Apple announced an update to its MacBook Pro at today’s Scary Fast event that covers the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. This may seem like a ho-hum generational chip refresh, especially just 10 months after the introduction of the M2 Pro/Max models. But trust me – these new MacBook Pros have become an unstoppable force, especially the new full-tilt model with the M3 Max.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro (which replaces the 13-inch MacBook Pro) will now have a choice of M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max, while the 16-inch model will get the M3 Pro and even more powerful M3 Max configurations. , Overall, these new M3 chips are built on new 3nm technology, the same one used in the new iPhone 15 models, only enhanced for Macs. It’s all about efficiency, with Apple claiming that the M3 chips deliver similar performance at 30% less power.
In the 16-inch MacBook Pro, this top-end configuration now comes with the crazy option of 128GB of integrated memory. Previously it had gone up to 96GB, which was already industry leading.
But let’s talk in more depth about this M3 Max configuration, because it sounds absolutely ridiculous. It comes with a 16-core CPU, divided between eight performance cores and eight efficiency cores. That’s four more cores than the M2 Max. The top-end configuration comes with the option of a 40-core GPU, two more than what was available in the previous generation.
So, yes, there are more cores now, but it’s really the efficiency of all these cores that provides the meaningful uplift. Apple claims that overall, the M3 Max is two times faster than the M2 Max and 2.5 times faster than the M1 Max. Obviously, this is a very broad comparison, but it certainly seems like a more meaningful upgrade over the M1 than the M2.
This is especially true when you consider new GPU features, where the real basis of performance increases can be found. All M3 chips will get a new feature called dynamic caching, as well as hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing. Dynamic caching in particular is doing the most heavy lifting in terms of providing better performance in GPU rendering.
Starting with games, I got several demos on the capabilities of the new GPU architecture P’s lie, With Game Mode and MetalFX upscaling, the game played at about 65 frames per second on a base M3 on a 14-inch MacBook Pro. Keep in mind, this was at maximum settings on an unplugged machine with very little fan noise.
Apple also showed extra performance in some non-gaming scenarios. On the medical front, Apple showed off a demonstration in an app called Q Path, where an M3 MacBook Pro was able to make a cellular-level diagnosis of a virtual spleen in just a few seconds using machine learning. I was also treated to a demo in Cinema4D that showed how the M3 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro can handle cinema-grade footage. Thanks to dynamic caching and improved system on chip (SoC) across the board, the scene can be manipulated, providing a live preview of changes. Apple also showed a virtualized model of an MRI that allows a surgeon to see a complete view of the brain.
Finally, in an app called ArchiCAD, I was shown how easily the M3 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro was able to render and interact with an entire 3GB of CAD from high school, zooming in and out of architectural plans. Obviously, we don’t have exact performance comparisons in these applications with previous generations, but it was all pretty impressive to see.
In addition to that extra performance, these all-new M3 MacBook Pros still have up to 22 hours of battery life and now come in Space Black instead of Space Grey. The Liquid Retina XDR screen has also been improved, which can now display SDR content up to 600 nits 20% brighter.
These new MacBook Pros will replace the M2 models in the lineup, and will also come at the same price. The new entry-level M3 model starts at $1,499, while the M3 Pro model starts at $1,999. Meanwhile, the 16-inch MacBook Pro still starts at $2,499.