Apple Unveils Next-Gen MacBook Pros and iMacs with M3-Series Chips

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Apple Unveils Next-Gen MacBook Pros and iMacs with M3-Series Chips

Right before Halloween and during its "Scary Fast" event, Apple revealed the M3 family of desktop processors. The base M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips were all highlighted with significant improvements over the past two generations. To start, Apple has equipped the 14" and 16" MacBook Pros with various M3 options, while the 24" iMac comes with the base M3 chip.

Apple MacBook Pro and iMac featuring M3 chips
Apple MacBook Pro and iMac featuring M3 chips

Apple Raises the Bar Again with M3

So, exactly how powerful are Apple’s new chips? Improving upon the M2's architecture, the M3 offers dramatically increased performance speed and battery life, while M3 Pro and M3 Max take these capabilities even further. The new chips are built on the same 3-nanometer architecture that was used for the A17 chips for this year's iPhone Pro models; this smaller 3-nanometer design allows for more transistors to fit into the same amount of space—according to Apple's estimations, 5 billion more than M2.

Alongside the M3 is the introduction of a next-generation GPU, which Apple claims is going to mark the biggest jump in graphical fidelity for the Mac platform. The M3 supports raytracing and the company showcased Dynamic Catching, a new feature of the chipset, which translates on a hardware level to using only the exact amount of memory needed for each task.

Some more specs, courtesy of Apple, include rendering speeds up to 2.5x faster than the M1 family of chips; CPU performance cores and efficiency cores are 30 percent and 50 percent faster than those in the M1, respectively; and the Neural Engine is 60 percent faster than the Neural Engine in the M1 family of chips. According to Apple, the M3 also now supports up to 128GB of Unified Memory Architecture.

All three chips in the M3 family also have an advanced media engine that provides hardware acceleration to the most popular video codecs, including H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW. And, for the first time, the media engine now supports AV1 decoding, enabling power-efficient playback of streaming services to extend battery life even further.

Game Mode in macOS Sonoma delivers an optimized gaming experience and works with all Mac games, including new titles like Baldur’s Gate 3.

The M3 is shaping up to be an absolute performance monster that somehow manages to outpace this year's M2 chip by quite a significant margin. The GPU-based improvements are making the idea of gaming on Mac even more enticing, as well.

MacBook Pro Updates Under the Hood

As for the Macs themselves, the new chipsets are coming to the flagship 14" and 16" versions of the MacBook Pro. The M2 versions dropped just earlier this year, so it’s a bit surprising to see Apple update them so quickly. All MacBook Pro models still feature a Liquid Retina XDR display, but with the ability to showcase SDR content, displays at up to 600 nits—20% more than before. The Pros also get a nice bump to 22 hours of battery life. The M3 Pro and Max-equipped Pros now also come in a very sleek Space Black colorway.

All MacBook Pro models feature a Liquid Retina XDR display for creating and enjoying content.
All MacBook Pro models feature a Liquid Retina XDR display for creating and enjoying content.

Here’s a quick look at how the M3 might affect those with MacBook Pro-based workflows:

  • Render performance in Final Cut Pro is up to 7.4x faster than the 13" MacBook Pro with Core™ i7 and up to 60 percent faster than the 13" MacBook Pro with M1.2

  • Filter and function performance in Adobe Photoshop is up to 3x faster than the fastest Intel®-based MacBook Pro, and up to 40 percent faster than the 16" MacBook Pro with M1 Pro

  • Text-based editing in Adobe Premiere Pro is up to 1.7x faster than the 16" Intel®-based MacBook Pro, and up to 30 percent faster than the 16" MacBook Pro with M1 Pro.

  • Noise reduction in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Studio is up to 2.7x faster than the fastest Intel®-based MacBook Pro and up to 65 percent faster than the 16" MacBook Pro with M1 Max.

iMac is now Supercharged by M3

Apple 24" iMac with M3 Chip

The base version of the M3 will also be available in the line of 24" iMacs. Design-wise, these colorful all-in-one desktops remain the same but will offer significantly improved performance and 2x speeds over the previous M1-equipped generation from 2021. And for those upgrading from an Intel®-based iMac, the new iMac is up to 2.5x faster than the most popular 27" models, and 4x faster than the most powerful 21.5" model.

As for pricing, the 14" Pro starts at $1599 and the 16" version still starts at $2499. iMacs start at $1299. Everything announced at today’s event will be available starting today, except for the M3 Max-equipped version, which will become available later in November.

What are your thoughts on today’s keynote? Let us know in the Comments section, below, and be sure to be on the lookout for more in-depth coverage once we spend more hands-on time with today’s devices.

14 Comments

As much as I'd like to upgrade my 27" iMac (i5), I'd hate to have to give up that 27" screen!  I keep hoping they come out with a larger screen than 24".  I'm not doing any fancy processing other than some photos on Lightroom, so I can afford to wait a while longer.  The cost of a Mac Studio with the 27" monitor is over twice what I paid for my current iMac. 

Hi Doug, I am on your same page mate. My 27" iMac (over 10 years old) does me well, but I want to upgrade to use the latest Adobe products, so need a later Mac. I love the 27' screen (And I have a second 27" monitor also). But I don't hear anything on the release of a 27" version. I will be looking at the 24" model this week though to see if I can make the switch, need that AI version of PS and LR!

Is an M1max 64G 4TB  MacBook Pro comparable to a 32G 1TB M3?

For many users, including myself, the RAM and Storage is more important than the difference between the M1 and M2 or M3.
Obviously that matters only when the budget is a consideration. 
Even thought the Nvme SSD are vary fast, they are not as fast as the RAM, so large amount of RAM allows your software to operate faster on large files. 
A lot of RAM also allows OS to switch faster between simultaneously open applications.
I am happy with the deal I got from B&H on M1max 64G 2TB and I bought it when I new the M3 is in works. 
I am using external TB3 nvme SSD for video editing to extend life of non-replaceable internal SSD. 

Thank you Roman - I also use my computer for video editing. My current MacBook has 32G, but I like the idea of 64G of RAM and a 4TB hard drive, which will allow me to keep ample free space for the computer to perform well (my current HD is always above 80% full). If I purchase an M3 machine, it probably would only be 32G, to keep the cost down...  Thanks again.

Instead of a new CPU that virtually no one was asking for in the first place, how about an architecture shift allowing users the ability to upgrade components instead?  I want an MBP for dev work, don't care if it's M1 or M2, I want 32GB of RAM, but am not willing to add $400+ to the price just for a 16GB upgrade. That's insane. Ridiculous. Beyond reasonable.

I do agree with this sentiment. Been a long while since I popped open a MacBook Pro and upgraded the hard drive or added some memory. The new chip architecture with unified memory does boast some advantages over the older designs and it is much faster. It is also much more expensive. If you are looking for a new computer then I would say you can find a great deal on M1 Max-equipped MacBook Pros here at B&H.

The whole increase of the performance was achieved via the architecture shift. 
Web and mobile app development can be done easily on M1 macbook air.
You will not benefit from M3 for the dev work BTW. get yourself maxed out M1 and you will be more than happy. 

Seriously? Do you need an M3 chip to look at a recipe? Will it make you cook faster?

After reading the rendering performance in FCP X, I am thinking about ditching my M1 and going back to an i7... I think I will pass. this time.

I would think of this upgrade more like a phone. Apple is seeming to move towards a similar model with their computer chips as their phone chips with a more regular cycle. People with M1 Macs who are doing fine probably don't need to upgrade. If you are buying now and want something that will last as long as possible it can be worth it to invest in the newer M3 models. Or, you could go get a great deal on an M1 Mac. If Apple has the chips and it is a simple update to add them to the existing designs then I would rather have that option available than be limited to purchasing years-old hardware instead.

"My M1 is still killing it ..."

So what's the problem then?

By your logic, we should all still be using (and happy with) a Mac Plus.

Many people may still be fine with an M1-equipped Mac. I am personally typing this out from an M1 Mac mini and I feel no pressing need to upgrade it or my M1 Max MacBook Pro. Most people aren't upgrading annually, but if you are lucky enough to be buying right now, held out with a pre-M1 Mac for many years, or for whatever reason have decided you need a faster computer having these options available is very nice. 

It's funny how Apple puts down their previous products to promote this new one. Makes us users feel really good! (sarcasm). For example, I purchased an M1 Max in 2021. Then Apple came out with the M2 in 2022. Now it's 2023 and here's the M3. So for all you M3 buyers, get ready to be dumped on by Apple next year when they release the M4 and criticize you for buying the M3. Make sense? My M1 is still killing it BTW because I have it configured as such.

As much as I would like to upgrade, it is undeniable that the M1 generation is still doing great. I have an M1 Mac mini and an M1 Max MacBook Pro and neither is ready to be replaced just yet. It just might feel a little bad that everything is getting faster and faster.