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Technology

iMac M3 vs. iMac M1

Nature

After the original Apple Silicon iMac with M1 chip launched in 2021, the first update of Apple’s all-in-one desktop has arrived. Read our in-depth comparison of the iMac M3 and iMac M1 in terms of performance, display, features, I/O and more.

iMac M3 vs. iMac M1

CPU, GPU, memory, neural engine

Improvements beyond the M3 chip’s processor speed and efficiency include up to 24 GB of memory, a more capable media engine, and up to 10 core GPUs.

M3 iMac vs M1 iMac CPU Memory GPU
iMac M3 iMac M1
CPU 8 hearts 8 hearts
GPU 8 or 10 cores 7 or 8 cores
Multimedia engine Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW, video decoding engine, video encoding engine, ProRes encoding and decoding engine, AV1 decoding Hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC, video decoding engine, video encoding engine
Storage Up to 2TB SSD Up to 2TB SSD
Memory Up to 24 GB Up to 16 GB
Memory bandwidth 100 GB/s 66.67 GB/s
Neural engine 16 hearts 16 hearts

While many Macs come with the M1 and M2 chips, the iMac upgrades from the M1 to the M3. Apple claims this means 2x faster performance than M1.

iMac M3 performance compared to iMac M1

And if you’re using a 21.5-inch Intel iMac (2019 and earlier), you should see 4x faster overall performance.

Screenshot 2023 10 30 at 8.27.18 PM

Apple also claims the iMac M3 is up to 2.5 times faster “than the most popular Intel model.”
27-inch iMac models.

The above statements relate to overall performance. When it comes to the CPU and GPU specifically in the M3 chip, Apple claims the 8-core CPU is up to 35% faster than the M1, and the 10-core GPU is up to 65% faster than the M1.

In our first look at the M3 iMac benchmarks, both single-core and multi-core scores came close to that 35% mark.

Display

Display

The iMac M3 features the exact same screen as the iMac M1. That’s no problem: you get a fantastic Retina display with 4.5K resolution, P3 wide color, True Tone and 500 nits brightness.

iMac M3 iMac M1
Size 24 inches 24 inches
Resolution 4480 x 2520 (4.5K) 4480 x 2520 (4.5K)
Aspect ratio 16:9 16:9
Brightness 500 nits 500 nits
Retina screen
Wide color P3
True tone
LED backlight
Nano-texture option

The only thing you don’t get in Apple’s Studio Display and Pro Display XDR offering is the low-reflection nano-textured glass.

iMac M3 vs M1 I/O

iMac M3 vs iMac M1 I/O

You’re looking at smaller I/O tweaks for the M3 iMac like WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.

The overall Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 layout is the same with two or four ports depending on the model you choose. The speaker and mic system is also the same as before.

iMac M3 iMac M1
Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 2 2
USB 3 Type-C 2 on mid- and high-end models (0 on base models) 2 on mid- and high-end models (0 on base models)
USB-A
Gigabit Ethernet 2 on mid- and high-end models (0 on base models) Optional with base models, included with mid- and high-end models
10 GB Ethernet
SDXC location
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.3 5.0
Touch identification Optional with base models, included with mid and above models 2 on mid- and high-end models (0 on base models)
Hey Siri, support
Webcam FaceTime 1080p HD + M3 ISP FaceTime 1080p HD + M1 ISP
Video output An external display up to 6K at 60 Hz An external display up to 6K at 60 Hz
6-speaker system
Wide stereo sound
Dolby Atmos support
Array of 3 studio-quality microphones
3.5mm headphone jack

Like the iMac M1, the iMac M3 is still limited with support for only one external display. But that may not be as much of an issue as with MacBooks since you already have a built-in 24-inch screen.

Colors and size

Colors iMac M3 vs iMac M1

The colors of the iMac M3 are also the same as the M1. This includes 7 choices for 4-port models and 4 colors for 2-port models.

iMac M3 iMac M1
Colors blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, purple (all with white frames) blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, purple (white frames)
Weight 9.87 pounds (4.48 kg) 9.88 pounds (4.48 kg)
Height 18.1 in (46.1 cm) 18.1 in (46.1 cm)
Width 21.5 in (54.7 cm) 21.5 in (54.7 cm)
Depth with support 5.8 in (14.7 cm) 5.8 in (14.7 cm)

The physical design of the iMac M3 matches the M1 build with an ultra-thin depth of 11.5mm (14.7cm including the stand). And the rest of the size and weight specifications are also the same.

Price

Apple has also kept the same pricing with the new iMac, with a starting price of $1,299 for the base model, $1,499 for the mid-range model, and $1,699 for the high-end model.

The maxed out iMac M3 is a bit more expensive than the M1 since 24GB of memory is a new option this time around.

iMac M3 iMac M1
Base 2 ports 256/8 GB $1,299 $1,299
4 ports 256/8 GB $1,499 $1,499
4 ports 512/8 GB $1,699 $1,699
4 ports 2TB/24GB $2,699

Conclusion iMac M3 vs iMac M1

Conclusion iMac M3 vs iMac M1

Reasons to buy

If you’ve outgrown your M1 iMac or Intel iMac and like the all-in-one form factor, the M3 iMac is an excellent, but iterative, upgrade. Given that most 4.5k or 5k external displays sell for $1,000 on their own, the iMac M3 with a sharp display and modern Apple Silicon starting at $1,299 is a solid value.

The main improvements are the option for increased memory, a more powerful chip and the latest WiFi and Bluetooth.

Reasons to succeed

If your M1 iMac or other Mac is still working fine, there aren’t any huge updates with the M3 iMac that are super enticing. Alternatively, you can consider opting for a Mac mini or MacBook for more flexibility in terms of form factor and hardware upgrades.

Technical advice

If you buy an iMac M3, keep in mind that you can’t upgrade the chip, memory, or storage after the fact. So if you can afford it, have it specified exactly how you want it (thinking about how long you’d like to keep it can help you achieve this).

You’ll soon be able to get the iMac M3 from Apple, Amazon, and other retailers.

FTC: We use automatic, revenue-generating affiliate links. More.

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