Apple’s newest Mac chips arrive next week, and the company is doing something a little unusual by launching three new variants at once.

The new Apple M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max are all 3nm chips based on the same architecture, but the Pro and Max chips bring more CPU and GPU cores and other enhancements to deliver higher performance. All three chips are available in the new MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 laptops that are up for pre-order today and available starting November 7th, along with a new 24 inch iMac featuring an M3 processor (there are no Pro or Max variants of this all-in-one desktop).

Apple says its M3 series chips bring a number of performance improvements:

  • Performance cores are 15% faster an M2 chip, and 30% faster than an M1.
  • Efficiency cores are 30% faster than M2, and 50% faster than M1.
  • Neural Engine performance is 15% faster than M2 and 60% faster than M1.
  • The GPU now supports hardware-accelerated ray-tracing, dynamic caching, and efficiency improvements for up to 2.5X the rendering speed. There’s also support for AV1 video decoding.

According to Apple, an M3 series chip can offer “the same multithreaded performance as M1 using as little as half the power, and up to 35 percent more performance at peak power.”

The entry-level M3 chip relies primarily on architectural improvements to achieve this, as it has the same number of CPU and GPU cores as its M2 predecessor, and the same maximum amount of RAM. But the M3 Pro and Max have introduced some significant changes on those fronts.

Max CPU cores (P / E)Max GPU coresMax RAM
M24P / 4 E1024GB
M34P / 4E1024GB
M2 Pro8P / 4E1932GB
M3 Pro6P / 6E1836GB
M2 Max8P /  4E3896GB
M3 Max12P / 4E40128GB

The M3 Max is clearly a beast, but it’s also worth keeping  in mind that not all models have the maximum amount of CPU and GPU cores or unified memory.

Want a MacBook Pro with an M3 Max chip?  Prices start at $3199 for a MacBook Pro 14 with a 14-core processor, 30-core GPU, and 36GB of RAM. You’ll have to pay considerably more if you want a 16-core chip with 40-core graphics and up to 128GB of RAM (a maxed out 14 inch model starts at $4699, while a MacBook Pro 16 with the 16-core CPU, 40-core graphics and 128GB of RAM will set you back $4999).

It’s also interesting to see that the M3 Pro looks like a step back in some respects. It has two fewer Performance cores than the M2 Pro, one less GPU core (for the maxed out models), and as MacRumors points out, it also has lower memory bandwidth at 150GB/s, compared with 200GB/s for the M2 Pro (and the older M1 Pro, for that matter).

While it’s certainly possible that other architectural improvements still make the M3 Pro a speedier chip than the M2 Pro, at first glance it looks like the year-over-year improvements will be most noticeable with the M3 Max, and to a lesser degree, the entry-level M3.

For a more detailed comparison of Apple’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-gen M-series chips, I recommennd checking out AnandTech’s analysis.

Another fun fact? Apple is phasing out the MacBook Pro 13. The cheapest new MacBook with an M3 chip is the MacBook Pro 14 with an 8-core M3 CPU, 10-core graphics, and 8GB of RAM for $1599. There is no 13 inch model available with the latest processor.

At this point, that makes the cheapest way to get your hands on a new M3 chip to buy a new iMac: Prices for the new 24 inch all-in-one computer start at $1299 for a model with an 8-core M3 CPU, 8-core graphics, and 8GB of RAM or $1499 for a version with a 10-core GPU.

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  1. Not surprised that the entry-level iMac comes with 8GB ram… they have to keep the base price as low as possible.

  2. Finally, AV1 support. About time, Apple. But by offering encoding only, they’re going to be behind Intel’s 14th gen, which is adding encoding support, along with the decoding support they’ve had for a few generations.

    Good decision on discontinuing the Macbook Pro 13. I suppose that means this is the death of the Touch Bar, good riddance.

    1. Meant to say, Apple is offering “decoding” only. They’re going to be lacking encoding support.

    2. Apple has made a lot of smart decisions with the M1/Pro/Max lineup. They did a small refresh with the M2, but I think most of us were curious as to what they were going to do with their true successor. That’s the M3.

      And from what myself and all knowledgeable people are seeing is disappointment. Apple has no shortage of money. They have no shortage of talent. They have no shortage of influence. What they have done here is to coast on their previous successes, and not push the market that they currently dominate. Instead of making themselves the de-facto leaders in performance and efficiency, they merely hold steady to allow competitors to get closer. They’re holding today’s improvements to pass on for tomorrow.

      Just think, the TSMC-3nm lithography is a full-node jump from their 5nm option. It’s meant to be +30% faster without making changes. On top of this, Apple had basically 3-years to craft a new microarchitecture. For example, from a 14nm Cortex-A73 to an 7nm Cortex-A76. So we’re talking about BIG gains here.

      Now if people blame TSMC, well it’s not really good enough of an excuse. Sure their current yields maybe leaking power, so they may have needed to boost the voltages to make up for it… which is what they did, and it eats into the performance and efficiency. Apple could have still done the microarchitectural upgrade and saw something (eg +15%). Then only released the Base M3 models. Saving the more pricey M3 Pro/Max for using the proper/fixed lithography for something more (+40%) substantial. They could’ve done this for the iPhone 15 as well…. give an upgrade from microarchitecture, and wait for next year to use the proper node. At least that would show that Apple is paying attention.

      This shows that Apple is not so much as incompetent, but moreso they are greedier than expected. So I expect their platform to stagnate as it has been doing so. I would recommend not-entering to be honest, their iPhones are great and their iPad’s are the best.

    3. I think if you have a lot of older devices, and thinking of buying something newer. Well here is an alternative way of thinking, and I believe might be superior.

      Think of “platforms”. There’s Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the Open-Source community. It is in your best interest to have access to ALL of these, so you never have to miss out.

      So which form-factors do these platforms have been optimised best for? Or what is the best way to organise them? It is like this:
      Phone: AndroidOS
      Tablet: iPadOS
      Laptop: WindowsOS
      Desktop: Linux OS (dualboot)
      Console: PlayStation

      …so if money is no-object, get yourself a 9inch iPad Pro with the Pen and Keyboard. It’s a great portable experience indoors. Not much use for macOS for most people. Get an AMD 7840u laptop, maybe a FrameWorks model that you can upgrade yourself. The Desktop PC is one that you should build yourself for best quality, value, and compatibility. The console is a locked experience, and is there mostly for the exclusives. And then there’s the phone, many great options ranging from Sony, ASUS, Samsung, etc etc.

      1. Wouldn’t it be great if some company makes home labs simple. Take two home labs, which sync with each other and handover every 12 hours and come with very low power sleep states, an okayish efficiency state, an adaptive power state. Then let hardware authenticated devices remote in. That company can manage all the virtual machines running on the home labs and take encrypted backups to its own cloud. basically a turnkey solution for the average joe