Apple’s new M3 Pro might come with an unexpected downgrade

There’s no doubt that the introduction of the new M3 chips was the main event at Apple’s Scary Fast Show. Still, it seems possible that the M3 Pro might have something really important shield Compared to Apple Silicon chips that came before it.

Apple reports that the M3 Pro chip in the 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro is 40% faster than the M1 Pro in the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Still, as spotted by MacRumors, there are some situations where the latest chips actually look a little worse than their predecessors – at least on paper.

Logo for Apple's M3 chips.

For example, the M3 Pro comes with 150GBps of memory bandwidth, which is 25% less than the 200GBps found in the M1 Pro and M2 Pro. Meanwhile, one variant of the M3 Max has 300GBps memory bandwidth, while its M2 Max counterpart comes with 400GBps.

Since Apple spent much of the show comparing the M3 chips to the M1 series, it’s hard to really know how much of a difference there will be in performance compared to the M2 chips. It’s possible that Apple’s comparisons show less of a jump in performance than the M2 expected, or that improvements elsewhere make these downgrades less relevant.

Awaiting real-world testing

Two MacBook Pros posed together in front of a black background.

Lower memory bandwidth isn’t the only way the M3 Pro has changed from before. Apple has changed the core configuration so that the M3 Pro with a 12-core CPU comes with six performance cores and six efficiency cores. However, the 12-core M2 Pro has eight performance cores and four efficiency cores.

There is one more thing to consider. Each M3-series chip comes with a 16-core Neural Engine, just like the A17 Pro in the latest iPhones. However, while the A17 Pro’s Neural Engine can do 35 TOPS (trillion operations per second), the M3 maxes out at 18 TOPS.

It’s unclear whether any of this will actually be a problem. It could be that the performance cores in the M3 Pro are more powerful than those in the M2 Pro, so Apple doesn’t need to pack as many of them. Similarly, Macs may be able to delegate more processing to the GPU than an iPhone can, meaning the Neural Engine doesn’t require as much power.

Ultimately, we won’t know for sure until we get the latest MacBook Pro models to test. Until then, we’ll have to make sure the benefits from the M3 chip are as impressive as Apple has claimed.

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