible you'll be able to order a new MacBook Pro this month. As reported by 9to5Mac, Amazon appears to be banking on this being the case, having just added laptops and netbooks to its US trade-in program.

However, Cult of Mac reported in late May on a DigiTimes story regarding supply chain 'havoc'.

Massive orders from Apple during the industry's "slow season" means demand reportedly cannot be met for a 'possible' July release. Still, you know, it's DigiTimes, and so chances are Apple's already had its MacBook Pros shipped out, and is now just waiting for everyone to open their wallets.

Expect the next-generation MacBook Pro to be thinner, faster and lovelier than this current model