Mac Pro and Mac Mini August refresh tipped: Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt and Lion

Apple is planning to release updated versions of its Mac mini and Mac Pro desktops in the first week of August, according to the latest leaks, with an update to Sandy Bridge 2011 Core processors and Thunderbolt connectivity. CNET TV's Brian Tong says his insiders have confirmed that Apple is holding off on the new hardware until Mac OS X Lion is ready, with both the Mac mini and Mac pro being preloaded with the updated OS.

The same sources apparently accurately predicted the details around Apple's iMac launch in early May. The Mac Pro is long overdue an update, and various rumors are circulating around what the company may have done to the latest-gen hardware. Popular among graphics professionals, musicians and anybody else in need of high-performance crunching, there's talk that the new Mac Pro could use a rack-mountable chassis and in effect replace both the previous desktop and Apple's discontinued Xserve.

As for the Mac Mini, that update is expected to be a more minor one, replacing the Mini DisplayPort connection with Thunderbolt, and swapping out the processors for Intel's Sandy Bridge chips. A RAM and hard-drive bump are also highly likely.

Other specifications, however, are unclear for both machines. Tong's sources say the refresh could take place as early as the last week of July, though an early August refresh is more likely. Apple is also believed to be readying a MacBook Air refresh, again using Sandy Bridge chips and Intel's high-speed connection, and also held back until OS X Lion is ready for public consumption.