In addition to a new iMac, Apple announced new M3 versions of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro at its “Scary Fast” event on Monday. The new laptops can be configured with the M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max chip, all of which should offer greater performance gains than the last generation M2 chip. Each MacBook Pro is currently available for pre-order online ahead of its November release date, with the M3 and M3 Pro models expected to arrive on November 7, while the M3 Max will ship later.
If you’re wondering how the new laptops compare to the M2 models on paper, we’ve put together everything we know so far based on Apple’s specifications and claims. Also stay tuned for our full reviews, where we’ll let you know how well the laptops actually compare to Apple’s claims.
A new entry-level MacBook Pro
First, the pricing structure of the MacBook Pro has changed now that Apple has removed the Touch Bar-equipped, M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro from its lineup at $1,299. Previously, the 14-inch model only came with Pro and Max series chips and started at $1,999. This time, however, the base 14-inch laptop comes with the M3 chip, half the RAM, 4TB less storage, and fewer GPU and CPU cores, lowering its price to $1,599 . So this is now the new entry-level MacBook Pro, which offers longer battery life, a better screen, MagSafe charging and no controversial Touch Bar.
Same look, different color
Additionally, the Pro and Max series’ gray laptop has been replaced with a black screen, which Apple says is built with a material that should reduce fingerprints. (You can also get it in silver.) However, the base 14-inch model doesn’t come in black – you can buy it in gray and silver.
Otherwise, the design of the MacBook Pros is very similar to their predecessors. For example, all share the same Liquid Retina XDR displays. The 14-inch Pro continues to offer a maximum resolution of 3024 x 1964, while the 16-inch version has a resolution of 3456 x 2234. They also keep the same port selection, offering two or three USB-C ports (depending on the size you buy), in addition to an SD card reader, an HDMI port and a 3.5mm audio jack.
More memory and energy-efficient performance
Beyond the price and some cosmetic changes, the real changes happen under the hood. The unified memory on the Pro and Max chips has increased, for example. The M3 Pro chips now support up to 36GB of RAM, a slight increase from the M2 Pro’s maximum 32GB. Meanwhile, the M3 Max has up to 128GB of RAM, up from 96GB, which is a first for an Apple laptop.
Perhaps the most notable change is in performance. The M3 chips were built based on the 3-nanometer process, the same one used in the new A17 Pro chips in the iPhone 15 Pro. This results in faster performance than previous models. At the same time, according to Apple, this also means that the M3 line is more energy efficient, offering the same multi-threaded performance as the M1 while consuming about half the power. In total, each M3 family laptop should last up to 22 hours, longer than its predecessors.
GPU and CPU
When it comes to GPU and CPU cores, the M3 Max chips offer more than their predecessor. The M3 Max has a 16-core CPU and up to 40-core GPU, with GPU performance 80 times faster than the M1 Max, according to Apple. Apple doesn’t provide a direct comparison between the M2 and the M3, but it still represents a substantial improvement given that Apple claims that the M2 Max – which maxed out the CPU and GPU at 12 cores and 38 cores – was up to 30% faster than the M1 Max in graphics.
The situation is slightly different when it comes to the Pro series chips. The 16-inch M3 Pro and M2 Pro chips both offer 12 CPU cores, but the M2 Pro actually offers an additional GPU core compared to the M3 Pro. Still, Apple claims it’s 10% faster than the M2 Pro’s GPU and 40% faster than the M1 Pro’s GPU.
The new M3 chips also sport other GPU improvements that the M2 series lacks. They support Dynamic Caching technology, which could improve the performance of demanding games and applications by optimizing the amount of memory used by the device when performing tasks. The technology also brings new rendering features such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading. These should allow developers to easily improve shadows and reflections as well as complex scenes in games and graphics-intensive applications.
These are just some of the main differences between the M2 chips and the new M3 laptops. If you want to dig even deeper into how the two families compare, feel free to explore the specs below.