Apple has revealed the new MacBook Pro laptops with M3 series chips. If you’ve got an M2 version, you might be wondering if it’s worth trading up. Let’s compare.
It’s been a busy year for Apple’s MacBook range, with the new 15-inch Air its most recent release but, yes, it was just January when we saw the reveal of the M2 Pro and M2 Max powered Pro devices. Well, it’s already time for M3 versions.
At its Scary Fast October event, Apple revealed the new M3 Pro and M3 Max 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops. If you’ve got an M2 Max device, you might be wondering if you jumped on that purchase too early. Here are all the important differences.
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More unified memory for demanding workloads
If you’re considering the MacBook Pro with M3 Max then you’re likely someone with extremely demanding workloads. This is a powerhouse machine that can serve the demands of serious professional work, from intensive 3D modelling to high-level video production work and more.
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As such, even with everything that the M2 Max MacBook Pro already offers, your work may push its boundaries in terms of the unified memory on offer. It’ll, of course, cost you more but the new M3 Max models do offer more headroom.
The M3 Max now starts at 36GB unified memory, up from 32GB, and can go all the way up to 128GB, a big jump up from 96GB on the M2 Max.
CPU and GPU performance gets a boost
The new M3 Max chips offer more CPU and GPU cores than the M2 Max versions. You’ll find up to a 16-core CPU – broken down at 12 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores – and a 40-core GPU. That’s compared with a 12-core GPU (8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores) and up to a 38-core GPU. The Neural Engine and memory bandwidth specs remain the same at the high end, with 16 cores and up to 400GB/s bandwidth.
Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t provided direct comparisons between the M3 Max and M2 Max, so we’ve had to dig into some old numbers to draw some conclusions. Apple chose to make more comparisons with the M1 series, so we can put those up against the numbers given earlier in the year with the M2 Max launch.
Apple claimed the GPU performance of the M3 Max was up to 80% better than the M1 Max, while the M2 Max was touted as just 30% faster.
There are some new graphics features for the M3 Pro too. The main one is Dynamic Caching, which allocates memory in real-time. This should optimise the process and lead to boosted performance. There’s also hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading. These features should bring improved shadows and reflections to gaming on the Mac.
New Space Black colour
Apple has introduced a new colour for the new MacBook Pro models that sports the M3 Pro or M3 Max chip. You’ll be able to choose between Silver and the new stealthy Space Black option. There’s no longer a Space Grey choice for those models, but it sticks around for the regular M3 version and that models does not get the new Space Black.
Price, design and battery life are unchanged
Outside of that new Space Black colour option for the M3 Max MacBook Pro, there’s nothing new when it comes to the design. You’ll find the same ports, with no upgrade to Thunderbolt 5 this time, sticking with Thunderbolt 4, and all the rest remaining the same. The battery inside is slightly larger if you opt for the 14-inch model but is the same in the 16-inch. Either way, Apple touts the same battery life as the M2 Max versions though, at 12 hours and 15 hours of wireless web respectively.
On the bright side, Apple hasn’t opted for a price increase this time around though. Instead, the M2 Max MacBook Pro has just been ditched from the store and replaced with the new M3 Max. The 14-inch M3 Max stays the same price, beginning at £3,299/$3,199 and the 16-inch at £3,599/$3,499.