Apple’s unexpected “Scary Fast” event has ended, and the 30-minute presentation was packed with announcements. The headline of the showcase was Apple’s new M3 chip, which is appearing in a variety of devices in just a week from now.
We have little information about what Apple announced at its unprecedented fall event, which kicked off the third generation of Apple’s silicon with two major product updates.
M3 family of chips
The biggest news from the event was Apple’s M3 chips family. We expected to see the M3 at the event, but Apple went ahead and also announced the M3 Pro and M3 Max – something that’s never been done before.
We’ll learn more about the products these chips will appear in soon, but the M3 represents more than a minor improvement to Apple’s lineup. It is the first desktop chip to sport a 3nm process, providing a huge node advantage over the M1 and M2. This chip was reportedly scheduled to launch last year, but it seems Apple gave it more time to incubate to ensure more supply.
In terms of improvements, Apple says the chips come with a faster CPU as well as a GPU with a completely new architecture. That architecture is built around dynamic caching, which Apple says gives a huge boost to GPU performance. With hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shader support – both firsts for an Apple GPU – the M3 is said to deliver up to 60% faster graphics performance than the M1.
It is this process that is changing here. Like the M2, the M3 offers an eight-core CPU and an eight-core or 10-core GPU. The M3 Pro has an 18-core GPU and 12-core CPU, while the M3 Max goes up to a 16-core CPU and 40-core GPU. Apple has also increased the memory capacity for the M3 Max, which now supports up to 128GB of unified memory.
14-inch MacBook Pro M3
After all, Apple is discontinuing its 13-inch MacBook Pro. If you’re not up to speed, Apple has offered a 13-inch MacBook Pro along with a 13-inch MacBook Air from the last two generations, both of which have the same processor. This has led to a situation where both machines offer similar performance, leaving the 13-inch MacBook Pro in an awkward position.
It is over now. The 14-inch MacBook Pro has the base M3 as an option, and it will replace the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2. With the jump in screen size comes the jump in price, with MacBook Pro prices starting at $1,600 with the M3. Comparing the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1, Apple says the M3 model delivers 60% faster render performance, 40% faster code compilation, and 40% faster spreadsheet performance in Final Cut Pro.
Apple did not announce an update for the MacBook Air with M3. It will be interesting to see how the price changes if the M3 ever comes to the MacBook Air, but for now, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is the only way you can get the M3 in a laptop.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 is available to order now, and will be released on November 7.
14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro/Max
Apple will also offer a 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M3 Pro and M3 Max, as well as a 16-inch model that exclusively uses one of the Pro or Max chips. These start at $2,000 for the 14-inch model and $2,500 for the 16-inch model with the M3 Pro.
However, there are few updates to these models outside of the M3. Exclusive to the M3 Pro and M3 Max models, Apple is introducing a new Space Black color option. These models are also available in silver, while the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 is available in silver and space gray.
Apple has also improved the Liquid Retina XDR display in these laptops. With HDR, the display can now maintain 1,000 nits of brightness, while peaking at 1,600 nits. And in SDR, the screen is capable of up to 600 nits, which Apple claims is 20% brighter than before.
Finally, Apple is claiming up to 22 hours of battery life in the MacBook Pro with M3. We expected battery life to be less with the M3 Pro and M3 Max, but Apple is already in a league of its own when it comes to laptop battery life.
Like the 14-inch MacBook Pro, you can order these models now, with units shipping on November 7th.
24-inch iMac M3
Apple is finally updating the 24-inch iMac. It is now available with the M3, offering a massive upgrade over the previous model. Apple says the 24-inch iMac with M3 is twice as fast as the previous version, and it starts at the same price of $1,300.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t mess with the iMac’s format too much with the M1, which has claimed a spot on our list of the best desktop computers for years. It’s available in the same seven-color options as before with matching accessories, and Apple has kept a 4.5K Retina display capable of up to 500 nits of brightness.
However, there are some changes outside the chip. Apple has beefed up connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, and there’s access to four USB-C ports, two of which support Thunderbolt. However, the base model with an 8-core GPU is still limited to two USB-C ports.
The 24-inch iMac with M3 8-core GPU is available for purchase at a starting price of $1,300. Apple is also offering a version with a 10-core GPU for $1,500. The desktop will be available at retailers on November 7th.